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Peter lived for nearly a half-decade in China, including two as a Peace Corps volunteer, and is the author of Socrates in Sichuan: Chinese Students Search for Truth, Justice and the (Chinese) Way. It is the intention of his blog to foster the sort of intercultural understanding necessary for long term relationships.
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First Sight    

By Peter V
1932 Views | 7 Comments | 8/30/2015 4:04:42 PM

I arrived at the airport early, my mind a jumble of conflicting emotions. Excited, yes, about the possibility of a relationship with the Chinese woman I was going to meet; nervous, of course, about how we would get along, what we would talk about, what the weather would be like on our camping trip. But the dominant emotion was dread—the dread that comes from anticipating a confrontation with the unknown, the outcome of which is both significant and uncontrollable. Within a nanosecond of meeting face to face—before the words “how was your flight?” would leave my lips—I would know whether this relationship had a future.


I’ve never experienced love at first sight. But I do seem possessed of a particular initial instinct when it comes to relationships, a perverse version of the phenomenon that might be referred to as “definitely-not-love at first sight.” The philosopher Socrates claimed to have a voice that dissuaded him from performing certain actions but never actually nudged him in a positive or constructive direction. Just so, at the initial meeting with a woman a signal sometimes goes off informing me that there is no sexual chemistry/physical connection between this woman and myself, dooming forever the possibility of taking the relationship to a deep or meaningful level.


Before you attack Western men in general and me in particular for being overly focused on the sexual element in a relationship, I will simply state my belief that unless there is a primal physical pull, unless the desire to rip each other’s clothes off is front and center, exists in a way that transcends all other appetites, common sense and social decorum, in other words, unless she lights you up like a Christmas tree, a relationship is a weakened, crippled thing.


And for me, that initial meeting informs me whether that sexual element is possible. When I have ignored it thinking that a sexual relationship could develop over time despite my body’s clear warning, I have invariably regretted the decision. A relationship is truly a journey of 10,000 steps, and for me that first one—the one that tells me whether there is any possibility of a physical connection—while not the most important step, is a necessary one. It is not so much that a spark develops that can ultimately lead to a bonfire; rather that initial meeting informs me whether it even makes sense to attempt to build a campfire.


Granted, focusing excessively on sexual attraction in a relationship can result in all sorts of negative consequences, from depleted bank accounts to severe depression to warts on parts of the body where there should not be warts. In addition, the physical connection is by no means the entirety of a relationship, is not even the most important part. Undoubtedly spiritual, emotional, and intellectual compatibility must be established, a meeting of minds and souls must occur. But the body cannot be an unwilling partner in this enterprise, dragged along like a boyfriend on a shopping trip. A relationship without that sexual core is like coffee without caffeine. I mean, I know people drink decaffeinated coffee; I just never understood why, nor had any interest in consuming it myself.


That sexual attraction itself develops over time and is rarely if ever present at the first meeting, at least in my experience. But develop it must; for trying to have long term relationship without that attraction is like trying to bake a cake without flour and eggs. The sexual energy is the raw material that has to be there for the relationship to move forward, to be transformed into deep and abiding love. And so I waited, trying to keep my mind off the fateful decision about to take place. In a sense I was hoping for, well, nothing. Nothing would be the best outcome, because nothing, no sign, would mean that something might develop.


Granted, the prospects were promising. I liked her photos, and that interest was confirmed and even strengthened through video chatting. But despite visual evidence, ultimately the body makes a decision in person. The body has a wisdom that transcends an intellectual or spiritual connection you might have with a person, even goes beyond visual verification. Scientists declare smell plays a role in physical attraction, and they might be right. All I know is that at the initial meeting with a woman my body makes a decision that is arrived at unconsciously and is irrevocable. If the body says no at this point, all the emotional, intellectual and spiritual compatibility is in vein, as useless as a condom for a eunuch.


At the Tucson airport a video monitor shows the arriving passengers as they make their way into the baggage area. I spotted her for maybe two seconds as she strolled across the video screen—too short of a time to draw any conclusion, and beside I had already seen her on video, and in much better light. The lack of the negative sign at this point was not the positive indicator I was looking for. That would have to wait until we actually stood together, face to face.


My first in-person sighting was of her coming down the escalator. She appeared lost in thought, perhaps reflecting on the wisdom of flying all this distance as I was on the advisability of inviting her out in the first place. She looked up as she stepped off the moving staircase, spotted me, and smiled. As we approached each other I tried to keep my mind off the verdict but was no more successful than a defendant in a capital case as the jury files into the room after it’s just been announced that a decision has been reached. What would the outcome be? I would know in a few footsteps.
 

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
Comments
(Showing 1 to 7 of 7) 1
#2015-08-30 17:25:54 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Damn it, Peter, I believe you have definitely leaped way out in front of all bloggers in the cliffhanger department. What an amazing buildup to an ending that is yet to come! Bravo! (clap)

Regarding the necessity of the sexual element to be compelling in order for a long term relationship to work, I couldn't agree more. But I have to say that, in my case at least, I have learned that my sexual attraction antennae are not always accurate on first meetings. I met a nurse once while hospitalized for a seriously life threatening blood clotting episode in which the good doctors had announced to my family that my chances of surviving were not good. This lady was physically attractive enough that you could appreciate it in spite of her truly dowdy nurse's uniforms, but through the haze of pain and painkillers, I could hardly appreciate it.

But her kindness and caring for me really stood out. Then as I recovered and started to function at more of a street smart level, I found a few of the many nurses around me to be sexually appealing, but she wan't one of them. However, of them all, she was the one who went far above and beyond the call of duty to really take care of me, and I adored her as a person, as a friend, almost as a saint, but I felt not the slightest indicator in my little head that she was even of the female gender. Zip. Nada.

We became great friends but nothing more.

Then about 5 weeks into my hospital stay she was informed by one of my family members who was visiting how much I enjoyed a good coffee and how woefully inadequate the coffee was in the hospital. She mentioned that she absolutely loved a good coffee too. A few days later she suggested that she thought we'd become more than nurse and patient, but good friends, and she hoped maybe we could get together for a coffee once in a while after I got out of the hospital and maintain the friendship.

I was happy to oblige because I felt I almost owed her my life, and I instantly agreed that we should keep our platonic friendship alive. At the same time I was totally attracted to a different nurse on a sexual level, and had already arranged for a night out on the town as soon as I got out. There was no question in my mind which one of these two women had the potential to be my life partner, and it wasn't the one who had kept me alive when I needed her most, because there was just no sexual attraction there at all.

A few days after getting out, by coincidence I found myself scheduled to meet my nurse/friend for a coffee during the afternoon of the evening I was set to meet my nurse/seductress for a drink.

I had arrived at the chosen coffee shop to meet my nurse/friend a little ahead of the arranged time, so I was sitting enjoying a mugga by the window when I saw her car pull up. I watched as she stepped out of her car, and saw her for the first time in something other than her nurse uniform. She came strolling towards the coffee shop (and me) in a tight little t-shirt, short shorts and hiking boots. She had maybe the best legs I'd ever seen on a woman, walked in a manner that just exuded confidence and sexuality and as our eyes met she smiled at me as if she owned me, and at that moment she did.

Three years later we'd enjoyed an amazingly hot and satisfying relationship that was founded on all good things, and was topped off with a sexual compatibility that just wouldn't quit. I had been totally misguided in thinking she was not "my type". There was really no doubt that we would be together forever.

But then she moved in with me in the town where I lived, which is one of the most beautiful locations in Canada, only she found that she missed her job back home, and missed her family and she finally moved back to her old life. We continued to enjoy the relationship as we had, but there was now a nagging knowledge that if we were to plan a life together I'd have to move to her.

While I contemplated doing that, I found myself planning on a two week business trip to China, and nothing has been the same ever since.

But for me, clearly first premonitions that sexual heat is not in the cards can be false premonitions. So on that point we differ.

#2015-08-30 18:02:18 by Barry1 @Barry1

@woaizhongguo

"unless there is a primal physical pull, unless the desire to rip each other’s clothes off is front and center, exists in a way that transcends all other appetites, common sense and social decorum, in other words, unless she lights you up like a Christmas tree, a relationship is a weakened, crippled thing."

Peter, I agree with your viewpoint on just about everything the vast majority of times. But on this aspect, alas, I must disagree.

Your words above - that "unless there is a primal physical pull, unless the desire to rip each other’s clothes off is front and center, exists in a way that transcends all other appetites" reminds me of a pubescent teenager with an overbalanced surfeit of hormones surging through his body.

I say this with the greatest respect, as I know you're a smart and wise person. But how can a gentleman your age (I'm guessing you're in your forties?) think like how I imagine a pimply pubescent teenager would feel as he sized up the girls around him?

I relate for example, to dear Tina, with whom I've shared a longish relationship with and will again be seeing very soon. At no point in time do I believe either of us have felt like "ripping each other's clothes off".

We respect and love each other in many varied ways. Sex and physical attraction is one of them but is no where near the top of the tree.

You also said,

"sexual energy is the raw material that has to be there for the relationship to move forward, to be transformed into deep and abiding love"

I must disagree, at least for me.

I feel that a person's overall personality; spirituality; intellect; and pleasing appearance (not necessarily in a sexual way) are the primary factors that allow a relationship to move forward. Unless of course, one is a pubescent teenager with too many hormones. Sex for Tina and I would rank in about number four or five position, certainly not in the top one or two.

I know you're far from being a pubescent teenager, Peter. You're in fact an extremely intelligent, decent and thoughtful person. But on this issue at least, we will have to agree to disagree, notwithstanding your words that "physical connection is by no means the entirety of a relationship, is not even the most important part."

By the way, you also mentioned,

" as useless as a condom for a eunuch."

Did you know that condoms can in fact have multiple other uses, apart from the obvious one? For example, they're good for smuggling drugs, if you need to ever carry something inside yourself. Sex workers also swear that the lubricant on condoms is great for clearing up acne outbreaks, if you rub it on your face.

If you're lost in the desert and need an emergency water canteen, simply fill up a few condoms with a couple of pints of water. Or if you're on a bus and badly need to go to the toilet, break out a condom and have a pee straight into it.

If you're on a hike and it starts pouring down rain, or if you have to take a ride in a canoe, break out a condom and cover your mobile phone and other precious goods with it, for secure waterproofing.

Condoms are great also to make balloon animals, when next you're at a children's party. Just have an answer prepared in your head if a precocious child suddenly asks you, "Hey, what do you normally use those things for?"

Yep, condoms are mighty useful things, even for a eunuch. :D

Best wishes to you, Peter. A well written and interesting article. (y)

#2015-08-31 02:36:08 by woaizhongguo @woaizhongguo

@JohnAbbott: I would say just to clarify that it is not that I find a woman sexually appealing at first sight. What I was talking about is that I do occasionally get turned off at first sight, my body informing me that there is no possibility of connection. And it is not an issue of physical appearance but of something else that is hard even to put into words because it has happened with otherwise attractive women. I have also had your experience of sexual attraction developing as a result of certain experiences. For me one of those experiences can be intellectual. I recall one woman whom I would not describe as attractive becoming very desirable to me over the course of a class I was taking with her by seeing the way her mind worked. But importantly I did not get the negative signal at the start that I sometimes get from what can be even an attractive woman when my body just says, no, not interested.

@Barry1: I obviously didn't expect everyone to agree with me about the role of sexual attraction in a relationship, and certainly understand the alternate view. And, at the end of the day, I claim to speak for no one but myself. But I should also point out I said that sexual energy was not the most important thing; rather, my claim was that it had to be there (for me)or that a relationship would not work. Although I am talking for no one but myself, I would point to Plato's discussion of Eros in the Symposium of putting in a much more poetic way of what I am trying to get at.

Regarding usage, I tend to be an Aristotelian. Every object has a function, and one can only truly talk about use when one talks it terms of an objects unique function. I used to tell my students that sperm can be use as a hair gel (ala the movie Something About Mary), but its true use is what it is made to do, namely, impregnate the egg. Since I do not make a practice of carrying around condoms I probably won't have a chance to test out their ability to protect mobile phones, but don't doubt you are correct (I'm a little more skeptical of their ability to be transformed into balloon animals). Still, in an Aristotelian sense, that would not be the use of a condom.

Thanks as always for your thoughtful response

#2015-08-31 06:20:49 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

Peter....unlike Barry, I agree with you 100% on this point

John....your story is interesting but I think it adds weight to Peter's argument rather than diminish it
The way people dress themselves can promote or reduce the 'primal pull' (as Peter so eloquently puts it)

Had your life-saving-nurse been dressed in perhaps something other than her work uniform, maybe you would have been sexually attracted to her much sooner.

This fact alone emphasises what Peter has written so well

Can't wait for part 2

Hmmm, cliffhanger competition anyone ?

#2015-08-31 13:12:57 by melcyan @melcyan

@JohnAbbot
 “I have learned that my sexual attraction antennae are not always accurate on first meetings.”

John, I agree with you. I met my partner nearly 3 years before our relationship started. Not only did I get to see her with my eyes, I was able to feel her body against mine. (Ballroom dancing has a lot going for it!)

When I started ballroom dancing my focus was more on learning to dance rather than meeting women. I found it to be a great stress release. For me, dancing required my full concentration. While I was learning to dance all my problems disappeared.

My sexual attraction antennae were not working the first time I met my partner. (One of my fears when I started dancing classes was that my sexual attraction antennae would pop up at the wrong moment!) A year later I asked her if she would be my dancing partner in a higher level dancing class. (You can see I am a fast mover!) This time my sexual attraction antennae were working. However, the dancing teacher did not allow us to partner because I was not a good enough dancer. She was a much better dancer than I was.

Not long after this set back I started online dating. After 18 months of online dating, a chance encounter brought us together again in an intimate setting. The fireworks started and never stopped. In fact, they burn brighter and brighter with each passing year.

On reflection I think men would do much better at relationship development if they could turn off their sexual attraction antennae for a while and find out what a woman is really like. Before our relationship started we got to know each other at a distance and witness how we treated other people. We developed a great deal of respect for each other before we finally developed a relationship.

#2015-08-31 15:14:41 by Barry1 @Barry1

@woaizhongguo

"I do not make a practice of carrying around condoms"

What was that?

You don't carry around condoms?

My God, I thought every man worth his salt always had half a dozen of these useful little rubber things stuck in their pockets at all times.

I'm sure our good friend Paul has at least two or three dozen of them on his person at any particular time.

Be prepared always, Peter. Just in case you have an opportunity to "get lucky", even if it's on the metro train between your home and your work.

You may have heard of the "mile high" club?

There's also a "metro train" club and I for one, want to see your name included within its exultant albeit risque, risk-taking membership!! 8)(rofl)

#2015-09-03 14:06:26 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

@woaizhongguo Peter, I actually did understand your meaning that you had a sort of reliable sixth sense, if you will, that may not tell you if someone IS sexually a good match for you even if they are, but will always tell you if someone IS NOT a good match for you if they are not.

What I was trying to express is that I clearly do not have such a reliable sixth sense, because my sexual attraction antennae were telling me that my nurse friend WAS NOT a sexually good match for me when clearly she was. To this day I have regretted that misjudgment, because I can only imagine how much more enjoyable my long stay in the hospital might have been had my antennae not been giving me the wrong signal.

It seems that @melcyan suspects that he too has faulty antennae in this regard.

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