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Gareth is an Australian who has lived in JiangSu, SuZhou (Heaven on Earth) for a few years - he is a keen observer of the Chinese people, Chinese culture and the changes that are occurring in China at break-neck speed. He can often be found on his a nightly 'perch' in front of his bar in the famous Bar Street in Suzhou, talking to the locals in his bad Mandarin, teaching the 'flower-selling girls' English, eating street food and smiling at the local chengguan (neighbourhood police). Gareth also has several other businesses in China around Business and English training. His experiences have been varied and interesting and his years in China have taught him to be wary of promises but excited about prospects, not a bad situation to be in!
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It's not what you think! (It's what she believes!)    

By Garreth Humphris
2509 Views | 7 Comments | 9/21/2012 3:16:56 PM

I have had an interesting experience recently - all to do with my telephone!

A few years ago, I had a misguided idea that if I changed the ’language’ of all my computers, appliances, electronic gadgets and other stuff to 'Chinese’ then I would somehow miraculously learn Chinese characters. Well, the only thing this actually achieved was utter confusion because, of course, I couldn't work out how to change it back! In fact, I ended up donating my DVD player to a local school because I couldn't control the damn thing!

So my old Nokia candy bar phone was the last bastion of this episode, I could use it, but had no access to any ’higher functions’, one button for dial, one for message, one for on/off!  Unfortunately, lack of proper telephone maintenance meant that I had filled up the phone memory with 5000 odd messages, spanning about 3 years - and it stopped accepting messages!

Now, you may be wondering why I don't have one of those newer ’smart phone’ thingies - I have vowed that I will never use technology that is smarter than me, so they are out the door! I’m suspecting that my new washing machine with “fuzzy logic” might be getting close to beating me!

And besides, I only use my phone as a phone...not an alarm clock, games console, social network communicator and floor sweeper like everyone else seems to! 

So, with this ’dumb phone’ you cannot do a “mass delete”, you must delete each message one by one...I went back to the last entry, delete, do you wish to confirm message, yes,...and again and again. 10 minutes gives me about 20 messages deleted so I have a long way to go!

As you can imagine, I got to see a lot of old messages, so in effect, it played a one-sided memory of my life and loves of the past few years. 

Quite humbling, I can say!

All I got were her questions, her accusations, her fears, her hopes - her last words and the arguments that lead up to it! For a couple of ’hers’!

The interesting part is what did it really mean? We often don't get to replay the bits of our life that we muck up in this way! Sometimes we do, when the pain is real and the flesh is raw, so the outcomes may not be as impartial as we might like!

And you know what I learned ... It doesn't matter what you think! It is what she believes!

We are seeing this again and again in the responses to forums and blogs - that even if you are a regular guy, doing regular guy things (that in your culture and circumstance are readily accepted) you may find that you are labeled as a “bad man”, “cheater” and “liar”.

There are many reasons for this from a Chinese lady's perspective - and while I am sure to get some “howls of discontent” from some readers, the truth is that for most women in China, they married their first boyfriend! Yes, I know things have changed now ... But 10-20 years ago, when they first got married, this was probably true!

And the person they married was probably 'close' to them for a social standpoint, in their same village and/or similar socio-economic background. 'Different' is not allowed!

And this mentality is still deeply ingrained in the cultural fabric of the society in which they live! Again, interactions with difference will be quite limited - especially on personal or spiritual levels. Hoping for a foreign man because he has 'romantic qualities' but not being able to understand the package comes with more divisive elements!

For any lady, any scandal is ’dangerous’- there is no ’playing the field’ mentality when family, neighbors, friends and strangers are loudly casting dispersions! It is 'jump in first, work on differences later' but the frame of reference is definitely Chinese and conservative!

Let's look at some of the other instances in Chinese culture that also weigh heavily on ’traditional’ women. In the not-so-distant past, upon marriage a woman ’gave up’ her own family and moved to the home of her husbands family where she took on the role of cleaner and home worker for her husband’s entire extended family. Families tended to live in larger groups - a number of homes around a courtyard housing several generations. This ’practise’ still occurs in many rural areas. What this means is that the woman is very much dependent on her husband - she has no home to return to in the event of marriage dissolution.

With the advent of the one-child policy changing the family inter-dependancies and the ability for people to travel and for women to become more financially independant in China, this is changing - but the older people, the confidantes and parents and the greater society, still adhere to these ideas fairly rigidly - a woman without a husband is a “bad woman”! 

Even members of her own family might think it preferable to be married to someone who doesn't love them than to be a divorcee - there is definitely an undercurrent in the community that this is somehow the woman's fault entirely - that if she hadn't been so @insert favourite fault@, then he wouldn't have found cause to look somewhere else.

Because of the family secondment, this also means that for the most part the woman of the family is relatively unsupported in the event of marriage difficulties, since she probably lives with her husband’s family. By sheer weight of numbers, she will be forced to comply to the whims of the family.

There is also a fairly hefty barrier due to home ownership rules and child support rules meaning the woman may walk away with little. 

The second characteristic is the Chinese negotiation technique I referred to in a previous blog - for resolution, someone must be ’shamed’ into a backdown situation. 
You have seen from the impassioned responses in the forum posts that there is little room for ’taking the middle ground’ or ’reasoned logic’! You are hero or traitor, angel or devil, good man or bad man...and you cannot ’weaken’, your stance must be strong to extract your piece of flesh! We fight until every last grain of rice has been allocated.

Of course, in every argument, when passion is high, most of us don't listen to the other person, but somewhere along that line, we can often find in our heart some reconciliation - although in China, there doesn't seem to be the mutual face-saving. The ’winner’ wins, opinion intact!

So, looking back on my phone messages, I can see that I made many mistakes ’in Chinese terms’. The point is, how do you not make them and still remain true to yourself! Peter mentioned one way in passing - the little white lie - much to chagrin of many readers. But the point is, even your version of “the truth” is unpalatable to your audience!

Back to my daily deletions and musings of opportunities lost - hopefully I can work through 2008 by the weekend! Then I get to the really meaty stuff!

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
Comments
(Showing 1 to 7 of 7) 1
#2012-09-21 15:48:58 by anonymous4393 @anonymous4393

About the 12th paragraph..... If you're a regular guy doing regular things that are perfectly normal in your society..... why are you even going after women from a different society? I mean, one main reason I like Chinese women is because I don't fit in with this society I am in and 18 months ago I discovered that Chinese women are the most compatible ones with me.

#2012-09-22 20:00:03 by aussieghump @aussieghump

Anon, ask yourself this question - if you are a western male, how would you describe yourself? I bet (unless you are mighty egotistical) that you would say 'average', 'regular', 'a normal guy'...and your job and work? Regular, everyday Joe type work! Life - regular, normal, a few hobbies!

You even say you are incompatible with where you live! So why do you live there? Are you 'compatible' with bonafide Chinese ladies on their home turf, or are you compatible with a 'westernised' Chinese lady?

The challenge is this ... move to China, find out what life is like there, see how you fit in and survive...

I dont profess to write on behalf of any other ethnic or social group, if you don't fit my particular one, then it may be biased or even offensive - sorry, but this is how it is...dont like my politics or my message, dont vote for me!

I put it to you that most of the western males on this website are 'average guys' who are doing 'average things' in their part of the world and their society! What they see as being 'normal' and 'permissible' things in their culture are seen by at least some of the Chinese women on this site (applying their normalities of their culture and society) as 'sneaky' or 'deceitful'.

What I am sharing with readers is that even after living for 10 years in China, managing staff and companies, doing business, owning a pub in Red Light District for 4 years and meeting most of the girls working there, having a Madam as my housemate for 6 years, and dating a few 'traditional' and a few 'progressive' ladies - I still make serious mistakes in 'Chinese terms' daily with my attitudes, behaviours and habits. I'm happy to admit it, and happy to try to share my thoughts and ideas on it all...with other 'regular' guys!

If you are not one, please write a blog about your thoughts and life! So we can all anonymously critique it!

You may be lucky, and have found your perfect match! You may have a better 'empathy' than others. You may be better suited to a life in a Chinese family - great! Wish you luck and best wishes for the future!

But for the rest of us, we are just trying to work out who we are, where we stand and how we might be able to find happiness in our own 'modified' terms - and looking at how a Chinese lady may be an important part of that equation!

Please don't look down on us 'regular guys' for trying to aspire to the dream you claim you have already achieved!

#2012-09-23 20:06:24 by carber911 @carber911

well thought out and decisive thinking I might add. I dont like smart phones either and they are quite dumb... now they play advertisments.. Seen this coming a long time ago when i sold them.

Now what you failed to mention, and i will pick of some pieces of the puzzle that snapped off of your pie. 90 percent of communication is said to be non-verbal. The other 10 percent is verbal. I think men are geared more verbal than women for sure. example If a man just looks at the woman with understanding face, the woman can rant and rave about what ever exciting thing happend to her and she will feel like the man is listening. It helps to randomly say yes, wow, or really from time to time, as you go back and forth from day dreaming, planning, thinking, and acting like you care to listen. SO the fact you related on the text messages shows your wired like most men- verbal. What the texts dont show is your attitude when you met up with the women. Thats 90 percent of the show. So you better look in the mirrow and see what you look like when you say things. Add a raised eyebrow for wow, or a shaking head with no, or a perky yes titty all up in the air- chest out!

noW LETS TALK about common problems besides- family friend peer pressure that messed your what ever up... We call that noise. it gets in the way- it distracts from thought. Noise could be any of that or advertisments, public sounds like road, traffic, crying babies, cellphones interrupting, or lets say prior concerns and responsibilities like work 9-5. How can you get your message through without disrupting work, her family responsiblities, her cleaning habits.. ect...

Now lets talk about imagination. Is it me or is it getting hot in here... If she is into you, you will know it if there has been no talk or communication, or noise for that matter in at least 30 min while you both sit close watch tv or sleep near. ect... Thats when you go for the neck, ears, the legs, pretty much any ticklish spot is fair game. SO get her excited and you know what comes next long john silver! hi ho! As much as I enjoy a womans company, nothing i like more than her being sexy, funny and treating me like I should. I emphasize the sex love making bc i dont do that with men. im not gay and they dont have a pussy that deserves attention. So women are best made love you. If you cant love em, then what are they, just an employee or helper around the house? The are times when you must establish lines and i think thats best to understand. Some women you trust and want to learn more about and others, just look good, but they been around the block and that grey hound doesnt have much run left.

So I hope i can ensure you learn off your nonverbal mistakes.. oh one last thing, dont women in genneral treat the men better if they think they might loose em. Im not saying they think he is cheating, but see he has women friends or employees and dont want him cheating. So i would say thats the key to making her understand your faithful, which is your around other women, but dont do anything she wouldnt want you doing.

#2012-09-24 04:43:38 by gravics @gravics

The transition from electronic gadgets to insights on Chinese perspectives was an enjoyable read. The imagery makes it possible to see things as though I am experiencing it myself.

I am aware of some of the cultural differences, but I learn more from your articles. Thanks for offering your unique experiences Garreth.

#2012-09-25 14:22:35 by aussieghump @aussieghump

@Carber911, while I agree with some of your ideas about this, the culture is incredibly different in China and confronting it it's own way.

You mention that the family-peer-society dynamic is 'noise', but in China it is not like a radio whispering love songs in the background, it is a 747 passing 50 metres overhead.

The masculine, macho Alpha male works to a certain extent - but it doesn't fly most of the time. You will find that being 'too strong and unyielding' is unnerving to most Chinese.

Also, Chinese dating is not a long-term game of 'getting to know you!', lazing on the couch for lazy Sundays and sleep-overs. It is more about finding a suitable partner, signing the marriage papers and 'making it work'!
Indeed, if you have been dating a lady for more than a year and not 'married' her then she is a 'bad woman' to her family (if she has told them) and you are a 'bad guy'.

As you say, 90% of the communication is non-verbal...this means that most of the 'dialogue' is 'the thoughts in her head'! (and the thoughts in your head!) and if you cannot predict what these will be if you don't know the 'thought patterns of the society'.

BTW: You have gone on to prove this - applied the logic that works in your hometown to a different situation...from your comment; "fake smile and blink when someone is talking to you = communication", "silence = move to 2nd base", "closeness=sex", "woman=sex-slave/someone who feeds the cat" and honestly mate, I can't work out the next bit!

Followed up by Granddad's special sauce - 'treat 'em mean, keeps 'em keen".

And then you do the one thing that they are sure to thing you are a 'liar' and a 'cheat' - have other female friends!

Thanks for proving my point completely!

#2012-09-30 00:29:09 by ernest19wood45 @ernest19wood45

Well said Aussie. I agree with you. Specially on your last sentence, " have other female friends"!

#2012-11-14 02:20:49 by carber911 @carber911

woe woe there horsey- slow down before you fall off a cliff... I did not say anything about a woman being a sex slave, cheating on a lover, or lies about anything...

Let me re-write this part here they may have gone misconstrued... "So women are best made love to." Weather you think is love means, sex, caring, protecting, or talking/listening... I leave that to you the reader..

you got me laughing about the boaing 747 flying 150 feet over your head, Im pretty sure theres laws against any flying near bird sanctuaries or below 300 feet... Pretty sure the laws of physics would say you only really get glide over water... lol

So you want to talk baseball, lol I give you this Samurai Champloo clip from youtube.. Remind you of American culture.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90NZ_Msx9gc&oref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fresults%3Fsearch_query%3Dchamploo%2Bbaseball&has_verified=1

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