Advice on relationship with Chinese girl
August 10, 2017 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Hi everybody, I have 2 questions concerning a this girl I met in my class. We are 24 (me) and 20 (her) and we've been "checking each other out" for one year now. I have 2 questions to make sure I don't mislead her and have the right expectations, especially since she is shy and I cannot really ask her these questions directly anyway.

Ok so the story is that I've been seeing this girl in my classes at a Canadian university for a year and we've been flirting here and there but so far she has always remained coy so I haven't made more progress for a while. I think it is because she is Chinese (Canadian Born Chinese to be precise), so she doesn't stray which is very attractive to me. I myself am Chinese too and don't like "dating around" either. However my problem is that I need to know if we are compatible to know whether we should go further or not. So that is why my questions are:

1. What is the point when you are implicitly considered a couple? When you first kiss?
Of course at some point it will be explicitly official if it works out, but from gestures, words usually we all make certain conclusions. That is why I want to know what is the signal that makes a couple official so that I do not mislead her into thinking anything even if I don't explicitly say so.

2. My second question is, is she looking to marry me?
I have many Chinese friends but they are from China and they usually stick to their (often first and only) boyfriend and intend to marry him. From what I have seen this girl seems traditional when it comes to dating even though she is Canadian. So what I wonder is, after 1 year or checking me out, now that she is opening up to me, is does she actually have marriage at the back of the mind?? (A little bit scary for me but I need to know so I don't mislead her. Then again, I suppose it's hard to resist my charms.)
posted by iliketothinknu to Human Relations (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The answers to both of these questions vary widely from person to person. Personality, values, culture, chemistry, etc., etc. etc, are all different for each person and each relationship they are involved in. If you have not been on a date yet, I wouldn't worry about either one. Ask her out. Get to know what she wants from a relationship and take it from there.
posted by goggie at 3:16 PM on August 10, 2017

I'm so confused. Have you even been on a date with this person? What do you mean by "seeing"?

Either way, there's no way to answer these questions. There is no implicit considering of a couple - some people with certain ethnic/religious/whatever reasons might be a couple in advance of anything physical, some people would happily have regular sex with someone and not want to be considered a couple. Most people are somewhere in between, and in modern America/Canadian college dating standards a kiss would not imply a couple.

But in modern American/Canadian college dating standards it would be very outside the norm to "see" someone for a year without kissing them.

So the thing to do is: have a conversation with her. What do you want, and are you willing to ask for it? Does she even think she's seeing you? (I apparently "dated" someone in college that I had no idea I was dating - I thought we were friends doing friendly things. It was very confusing later when he said something about how we had dated and I didn't know). There's literally no way to tell from what you have written here what she is thinking. If you like her, if you want to move forward, tell her that and talk to her.
posted by brainmouse at 3:17 PM on August 10, 2017 [11 favorites]

1. When you ask the other person, "are we a couple?," and the other person says yes. Or when they ask you that question and you say yes. I have been introduced to parents, taken on vacations, and more by people who had no intention of having a relationship with me. Many people have sex with people they have no intention of having a relationship with. This varies so widely that you need to ask.

2. You also need to ask her this to know. Literally no one can tell you what she's thinking other than her, and anyone who says they can is full of shit (unless it's someone she's personally talked to about her thoughts, but even then, it might not reflect how she feels now). But probably wait to ask until after #1.
posted by quiet coyote at 3:20 PM on August 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

Have you even seen her outside of school, let alone kissed her? You mention "seeing this girl in my classes" with no indication that you have done anything outside of class. You mention "flirting" and her "checking you out" but that constitutes basically nothing in terms of you being in a relationship with her. None of us could possibly know if this girl is interested in marrying you, but I doubt it and I'm not sure why you would even think that. You are not dating this girl and it sort of sounds to me like you've built up this whole "relationship" in your mind.

If you want to date her but you don't want to get married then ask her out, start an actual relationship, but be upfront that you aren't looking for anything serious. If you can't talk to her about the questions you posed, then you definitely aren't in a relationship and you don't need to worry, in my opinion. When you can ask these questions to her is when they will actually be relevant.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:32 PM on August 10, 2017 [9 favorites]

“Would you like to go on a date sometime?”
posted by Rock Steady at 3:34 PM on August 10, 2017 [4 favorites]

1. Ask her. There is no objective standard. People decide for themselves.

2. Ask her. The internet cannot help you with this. But if you haven't even been on a date yet, I strongly doubt that is what she is thinking.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:47 PM on August 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

It's very fair of you not to want to lead her on, but even if you assume that she really is like your Chinese-born friends and wants to wait to date until she meets someone she thinks she would want to marry (which is very flattering to you, if true!) you don't literally need to marry her even if that is her expectation. Getting really serious with her would be cruel if you knew you had different expectations, but going on a couple of dates when you don't know that fact is fine.

As to "are we a couple if we kiss"...well, in my generation you sort of were, or at least, if you did more than casual kissing you needed to say "we are kissing but we are not a couple" to the other person or they would assume you were. It sounds like maybe you and she are both a little more traditional in this way? So maybe hold off on any serious physical stuff until after a few dates, when you can decide if you do want to be a couple and talk to her about that.

Ask her on a date, go on a few more dates after that and you will probably naturally learn a lot about what she is expecting, plus you can ask her directly. Don't start with "so do you expect to marry me"; once you're considering being a couple, ask her if she is looking for a serious relationship now and see what she says. It is okay to date for months or longer before deciding that you're in a serious relationship.

Basically, don't let worries about the far future prevent you from taking a simple, small action today. If you really did live in a society where almost everyone waited to date until they met someone they could see themselves marrying, it might be different - then you would know what to expect most of the time. But you don't know now, so the only way forward is to ask her on a date.
posted by Frowner at 3:56 PM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Whoa, is this the same woman (age 20 = woman, not girl) that you thought was sending you mixed signals in your ask of January 25 of this year? Because if so, you are not seeing her, you are stalking her. Leave her alone. FFS.
posted by heatherlogan at 4:46 PM on August 10, 2017 [31 favorites]

Have you ever spoken to her?
posted by rhizome at 5:15 PM on August 10, 2017 [7 favorites]

However my problem is that I need to know if we are compatible to know whether we should go further or not.

I can't even tell from your question if you've spoken to her outside of class. Have you?

The way people figure out if they're compatible enough to begin a relationship is to begin a relationship. This doesn't mean you have to be an exclusive couple from the start; it means you spend time together outside of class and do different things together, just the two of you as well as with friends. Go to the movies. Have meals together. Go for walks or hikes. Go to a museum. Play video games. There is no way to tell if you are compatible with someone, or how compatible you are, without spending time with them.

No one except her can tell you if she's looking to marry you or anyone else.
posted by rtha at 5:53 PM on August 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

These are not things you'll be able to tell unless you have a deeper relationship
posted by infortunity at 6:20 PM on August 10, 2017

In addition to what other's have said, I'd like to address the bit about Canadian-born Chinese women. (I'm American, but I'm sure this doesn't differ much.) I have known a number of second-generation immigrants whose parents were Chinese. I'm even married to one of them. And other than perhaps being very well educated there aren't many generalizations you can make. My wife is a Berkeley hippy who cooks Chinese food at home less than I do. My friend's husband was an extrovert in college, and retains a generous sarcastic streak. My late-20s coworker has a very strong personality, and likes going to the ballet, seeking out Vermeers when she travels, and has a penchant for fine whiskey and cocktail bars.

Even with first-generation immigrants, remember that they may have left their country for a reason. I know a Thai woman who's a bit of an ageless "free spirit", identifies with Indian Buddhism far more than Thai spirituality, got married in Vegas to a Norwegian, and rarely visits her home country. I also once worked with a shy Chinese woman who I also assumed was single, straight, and maybe a little lonely. Then I met her partner, now her wife, and as we became friends I discovered she's one of the most adventurous people I know; she just doesn't talk about it at work.

Most importantly, all these people are people much more than they are Asian. They may share certain expectations from their parents about how to live their lives, but they live in a society that promotes individualism, and so they've all made their own choices about what kind of person they want to be. It sounds you don't know this woman at all, so treat her like any other 20-year old Canadian, whose race may affect how the world sees her, but does not define her.
posted by serathen at 6:41 PM on August 10, 2017 [28 favorites]

Okay, so, let me know if I'm getting this right... Last year you attended a Canadian University (Sept 2016 - April 2017) and there was a Canadian woman taking some of the same classes as you who you thought was cute. You say that the two of you flirted some, but it's unclear what that consisted of: eye contact, body language, actual conversation, texting/Facebook?. Your description from January of thinking a girl was sending you "mixed-signals" makes me concerned about your skill at accurately assessing social interactions, and whether this woman you're interested in now would agree that she was flirting with you. You say she seems shy and "coy" and that you "haven't made more progress for a while". Does that mean you haven't seen or spoken to her since school let out at the end of April and you're trying to decide how to approach things if/when you see her again in September?

These days there is no consensus on a point at which people are implicitly considered a couple, or even what being "a couple" means. If you ask her on a date (and do use the word date, and if you haven't spoken to her since April spend some time re-establishing your acquaintance first), and she agrees, and it goes well, then you can ask her what she's looking for in a relationship right now. Being straightforward about what you want and asking her what she wants is the best way of avoiding confusion or misunderstandings.

I am Canadian, I am not Chinese-Canadian, I have friends/family/an ex who are Chinese-Canadian: If my Chinese-Canadian friends are at all representative, the fact that she's ethnically Chinese is unlikely to have much influence on her gregariousness, dating preferences, or whether she is interested in marriage soon or ever. In your shoes I wouldn't make assumptions about her based on her ethnicity. (on Preview: serathan says this quite well and with more detail)
posted by Secret Sparrow at 6:59 PM on August 10, 2017 [8 favorites]

I get the impression that you're approaching this with a LOT of assumptions and looking for certain signals, to the point that you might be missing the chance to see the signs that are actually there.

Examples of assumptions:
"because she is Chinese (Canadian Born Chinese to be precise), so she doesn't stray which is very attractive;"
rules about when couples magically know they're official;
"this girl seems traditional when it comes to dating"/ wants marriage

People within a group aren't all the same. Each relationship will have different "rules." If I were in her position, I'd be kinda insulted that someone is making all these assumptions just from my ethnic background. But I'm not her, which is the point: she is the person whose opinion matters here, and you can't go further without finding out.

It doesn't seem that you and she have interacted enough for you to know much about her or what she wants. (Flirting in class doesn't really count. A lot of people don't reveal their inner thoughts or personality in public with people they don't know well.) Oh and consider that if either one of you is too shy to discuss this stuff, it's an indication that things aren't ready to go forward, for a bunch of possible reasons.

You have to realize and remember that she is a human being, like you, with her own personality, thoughts, feelings, experiences. She's not some bit character in a script that you're writing.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 7:02 PM on August 10, 2017 [9 favorites]

As someone who teaches college students I would like to add the following observation:

Young men try to flirt with young women in my classroom. The young women have been trained to be too polite and sort of politely tolerate this behavior in the classroom setting because they are trapped in that room/seat/project group and have to deal with this guy for another X weeks.
But they'd never talk to them outside of class.

If she has made any effort at communicating outside of class you may have a shot. Otherwise it may be this sort of situation.
posted by k8t at 7:51 PM on August 10, 2017 [20 favorites]

My dude, we are going to have some real talk here.

You are operating at about a ninth-grade understanding of this stuff. There's nothing wrong with this even at your age; I didn't start making real progress until I was about 20, and I kept fucking up for a long time. There are all sorts of legitimate reasons that this happens to good people, mainly lack of opportunity.

sooooo having said that...There are several assumptions you are making here without any real evidence:

1. Ethnicity has an extreme effect on how this particular gal views dating.
2. She views dating the same as you do.
3. Dating looks like what you think it looks like.
4. This girl doesn't "stray" because she is Chinese.
5. You have some duty not to mislead the ladies into thinking that you are more into them than they are.
6. There is such a thing as an "implicit couple."
7. Courtship sometimes takes a year before someone "opens up."

...pause for emphasis

Forget all of those assumptions forever because they are faaaaaaaaaalse.

1. There are, what, 500 million women in China? Do they all approach dating in roughly the same way? NOPE
2. You have no evidence at, all, what, so, ever to think this. Bet you a dollar you've never talked to her about how she views dating.
3. NOPE NOPE NOPE and all my friends who thought it works in the mechanistic way you're describing, and I had several of them, crashed and burned every single time until they let all that shit go. More on this in a bit.
4. Would you feel comfortable saying this to her face? (Correct answer is no.) So why do you even think it? What does this even mean to you? This sounds like a lyric from a Beach Boys song.
5. I used to get really wound up about this, too, until like four ladies it didn't work out with were like, "Wow, that's really condescending, I am an adult but you make it sound like I'm some kind of delicate flower whose emotions need to be protected from you, go fuck yourself, and no more booty calls."
6. There is no such thing as an implicit couple. Bet you twenty bucks she goes on dates with other guys. No, fifty. I'll be you one hundred U.S. Dollars that she went on more than one date with another guy in the last year. Until you have a "define the relationship" talk, there is no couple. And if you tried to have that with her tomorrow, I guarantee you she would have no idea that you thought you guys were dating. Nobody nobody nobody would look at your situation with her and think you were even interested in each other.
7. If things haven't gotten emotionally and/or physically heavy by the second date, it's almost never going to happen after that. It doesn't take a year for people to size each other up as romantic partners. It takes about half an hour, tops. HALF AN HOUR, MY DUDE

This senorita does not think that you are her boyfriend. She probably doesn't even view you as a romantic interest. You talk to her in class sometimes. Why would she think you are interested in anything further? SHE HAS NO REASON TO THINK THAT put yourself in her shoes based on what you actually know about her-as-a-person which is very little

You need to abandon the systematic way that you view dating. This view is an outdated remnant of a time in life before you understood how complex people are. Dating is not systematic at all. It is hella chaotic. Doing a, b, and c does not guarantee output x and frequently leads to output -x or even output PURPLE HAMMERS. All you can do is ask her out for coffee, pass half an hour together, and if you are both into each other, set another date. If not, move tha fukkkkk on ASAP or else things get awkward really fast, and everyone hates it.

I wish you nothing but success, but you have a lot of wrong thinking to get over before you're going to get there. Start tonight!
posted by radicalawyer at 8:05 PM on August 10, 2017 [28 favorites]

However my problem is that I need to know if we are compatible to know whether we should go further or not.

This is why dating was invented.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:28 PM on August 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

Of the many Chinese women I know, faithfulness in a relationship is an individual quality of character and had no common thread to do with their traditional/modern alignment, if they were from China or Singapore or Malaysia, long hair, short hair, religious or secular. You sound like you are looking for an object to obtain, not a relationship with another person. This is going to get you right someone forced to hide themshelves from you because you aren't actually interested in them as a person, just as My Perfect Girlfriend, or someone playing you just as much.

Be romantically lonely for a while and have some actual friendships with women that force you to think about other people's lives and interests. Go to therapy if that is excruciatingly painful because it shouldn't be. Then start dating.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:44 PM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

As Canadian men, we are socialised and brought up in ways that often make us think women are more interested in us romantically than they are. It's easy to construct a story of little things, proving someone is 'into' us, when really they might have just been friendly or meant nothing of it. It's worthwhile to remember this socialisation and fight against it.

Sometimes it can be hard, because so much of dating is based on little cues and messages. The way people deliver these cues varies a lot, person-to-person, especially in a multicultural society like Canada, and as a man socialised to assume interest, they're hard to read successfully. Certainly ethnicity isn't enough to assume anything.

So what do you do? You could spend a lot of time thinking about whether they like you or not, and if you haven't gotten to know them your guess at the end is probably only as good as chance. Even if you have gotten to know them a bit, your guess probably will still be wrong a lot of the time. And at the end, you still have to ask them out!

(Don't, don't try to kiss someone without asking, in words. Sometimes people manage to ask to kiss using body language -- but you really need to feel that you understand the other person's body language. And this is really, really, hard! And if you get it wrong, you have done something very bad! So it's really not worth trying.)

So, why not just ask from the start, and keep asking? This doesn't mean that you have to ask someone on a date the second you meet them, especially in a university context.

For instance, I'm a shy person, and I feel like I don't even know if I'm romantically interested in someone until I know a bit more about their personality. If someone seems cool in class, I'm happy waiting until some moment where talking is natural. If they seem to enjoy talking a bit, I'll ask if they want to join in on a low-key, friendly, social venture that doesn't take away from their day -- for instance, if I have a class with them around lunch, if they're hungry and want to chat over lunch after class or before class or something. And if I've done some low-key things with them and both of us seem to have enjoyed it, then maybe I'll decide to ask them to do larger friendly things, or, if I turn out to have romantic interest and they don't seem averse to the idea of romance, on a date.

I wrote that like a formula, but no getting-to-know-someone experience has ever played out in exactly that way in practice. People are messy. Find your own way to get to know people, and let the process happen semi-organically.

For instance, it's possible to simply ask people on dates after only having a short conversation with them, and something a lot of people do successfully! But please keep in mind women get asked out a *lot* by strangers in public places (bus stops, cafes, etc) and no woman I know has said yes to such an encounter, nor have they ever appreciated it. Don't interrupt someone's day to ask them out, because they'll instantly have negative expectations for the encounter and you're also just troubling them.

I think, really, there are just two important guidelines to keep in mind when asking people:

1. Listen to them saying no! No matter what polite excuse people might give, especially when you're first meeting them, no means no -- if they wanted to say yes, they would have found a way. "Oh, I'm busy that day so I can't have lunch" is a polite no-- consider the alternative "I'm busy that day... but how about next week."

It's true that some very small amount of people do say no in an attempt to play 'hard to get'. But the amount of people that do this is really, really, really, really small in Canada! It is such a small number that you can assume it is basically zero. Besides, would you really want to date someone who couldn't be honest with you, and told you the opposite of what they wanted all the time? Better treat their 'no' as a 'no'.

To reiterate: no means no! If someone says no to you, take it as a no and stop bothering them! They don't want to be in your life, and denying this fact will make its eventual truth only harder on you. (Sometimes, a 'no' can be unclear, it's true. It's OK to ask someone once more, sometimes, if the 'no' is really unclear. But if you get two unclear 'no's in a row-- that is a hard no, and take it as one! )

2. Mean what you ask!
Sometimes, men will ask women if they want to 'hang out', and what the man really wants is for that 'hang out' to be a date. Again, no woman I've ever known has appreciated her hang-out being forced into an awkward date. It's uncomfortable and unfair for you to try to change the expectations of the encounter. If someone wants to go on a date with you, they'll be happy to hear you say 'do you want to go on a date with me?', and the actual date will be better for it-- you can do something actually romantic, instead of an awkward hangout turned into a sort-of-date. And if they didn't, well, better find out before your plan awkwardly fails in person!

Sometimes asking is hard, because when someone says 'no' it can feel really bad. But it feels worse the longer you prolong an awkward pseudo-friendship which is really you waiting for a real relationship. You're going to have to ask eventually: why agonize for months, when you can get it over with now?

Another worry I've had, and I hear from friends, is that you'd really like to be friends with that person if they're not interested and you're worried that if you ask and they say no your friendship will break apart, too. First of all, ask yourself whether you really want to be actual, platonic, friends, or you just want to be around them in case they eventually decide to be in a relationship with you. Be very honest with yourself -- if the answer is no, don't try to maintain a friendship!

But if you decide you really, truly, want to be platonic friends, don't worry! If you can demonstrate that you are sincere in your desire for friendship, and the other person actually thinks you are a cool friend, friendship is something that usually works out. You probably will need to be *very* good about respecting boundaries, especially for a while after the failed ask.
posted by sidek at 11:30 PM on August 10, 2017 [4 favorites]

Wait, what? If this is the same woman from your previous question, it was made pretty clear she had zero interest in you, and didn't want to hang with out with or date you. People in your previous question explained she was merely polite but you needed to leave her alone.

I'm concerned that you now have the notion she may possibly want to marry you. There is something really off with your perception, my friend. This is a woman who has actively avoided hanging out with you. You've never dated but you want to know when will you be an official couple and does she want to spend the rest of her life with you??*

So to your question of are you compatible; the answer is HELL NO.

Please challenge the accuracy of your assumptions when confronting the reality in front of you. Anyone who avoids you does NOT want to marry you, let alone become an official couple. Respect this, stay away from her, and do not interact with other women in a similar fashion. You need to learn to accept what's actually in front of you; not what you want to have happen. I really hope you understand that your question crosses into stalker-like territory.

*Lastly, you need to drop the stereotypical thinking. Everyone has cultural influences but it's a dangerous road to travel, assuming someone is a cluster of all cultural stereotypes. First and foremost, she is a unique individual, not a cluster of Chinese traditions.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:59 AM on August 11, 2017 [6 favorites]

If this is the same girl, look, it sounds like you need to have more of a social life before you have a dating life. You're going to find it much easier to date successfully if you have a healthy friendship life, friendships with women, etc.

What is your social life like? (Also, real- life friends can give you real-life perspective on specific questions.) If it's not too great - maybe you have a big commute to school or you're shy or have had some bad experiences - work on that first. Can you join some student groups, like a film society or a volunteer organization? If you pick something that meets weekly and you show up and act pleasant to people, you will make friends. It may take a while to develop close friendships and a deep social network, but just starting to build up a better social life will make a lot of difference for you. Also, if you can make friends - just friends - with women, it will help you feel lower-stakes about interactions with women in general, because it won't be "women, how can you even tell?" anymore.

If you - like me! - didn't have a big social circle before you went to college, it may take a while to feel comfortable. That's okay. Learning to be a friend is like learning anything else - you have to put some effort into it and the first stages feel difficult. But there really isn't a way to leapfrog them, just like there is no way to get to being a couple without asking someone on a date.

I just started doing a new volunteer thing this past month, and it was tough, even though I have plenty of friends now and have for many years. I felt shy and awkward, and I didn't want to go. But I keep telling myself "every time, it gets easier, the more I interact with people the easier it is to be on friendly terms", and it is getting easier and more satisfying.

It sounds like what's happening is that you are preventing yourself from acting. The thing about when you fixate on one person who may not even be into you - but you are not sure! - is that it keeps you safe/prevents you from needing to do the scary and difficult work of building deeper relationships with people. I totally get this! It's hard enough to hear a "no thank you" even when someone is super nice, and there's always the possibility that they won't be. But you need to be able to do that or you won't get anywhere long term.

College is a great time to get these skills and habits. It is very easy to be a great student, a good kid, a talented employee and a compassionate person but still need to work on actually being able to make good friendships and relationships. People often feel like "I have trouble with relationships, that's because I'm terrible/broken", but you can actually be super interesting, kind and talented but not be able to bring that to friendships because you haven't had the practice.
posted by Frowner at 7:42 AM on August 11, 2017 [6 favorites]

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