How to Get An Asian Boyfriend in China and Japan

See, I got one!

See, I got one!

I’ve dated men all across Asia—Korea, Japan, China, and even Vietnam. Although I was told that western women weren’t the rage in Asia, I proved the non-believers wrong. With just three easy steps, I was able to score a slew of dates, a few boyfriends and even two proposals.

A Little Background…

In a village far, far away...

In a village far, far away…

I was living abroad for the first time ever in Japan at the ripe age of 22, newly single and ready to try the dating scene in Asia. The appeal of dating a local not only for the cultural and language benefits, but also for the novelty, was exciting. What would my friends and family say if I dated a Japanese person—or, better yet, married one?

“Forget it,” my senpai, the veteran English teachers in the area, told me. “Japanese men aren’t interested in foreigners. Especially ones that have black hair, like you. Japanese men want exotic. They want blondes.”

“We’ve been here five years and have yet to go on a date,” the other teacher said, the cynicism thick in her voice. “Japanese women love white guys, but the same can’t be said about the Japanese men.”

And then, the ultimatum.

“Mary, you will never get a Japanese man while you’re here.”

At a loss for words, I politely excused myself and went back to my apartment. After a recent, and rather horrific breakup with my ex-boyfriend, I wasn’t exactly on the prowl for a man right away.

But never?

While many people argue that it’s easier for white men to get an Asian girlfriend, I think it’s just as ‘easy’ to get an Asian boyfriend.

Here are some tips that I found work for getting some dates (and even a boyfriend) in China and Japan.

Step 1: Say Hello

Helllooooooo!!

Helllooooooo!!

In other words, don’t wait for a man to come by and buy you a drink. In the west it’s normal for men to approach women they don’t know for a date, but in Asia this is still very much a foreign concept. Most of my Chinese and Japanese friends met their significant other through the introductions of friends and family—they didn’t ask out a girl on the street.

Basically, Asian men rarely walk up to a woman they don’t know and ask her out for a drink or coffee.

And if that woman happens to be a foreigner? They’re even more apprehensive.

My best pick up line in Japan was literally “hello.” If I was sitting at a bar and a cute Japanese guy was next to me, I’d smile and say “hello.” These simple greetings of hello led to fun conversation, phone numbers, and a few dates (one of these encounters is still my friend—we’ve been talking now for 5 years!).

Don’t wait for love to come to you in Asia. Asian men are probably interested in you, but the combination of being shy and the taboo around asking out a stranger probably make it difficult for him to get the guts to talk to you. A little hello never hurt anyone.

My second best line in Japan? “Can you speak English? No? Let me help” ;P

Step 2: Speak the Language

Chinese lessons, anyone?

Chinese lessons, anyone?

Well, if the conversation stops at Hello that doesn’t help much, does it?

While many Japanese and Chinese people speak English rather well nowadays, it’s still very crucial to speak their language. In Japan, many of the men I went on dates with were thoroughly interested in me because I spoke Japanese—and spoke it well. More than that, I think they were touched that someone from afar was so interested in their country and culture.

And if things were to escalate beyond just a date, understanding the language of your partner is a must. Even if communication is mainly in English, the attempt at trying to understand his culture through language study will mean a lot to him.

My boyfriends weren’t just touched that I spoke these languages, either—they were impressed. They not only respected me, they were proud of me.

Step 3: Don’t Find Love in a Club (or anywhere where you’re quite drunk)

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Like the popular Rihanna song, western culture has taught us “find love in a hopeless place” (aka, club).  Most young women in America believe that putting on your best dress, curling your hair, plastering on some make-up and standing at the bar will help you get a date.

While it is possible to get a date using the Rihanna song method, the date will most likely last 24 hours or less and will not develop into boyfriend material.

In Japan and China men don’t like to meet the woman of their dreams in a bar. In fact, most Chinese men (or at least, the ones you want to meet) don’t even frequent bars. While getting drunk is considered a fun outing in the west, in Asia it is very taboo for a woman to get sloshed in a bar or club.

And most of all, the chances you’ll find a man with similar values and interests inebriated in a dimly lit dance club are some tough odds.

I met most of my past boyfriends through language exchange. Although finding a boyfriend was definitely not the goal, our shared interests in each other’s language and culture already created a strong foundation for us to not only become friends—but something more.

There’s more than just shared language interests: Try joining a sports team on the weekends, find some events online where you might discover someone with similar hobbies (for example, painting class or bowling events); or, perhaps, try the Internet.

Hell, one of my best western girlfriends in China just got a Chinese boyfriend through Okcupid.com (yes, Chinese men in China use it as well!).

And believe it or not, I met my current Chinese boyfriend through this very blog.

The Internet is no longer a creepy way to meet people. It’s an amazing tool that creates opportunities to meet people you otherwise wouldn’t have stumbled upon.

Finally, Enjoy the Journey

Very Worth It.

Very Worth It.

An international relationship is a humbling and learning experience. Dating someone from a different culture is fun and exciting, but it can also be tiring and difficult. You’ll experience the troubles of a regular relationship with an extra dosage of intercultural clashes and misunderstandings that will truly test your patience.

While some may argue that having an international relationship may be more trouble than it’s worth, I definitely think the pros far outweigh the cons.

And of course, I’m curious:

How did you meet your significant other or date from another culture? Any tips to add?

28 thoughts on “How to Get An Asian Boyfriend in China and Japan

  1. Marta says:

    I loved the “Hello” advice. Very useful indeed 😀

    I met my curent Chinese boyfriend through a chatting app. In fact, I have met most of my boyfriends online, haha. I’m not good meeting people in person as I’m shy and sometimes they seem to think I’m snob because I don’t talk much at first. Meeting someone and talking online first helps me having more conversation topics when we finally meet in person 🙂 And hey, I have been meeting guys from the internet since 2000, so the internet has never been a creepy place for me at least 😛

    • rubymary says:

      Haha you’re awesome Marta! I have met most of my boyfriends online too, and while I used to feel ashamed to say that–I shouldn’t! Everyone’s doing it nowadays.

  2. Elle says:

    I wasn’t single when I lived abroad, so I never dated, but I think Step 1 is a big thing to remember. I taught a few culture lessons on dating when I was in China, and my students were surprised that Americans would strike up conversations with strangers or pick up people at bars/clubs. Most of them had been or anticipated being set up with friends on blind dates or meeting people through friends, like you said.

    • rubymary says:

      I had so many western women ask me why they couldn’t get a date in Asia and blamed the men entirely (Asian men don’t want a western woman, aren’t interested, etc..), and this was while they were standing at a bar and waiting for someone to come get them. I have a British friend that loves to date Asian guys and she’s never had problems–because she makes the first move! Being “aggressive” (or rather, just saying hi) makes all the difference.

      I’m glad you were teaching those culture lessons! I’m sure they were really blown away by how forward Americans are with strangers huh?

  3. Lani says:

    Well, in Thailand Thai guys are very much enamored with foreign women. Yes, you traditionally see the white guys and Thai girls, but I know quite a few Caucasian women with Thai or “hill tribe” boyfriends or husbands. I know of 3 married couples – 2 British women and 1 American and they are back in their respective countries after a long stay here. And well, other couples, too…another wedding actually that I will be attending in January. So! Good advice.

    • rubymary says:

      Really Thai guys like foreign women huh? I remember in Bali I had to swap the men away, they were cat calling me from miles away! Very different from Japan and China–are Thai guys this forward as well?

      • Lani says:

        No, they are not! I’m fairly certain the women instigated the relationship. I know one in particular had to do with me pushing the two parties together! But don’t call me a match maker, yet. I was just happy to be there for the first meeting 😀

  4. Bruin says:

    I love the last part regarding the Internet not being a creepy place to meet now. For years I got flack for meeting my wife (a good friend of yours =p) via world of warcraft. But to get further on topic, I really appreciate the reality you bring to the interaction of western and eastern culture. So many westerners think life overthere is something out of an anime. But it’s quite different.

    • rubymary says:

      Thank you Bruin! Sometimes I get shy telling people that I met my special someone through a blog, but then I think: Why should I be ashamed? It’s better than half-drunk in a club, right? Anyway, so glad you met your wife on WoW! I think as long as you find the right person, really, it doesn’t matter THAT much how you met.

      We had a resident doctor living with us a while back and I asked him: “Where did you meet your girlfriend?” He smiled and said: “Tinder!” Now whenever I get shy about telling people I met my boyfriend online, I think back to this comment and smile, haha.

  5. Jocelyn Eikenburg says:

    Wow, Mary, this is such an outstanding post! I agree with all of your advice, especially the part about just saying Hello! A lot of foreign women who come to Asia sometimes don’t understand why the guys aren’t as forward about approaching women. I’ve written about it myself, that things like the taboos you mentioned, insecurities, language barriers and the like can make it more difficult for the guys here to ask you out.

    • rubymary says:

      Jocelyn! Thank you so much for the comment!

      I remember seeing a post similar to this on your blog, with the main difference being: Western women aren’t used to making the first move. Just saying hello can make all the difference 🙂

  6. hanna says:

    Very interesting read! I got to know my significant other, when I jobbed as a language tutor at university during my time as an exchange student in Japan. He was one of the students in my class, and it obviously was a plus that he was learning German 😉

  7. Eileen黃愛玲 says:

    I met my husband on myspace, out of all places. Dawen feels more comfortable speaking English than Mandarin, honestly, so there’s that. Dawen and I are more interested in speaking Taiwanese together – at least many foreigners around us don’t know what we’re talking about. 😀

    • rubymary says:

      Wow, myspace!!! Now that’s interesting 🙂

      Wow so you can speak local Taiwanese dialect? is it more difficult? And yeah, that’s a secretive language for sure 😉

  8. Ruth Silbermayr-SongRuth - China Elevator Stories says:

    Being able to speak the language is definitely great advice – it will greatly enhance your dating pool. I never had a problem with meeting Chinese guys who were interested in me in China. If you’re too shy to make the first step (some people are too shy for a simple hello), having Chinese girlfriends will make it much easier to meet guys. Many Chinese guys would initiate a conversation with me once they knew I spoke Chinese. Sometimes they’d just overhear me speaking Chinese with my girlfriends.

    That being said, my husband and I met working in a Chinese company. We were in the same team and I was sitting right next to him. I’m shyer than he is and he made the first move.

    • rubymary says:

      Wow the Chinese girlfriend advice is great! I never even thought of that! Chinese people are always trying to play matchmaker, so it makes sense to trust a good friend!

      I agree about the language part. Chinese guys would also start speaking with me too after overhearing me speak Chinese somewhere. I can’t even count the times the Chinese person giving me a massage (usually a young man) would ask for my number after our quick massage chats (wow, sounds dirty, but really isn’t haha). Language is definitely key to snagging a local and building on a relationship.

      I read the story of how you and your husband met and it’s really sweet. I also read the post about how your husband is not a typical Chinese guy! When I read that post I thought: Wow, she found a keeper!

      Your baby is super adorable by the way and I love the advice on your blog. I think it’s time for me to stop lurking and start commenting 😉

  9. Eleventh Monkey says:

    My Japanese husband and Dutch self met as exchange students at an American University. We made a horrible first impression upon one another. I though he was a weirdo with dumb ideas, and he thought I was a rude bitch. He was right ;). After a couple of months of living in the same foreign student dorm and an unplanned afternoon of talking at Starbucks together we became friends and slowly more.

    Good for you for being able to date Asian men when others say you won’t be able to. I loved tip #1 the most: “Say Hello”. Very true!

    • rubymary says:

      Aw, sounds like you two had a very fateful encounter (like something in a romantic comedy!). I really love the story about you two, you’ve been through so many uphill battles but look at the two of you now–so wonderful!!

      And yes, saying hello–it doesn’t apply to just Asians either, haha, if you want to get to know somebody say hi–so easy 😉

  10. mojiaen says:

    Thanks so much for the insight, Mary! I don’t know if it has to do with being a college student, but currently the guys that I’m meeting at English Corner and on campus (I’m in China for study abroad) are interested in getting my WeChat info and then we will *very* occasionally send messages. I’m not really sure how to take it beyond there? I was talking to my Chinese friend and she said that the concept of going on dates before getting in an official relationship over here is not as widespread as it is in the U.S. Thoughts?

    • rubymary says:

      Yeah dating isn’t really a thing in modern China, so you’ll have to meet each other on “non-dates” to get to know them.

      Try setting up a language exchange with one of them, but outside of the English corner. Meet in a cafe and just talk for an hour or two. That way, it’s “studying” but you also get to know more about the other person and see if he’s your type.

      Maybe I was flirting and I didn’t even know it, but I asked a lot of my Chinese guy friends if they could show me around the city, or introduce me to a good Chinese restaurant, etc.. and they always stepped up to go to dinner with me or show me the sights.

      Be careful, though… some Chinese guys will get your Wechat and bother you. Some Chinese men are quite persistent and they aren’t afraid to message you 20 times a day.

      Also, since dating isn’t really a thing in China, Chinese men will get serious… FAST. Maybe if you go on a psuedo-date 3-4 times, the guy might think you two are actually dating. Don’t be shocked if you get a proposal in 4 months. Make sure that, if you get a nice young Chinese man, that you tell him your life timeline.

      Good luck!!!! (may I ask what city you’re studying in?)

      • mojiaen says:

        Ah awesome! Thanks for the insight. And yeah..thankfully I haven’t had that experience with the WeChat spam yet, but it’s still early.
        As for the “getting serious fast” thing, I’ve noticed that too–not in my personal experience but with others. My mom’s Caucasian and my dad’s Chinese, and she said that when they finally made their relationship official he began talking about marriage and scared her a bit (obviously not enough since it worked out, hehe).
        Thanks so much! I’m studying in Chengdu for the year (: I’ve loved reading your blog, both in the States when I was prepping to go and here in China!

  11. love ur blog says:

    could u tell me more abt your vietnamese man and ur opinions abt Vietnamese’s woking conditions, experiences and life there as well

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