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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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Insanity    

By Garreth Humphris
2168 Views | 1 Comments | 6/14/2012 2:02:48 AM

Albert Einstein once described insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. I'm not sure if his studies on this phenomena included anything bigger than sub-atomic particles but I do see some merit in studying incredible small things in great detail rather than like the rest of the population which has to consider very large things (like love, life and happiness) with very small thought!

Getting down on a purely metaphysical level, if every object is merely a huge ball of electrons spinning in a dense cloud, how come my “dense cloud” is so incompatible with other “dense clouds” of essentially the same stuff? Can you answer me that Mr E? I thought not!

This is the interesting part - I bet that when we each signed up to CLM, we thought that we were making a pretty radical step! We were in effect, trying to get away from the things we do “over and over” in our everyday lives to inject a “new dynamic” to our prospects - but I wonder just how many of those have been thwarted because we haven’t moved far enough!

I am lucky because I live in China - I have been here a few years but I am actually a little jaded with the whole dating process - I don’t mean that I am dissatisfied with CLM but that many of the discussions I start end the same way...I wonder if it is because I live in China and not overseas - the “you are in my country so come visit me now!” attitude seems to be evident - maybe it is easier if you have the tyranny of distance to keep you apart for a while...it takes about 6 months to book a holiday, get some leave, organise a passport and a ticket so you have time to explore a relationship more...but I often get the ’demand’of meet me in my hometown next weekend otherwise you are obviously a player!!!

Applying my logic, I too must work and I am not easily going to be able to fly off to a new city on a moment’s notice. This ’let me arrange my time’ answer is often construed as “you are obviously not serious about us” reply. And while I might have good intent and would be happy to meet the lady, it is an instant ’player’ label...because obviously marriage is paramount and you are not showing commitment!

Admittedly, I am hardly a catch... A nice guy maybe, but very difficult to live with I presume! I have been predominantly 'single' for many years and I have my life ’just so’...the boundaries are pretty much set for what is ’acceptable’ and what isn’t! It is the repeating of the ’over and over’ that brings the downfall.

I don't “fall” quickly and so this is seen as “being a playboy!”...there seems to be something sinister about you if you don't want to travel to her home town to meet her family after a 1 hour coffee chat and you are placed in that horrific “friend” basket if you don't....worse because you are “foreign friend” and you become the “associate we call on when we want a foreign face for something otherwise you are persona non-grata because people might think we are ’dating’ and we’re not!”.

I have tried a few techniques in the past - telling my new friend “up-front” what I like and think and do, explaining how I view ’trust’ and what different ’Chinese-esque’ actions mean to me - but invariably this approach seems to go in one ear and out the other - conveniently forgotten when she wants something and conveniently remembered when she wants a screaming match about how unreasonable I am! A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing and Einstein’s logic of electrons has no business being considered in China!

I have done the “secretive” discovery thing where I have been elusive about my expectations but this pretty soon degenerates into a “trust” problem too! The lady is watchful, chastising and untrusting. I find myself having to justify why I am home 5 minutes later than expected, have to explain each and every comment I made to each and every person I talked to in the day, pouting and screaming if you mention the name of an 'undesirable' friend or another female Chinese name. Chinese jealousy is a deadly thing - they can tear the eyes of their lifelong friend out if they think you smiled and said hello to them!

I think maybe I am not “Chinese enough” to date/marry a ’traditional’ lady...it leaves me with a question about what is really wanted...just as much as I cannot easily throw off restrictions I may have, I wonder what compromises may be being made by that lady...a friend told me once that we should never begrudge any little thing a person does for us because, that may be all that they can give!

So my other choice may be to date younger women, maybe with a better grasp of English and a more modern attitude. But my experience has been that many of these are pretty cool and calculating - not in conniving ways (at least not initially, but there is an expectation that you will be the “ultimate provider” of every whim and desire), but most of the ones I have come across are fairly self-centered and have a different view on what is important - status, style, fashion over responsibility, loyalty and togetherness - and generally don't stick around much if you are not offering this.

People would say, you must be careful - look out for gold diggers (or as Cheng so nicely described “money-worship ladies”) or people that want to take advantage of us...and that is true! In my ’in China experience’ dating a younger lady, you are probably more likely to encounter this attitude!

But I wonder what it is I must really do to comply to the requirement of a “good man” in China.

Depressingly, I am beginning to discover that it has a lot to do with bringing in lots of money, knowing the family will live nearby (or in the same house) and that everyone else (brothers, sisters, aunts) also wants a piece of your hard-earned cash because ’you are obliged to give to family’! And I’m not happy with that!

I don't subscribe that this is the definition of a ’gold-digger’ because a family does need security and income - but it comes down to a “comfortable over-and-over situation”. If the money is there, the people will live as comfortable life as possible, often without appreciation of the source. And herein lies the crux.

For me, the big issue is how does the breadwinner ’influence’ the decisions of the family? This is especially true if they do not speak the family dialect (or are deliberately excluded, often haughtily, as a necessary evil) and where the Chinese notion of “family” is everyone in the village where the Western notion is “husband, wife and kids and on special occasions, parents and extended family”.

So, as with not being able to understand quantum physics, I am equally bemused with personal dynamics, especially in China...as one friend in China once told me “Don’t think, do what your parents say!”.

Sometimes I crave for this Chinese idea that there is grand plan that you must just follow and everything will be okay! But I think too much about it!

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#2012-06-23 19:05:57 by woaizhongguo @woaizhongguo

A very insightful piece, should be required reading for anyone on CLM.This so parallels my own experience in China I feel as if I could have written it myself. What is especially noticeable is that as different as the more traditional and the younger women are, in both cases love is simply not in the equation. As you point out, for the more traditional women it is about marriage and family and for the younger women money and status. This may not in the end be a bad thing but it is certainly different than what Westerners are used to.

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