Bi in Shanghai: Waiting for the Right Year, Waiting for the Right Person

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The moment I arrived back in Shanghai in July 2017 was when I knew that my dating life here was going to be complicated. It wasn’t because I, as a western woman, am perceived to not be interested in Chinese men; it was because I was expecting bad outcomes.

So why did I have this negative mentality about dating?

Two reasons:

My ben ming nian (本命年) and low expectations from my past dating experiences with men.

2017 was the year of the Rooster. It was my zodiac year. I had prepared for it the best I could, but still could not stop the bad luck. Before the Year of the Rooster came, I had heard that relationships during your ben ming nian were not going to work. But, I thought to still try anyway.

Over the course of the few months of living in China, I tried to date. When I mean tried, I really did. There were a few guys that were nice, but I know that they were only interested in sex. This bothered me nonetheless because I wanted something more than that.

And I thought that I had a shot with a guy from Inner Mongolia back in August 2017. We met the week before I headed to Chongqing for a month. But, I was wrong about us. He stopped talking to me about two weeks after arriving in Chongqing. I was ghosted and eventually gave up on him. But, I continued to date. Or attempted to.

Each time was a fail. Every date or guy ultimately gave me disappointment. I asked myself, “Why is it that I keep picking the wrong ones? Why do I attract the wrong men?”

But, then I thought back on my decision I made before coming back to China.

I had told myself and a few close friends in the United States that I was going to explore my sexuality and try to start dating girls. But, where do I start?

Luckily, I was in touch with the creator of Les Queers here in Shanghai. We met through an event unrelated to the LQ community and she eventually added me to a large group chat of queer women living in Shanghai area.

My first ever LQ  meet-up I attended was a hot pot event sometime in late October. After this I was slowly coming out of my shell with my sexuality. It was tough because for a while I had been ashamed of it. I knew and accepted my bisexuality a few years ago, but never dared to try things at home because I knew I was going to make my life in China for several years. So why should I start a relationship with a girl in the U.S. when I’m leaving home anyway? My parents probably know I am bisexual because of my relationship with my previous platonic partner whom is female presenting. However, I don’t think they know that I’m starting to have a preference towards women.

I realized I have a preference towards women after I met “her”.

at the LQ New Year’s Party. (I’m in the gray sweatshirt.)

December 31st 2017 I met a woman at a New Year’s Eve event hosted by Les Queers.  I never thought I would meet someone that night and we’d hit it off at the beginning.

Embarrassingly I was beginning to become drunk off of baijiu. Baijiu is a clear liquor similar to vodka, but doesn’t taste the same. I drank a lot that night and I don’t know how and why she was still attracted to me. She was sober, not drinking at all on NYE. We eventually started talking a lot more after I left Shanghai to travel for Spring Festival. The two of us talked everyday for over three weeks. I made her wait until the Year of the Rooster came to an end in order for her to ask me out. She was impatient and I was too, but it was worth the wait to jump into a relationship. We both wanted to get to know another because we knew rushing things would not be good.

So, on February 16th, 2018, just a few minutes after midnight, my ben ming nian was over and I entered my first official relationship with a woman. Never in my entire life have I felt this happy. Two days later I would find myself back in Shanghai in her arms, hugging her, kissing her and telling her how much I missed her.

People will tell me, “You haven’t met the right man yet!” Honestly, that is wrong. I haven’t met the right person yet. I’m at a point in my life where I’m starting to realize what I want. When I say I have a preference towards women now, I’m about 90% percent interested in women. 10% interested in men.

I’ve never had a man keep his interest in me for more than a week straight. I never had a man talk to me about almost everything every single day. I never had someone who wasn’t embarrassed to hold my hand in public or wasn’t embarrassed to see me during the day.

I don’t know if it was me or it was them. But looking back it it, it definitely was the wrong people I chose before. Now, I found a good person who accepts me and likes me for who I am.

Love is love. It has no boundaries.

Are you a WWAMer that has dated the same-sex before? If so, please tell us your story!

Holly Hollins

Holly Hollins

Holly Hollins is an American from Michigan and currently a graduate student in Shanghai. Besides studying, she enjoys writing WWAM stories including rewriting her novel, "Destiny Across a Thousand Miles". The novel is about a Chongqing guy and German-American girl at a university in Michigan. They become good friends and eventually fall in love. Holly also is a big advocate for autism and does professional presentations on the topic in China and in Michigan, USA.
Holly Hollins


  1. Love definitely has no boundaries and love is love regardless of gender!
    I was wondering how relationships that may not be considered the norm experienced in China- publicly or underground?
    I would like to hear about supportive and loving communities that are based in China.
    It is lovely to hear such stories.
    I am a romantic at heart and enjoy reading love stories.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Jacqueline!

      As for relationships not considered the norm, I’m not sure about other cities in China, but Shanghai is pretty open these days. I’ve only gotten a few nasty stares from some people while holding my girlfriend’s hand. Either than nasty stares, I feel more safe than I do in the United States. (we do keep our PDA to a minimum though.) I think people mainly stare because she is shorter than me, has short hair, and wears men’s clothes. haha.

  2. Ha!
    Glad things are progressing. I haven’t been to China yet but I am partial to dance party 😁 so I am hoping when I do get to China I will be exposed to all walks of life. Melbourne Australia is very diverse.
    A bit of style and individualism sustains is all.
    Blessings to you both.
    Write more 🙂

    1. Dance party? like clubbing? haha.

      I’ve given up the party life for a more calm lifestyle. Plus now dating someone it gives me a reason to stay in. All my friends at university will hate me and not invite me out anymore. Oh well.

      Hope you can come to China soon! When do you think you’ll come? China is apart of my life until July 2019. I’m not sure what I’m going to do after graduation.

      1. Sorry for my late reply but for some reason wwanbam keeps being sent to my junk mail.
        Ahhh ok. I am a lot older than you but I still love to dance.
        I had returned to study for a career change and will complete my masters at the end of this year and hope just after this I will visit.
        I am also an artist and would like to explore where I can potentially exhibit in the future.
        Ps can I set my picture using IPhone or does it only work on PC/ MAC?

  3. Such a great article about when your heart knows when it has found true love, and you definitely have found it with your special lady! 🙂

    1. I’m hoping so! To be honest this is my first “official” relationship and I’m still learning new things everyday. Luckily I was blessed with being able to see her three times this past week. So I’m overly happy.

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