So, you want a girlfriend in China?
You’re single, and ready to mingle, as some might say. Maybe you’re a ‘rice chaser’? Or, to put it another way, perhaps you have ‘yellow fever’?
Before beginning to teach in China, you may have heard other expats say: “It’s so easy to get a Chinese girlfriend.”
Maybe it is if you speak the lingo but let me give you the hard truth. It - Really - Isn’t!
So, without further ado, allow me to share some of the things that might happen to you when dating in China.
Before continuing, please let me add – and I don’t mean to be sexist – I think this post will be of more interest to men. As a man myself, I can only speak to my experiences.
But the ladies might get a giggle too!
Dating in China – you’re in it for the long haul
Love in China is not like love in Australia. Sometimes you might be able to pick up a girl at a bar with a pick-up line, like you would back home.
Normally however, the experience is a lot longer. You usually begin as friends and go from there.
You gradually get to know each other. Throwing subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) hints her way will give you clues as to whether she is interested.
This process can become quite nerve-wracking, mainly because you might be putting in a lot of effort to win a Chinese woman’s affections and have no idea if it is working.
It may even feel like you are just going round and round in circles.
The Chinese mentality is not like the Western one, and the same goes for dating.
What (Chinese) women want
Chinese girls like being pampered. There is a tradition of men declaring their love with a wealth of presents and other romantic gestures. In short, some girls want the fairy-tale.
The problem is, much like in the Katy Perry song, some girls can be hot one moment, and cold the next.
One Chinese woman I went out with, Avril (not her real name), would go out on a date with me one night, and stand me up the following. It was almost like a game.
As Marilyn Munroe said, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best”. Indeed, some Chinese girls like pushing you to see how far you will go, to make you really fight for their attention.
Some Chinese girls take this to the extreme and behave like spoilt princesses. I would urge you to try to avoid any girl like this. No woman, regardless of how beautiful or amazing they are, is worth you being disrespected over.
Where are the Chinese girls who want to go on dates?
I always remember Eddie Murphy asking the barber shop owner in the movie Coming to America, “Where can I find nice girls?”
The frustrating thing about living in China, with almost zero language proficiency, is you can’t do what you would back home.
There are plenty of times when you will see a drop-dead gorgeous woman on the street.
You can only go up to a woman so many times and say ‘Ni hao, can you speak English?’, and receive a hard stare and a shake of the head in response, before you begin feeling dejected.
The trouble with traditionalists
You may hear that pre-marital sex is becoming a much bigger concept in China than ever before.
There are still many Chinese girls who believe in no sex until after marriage. Given China's society and culture goes back centuries, this is fair enough.
It might be a good idea to find out what a woman’s views are on the subject.
Finding love in the workplace
I would strongly urge you to reconsider trying to romance someone in your office.
Though it happens, and I will talk about this later, if the woman you ask out says ‘no’, just know, she probably has every other office worker’s WeChat details.
Chinese girls, like other women, love their gossip.
You do not want to get yourself a reputation among your colleagues for being a dirty flirt.
Just like you don’t want to get a bad reputation, neither does the girl you are interested in. Remember, ‘face’ is extremely important in China, and most people would shy away from doing anything that might disparage their image.
This includes having an office relationship. Some businesses even completely forbid the concept of an office relationship.
Chinese girls are shy (it may not be your fault!)
Just like Asia is synonymous for its rice, Chinese girls are synonymous for being shy.
Though I’ve heard plenty of people tell me that many Chinese, especially the younger generations, know a little English, let me share what they don’t tell you.
Many Chinese lack the confidence to speak it. In school, many Chinese learn only how to write English. Only recently have more schools begun teaching oral English.
Unless they have practiced spoken English, or work in foreign trade, as many people in Ningbo do (it is a port city after all), their proficiency will be very weak.