We've all heard, read and seen numerous stereotypes about Chinese women who date Western men. Here are some of the more common ones I've heard:
- They're looking for a life of luxury with someone who earns a hefty expat salary.
- They want a ticket out of China.
- They spend their waking hours attending to his needs.
But is it true?
I reached out to half a dozen Chinese women, all with Western boyfriends and husbands, to find out more on their feelings towards their relationships as well as the challenges that come with it.
This is nowhere near a comprehensive study, but I enjoyed hearing what they had to say about their Western partners including the joys and challenges of the relationship.
Here are some reasons why Chinese women are attracted to Western men:
Almost all of the women I talked with said that they love that their men enjoy life. They won't want someone who lives just to climb the career ladder and spend all their waking hours working on business projects.
That kind of quality, one of my interviewees said, is typical of Chinese men who care a lot about having a stable job, a home and being able to afford luxury brands.
She also said, of the Western men that she's dated, that they have a wider view of life.
Perhaps it was the result of a different type of education, more open minded parents or just the fact that they've ventured out of their home country.
They're more accepting of past relationships
The Western male, Chinese female relationship is quite common in major cities, and you'll also find that the couples aren't just young twenty-somethings.
A good deal of more mature women, even previously married ones, are dating foreign men because, with them, they have another chance at love. Following her divorce, Yang was 35 and caring for her 9-year-old daughter. Her Chinese friends told her that no Chinese guy would want to date her.
As she reevaluated her life and moved to a larger city, she found that Western guys didn't care that she was nearing "middle age" (most of China hasn't received the memo that 40 is the new 20) or that she had a child.
She dated a few guys from around the globe and says that she didn't have to hide the fact that she had a child and her now-fiancé, is a part of the girl's life.
They have shared values...
Having dated a couple of Chinese guys, Michelle ended up dating a foreigner. Her now-husband of eight years was the person she got along with and felt she could spend the rest of her life with.
She said that she didn't favor her husband over Chinese men because he was a foreigner, but because they shared similar interests and values.
Lea, another one of my interviewees, agreed. It wasn't so much the nationality but rather that she found his personality to be complimentary to hers.
Fiona feels that her values are more in line with Western ones than those of her previous Chinese boyfriend.
As a Christian, her faith is important to her which also means that marriage really does last "til death do us part."
She says that Chinese culture has become too accepting of divorce (perhaps because there's a huge push to get married quickly and people rush into marriage) and that finding a Western boyfriend that shared her faith allows her to feel secure with their relationship, knowing that they both have a high level of commitment.
All of the women said that the guys they've dated are honest and someone they can really trust.
Several also mentioned that they like the fact that they're dating a guy, not his whole family.
With Chinese guys, having a relationship with them means having a relationship with their parents. Parents get a huge amount of input in their relationships and even in their lives.
But there is one downside to not having parents heavily involved in your relationships: Western parents won't do all of the things Chinese parents do as a matter of course: Buy him a house or be your live-in nanny if you have kids.
One of my interviewees, who has children, said that she understood this cultural difference. But she also mentioned that her Western husband's parents are very helpful when they come to visit.
...Except when it comes to Chinese medical beliefs
Several women I talked to commented that their Western boyfriends and husbands drank ice water and ate ice cream in winter.
"It is very hard to convince him to believe warm water is better for your health after you eat a meal," they say.
Another said that she wanted to observe the traditional postpartum zuò yuè zi (坐月子) , commonly called to as the "moon month," in which she stayed in bed for a full month to regain her strength and restore health after giving birth.
She said that it took a lot of communication to get her husband to understand her wishes. Once she explained the "why" behind the strange-to-Westerners practice, she had his full support.
They like to resolve conflict quickly
This was more of a problem with the relationship. A few women said that Chinese men are more passive when it comes to disagreements and the typical way to handle them is to remain quiet and hope it goes away.
Foreign men, in their opinion, tend to want to talk it through and resolve the issue as soon as possible.
It takes time and experience to get used to resolving conflicts this way, they said. But they do believe that handling conflict headon is better than avoiding it.
Tips for relationship success
Given this information, if you're thinking of dating a Chinese woman you should do the following:
1) Be yourself: Not a single woman I talked to said that they were attracted to their boyfriend because he wasn't Asian, because he had a six-figure salary or could help them get a Green Card.
Sure, those women are out there, but the ones I talked to, all in long-term relationships, never brought up this issue.
They mentioned they had great chemistry with the guy, enjoyed his personality and shared common interests.
Interestingly, all but one still live and work in China.
2) Chinese women want to be open to learning new ideas: This is huge, especially with an inter-cultural relationship.
Expect your beliefs to be challenged, especially when it comes to medicine.
Communication will go a long way in understanding why your girlfriend would rather get a TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) treatment than take some pills from the pharmacy.
3) Be willing to compromise: There needs to be balance in the relationship, one woman said. Especially when kids are involved, you have to think of the future and what's best for the kids.
Compromise doesn't mean avoiding conflict, but communicating your feelings and listening to the other person to come up with a solution that works for both of you.
This goes both ways; she may let you drink your ice cold beer during the Super Bowl but you need to be okay with her drinking her homemade remedies when she's not feeling well.
All of these go for both parties, of course, but when you're dating someone from another culture, specifically if you're in China and the woman doesn't have as much experience with other cultures, there will be a lot of learning and communication.
As one friend of mine said, "cross cultural relationships can be like an awkward dance; you're both determined to succeed but there are some missteps along the way."
See how this compares to Western women dating Chinese men!
For those who really want to give an inter-cultural relationship a fair chance, the awkward times are totally worth it, and overshadowed by the great ones!
Now that I've shared stories from Chinese women who've dated Western men, are there any guys out there who want to share their experiences dating Chinese women?
Tell me about it in the comments below!