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  • Writer's pictureSandy To

Can't Find Someone? Try Dating BEYOND your culture: Cross-cultural Dating Pros & Cons & Caveats

I had a most engaging and lively discussion about Asian women dating Western men on matchmaker, May Bugenhagen's "The Asian Dating Podcast"!

What May does is so unique - she's probably one of the rare (if not only) matchmakers who help match up Asian women with American men. It makes so much sense given how she's based in the US, in Colorado, and she's married to a Western man herself.

Having lived in the US when I was young, I can totally get how there aren't that many Asians to date! The pool of Asians compared to the majority of the population (aka: Americans) is much smaller, and people (both women and men) might be deterred from dating if they insist on finding someone from their own culture. Yes, people from your own culture will have similar food preferences as you; speak the same language as you; celebrate the same festivals as you; and your parents might like them better....(I know parents' approval means EVERYTHING, but it's something you can work on - we'll get to that later.)

And who's to guarantee that same-culture people willl be compatible on a personality level? After all, many highly educated career women have searched far and wide amongst their own peoples and still haven't found a partner. So yes, what May is doing is very meaningful, because it helps women significantly widen their pool of potential partners and increase their marriage chances. It's one key "partner choice strategy" of the "Maximizer" type of woman who wants to get married and is willing to venture beyond their comfort zone.

However, just like many of the brilliant choices we make, they come with pros and cons and caveats. For instance, there's one thing that almost always comes up with Chinese women dating Western men: who pays for the date. We agree that it's quite a "Chinese thing" to talk about money at such an early stage. It's us being pragmatic, i.e.: Jessica Huang (Constance Wu's character) in Fresh Off The Boat who scrimps and saves in the most dramatic and compulsive way to build up her nest egg. It's like, "we're not even in a relationship yet and you're already gauging who will pay the kid's tuition fees or the electricity bill?" Well, that's going too far...but it's true to a large extent that you can get a good glimpse into the guy's attitudes towards money, and whether he'll be stingy or generous towards his wife and kids by how he acts on your first date.

According to many of my professional women interviewees, "it's not about the money, but the thought." It's obvious that all of these women who are managers in global firms or high-powered professionals and entrepreneurs could afford to pay for their own meals! But the guy paying for a woman on their date shows how he values her and sees her as special, and not just a friend. After all, it is a date and not one of those business lunches she has with her clients, or worse, one of those college dorm dinners where everyone chips in several bucks to get pizzas and beers.

One of the women I interviewed who's a manager in a media company, resented her Chinese-American boyfriend for taking her to street stalls for every single meal - and asking her to go Dutch and pay for her own fish ball noodles. That really is taking it too far! Man, if you're taking her out to have fish ball noodles, at least pay for them, will ya?

Some people may think of Western men dating Asian women as having "yellow fever" or "Asian fetish" - as depicted with much fervor in Elaine Hsieh Chou's novel, Disorientation - but the thing is, it's ok to have a "type." Everyone has one. It's a fact of life. It's like some women wanting to find a man who 's five foot eleven, or a man who doesn't drive an SUV in a largely flat place where there are no mountains or valleys or deserts or anything that requires a high utility vehicle.

Western men liking Chinese women isn't much different as them liking blonde women. (That's "yellow (hair) fever" too, in a way...) A fetish or a perv will only be so if it doesn't move past the level of appearances. That is to say that Western men need to show that they're interested in more than Chinese women's looks, such as their culture and their language, to warrant their interest in them. Or else, why date a Chinese woman? ("Submissive"? "Exotic"? "Compliant" I'd really have a hard time defending Western men for not having these stereotypes then!)

So, girlfriend, if you're looking to date a man who's from a different culture than you, make sure he learns some key words from your language so that he could impress your parents or communicate with your elderly grandparents, or at least know when your relatives are gossiping about'd be so cool if he has a smart rejoinder - in Chinese. Now that will really impress the pants off everyone!

For more tips and stories on cross-cultural dating and to learn more about the "leftover women" phenomenon, watch our full podcast episode on YouTube!

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