In China itself, individualism is a somewhat unnecessary luxury for most people, it can even be something that causes a great many problems in many forms of relationships, no matter familial, personal or career related.
An example which I have heard from Chinese males on numerous occasions when asking them if they found a particularly charismatic and independent Chinese girl attractive was “no, she’s too independent, she wouldn’t look after my parents or her own”. Why this idea that if a female is independent would lead to her being un-filial is seemingly accepted unquestionably as a form of ‘Chinese logic’.
I’ve even asked the males in question: “so, you would prefer ‘a bird in cage’?” (a Chinese idiom reflecting a female docile and devoid of independence, looked after, and with little, if any, desire to escape); each time I have asked this, I have received the same unashamed response “Yes!”.
To be fair to Chinese males, I’ve known quite a few Chinese girls who’ve said they wanted to be ‘a bird in a cage’, as in their opinion it would be quite a comfortable life (none of these had ever been married before though). From the point of view of personal relationships in China alone, it can be seen that a developed sense of individualism in a Chinese female actually leads to less choices in a prospective husband; and this is only one of the problems a strong sense of individuality can cause to a Chinese person.
From the native Chinese I have known I would give a rough estimation that approximately seventy to eighty percent of Chinese females are to a great degree, very similar, in thought, action and emotional responses. Now obviously you will find some differences i.e. one likes to eat ‘sweet and sour pork’ but another likes to eat ‘spicy fish’, but my meaning is more based on character, common responses based on external stimuli, and thought; it can actually be no other way, due to Chinas’ cultural development over thousands of years, based greatly on Confucianism and conformity, not to mention the extreme levels of peer pressure that have resulted from this.
Again, let me point out, that this allusion to Chinese conformity is not insulting to Chinese (or at least the many I have spoken to) nor is it meant as such, it’s simply a huge difference in thought and opinion. How does this affect a western males’ relationship with a Chinese girl/woman? In my honest view and from what I’ve seen and experienced, in actual fact most relationships between westerners and Chinese go through an almost exact same set of problems and issues and even, frequently, within a similar time frame (i.e. after ‘X’ amount of months she will bring up the subject of marriage, no matter you mention it or not, even when you think the relationship is far from a suitable one for a prospective marriage!)
The Beauty of ‘Chinese Logic’ and a Distinct Lack of Interest in Individuality
Without going too deeply into the roots of what many Chinese people have referred to as ‘Chinese logic’ and what a westerner may refer to as ‘circular logic’, in the early years of living in China I had a conversation with my then girlfriend as to why I felt very strongly that she should be developing her individuality, at the time she presented an argument which certainly seemed logical and acceptable to her, yet one which I would have serious trouble living my own life by:
Me: You know, you should really be learning to think for yourself.
Me: What kind of stupid question is that?
Her: It’s not a stupid question; I want you to tell me the benefits of thinking for myself.
Me: Well, if you think for yourself you can then find out the best way for yourself, and not end up living the same kind of life as everyone else.
Her: But I want to live the same kind of life as everyone else. Why wouldn’t I?
Me: Because the same mistakes they make, you will also make, because you believed without question what they told you.
Her: But what they told me was true.
Me: But you don’t know it’s true.
Her: Why would everyone say the same thing and yet it’s not true?
Me: Because they think the same as you, and someone else told them it was true, so they believed it without bothering to find out the facts and then parroted the same things you are now parroting.
Her: Well, If everyone says it’s true, it becomes so.
Me: That’s ridiculous.
Her: Not in China it’s not.
Me: What on earth are you talking about?
Her: If everyone in China says and believes a certain thing to be true, then it is.
Her: For example, everyone says that if a girl is well-behaved she will get a good husband to take care of her, as men look for the well-behaved girl, so if I act well behaved I will get a good husband, as good husbands look for good girls because everyone expects them to marry that type.
Me: What about if you’re not actually a ‘good girl’ in Chinese opinion?
Her: Then I will just change myself to act like I am good girl.
Me: And exactly how long can you ‘pretend’ to be a good girl, the rest of your life?
Her: If needs be. The outer structure and rules will mold and change my inner character. So if I simply follow the cultural blueprint other Chinese people tell me to, I will get the same results as them.
Me: It’s really true when they say the Chinese are the best at ‘reproduction’ in the world.
Me: Nothing, bad joke. I don’t really think you forcing your inner character to change will result in happiness. I think you’re misguided.
Her: But if everyone around me is also misguided then I won’t know the difference will I? And if I don’t know the difference I won’t be able to compare, and it’s comparison that leads to dissatisfaction, and dissatisfaction leads to unhappiness. So, as you can see, as long as everyone Chinese around me remains in the same situation I do, I will never be unhappy, and neither will they. It works.
Me: ….Talking to you really depresses me sometimes.
Her: The feeling’s mutual!
Suitable Chinese Wives/Girlfriends?
Many Chinese girls I would actually class as totally unsuitable for a relationship with a westerner, let alone living in a western country and having to adapt to the culture and lifestyle. To this day I still get many a Chinese female with dreams of romance and starting a new life asking me to introduce them to a foreign boyfriend (incidentally, if you ever get a Chinese girl asking you to introduce her to a foreign boyfriend, nine times out of ten, she means YOU!), yet a series of simple questions will often show me that even were a relationship between her and a western guy to actually happen it would most definitely end badly, or continue as an unhappy one.
With that said, it does still leave twenty to thirty percent of Chinese females (approx) that would actually make great partners, and 20-30% of an estimated 465,020,030 females (2008) is still a lot, not to mention Chinese females born in a western country.
All the best.