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Cultural Differences in Relationships : Can it really work?

Cultural Differences in Relationships : Can it really work?

Cultural Differences in Relationships : Can it really work?

An interesting discussion took place on LoveLoveChina regarding the differences in perceptions of a relationship between “westerners” and Chinese. It’s a long ongoing debate here in the forums on whether cultural differences indeed exist, if they do – whether they’re understandable to both sides, and then finally whether they’re bridgeable.

A reader recently commented on LLC :

Chinese women — their experiences and expectations are so much different than Western men’s. For example, when a Chinese woman says in English that this man is her boyfriend, the best way to understand this is that she sees this man as her fiancé. Chinese women seem most concern about feeling safe. Sexual adventure and individual pleasure is not important or at least much less important than judging how the man can make her feel safe, provide income, provide children, get along with her parents, like the food she likes.

Is this better or worse? Impossible to say, but that is the way it is, in my limited experience. You kiss a women, you feel her breasts and she is thinking marriage. Take it seriously. Do not disrespect her. At the same time be faithful to your own culture. But I think that actions are more important than words. You will be judged by your behavior, no matter what you say. You tell her this is not so serious, but you kiss, grope and try to have sex, she will see this as the equivalent of a marriage proposal. Know this and treat them well. Control yourself if necessary.

What more can I say? One important point: I have never had a Chinese girlfriend. I have tried and failed, so maybe my advice is based on fanciful thoughts rather than personal experience. As you can tell, I am infatuated with Chinese women, but have failed to have a proper Chinese girlfriend.

I know many on both cultural sides who seem to think that the differences between cultures are so strong that they’re impossible to bridge. To get a second opinion on this from a Chinese girl, I emailed this to one of my Chinese female friends and got this back as a reply:

Chinese women take sex or relationship very seriously. Especially traditional girls think that only a couple that includes official boyfriend-girlfriend can be kissed, touched or have sex. If they cross the “friends line”, they will think about relationship, like future, marrige.

But one point is a little bit extreme. “You tell her this is not so serious, but you kiss, grope and try to have sex, she will see this as the equivalent of a marriage proposal….”. That depends on how long time the relationship has been going on. If it’s only been a short time, they probably wouldn’t think about marriage, though there are exceptions like my German male friend whose Chinese she talked about marriage after 3 days they got together, but that’s just crazy.

Yes, some women definitely like imaging something more pure, but not all adult women think about in that way. And there are always  “playgirls” that don’t take the whole thing seriously – they have lots of men, they dont care about.

Why some Western people think its hard to find Chinese girlfriend ? I think its about different perceptions of the issue of  “sex”. Our Chinese parents taught us – no sex before marriage, or only couple can kiss and sleep together, so this is probably the biggest difference in education in comparison to the west. My dad always talk about that even when I was young.

Another possible reason is that Western man think that feeling is most important, so they wont think about marriage if they only had a short relationship. They need time to find out what they’re feeling. Chinese people might think this is ” playing around” that they simply don’t want a stable relationship and most Chinese girls would not feel safe in this situation.

When I talk this topic with Western man, different people have different thoughts. I know a western guy who is  nice, kind and gentle, and his thoughts are same as mine, a Chinese girl : ” if a man doesn’t want a girl to be his formal girlfriend, or not sure yet, just dont try to tempt her to have sex or get close to her, until you really want to love her and want to be responsible to her, otherwise, it will make the girl confused and sad if something happened without relationship. ” We had the same comments about marrige and BF/GF. He told me that in his home country (Italy), most of people take family and relationship seriously, and will think about long term and marriage,  so he doesn’t understand why so many Italian men behave differently in Shanghai. He is shocked. You see? it depends.

Sometimes I am tired of talking about this with Western guys. It is meaningless because of the differences in culture. I think if really love each other, everything can be solved, both must make concession, esp men, both should be acceptable, forgiving, and understanding. I know its hard, but must try.

Just find a right person, no matter Western or Chinese. For me, I really don’t mind my future bf/husband is Western or Chinese, maybe its hard to handle Western man, but I don’t think it is a biggest problem. If it’s not perfect, just separate. It must have 1 right person in this world. People make relationship and marrige complicated, because most of people are  becoming selfish.

What’s your take on this?

  • Jason

    I think if really love each other, everything can be solved, both must make concession, ESP MEN, both should be acceptable, forgiving, and understanding.”

    Why is it, that girls always expect the man to concede more? We are supposed to work all the time, make the money, give it all to the woman, and then make more concessions to the woman then she makes to us? This is sexist — it implies that somehow women are “better” than men, therefore men must make more concessions. As if we are somehow “working slaves” to the woman.

    If men and women are to be truly equal, the woman must make equal concessions to the man. Not more, not less. Equal. I find the statement quoted above to be extremely insulting. I think it is time that women do their equal part, instead of expecting to be put on a pedestal for all men to worship like goddesses.

    • Lishu_2000

      Because man is always gentle and they don’t need to be preg and suffer 10 months hard life even all of her life to have baby, I said” both make concession”, not only man do it. One more thing, professional lady don’t need man’s money, we work hard even we can make much more money than a man , woman is taking responsibility more and more, what man can do? only concession on small case or on emotion things….as I saw many happy family, each other takes their own responsibility…woman make money, clean house, cook and take care of baby, man should do something to help woman, if he really doesn’t like to cook or clean house, thats ok, we woman only need them to sweet to us, what man can do something sweet else???    Lishu

      • Jason

        I like to cook and clean. Care to get together sometime and make concessions? LOL :-)

  • leticia

    I would like to know about chinese boys, i’m brazilian living in canada and he just came here, i have no idea if there is something going on or not, what should i do?