Dating a Chinese man, or perhaps anyone outside your own culture, isn’t the easiest thing to do. There are different ideas, beliefs and customs. Even though we both don’t belong to any religion, my boyfriend is as superstitious as any other Chinese person. He was terrified when he found out that I had taken photographs from a grave yard. He also thinks it is bad for your health to go to sleep with wet hair and bought me a hair dryer.
Being in a relationship and living with a Chinese guy is a process of learning. My boyfriend doesn’t speak any English and our common language is Mandarin Chinese. After learning the language for year and a half in Finland and one year in China, I can manage and survive with it. It means that we aren’t discussing physics, but fortunately topics like, ”what should we eat” and ”what TV channel you want to watch” are more common topics in our relationship.
While dating a Chinese man means that in the end you marry his whole family. At the same time it seems to be that you also let other people to comment and criticize your relationship. Or the others give themselves the right to voice out their opinions.
I have met foreign girls that have asked me what on earth I’m doing with my boyfriend. I have read comments in my own blog from Western guys that think I’m dating downwards and only date my boyfriend because I’m too ugly to get a Westerner. Then there are those Chinese guys that think my boyfriend isn’t good enough because he isn’t rich, he doesn’t have a great job or education and he can’t speak foreign languages. Instead they offer themselves to be my boyfriend.
And it isn’t enough that while being in this relationship I face criticism, it also creates a lot of pressure for my boyfriend. Everyone is assuming him to be something exceptional because he managed to get a girl from the West. Being with a laowai brings him face, but in the same time puts him in a position where he feels safer to avoid the attention.
Like I said earlier, it’s not too easy to be in a relationship with a Chinese guy. Then what is it in him that I see the trouble of learning to understand him in many different levels? Why do I date him against the others advice?
A year ago when we had just started dating and I ended up in a hospital for ten days. It was the hardest thing that has ever happened to me. I was on bed rest and could only walk with a lot of pain. My boyfriend stayed the whole time with me in the hospital helping me every way possible.
He took the risk of losing his job in order to take care of me. He bought me food, that Chinese porridge, 粥(zhou), you are supposed to eat when you are sick. He saw me at my absolute worst, and he accepted every curse I had and still continued taking the best care of me. That was the reason I fell in love with him.
This is my story of a Finnish girl and a Cantonese boy who might sometimes be lost in translation, but never lost in love. And this is just the beginning.
Sara Jaaksola is a Finnish girl who since her childhood had a big dream. A dream to move to China. At the age of 21 she was ready to make that dream come true and settled down in Guangzhou. Soon she found the Chinese guy she was looking for and who can make excellent 土豆丝 tudousi, sliced potatoes.
In her blog, Living a Dream in China (www.sarajaaksola.com), she shares her life, relationship and experiences in China.