Featured image by: AnonMoos [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Attraction is a mysterious thing. It cannot be manifested out of will, nor can it be extinguished by determination. We often hear that “opposites attract,” while simultaneously being encouraged to find a mate with whom we share common interests. Each and every pairing has its own special recipe for what leads to that ultimate love reaction. In this group post we thought we’d share what attracted each of us to the special man in our life.
Question: What attracted you to your mate?
Heather Caveney of An American Tomboy in Mongolia
While my husband will say he experienced “love at first seen;” I was slow to discover my love for him. But there was something about him that captivated me from the start–his words. In those first days we spent around one another, I listened intently to everything he said, and asked. I was intrigued by his questions and observations. At the end of six days, he whispered “I love you” into my ear before I boarded a plane to return to the U.S. His words shocked me! Who was this man that so confidently expressed himself?
For the next four and a half months I experienced and got to know him better through words alone. No visuals or pictures. No video conferences. Only the written word. Through Facebook Messenger and International texts he courted me with beautiful and poetic words. He made me feel like a queen and I acquired a list of nicknames (something I’d coveted for many years and which my first name did not lend itself to well), starting with “princess” and ending with “mittens girl.” With thousands of miles and an ocean between us, physical attraction/lust could not cloud the equation. But it did create quite the gamble when he bought a plane ticket to come to the U.S. so that we could find out if we had the magic we thought we’d conjured up with all the words and the sentiments they carried.
His words, like him, were brave and bold. He didn’t play games, but spoke his truth every step of the way. The night before he professed his love, he said, “If I have any chance to have your hand, I’m going to take it!” And so he did. His words were the wind that fanned that small spark he’d ignited in my heart which over time became a strong and steady burning flame.
Laura Nutchey-Feng of Our Chinese Wedding
I had to think about this question long and hard. I still don’t feel that I can pinpoint the one true thing about my husband that attracted me to him. We actually almost didn’t happen. I don’t tell this story very often, but for about 2-3 months after we met, I insisted that we were just “didi” and “jiejie”, little brother and big sister – I’ll have to tell you the whole story another time. The reason was that on our first hangout – not official date – he announced that his parents wanted him to marry a foreigner because his dad wanted him to get a foreign passport and his mum wanted little mixed babies. Way to scare off a Western woman!
However, one of the things I really love about him is his honesty. Sure, I don’t love it so much, when he walks in and tells me I’ve put on weight. But I appreciate that he’s direct to the point of pain and rarely does the whole “communicating with hidden meaning” bit that can be common in Chinese culture. Yes, sometimes it’s not what you want to hear, but it means I can trust him 100%. Add to that a spiffing sense of humor; he is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and we spend a lot of our time talking nonsense and joking about. Here’s to defying the stereotype that Chinese aren’t funny; he’ll have a room full of laowais cracking up at him in minutes. Then there’s the fact that he is incredibly caring. (HA! You thought I meant car in the title didn’t you?) If I am sick, he will go out of his way to take care of me. If any of our friends need help, he is always the first to step in and assist. I admire that. And finally, and most importantly, he is accepting of who I am. And what am I exactly? A woman who loves her freedom, who is a wife but would hate the idea of acting like one, who enjoys going to bars and drinking with her colleagues and who just needs a life outside of being a wife. And I know many Chinese men who wouldn’t be able to accept that.
He Cherished Me
Jocelyn Eikenburg of Speaking of China
When I first met Jun, I was nursing a major heartbreak. I had just broken up with someone and spent much of my days in the office – the place where we both worked – in a melancholy funk.
To cheer me up, a mutual friend invited us both back to her hometown in Zhejiang Province for the weekend. That’s when I really got to know Jun. He kept making me laugh during the whole trip, to the point that I couldn’t help smiling (and even flirting) in his presence. I also discovered he was the kind of guy who really cared about your problems. When I finally opened up about my failed relationship, he listened in a way that made me feel heard and understood.
We exchanged numbers after that weekend and soon became close friends in the office. I would dig for any possible excuse just to visit him in the adjacent department – collaborating on a translation, editing some work for a client. I couldn’t wait for that moment when he would pull out the chair beside him and invite me to sit down in a prim British accent, as if I were a long lost Western princess arriving for a visit to his palace.
In fact, whenever I think about our courtship, I have to say I never felt more cherished by a man before. After all, this is a guy who cared so much for me he would accompany me the entire evening after work, from the gym to my apartment door. A man who would text me every evening without fail just to say “good night.”
It’s no wonder, then, that when he finally asked me out for an official date, it was perhaps the most romantic evening I had ever had. A candlelit dinner for two at a cozy vegetarian restaurant, followed by a walk under the stars beside the West Lake (and a lakeside kiss on a bench).
From that moment on, my heart would never be broken again by another man. And I would cherish him forevermore.
He Ticked All the Boxes
Susie Hart of Daily Susily
Attraction always sparks from the physical side for me, but whether that spark will sizzle into something big or fizzle out with barely a puff of smoke depends on much more than looks. I was standing next to him at a gig, and as I looked up there was an instant ZAP so powerful that before I knew it, I was talking to him, even with no idea of what I wanted to say. Luckily he laughed at my awkward pickup line and we started chatting.
As we got to know each other over the next few weeks, he turned out to be smart and kind and not too serious. He just seemed to magically tick all the boxes I had on that list in my head – non-smoker, music lover, movie lover, easygoing… He loves to read, and I really admire that about him, this thirst for knowledge, over and above the easy instant gratification that so many of us get sucked into these days. And he’s had a great impact on me too, inspiring me to get back into reading more and supporting me on the things I care about. We find fun together – in silly jokes between us, finding uncrowded spots to enjoy an afternoon or a meal or drink together, and in dividing up the housework into who hates each task the least.
It all works so naturally between us that I really believe fate brought us together, with a little help from a few drinks and my dodgy pickup line.
Sarah Wang from Diaries of a Yangxifu
The first thing that struck me about my husband was his freckles. I had never seen freckles on a Chinese face before and I thought it was beautiful. Add to the fact that he was tall, athletic and handsome and I was intrigued from the beginning.
Looking back, my husband definitely approached our dating in a Chinese way of discussing family background and hopes and dreams, but I found him endearing. The more I got to know him, I got to know he is brave, with a strong sense of justice. An example I learned early on was when he was exploited by a Chinese landlord in the UK, who tried to keep his rent deposit. My husband fought him through the court system, where most students away from home would simply accept the loss, despite this causing stress.
I was also interested to learn how he had been befriended by Christian group members at university, apparently a common method among university religious groups, particularly as young Chinese come from a religious void. He accepted their friendship, enjoyed the cultural experience of visiting real British homes, and kept an open mind as to their message. However, ultimately he decided Christianity wasn’t for him. I was impressed by his open mind and balanced approach.
When I look back on our early days, I often think back to our fateful and romantic first meeting, when I sat down on a wall in a public square, before he struck up a conversation and we spent the rest of the day together. With such a special start, I know it was meant to be, and I hope we can maintain that momentum for many years to come.
Because It’s Him
The uncontrollable beating of your heart when you stand in front of your someone may take you by surprise.
I used to ask my father about his love at first sight experience and he always told me that when you know, you just know. It must be in our genes. That day I opened the door of my flat in Gansu and saw him standing there, I just knew. It was like a serial knotted thread had linked us together all those years but I had suddenly managed to untangle it. The barriers between us disintegrated and there he was. I knew nothing about him other than the fact it was him.
His memory of that day is very much different from mine as he recalls a rather rude and standoffish foreigner. Even now he doesn’t believe that for me it was love at first sight. However, my rudeness was due to the shock at finding him so unexpectedly. I was unprepared.
Over the next few days I noticed: the star shaped creases in the corner of his eyes – the way they smile; his caring nature – the way he noticed that the reason I didn’t join in table tennis was because I couldn’t play so he taught me; how even when I smile, he knows if something is worrying me – the way he wants to share my load.
I was young, unprepared, and leaving China in just four months but there were no barriers to break my fall. I hit the ground, I was in love…but he had no idea.