Dear Ms. Wai,
HELP ME. I’ve been somewhat lusting after this Chinese guy I’ve met at a bar a few months ago. I’ve been told by some other people that he’s married. So, I’ve been only looking, not touching for several months. But, then the worse could happen. I saw him at the bar just recently and purposely left when he did. Eventually we walked back to near where I live. He and I got Chinese BBQ and beer. I had asked him if he’s married because I heard he was. He said he isn’t! So, we walked me back to my dorm, and not even a few meters of passing through the gate of my university, he kisses me! Not just once while walking me back, several times!
But, honestly, I think he’s lying to me and believe he’s actually married. So, how do I stop lusting after married Chinese men and not know they’re married? I know I shouldn’t talk to him anymore, as in fact, I don’t have his contact information. But, I almost always see him at one particular bar!
It’s so obnoxious that a lot of the men don’t wear wedding rings here in China because it’s mostly a Western culture concept. What should I do?
Not a Homewrecker!
It’s true that identifying a married man, or even a taken man, can be tricky at times. Chinese people don’t gossip or ask their friends about their relationships as much as us westerners do. I had one student confess at a dinner that she was going to marry her boyfriend of three years after graduation. Her roommates burst into tears because they were best friends and they had no idea she was seeing someone. So even young people can go to great lengths to keep their relationships secret.
On the other side, so is divorce. There is still a culture of shame surrounding divorce, or separation, and not openly talking about it, even with your friends, is pretty common. Also, many marriages have happened more out of family obligation and pressure than real love and emotions so the couple ends up more like roommates, or sometimes, not even that. While technically married they can have separate lives even living apart in different cities and their friends and family might not know anything about it.
So how can you, a single girl just trying to do the right thing, be sure?
First off, what is his age? If he’s 28-29 or older, then chances are he’s married. Men and women marry young in China, and a good looking guy with a stable job and enough extra money to hang out at a bar will likely be taken.
If you do meet a guy older than his late 20’s who says he isn’t married it is perfectly fine to ask why (it’s not rude, so don’t be worried about that). If he says something like he was studying abroad for the past 4 years, or he broke up with his girlfriend of three years recently, some sort of plausible reason, then you can believe him. While most guys get married young, some do put off marriage until later.
If he acts vague or kinda clueless like he hasn’t thought about it much, then you should be worried. No Chinese guy can get to 28 without dealing with this question from all their friends and family all the time. So they will have a very clear answer. If they don’t, then be worried.
Also, if you start dating and you always meet out and go back to your place, you should be a bit suspicious. If you ask him to see his place, or suggest a movie at his house and he refuses, that is another warning sign. He might live with his parents, and he might not want you to meet them until it is serious, but if that’s the case, then he should tell you. If he makes vague excuses every time, then chances are there is a woman (and possibly child) at home he doesn’t want you to see.
Unfortunately cheating in China isn’t as morally reprehensible as it is in the West. In the not-too-distant past it was open and almost a status symbol for married men to have girlfriends. And because you are a foreigner, and therefore seen as “more open” married men might think you are a better option for a secret lover than a local woman.
And honestly, if you are looking for just a fling or a one-night stand and you directly ask if he is married and he says no, then you can enjoy those kisses guilt free. You did your part and if he he’s a liar, then it is on him, not you.
But if you want a real relationship or something that could get serious, then you need to figure this out quickly, before emotions get involved. First you need to get his contact info, then you need to go on a daytime date without drinks and shadowy romantic streets involved. You need to see if you get along in the light of day and then you need to talk to him about these things (such as ask him why everyone says he is married), and get involved in his life so you can be certain.
And I always advise people to go with your gut. Sounds like your gut is against this guy, so you might want to listen. China’s a big place with a surplus of males. There are other options besides married men out there and I have no doubt you can find a guy both you and your gut can agree on.
What do you think? Have you ever accidentally dated a married guy? Tell us your story in the comment.
Do you have a question for Ms. Wai? Write to her at [email protected].