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John Abbot is co-owner of Married to a lovely Chinese Lady and living in China, John knows and respects China, Chinese Women, Chinese People and Chinese Culture. His blog will include good stuff about Online Dating, Chinese Women, International Relationships and Things Chinese. Join John Abbot on Google+
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Is it Possible to Over Analyze a Cross Cultural Relationship?    

By John Abbot
4973 Views | 16 Comments | 7/16/2014 9:45:35 AM

How much analysis in a Cross Cultural relationship is too much?

Lily has just posted a great blog in which she describes how her online Chinese dating relationship with a Swedish man evolved and ultimately wound down. It really is a terrific read to get an idea about the thinking process a Chinese woman might go through over the course of determining whether a Western man is right for her or not. I think more than anything, it really tells us how much thought and analysis women put into relationships as compared to men. This is perhaps even more true of Chinese women than most other women, and it is perhaps even more true of Lily than of most Chinese women. But nonetheless there is little doubt that women do a lot more analyzing than men in the relationship game.

You can, and should, read Lily's blog "Say Goodbye to My Sweden Love" before reading the rest of this article, because it is written as a comment on Lily's blog, and will lose much meaning if you haven't read her's first.

As a member of the much, much, much simpler gender, I am astounded at how much thought you put into almost every communication Lily. Frankly, I am amazed you can even remember some of them at this late date, let alone remember the deeply thought out conclusions that each one lead you to.

It scares me to death to think that my wife might yet be analyzing our relationship on a daily basis in such depth based on comments I make, because as a fairly standard male, I have put absolutely zero thought into 99% of them. If she's expecting all of them to have some sort of real meaning, and passing judgment on that basis about the soundness of being with me long term, then I am likely doomed.(sweat)

Having said that, here are a few thoughts of mine on specific issues you raised, from a male POV:

1. "I said to him that we are not suitable for each other since I felt he is a incommunicative (little on speaking, expressing or reaction), a little self-concentered and less caring person."

Studies show that in general, in Western cultures, males speak far fewer words per day than females, and that in most conversations between men and women the women do most of the talking.  Different studies have arrived at different numbers, but the one I remember best by a University in the USA suggested that women speak roughly 20,000 words a day and men roughly 7,000. I may not have the numbers exactly right, but this I'm sure I am close.

(I can't say that this is true of Chinese men vs Chinese women, because to me it just feels like all Chinese are talking all the time. And most of the time both genders are talking about food.) (rofl)

Based on that, you should not expect too much banter in responses from Western men unless you are talking about the World Cup, Superbowl, World Series or Stanley Cup, in which case you should sit back and be prepared to listen.

Generally my wife speaks to me in paragraphs and I respond to her in short 1 syllable grunts.

But of course there are male exceptions to this, and you might well wish to make that a "condition" of yours in finding your perfect match. 

2.  "What he trying to focus on is not my personalities, the compatibility and our happy communication or feelings and more on income, house and taking care of him instead."

If, indeed, he really was focused on you taking care of him, then I agree with you that is a clear danger sign.  I find it hard to imagine a good Western man entertaining the idea of finding a woman to take care of him in his older years. Most of us are ultra concerned NOT to place that burden on the one that we love.  Probably my greatest concern about our future is that my lovely wife not be stuck wheeling me around in a wheel chair babbling incoherently in our later years. I don't wish to be remembered that way at all.

So if he is really, seriously, talking about you taking care of him in the future, there's something wrong and you should be wary. However, if he casually, almost laughingly, mentioned it once (like Imi's disastrous joke with Lily) then you may well have mistaken a little sarcastic humor, meant to convey that he in no way wants you to have to take care of him, for something sinister instead. Be careful how you interpret small, sometimes innocently intended, attempts at western humor.

3. "He seems intend to tell me we will sleep together but I said if that suite is with two room/beds that will be great. He did not response much and then I said I will book my hotel and we can meet in some place. He said it is no problem and I can choose any way I think is the most comfortable way I feel and he will pay everything. I was expecting he will say "I respect you and I will book 2 rooms for us" but he did not."

I'm sorry to say but I personally think you went overboard in this conversation and with your analysis. 

First, I imagine he was feeling out your thoughts on sleeping together and a little shy to come right out with it. Your response was a little blunt, by which I mean you might have responded by saying you're a little shy about sleeping in the same room on first meeting and would he mind booking a second room for you. When you simply said a second room "would be great" you left him in a difficult position to quickly respond.

I too would have been searching hard for the right words to say, and I suspect you experienced what we refer to as "a pregnant pause", basically meaning a lengthy pause in the conversation while the person expected to respond thinks of the right thing to say. Usually he is taking a while because he is looking for a smart and important response. 

You probably relieved him from having to think of something to respond by interrupting the quiet spell, but when he then said "it is no problem and I can choose any way I think is the most comfortable way I feel and he will pay everything" it is hard to imagine how he could be more respectful nor make it more clear that he planned to pay for your costs. Your two concerns were fully answered; he was not insistent that you would sleep together and was honoring your wishes, and he advised he fully expected to pay for everything even though you had indicated you'd be booking a different hotel for yourself.

Somehow you expected him to not only be understanding and gracious and accept your wishes, which he was and he did, but you also expected him to read your mind and respond with the exact words you were hoping for. But how could he possibly know, after you told him you were going to book another hotel, that you wanted him to say "I respect you and I will book 2 rooms for us".  In fact, if he had said that it would have been denying your stated wish.

Western men do not read Western women's minds, so they surely cannot read a Chinese woman's mind.

But what he did do was basically say he was going to leave it entirely up to you to decide what you wished and follow your plan, and he was going to pay the costs whatever you decided. To me, that was the time to stop analyzing and say to yourself "this is a nice man who must really care for me and respect me, for him to come all the way to China, at great expense and paying all the costs, without even having any expectations other than simply meeting me".

In conclusion, I think in #1 you made a reasonable call to think maybe this man was not a great communicator in the way you would like, and it might be wise of you to seek someone who is more talkative and open. In #2 I think that if he really was talking seriously about "expecting you to take care of him" then you were wise to back away from him, but I wonder if he might have just made a brief joking comment which you over analyzed that and turned it into something worse than what it was. In #3 I think you clearly over analyzed what was going on, and in the process failed to recognize a good man being exceptionally giving to you.

I am not trying to criticize you, because in cross cultural relationships, and even in same cultural relationships, we all make mistakes and have misunderstandings all the time, but I am trying to give you some idea of how a Western man might interpret the same things you have described and interpreted in a much different way than you did.

In the end, I suspect that you actually were already feeling in your heart that this was not the man for you, and you started to think your way out of it. By over analyzing everything he did and said, you were able to do that. Sometimes we hear our hearts telling us something, but we're afraid to believe what we're hearing.

I'll sign off now as I believe I just used up almost all 7,000 of my allotted words for today. Great blog, Lily, great blog.

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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#2014-07-16 11:00:11 by melcyan @melcyan

Over analysis and blind faith are both deadly. A person should be able to say what is important to them in a few paragraphs. Words can be misleading. The intent and authenticity of the chosen words are made clear by past and present actions.

So many online daters act as if they are playing a game of “musical chairs”. To overcome this you need to put all thoughts of “missing out” out of your head. The only relationship you are guaranteed to have forever is the one you have with yourself. Make sure it is a good one. Without a good relationship with yourself you are destined to fail in your relationships with others (or at least fail to have a quality relationship with another).

#2014-07-16 13:38:11 by YinTingYu @YinTingYu

@John Abbot
Hello Mr. Abbot,...John.
I want to thank you sincerely for making this website.
Really is a good thing for all,... despite possible scammers.
I don't want to come across as too much.
Just wants to thank you for making the "cross cultural" experience available.
I am grateful.
It gives me some hope.
OK, got it.
There seems to be so many who search for a good and solid partner.
I think it is so easy and,.... hard at same time.
I wish to share my findings.
I just don't know how to do.
I guess,...I just reply to "blog articles" for now.
But anyway, respond to so many topics/articles "square on".
I like it,... for all.
Hopes you keep on doing.
Peace and Blessings,

#2014-07-16 14:48:35 by Barry1 @Barry1


What a great article by Lily and then such a well thought out, comprehensive response by you, John. All of us here are learning more and more just about every day about cross-cultural relationships from this website.

On a humorous note, as far as communication abilities compare between men and women, I suggest Lily read the following article. I think it explains everything Lily will ever need to know in this area re dialogue between the sexes. (rofl)

#2014-07-16 15:09:12 by zqy2014 @zqy2014

Hi John:

Thanks for you that would like to take much of your time to think about my blog and have a very long comments here. I know they are all for true words from your heart like a friend or brother.I appreciate all your attention given and thing done for me here.

Yes, I totally agree with you on the conclusion part of #1, #2, & #3. I have to accept that I am a little more sensitive and complicate for the western man.Besides, I still think I have much potential expectation for the man too...These are absolutely I have learned from this experience. I am very sure he care about me very much and would like to share much of his routing activities with me everyday although he doesn't speak much words as I have been expecting..

He is a little shy, serious but humorous person.The most important point I appreciate is he always remember what he has promised me and will keep that promise in the end.All these are very rare characters for me... All these made me feel very painful or hard to give up each time..It is a pity that we both did not pass the 3rd test between us.It is obviously he should be totally innocent on the whole process and don't have made a big mistake...

He is a little words person and this is his personality that have been with him for almost 60 years, why I would expect he make change to adapt me? Only due to he is 17 years old than me? Actually at the 2nd time, I am already well aware of he is a man with little words but good on keeping his promise and take action. I have made my decision to try to understand and accept this point and asked me to be more adaptive on his way.. I was more stable, patient, tolerance and less sensitive in our first following communications. We both felt good. However, I quickly resume my intention and can't be successful to stick my decision that should completely understand, accept his personality and try to adapt in the end. I now realize how difficult it is to change our thinking way or attitude or acquired behavior than simply expect others to do the same in mind....The biggest enemy is ourselves instead of others....

For hotel booking issue, yes, I should express like you suggested.I found I am still always too serious under all or most of situations and I should absolutely learn to be humorous as possible as I can.Changing need time but I would like to learn at least.I maybe too complicate on thinking as it should be originally... He has been innocent on all these..

As for "I take care of him" sentence, I remember he mentioned twice at least but seldom said "he will take care of me".So obviously he intend to emphasize I take care of him instead of he take care of me or we both take care each other.By now, I think there must be with some reasons for him to say this sentence maybe from previous bad experience. But words is words why blaming...All his behaving are already good enough.Now,I more intend to think he speak this sentence is just because he really like me very much(some kind of jealous expression)...I did not correctly what he want to express and misunderstood instead.

Totally speaking, I was still over react, too sensitive and complicate with my thinking.I did not show enough opening, forgiving, understanding, complete acceptance on different personality, thinking way, culture as me. I more intend to others would like to adapt to me and many potential requirements and expectation to others there...Truly love someone means would like to unconditionally understand, respect, accept and support him/her on all aspects.I failed to accomplish it.That means I currently don't have a ability to love someone including myself? I am sure the most hard part for me is try to put all these learning into my thoughts, habit and behavior.. I need make a very strong mind and my searching could be successful in the end...Sentence is always easily to be said but we need pay cost to learn its true meanings and put it into our thoughts.

He is still in my mind these days and I know he has been badly hurt by me and my unruliness(although I originally expect he could say some sweet words to me).When I miss him, I still listen to our favorite song of "I dug up a diamond" and will assume the singer of Mark is him...I sent him a mail the night before yesterday to mention it might be my problem and hope he can feel much better from the pains/hurt after read my mail. I did not expect a response from him except hope he can feel better or released from. I know he is honest and sincere to me no matter if he is a money-center man or not. I think he should be deserved a official apology mail from me.No matter if there is a chance for us to be life partner, the only wish from my heart is don't want to hurt him but it failed in the end. It is me to messed up our relationship even if for a friendship. I have been blaming myself these days.

For a cross culture relationship or marriage, there are many tests ahead of us.When you have requirements or expectation to others, there will be disappoint or frustration now and then when you can't see your requirements or expectation can be meet with.When have that intention in mind, we may try to draw back our attention to ourselves and ask what I can do and what I should do in that case.Yes, we can't be blind on our feeling or thinking during the searching but can't be too sensitive,complicate and more details either.Yes, generally man has comparatively much less talking as woman does, this is true.Woman is still too nagging for man to feel. I will pay attention on this point and try to keep a good pace with the other on my next communications.

Thanks John, I really greatly appreciate on all your words especial the conclusion part. I am sure I will be quickly grown up with all your help, encourage and suggestions here. The last, I still hope my Sweden " love" can live a happy and healthy life there.Good luck to him too! I thanks him to have taught me a very important lesson leading to the cross culture relationship or marriage. He will be an important and respectful person for me during my life.

Have a nice day.


#2014-07-16 17:53:40 by bethwei @bethwei

In China, most women's feeling will be the same as Lily when she meets with the male first time. But just as Abbot said, in cross cultural relationships, and even in same cultural relationships, we all make mistakes and have misunderstandings all the time. Maybe we should first learn how to get along with the Western men through information from books, magazines and western people. And then start dating.

#2014-07-17 02:39:54 by Runelabs @Runelabs

@John, very well summarized. Keeping interpretations open and giving someone the benefit of the doubt is certainly important to being able to communicate and get a long. Being from Scandinavia myself, I can definitely say that he was making a little joke about her being able to "take care of him". And that is the unfortunate thing about written communication compared to having a face to face communication where laughter, smiles and the whole situation allows for much richer communication.

Having strong expectations that are not being communicated because of language barriers or the actual communication medium should be considered when in doubt of what a person is really trying to say. Jumping to conclusions is of course the easy way out - or sometimes the excuse needed for a vivid imagination. As for hotel accommodations - the guy even tried to get reassigned to work in China. His intentions of being a very serious person and accommodating could not have been any clearer even if he tried...


#2014-07-17 02:52:17 by Runelabs @Runelabs

Oh, just as an addition to the thing the Swedish guy was saying.
So, it is normal around here to use such an expression to make an invitation to "cuddly/cozy talk" - in Swedish called being "mysig". When he would ask if she would take care of him, he was inviting her to respond how affectionate and loving she would be in their relationship and how they would have a great time together. Then he would have responded things that he would do for her. But the initial question - which probably was even repeated - was this cultural understanding of the invite to start talking about being and showing affections for each other.


#2014-07-17 21:24:47 by zqy2014 @zqy2014


Thanks for your comments, yes,it is, I had should do more preparation or research or consultation before I made a conclusion or decision. When I have confusion in the future, I would absolutely post a thread here and I am sure I will get much of sharing or suggestions.Again,I thanks John to open such wonderful website to help and guidance all of us to grow up and be successful on our searching.

Thanks again.


#2014-07-17 21:46:29 by sandy339 @sandy339

Haha, John, maybe you could find your wife’s analysis about you on her secret diary? It might scare you to death? Haha, but as a fairly standard male, why you are so afraid? too much dark sides or secrets? just kidding…

I think diversification is very appealing, so let’s enjoy different writing styles with more or less patience, haha. Great 7,000 words blog(rofl)

#2014-07-18 11:45:49 by YinTingYu @YinTingYu

Hello Lily or zgy2014.
I want to congratulate you in being willing to alter your perception of "western" men.
It is not a "mistake" you have made.
It is only an "error".
"Error" is when one does something not completely right but then,... admits and changes.
"Mistake" is when one does something not completely right but,...will not admit !!
Ha ha !
Anyway, is great that you begin to see the different "mindsets" of different cultures.
I think you learn to become more "forgiving".
Gives my mind and heart hope for humanity.
We all really have a great opportunity on CLM to express and learn from the many good people here.
It is a fortunate thing.
We are blessed from what John has provided.
Ah,...I have written too much.
Congratulations again.
Hope to read more of your posts.
Peace and Blessings,
Yin Ting Yu,...aka. Gongji

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