I have been dating my amazing Chinese boyfriend for a year now and he was the one who suggested I write this article. I think he just wanted to see what behaviours of his I had picked up on and thought it would be a laugh, and tbf some of them did make us laugh.
His only point was that I make the distinction between there being two types of asian, those born in England to immigrant families and those born in the mainland. Some of these things apply more to one type than the other. For example, the sense of humour varies between the two, those born in England apparently make a lot more racist jokes having a bigger sense of humour about it all. A sad but true perspective of a race being raised in a country full of racists, you have to learn to take it on the shoulder.
1. Addressing People
This is something that I’m still not used to because it just isn’t in our western culture. Everyone that is older than my bf, he has to refer to as either auntie or uncle. Even when their is no relation, it is a sign of respect to those older than you to call them this. And because my bf calls them auntie or uncle, it means I have to.
I am from a family of using first names, I don’t call my real aunties and uncles by their title but rather their names because that is who they are, so I found/am finding it very hard to adjust.
Hopefully you will find it easier than I do.
2. Food Experiences
This is a huge perk to dating an asian, my bf keeps showing me all these amazing eating spots around the country that I never would have tried by myself. He once took me to this Japanese restaurant that was tucked away in a dark little alley, somewhere you would expect to be murdered, which we joked about walking down there.
But the actual restaurant was great, and I got to experience a lunch box? I’m not a 100% what it was called because he just ordered for me, which I find as another positive because I’m very indecisive. It’s nice being able to sit back and just enjoy being taken for the ride.
Since we’ve started dating I’ve also had to try spicy chicken feet (got me major brownie points with his mum that I was willing to eat this), tripe, turnip cake which is really delicious.
It’s not just about going out to eat, my bf has been showing me all the ways of cooking he is used to and I’ve been showing him some ones I know. I’ve cooked risottos and paellas, chilli and stews for him, while he’s cooked an asian style hot pot for me.
This was actually really fun, you have a pot of simmering water on your table and you add in the ingredients around you and eat from the big pot in front of you. We put some noodles, chicken, beef, pork and dumplings in and just ate and ate.
3. Awkward Silences
There are sons and daughters to immigrant families who may not always speak their native language but there is a good chance that they will, so it will mean that when you are at family gatherings you will be on the sidelines not knowing what to do with yourself.
So if you are in it for the long haul you may want to invest in trying to learn some phrases to be able to converse somewhat with the family. It’ll get you brownie points and it doesn’t hurt to learn a new language.
4. Don’t Ask
Don’t ask what type of asian they are. Just don’t.
One, it doesn’t matter, and two it will become clear the more you get to know them through time as they reveal more about themselves.
5. Not All Stereotypes Are True
My bf kept asking me, and still does tbf, if he lives up to the stereotypes. I was never aware of the stereotypes that surrounded asian people before he listed them to me and it turns out there are a lot. And my bf fits none of them.
I was made to watch Fresh Of The Boat to understand more of what it was like for my bf growing up and what he had to put with from the outside world. The series highlights a lot of the stereotypes that are associated with an asian family, including bad drivers which is not true at all.
Not every asian child is going to be amazing at maths either, it just so happens my bf is and makes a great accountant but that isn’t to do with his race, he’s just a strange man that likes maths.
6. Alcohol Flush
For some asians, about 36% according to Wiki, flush when they drink alcohol, meaning they go red all over or blotchy as if they are burning up or very embarrassed. But when you are in a club you can never tell anyway because of the dark lighting and different coloured lights flicking about.
It just becomes a bit more obvious when you are drinking in a normally lit place.
7. Expect A Fight Over The Bill
This is another thing that Fresh Of The Boat highlighted and has come to be a big part of my life now. Paying the bill becomes a massive fight at the restaurant, it can’t just be ‘oh I’ll take this one, you have the next’, or ‘we’ll just split it’, it has to be my bf paying everything, every time.
I have had to resort to hiding money in his wallet or bag when he doesn’t realise to make it more even between us.
And when it is a family gathering it becomes even worse because you have 5 different people all trying to pay the bill. There have been tricks that have had to be developed to win the battle, like my bf will pretend to go to the toilet and come back with the receipt all proud because he’s won.
You think it’s cute now, but wait till it’s happening every week, you’ll be going crazy.
I thought the big issue would be making sure never to embarrass myself with chopsticks in front of him or his family, I didn’t want to be the white girl that can’t use them. But I didn’t need to worry about that, I needed to worry about just how many ways chopsticks can be used for.
Apparently chopsticks can also be used for making tea, who needs a spoon when you can use a chopstick to get the tea bag out!
9. Eat Everything And Say How Good It Is
Your appetite better be good if you are dating an asian because you will be eating a lot. That also means a lot of walking or a very good metabolism because you will be ridiculed for putting on weight as well, more their son/daughter than you yourself but it will be your fault that this happened to their son so you better watch out.
If you want to win favour with the mum then compliment her cooking more than anything else, say how delicious it is and finish off your plate every time to show how happy you are with their cooking. It’s the biggest compliment you can give. So get eating.
So white parents exposed their kids to Bowie, Queen, Led Zeppelin etc. when they were growing up, asian parents will not have. Or not likely to have. So expect your gf/bf to have different musical references to you, their repertoire will include artists like Andy Lau and Teresa Teng.
But it’s never a bad thing to be introduced to new types of music, you could find something you love, like k-pop. So enjoy the car rides when they’re in charge of the music.