Dating across cultural boundaries can make life interesting and rewarding at the same time. Getting to know one another can be enjoyable if both people understand the cultural differences that exist between them. Knowing what to expect from each culture can set the tone for each individual date as well as the progression of the relationship. From giving flowers to other forms of dating etiquette, each culture brings different ideas to the dating game.
Never Underestimate the Influence of Parents
In Asian cultures, especially the Chinese, parents play a huge role in the courtship of their daughters. Up until a few decades ago, many Chinese marriages were arranged either by the parents or friends of the family who took a keen interest in who their children dated. Now, there is a much more relaxed atmosphere, but Chinese men and women still respect their parents and often listen to them in matters of the heart.
Stereotypes abound in all cultures. With that being said, Asian men are not always passive and Asian women are not always submissive. In the American culture, not all men and women are domineering and controlling. Dating is a time to get to know a person. Looking past stereotypes and focusing on the individual is the best way to learn what the person has to offer. Once the stereotypes are set aside, it boils down to two people walking on a path of discovery.
As arranged marriages began to go by the wayside in Chinese culture, casual dating began to take place more frequently. The process has been slow and it should not be assumed on either side that is in the habit of rushing. Casual dating has become commonplace in the US. Americans can date for months with no intention of establishing a permanent relationship. Couples may live together for years without ever even discussing marriage. This sometimes happens in larger Chinese cities, but rarely in the smaller provinces and towns where older traditions run deep.
Don’t Misinterpret Blatant Shows of Affection
In the United States, public displays of affection are common in most relationships, including casual ones. If a Chinese girl begins to display obvious signs of affection, this is generally her way of telling a suitor that she is considering him as a candidate for her future spouse. Many girls may come off shy and subtle, but when they take the next step to outward displays of interest or sexual overtures, they have made up their minds that you may be the one for them.
Chinese culture encourages the giving and receiving of gifts between couples. Gifts are exchanged on a regular basis, unlike most American traditions. There are a few important rules when trying to impress a Chinese date. Scratch off buying a clock or giving a gift wrapped in white. Both relay a message of impending death or the possibility of a funeral. White flowers are also taboo, as they also represent funerals or an unhappy ending.
The language barrier can put great distances between couples from different cultures. Communication is big in Chinese families and the ability to interact with a date’s family is very important to the success of the relationship. Making a concerted effort to communicate on even a simple basis will earn great respect from your date’s parents.
No mistake or disadvantage is a deal breaker. Learning to understand one another’s culture can be a series of hits and misses, but when the effort is there a happy medium can be accomplished that satisfies everyone involved.