So, you’re a Chinese man who’s gotten friendly with a lovely Western lady and are wondering about whether to take the next step… In my previous post, I discussed some reasons not to date a foreigner in China. If I didn’t manage to talk you out of it, then get ready for the excellent benefits you will enjoy when you are dating a foreigner in China (for anyone keeping score, there are conveniently more positives than negatives!!).
By dating someone from a different country, you organically end up knowing more about their country since things like this often come up in conversation. It’s a great way to understand what life in that country is really like by talking to someone who grew up there and guess what – that’s what we get out of dating you too!
If you’re interested in trying food from different countries, it can sometimes be hard to know whether the dishes you’re ordering or the restaurants you’re eating at are really authentic and a good representation of that country. A foreigner in China will certainly know whether there are any authentic local restaurants with the best dishes of their country, especially in bigger cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. And if there aren’t any places to go out and eat, you may just be fortunate enough for them to be able to cook some of their favourites for you. They may also have a better idea about which Western restaurants have authentic food and not just a Chinese-imagined version.
You Never Lose a “Laowai”
If you have ever had to meet a foreigner in a crowded place in China, you’ll know how easy it is to pick them out of the crowd – physically, we stand out with our Western bodies, Western hair colour and other features so different from many Chinese. And if you can’t see your foreign date in the crowd yourself, asking wait staff “Where’s the foreign lady?” will get you there most times. I once tracked down my visiting family in a giant 3-storey restaurant in about 30 seconds using this helpful strategy! Obviously this is more difficult in bigger Chinese cities in establishments foreigners often frequent. I have occasionally been delivered to the wrong table of foreigners where we exchanged knowing looks and a polite smile and moved on.
Meet New People
As an adult, it can be hard to meet new people and make genuine friendships. For foreigners living in a different country, we naturally gravitate towards other people who can understand us and often those who can also speak our language. And since many foreigners don’t stay in China forever, we have to keep making new friends as old friends move on to new places. The benefit for you is that you’ll probably get a great chance to meet lots of other foreigners from various countries and expand your social circle and contacts quite a bit! The benefit for us foreign ladies is getting to know your good friends and learning more about you through them! I love hanging out with my husband’s friends from school and hearing the stories about him from his younger years.
See Yourself with Fresh Eyes
Before Chinese New Year, I asked my husband about his family traditions for the new year – he really could not think of many and simply said “we do not have many traditions in my family”. After we got home from celebrating the new year at his parents’ home, I asked him why they did some things like leaving one light on all night. He said that was just what you do for Chinese new year – he did not really think of this as a tradition, but that’s just what a tradition is!Sometimes it’s really easier to see your own culture more clearly through the eyes of someone else, having to explain why we do certain things or why we say things in a certain way. I have learnt so much more about my own culture and about English language since I moved to China. It’s really helped me to understand myself and my own country better and that’s gotta be good!
Everyone “knows” foreigners are different, weird and have strange ways of doing things. I joke, of course! But seriously, people can be pretty accommodating to us foreigners when we explain we like to do things a bit differently, or that we perhaps inadvertently cause offence or subvert expectations with our wacky ways. Now I’m not saying to take advantage of that, but it can certainly get you out of some sticky situations…
Being in a WWAM relationship can cause hilarious situations at times, and I often enjoy the weird and crazy things that happen when my husband and I go out together. Like my Beijing born and bred husband being complimented on his Chinese by other Beijingers (because being with a Western woman somehow makes him seem like a foreigner? I don’t know why…). It’s quite hilarious to feel like normal people when others around you are acting like you’re either aliens, famous people or some serious subject that needs to be thoroughly discussed. I still don’t understand the attention, but it generally makes me laugh. I forget how memorable we must be even in Western countries. We once visited a store two days in a row in small town in the US. On the second day, a lady working there commented to us “I saw you two here yesterday” and I felt bad that I couldn’t remember talking to her just one day before, until she explained she hadn’t actually talked to us, but we were very recognisable (especially since my husband is 193cm tall and I’m no short arse myself).
Mutual Admiration Society
Of course the biggest benefit of dating a foreigner should be getting to know this amazing, interesting person and enjoying spending time with them. I’m definitely a big believer in dating people you are attracted to and interested in, regardless of their race (read some of our legendary dating expert Ms Wai’s thoughts on this topic). If you can get past some of the obstacles of dating someone from a different culture, you may just end up finding the love of your life!
What do you think? Are there any benefits you’ve found in your own relationship?