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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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The Spy Who Didn't Love Me    

By Peter V
8317 Views | 22 Comments | 11/11/2012 3:01:22 PM

This is a story I have been somewhat reluctant to tell. Or at least I have been thinking and reflecting on it for a while, not wanting to shoot from the hip and provide my first undigested comments on it. In any case, I have come to some sort out conclusions about this and I would be interested in getting some feedback.

So this involves a woman I had met through CLM. Since I am living in Chengdu I am fortunate to be able to meet a lot of beautiful women on the website in person. And because like the old Beatle song “I’m in love but I’m lazy” I tend to limit myself to women in Chengdu, which may or may not be a mistake. But that is another story. Anyway, I met this woman one Saturday several months ago. It was an awkward first date as things sometimes are here, more so than in the U.S. because we come with such different expectations of what a first date should be. In fact, I was a little surprised when she agreed to a second date and even more so with the third. In truth, we got along well enough but I was not feeling any chemistry. She was, however, very beautiful, which may have had something to do with why I decided to continue seeing her anyway. And in fact we were having some interesting conversations. She was critical of Chinese efforts to hide air pollution readings and cognizant of all the food problems that existed in China. Since clean air and safe, healthy food are essential to my view of a a good life, this was an important source of agreement.

The experience I am about to relate must have been on about our fourth date. We were walking in a park and she started talking about how friends of her had tried and failed to get visas to visit the U.S. This is a big pain in China because it is not cheap to apply and if you are denied a U.S. visa, you do not get any refund. I said I was not surprised because the U.S. can be real assholes on this issue. She went on to say that all her friends who had done this were single women and asked if I thought that had something to do with it. Of course it did, I said, as in the U.S. government's eyes, this made them prime candidates not to return to China.

As the conversation continued (I won't get into details), a light bulb when off in my head. It wasn’t exactly that she said she would marry me if I took her to the U.S., but it was not far from that either. I’ve been in China a while and am pretty good at spotting Chinese indirectness and deciphering the real meanings of conversations, which frequently are not what they appear on the surface to be. And it was clear as anything has been in China to me that this woman was letting me know that she was interested in me under the condition that I would take her to the U.S.

When I came home that day I felt very upset and talked things over with an American friend. He hypothesized that perhaps she was a spy trying to get into the U.S. I said I thought the Chinese government would do better than to pick a low level academic with no connections. He pointed out the recent Russian spy case, where the people were not necessarily in high profile situations but were more interested in gathering basic information about the U.S. and what could be more basic than my life. What about her criticism of the Chinese government, I asked. What sort of a spy would do that? This is the perfect cover, he explained. He almost had me going for a second until I remembered he is still trying to figure out who bombed the Twin Towers, so I let this part of it drop. But I was still troubled by the basic nature of what had happened that day and ultimately broke things off.

But as time has passed, I have asked myself, what is the big deal? Why is this any different than most if not all marriages? Everyone brings something into a marriage that makes them desirable. A woman brings her beauty, which is the first and foremost thing men look at, regardless of what they say. And in China at least it is just expected that a man will have to buy a house before they get married. Now, this may seem strange to Westerners, but if you are going to be here, you need to accept that those are the rules. So what is the problem if for some women your appeal is based in part on you having a house while for other it is based on your ability to get them a visa? If you condemn the former, it seems you condemn the Chinese system of marriage and relationships, and that seems a bit extreme. But if you accept the former, should you accept the latter as well?

However you feel about this situation, please don't respond in the comments that perhaps I misinterpreted the situation. I might have reacted appropriately or inappropriately, expecting a visa might be a good thing or a bad thing, but one thing is certain. i did not misinterpret the situation. In any case, (and with that proviso), I look foward to comments. And please realize that the spy stuff was just a joke.

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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#2012-11-11 16:55:31 by aussieghump @aussieghump

You suggested 'the chemistry' wasn't there! Maybe it was just a 'matter of time' until you realised that your relationship was not 'good for you' or what you wanted. The proverbial 'straw that broke the camel's back'...

Personally, the issue is not if the person is wanting to go somewhere or get some perceved advantage - it is a reasonable situation that if you are to live together and be committed to each other, you will make joint decisions about where and how you will live, and with those some visa and monetary issues.

The issue is whether the person is really deliberately trying to deceive you, from the initial meeting! This is the 'break of trust' that is at the crux of the issue!

Even if the person is looking for something that is not 'love, life and happy ever after', if the other partner is aware and in compliance, I see no real issue! But if it is a uneven deception, this is the issue.

The same applies for a short-term visiting foreigner who is happy having a girlfriend, promising commitment but not quite getting to that point, and then leaving!

If it is really clear in the relationship and no deception, then each party is entering the relationship 'eyes open' then there is no issue...but if the relationship is lopsided, then there is trouble!

#2012-11-11 20:59:13 by anonymous4691 @anonymous4691

Seems thinking too much. Did you have ever ask yourself two questions:
1. if you met a gril that you both would love each other, do you care she asked you whether someday you can take her to go to U.S.?
2. if you met a girl who you both have no Chemistry, would you like to be together with her even if she doesn't ask you to take her to go to U.S.?

Maybe the important is not the situations, the important is the heart. When happiness knocks on, are we ready to feel?

#2012-11-11 21:08:11 by papaya1972 @papaya1972

In my view, of coz the visa thing is one of the advantages you western guys have which attract Chinese women.

And I dont feel shameful of admitting it.
Just like guys would prefer pretty women rather than common looking ones.
The visa would give us more freedom to travel the world, to experience different culture... so from the very begining it does give you western men kind of advantage to have better chance.

But when it started, more important for us is IF WE CAN REALLY BUILD UP SOMETHING LASTING, which is can it really bring us true love with a western guy depends more on the followings:
-respects to each other,
-compatability
-compromise
-admiration to each other

So why you guys worry about if the woman is interested in the visa or not,as long as she is not ONLY interested in the visa but in you youself as well . you'd better concentrate on the latter happenings between you two.
and in my view you may thankful to the 'visa' for it brings you the chance to know some really great women that Chinese men may not able to have that chance.

So my advice: Grasp the good chance to find a nice woman who can build up real love and life together with you. When looking back at it, both of you will find that visa is only a bonnus to her, but the happy life that you two enjoy is the ultimate target. And you - the man yourself is her real great catch.

我个人认为,出国签证的确是西方男士的一个优势,对中国女士们具有一定的吸引力。本人也不觉得承认这个事实有什么丢脸的。就如男士们喜欢漂亮的女士,很正常。
涉外婚姻可以带给我们更多的自由,有机会去更多的了解不同的文化,开阔视野。也正因为这样,“签证“也许是双方最初交往的一个考量因素。

但当双方进入正式交往后,我们考虑的更多的是:是否能够建立起真爱,是否能够成为长久的生活伴侣。这不是一张签证可以解决的问题,需要:
-相互的尊重
-相互的爱慕
-相互适合
-相互包容

西方男士们,只要她对你本人更有兴趣,又何去纠结必对方对’签证‘是否有兴趣。不妨把心思放在如何更多的了解对方,看双方是否合适, 才是更重要的。
我甚至觉得西方的男士们因该感谢”签证’,它让你们比中国的男士们有更多的机会认识一些优秀的中国女人。

我个人的建议:不要太多的顾虑,抓住机会,找一个真心相爱的,可以和你一起生活的中国女人。
当你们回顾往事时,会发现,‘签证’对她来说只是个额外的奖赏,而你本人及两人的幸福生活才是她最好的收获。

#2012-11-11 22:01:17 by anonymous4695 @anonymous4695

There is a big difference in bringing this or that into a marriage. E.g. if you are disabled, you will have till rest of your life, beautiness might disappear with the years, same as wealthiness.Both and many others is hard to predict. But Visa: you need just once and after some time of marriage you do not "need" your partner anymore. If this is the reason. So I would be rather suspicious and would not like to be misused for that. For me too obvious and risky.

#2012-11-12 01:38:28 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

@ Peter - my own thinking on this is that in some cases it makes no real difference that being able to obtain a visa to your country is a factor in her decision making process and in other cases it makes all the difference in the world. I think those cases can be separated on a sliding scale based on the degree of importance she places on that specific factor.

If it is the only factor then it makes all the difference in the world. At that point it is not one of the many things she loves about you, it is the only thing, and your relationship will last until the day she has her permanent visa, and not a day longer.

If it is one factor in a hundred, and many of the others are equally or more important than that one, then it makes no real difference at all. Your relationship is based on many, many things about you she likes or loves, and unless you screw it up badly it will last forever, and only be strengthened by her obtaining a permanent visa and, through you, achieving a life she had dreamed of.

The problem is that some people are duplicitous and capable of hiding their true feelings in order to achieve their goals. Chinese women are no exception to this, so it behooves us to ensure that she is not hiding this as her secret primary goal, and bewitching us into thinking she loves us when in fact she simply sees us as a tool to achieve her quest for a visa.

I too have experienced such a woman, and was much time and many, many dollars into the relationship before waking to the fact that I was nothing more than such a tool. (I hate calling myself a tool, but in this case the description is apt.:-) At least you were awake enough to the possibilities to recognize the reality early on. But then, by your own admission, you were not blinded by love, as some of us are or have been.

#2012-11-12 02:02:01 by ScorpioTiger @ScorpioTiger

The most important thing is being honest and don't be afraid to ask what her intentions are.

If I were in that situation, I would say to her; "You're extremely attractive and while I desire you, I have to question whether you are interested in me for a visa or a life mate. I'm not saying we couldn't work out some arrangement for a visa if that is all you want but I need to know so we both get what we want and we're not wasting our time or creating a situation where one or both of us are going to feel bitter toward the other."

If she's extremely attractive and you're an average-looking Joe like myself, you're not going to fool anyone about what the arrangement may be. People always think the worse and judge others by appearances. It's human nature.

If you're also like me, you could care less what people think as long as you're BOTH happy with your arrangement and not deceiving one another, more importantly, that neither are deceiving themselves.

If she told me all she really wanted from me was a visa, then I would tell her I would help her find a man that she could truly love and would love her as well so she can have both a visa and true love.

I couldn't go along with sex for a visa no matter how attractive she may be because I know my heart doesn't work that way, so, better to help her get what she wants with someone else than deceive myself hoping for love that will never be true.

Of course, I can't imagine why any woman wouldn't fall "heels-over-head" in love with me. /sarcasm off

#2012-11-12 04:14:47 by sevastra @sevastra

I for one think you are too paranoid and have a somewhat classic arrogant western view that a chinese woman would do anything to 'escape' China for the US.

I'd suggest you to actually get to know her instead, and not read between the lines but rather listen to what she actually says instead of building suspicion within yourself.

This is why arguments and suspicion and confusion manifests in relationships and dating, when people try to 'read between the lines' and conjure ideas of the truth or motive of another person.

#2012-11-12 06:16:38 by Tyler72 @Tyler72

I would be worried if the visa girl didnt also seem to be engaged with me socially and we were becoming closer and laughing together, having a good time together etc.. You know as in a real developing relationship.

If such a woman didnt think about or worry if she will be able to someday get a visa to my home country, i would want to lnow why she doesnt want to someday be able to travel to my home with me. I want my life partner to want to visit my homeland.. And I want her to think that it is an option for us to someday live there together in happily wedded bliss.

If you are both honestly intending to spend your lives together, you BOTH need to have equal ability to travel back and forth to each others homelands and be able to live in either place, also to travel for fun to the same countries.

If you dont want your girl friend or spouce to have a visa and freedom to travel with you, anywhere you can go... I would expect she should ACTUALLY be more worried about how honest YOUR intesions are for a real long term relationship where you are both equal partners.

LOL, the spy thing is ridiculous, pretty funny really, but your comment about lack of chemistry is a very big deal. You shouldnt worry so much. Real chemistry is hard to fake. When you find it you will know it and then you should hope THAT girl does want a visa so that she can always be with you wherever your shared lives take you.

#2012-11-12 09:17:29 by anonymous4709 @anonymous4709

这种纯粹为了获取绿卡的女人,和她玩玩还可以,千万不可娶回家做老婆,这样的人是不值得你爱的,既使她漂亮的无与伦比,你也要弃之不舍才对,否则她会给你带来无尽的烦恼和许多苛刻等不合理的要求,,别让那一张漂亮的脸,把你的幸福给毁掉!

#2012-11-12 10:13:47 by Englander121 @Englander121

Ahhhh.. The things we do, or don't do for love.

I know of relationships that started on this kind of footing, but developed into a true meaningful love... The bottom line. You knew what you had, I'm presuming a standard love introduction has failed you in the past?.. Then why not try the non standard.

You may have missed your soulmate because the presentation was not to your liking.

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