Dear Ms Wai,
My guy and I have been together for a few months now, and we are really close and talk about everything EXCEPT one topic. He never asks me about my romantic past. I’ve asked him about his past relationships (he’s only had one girlfriend, but they seemed serious) but he never wants to talk about me. If I bring up my past he stops me! He knows I’ve had boyfriends before him, but he seems to not want to know anything about them.
What’s up with that? It’s not like I talk to, or see, any of my ex’s so it’s not a jealousy thing. And getting to know someone’s relationship past is really important to getting to know them. How can I make him listen to me?
-Christy in Chongqing
Gurrl, do I ever know what you’re going through. My current guy is actually a long-term friend. When we were just friends he loved to listen to my dating conquests and stories. You know, “the fearless western woman dating local Chinese” kinda stuff. He thought I was so cool.
But then we started dating and he wants no part of it. He’ll stop me if I bring it up and he never asks about it anymore. Weird right?
But I think there are two reasons.
One is just old fashioned tradition. Chalk this up China’s damn traditional culture where the woman should remain “pure” for her husband (while he boinks lot’s of girls with no problem.) Luckily, this isn’t as entrenched as it once was hundreds of years ago. You’ll hear few guys saying their wives need to be virgins, most guys know that unrealistic.
But that doesn’t stop them from hoping their girlfriends are virgins, and I think not talking about past relationships is a way they can trick themselves into thinking that. But as a proud modern woman I think shaming women into silence about sex is a big no-no. To me, women need to talk more openly and with less shame of being called slut, or dirty. So I would never stay quiet about my romantic past our of fear of shame. But I do try not to talk about ex’s with my guys because of another reason.
Remember, in the “world’s eye” Chinese guys are inferior. They know they are least desirable as rated by dating apps, and they know that you, as a western woman, have probably had a lot of western men dating experiences. Maybe more dating experience then they have, which they feel embarrassed by.
Also, some of them are just scared that you are going to compare him to your western ex’s and they will come up lacking.
So, to you and me when we talk about our ex’s we feel like we are sharing a piece of our past which is important to understand us. But that’s not really so common in China. In general Chinese girls and guys rarely talk about their ex’s so they think it’s weird when we keep bringing it up. And then they worry about WHY we bring it up and think we are comparing them, or judging them, and get nervous.
So if you really want to talk about tread lightly. If you had an especially important experience that you really need to share, then by all means tell him. Tell him it’s important and he needs to listen to you. But if you just want to talk about life in general, and your ex’s as part of that, maybe it’s best to keep that part brief.
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