Dear Ms. Wai – What’s a Good First Date?

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Dear Ms. Wai,

I’ve dated a few Chinese guys and they always seem to be wishy-washy on where to go on the first few dates. They leave it up to me, but I come up with these active ideas, like ice skating or hiking (I think physical things are more fun) yet guys seem to be against it. Even active and fit guys hem and haw their way out of those kind of dates. I get kinda annoyed they make ME decide what to do and then bash my ideas.  

So can you give me a few good date ideas for next time?

-Hiker Gal

Dear Hiker,

First off, I like the cut of your jib sailor! You seem like you are a woman who treats dating asians as normal and everyday and not at all special or weird. I wish more women were like that. So keep it up!

So now, onto your problem. It is a weird phenomenon that Chinese guys seem to leave the dates up to their ladies, especially in the beginning. I think it’s a kind of courtesy. They want you to be comfortable and they want to be seen as making you happy and letting you choose the dates seems almost gentlmanly to many Chinese guys.

But you’re coming up against resistance and I have a feeling I know what that is about. I’m gonna guess you are unintentionally intimidating guys.

It’s already hard enough for a Chinese guy to date a foreigner. Remember, they’re coming from a really insecure place. They know few western woman date asian, they know that asians aren’t considered very sexy in the world’s eye and they know their reputation for being…well….”smaller” than other races. Add that to all the sterotypes about western women (we only like rich guys, we are hard to satisfy etc.) even a confident guy can crumble.

Then you’re asking them to do something a bit physical where they have a large likelihood of looking stupid or weak. I’m guessing their thoughts aren’t “wow, a hike would be fun!” but “Oh my god, what if she’s faster than me and I can’t keep up? What if I get sweaty and out of breath and look weak? What if I try ice skating and fall on my ass the whole time? She’s gonna hate me.”

They want to look good and have you like them so I’m gonna guess that’s why these more active dates aren’t sitting well with them. First dates are nerve-wracking enough without the worry of looking a total loser.

So what to do instead? I’m guessing you’re not a “dinner and a movie” kinda gal but I do think dinners are a good way to meet someone, chat and get to know them. But if you don’t like the traditional approach, why not do something food related like go on a picnic? Pack a blanket, a thermos of homemade sangria, get KFC to go and find a park to laze about for a few hours.

Picnics are great dates to get to know each other but not be confined to a restaurant.

Or how about finding a “safe” activity that isn’t too stressful like going to a museum or a craft fair or some music show. I don’t know what city you live in, but even the boonies has things going on. DIY shops are getting bigger in China and your city might have some where you can go bake your own cakes, decorate your own mugs, make some pottery. Something like that is a little safer and more relaxing.

If you really want to do something active and outdoors I would suggest finding an organized activity that people do in a group, like Hash House Harriers. This is a international group that has many chapters all over China that arranges group walks/runs. If there is a group your guy will be less intimidated and possibly more willing to try it out because he can be certain to be faster than the older people or little kids in attendance.

I’m not usually the type of woman who pushes ladies to coddle the fragile male ego, but in the case of first dates, go easy on the poor guys. Chinese guys find western women a little intimidating, and doing something wild and uncomfortable on the first few dates might be too much for many.

So save bungee jumping and camping trips when you are more serious and more relaxed around each other. Take it easy on the poor guys and do something a little bland so he can focus on you and getting to know you, and not worry about saving face.

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Ms Wai

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