A Lack of Public Affection From Your Asian Man, What Does It Mean?

Most Asian families show love indirectly, and that includes love between everyone from husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, and kids. But I am sure you have noticed that the moment you step through the doorway into his parents house, he turns the affection and flirtations down to practically nothing. To a woman from a western society, that can seem really strange. In fact I often will make you ask yourself, what’s going on?

Now it’s not to say that in the west women show lots of affection to their boyfriend /fiancé /husband in front of parents or friends. Etiquette dictates that you should not do things like kissing, and other such extreme displays of affection in public. But you can hold hands, or put your arm around your loved one, and no one will have any issues with that. So when your Asian man does not hold your hand, or sit close to you, or even stay in the same room with you, especially the first time it just seems like something is wrong.

As a women, my first thought would naturally be that something is wrong. Maybe he is upset with me, maybe I did something wrong, maybe he is embarrassed of me? But don’t feel this way, because you handsome Asian man is just doing what he has learned. Try and understand that he is being the kind of son his parents are used to. That means you will have to deal with a little less outward affection while around the family, in public, around friends or etc.

Asian men are no different than any other. They want affection, love, sex and all that good stuff. But in Asian cultures, outside of the home, there exists a more wholesome appearance, one that implies that those kinds of things don’t happen. It’s a world of innocence, where no one holds hands, kisses, or any such things. Of course we know what happens behind “closed doors” but you don’t dare make reference to it in public.

When it comes down to it, I wouldn’t worry about his lack of affection to you around parents, friends, or etc. It doesn’t mean he loves you any less, it doesn’t mean he is any less interested in you, it just means he is being respectful to others and the culture around him.

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11 Responses to A Lack of Public Affection From Your Asian Man, What Does It Mean?

  1. Alex says:

    Hi again 🙂 
    Maybe this is a stupid question but what is that considered as?Does it fall under the category rude behavor,like puting your feet on your friends table without asking first or is it more indecent behavor like u are acting as women from the street and your backround is really bad?

  2. AMWF Love says:

    In Chinese we have a term for it referring to general manners. Asians in general have a certain set of manners passed down from generations regarding proper behaviour towards family, public, and foreigners.

    For the family, showing affection to your girlfriend (speaking from Asian male perspective) is essentially sitting beside her at the dinner table and taking care of her. Depending on how Traditional the family is, there is no hand holding or actual real physical contact between the two of you. Things like that should be left behind closed doors. This again stems from the shame culture, meaning if his parents find dirty details in the relationship, he will be forever harassed about it. In the extreme cases, even close friends or the entire community will know. It’s this fear of shame and embaressment that attempts to make Asian men submit or conform to society. As Asian men, we have to respect our elders (and superiors), even if they are not right. Relationships are a serious things with Asians, and there is almost a silent expectation that it is to eventually lead to marriage. Obviously not right away, but fooling around is very frowned upon.

    Being ill mannered or rude constantly is a turn off for Asian men, and it is even worse if they are working endless hours to support the one they love the most. Manners are intertwined with indecent behaviour. This is actually kind of nice in a sense that a relationship doesn’t have to be entirely physically based. Yes we hold hands, hug, and kiss – but just knowing that she wants to be with you as an Asian Male is enough.

    Like I said before, the traditional ones are usually the Technophiles and Ambitious. This is a big thing to them. For the Comedians and Individuals, it’s less important, but if you show that you are making an effort to them, they will be more than happy.

    I think the key is just to be humble and conservative around his parents. It helps dispell the fear that their son is not with a hedonistic White Female who has no education, bad manners, and poor money management skills. Yes they actually do think that.

    – Brian

    • And there I was wondering with my Chinese date was so extraordinarily happy to notice that I spend wisely. Also, he was very happy to know I like Chinese babies, and told his friend, who later in return asked me if that was true as if it’s such a big deal. Also, on our second date, we were with his friend. His face was like stone, I was like ” are you ok? is anything wrong?” his response was “yes, Im more than ok, im really happy!” some hours later, still he was not his usual jokey, flirty self so again I had to ask “seriously, is everything ok?” he was like ” yes, Im’ really happy!”…. that really confused me that did… for ages….

  3. Alex says:

    Ok maybe another stupid question,Im guessing that u then cant be that open either around his parents in fear that u may say something that he is going to be teased about.How will u then establish close realationship with his mother?And how exactly do they know that u actually are a careing and loving person that will take of they son.It cant just be she has education, manners and lisens to her elders.If we only talk about the weather and watch what we are saying,we cant get to know each other.U do find about a person,  moral and how they are by letting them be them selfs and specialy if u lissen to what they are actually saying,well amongs other things as well that require a less strict behavoir.Also how do his parents know I like them if I behave simulor to every elder and dont get too personal with them.Do I have to pay attention and buy them stuff that is specific to them?

  4. AMWF Love says:

    Essentially that’s really all you have to do. It’s not about engaging deep stimulating conversation with his mothers. It’s the fact that you are going out of your way to spend time with her. Whether it is sitting at the TV with her folding laundry, or keeping her company while she prepares dinner. It’s really those little things that show respect. Over time they warm up to you and you get to know them more and more. It is a very slow process.

    You don’t have to really buy them stuff all the time. Maybe only for the really big special occasions – but it’s more of a gift to the family in general. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just shows some thought. Any gestures that are considered sexual is inappropriate around his parents. I think that’s pretty much it. I’m sure it’s similar for Caucasian parents anyways.

  5. Sarah says:

    Hi I have heard about this before and have experienced it with my boyfriend. But I am just curious as to how this works out when children are living with their parents after they get married? I mean next time me and my boyfriend go to China we are going to be living with his parents during most of the trip…

    • AMWF Love says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Usually in Chinese Culture it is normal to stay with your parents until you get married. However after marriage you may chose to move out, but it usually ends up being very close. If the child is the eldest (not exclusive to males anymore) usually they will take care of their parents, and will move in with their child post-retirement. This is an expression of filial piety and it is strongly valued in Traditional Asian mentality.

      Out of respect you can opt to sleep in a separate bed as your boyfriend when you stay at his parents. This would probably earn you some brownie points if you took the initiative. It’s a positive gesture to show you are serious with him. They are looking for values that are treasured in marriage, and not just physical attraction.

      As for living with parents post marriage would somewhat be acceptable if real estate prices were insanely expensive. It should be something temporary, and definately not long term.

      – Brian

  6. Dorcas says:

    Hi, I’ve just found your blog while searching for info re WFAM relationships! Thanks for the info! Just one question – I’m a WF seeing a Canadian AM technophile and would like to know what general aspects he would most appreciate about a WF! Physically we’re almost opposites – I’m slightly taller, larger, probably too emotionally expressive AND in light of this post – I enjoy (a little) public display of affection!

    • AMWF Love says:

      Thanks for the post Dorcas.

      Being with a Techophile, I think he would most enjoy be taken care of. I wouldn’t doubt it if he loves his mother very much. 🙂

      What makes WF most attractive is the ability to love, and express it. Expression is something difficult with Technophiles, but they certainly are capable of loving and will work long and hard hours to provide for you. There is nothing wrong with curves, because even Asian Men like it too. Though physical characteristics are nice, they want to be loved very much – so if you are capable of expressing it to him, he will really appreciate it.

      Many relationship habits have to be taught to Asian Men. The great thing about Technophiles is that they do want to learn, but you have to teach them good habits. There is absolutely nothing wrong with holding hands together in public, and it is your job to make him feel comfortable with it. Technophiles usually are hestitant making the first move, but you just have to let him know you understand and appreciate him very much. If you want a kiss, then go kiss him. He’ll begin to learn what you like, and will end up practicing these good habits. Just be patient, let him know what you want, and be very encouraging to him. 🙂

      – Brian

  7. Elise de Haan says:

    Hi, I am a WF in Australia dating an Asian man. He is from an indian background but grew up in Malaysia so a lot of the asian norms apply. I was just talking with my boyfriend about this and was stating my frustration with him because he rarely compliments me or encourages me. I was saying that because I need words of affirmation and encouragement its very difficult to feel secure in his love for me even though I know in my head that he does, its hard to feel it on a day to day basis.

    He spoke to me about it saying that he was sorry and he understand that most western girls will need to be with a guy who can be emotionally available, complimenting them and encouraging them with word but Because of the way he has grown up, he has been taught to leave emotions at the door. Complimenting and Encouragement in his culture and even previous Hindu religion stated that it was almost bad luck to say nice things to other people. When he compliments me its very logical and matter of fact with no emotion attached to it. He wants to change but its so much a part of who he is and i’m scared he won’t be able to change, and that makes me scared because I don’t know if i can be in a relationship where my man cannot easily encourage and compliment me. What do you guys thing? Great blog by the way, I’m gonna put it in my favourites!! I’m always trying to find couples in tis situation, it can be difficult at times!
    Thanks, Elise

    • AMWF Love says:

      Thanks for commenting, Elise!

      When it comes to emotional generosity for Asian Men that is actually a difficult topic to answer. Perhaps I will consider writing about my own emotional upbringing as a future article. For many of the Asian Nations much of our influences stem from Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Chinese Dynasties, and other philosophical contributors. To this day their principles are so strongly imbued into the Asian family system that we just accept it as normal (well at least for me as an Asian). Given the historical emphasis on a Patriarchial Asian society, I would presume that the more naturally emotionally attuned women did not have much say in societal policies. In a strange way it was almost if our Asian ancestors saw emotions as a form of weakness, and therefore raised their successors to compartmentalize emotions. Propagate this for over 1000 years and I suppose having a muted emotional response just seems normal.

      When I think about what it means to be an Asian Male, the first thing that immediately comes to mind is our ability to provide physically. The bond is then strengthed when the woman appreciates all his hard work and show some form of happiness. For many Caucasian women this is simply not enough, some form of physical touch, eye contact, and communication on a higher level (beyond the trivial and petty) may be required. Asian Men in contrast often are raised in a more rigid tradition that has been passed on generation to generation. Higher education leads to a good job, an ability to provide which would lead to a car, home, and hopefully a wife. This has been tried, tested, and true for hundreds of years, but we forget this is 2011 – things have changed.

      Learning emotions as an Asian Male is quite a difficult struggle, it really comes from experience. The more you are exposed to people who display emotions whether it is through multimedia or in real life, the more experienced you become. A decade ago I was definately not as expressive as I am today, and it was the result of time and experience (mostly bad experiences and several broken hearts later). The key for Asian Men is starting. Often we get so tied down by our perfectionist upbringing that we wait for only the perfect opportunities (which there are none) before we act.

      Honestly I would say one of the best ways for him to learn is that you have to be even more generous and show him how you want to be treated. Lead by example and tell him this is what you also need as well. Changing habits and behaviour takes time, but it is possible providing that both parties want change to come about. Good Luck!

      – Brian

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