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…
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.
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
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
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)
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
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?