Ask Nicely, but Don’t Force Things – The Order, Suggestion, and Request

While there are many resources describing how to deal with the family of an Asian Male, I think what’s important is the approach taken. Yes it is frustrating at times when a White Female does not fully understand the reasons for family traditions, but it is our responsibility as Asian Men to be respectful to our woman, especially when she was not raised the same way we were. For myself, I grew up in that strict, stifling, Asian environment my Asian peers can all relate to.  I remember getting an earful from my father when he lost patience in my incompetence. Even one point when I was a child he locked me out of the house in the bone-chilling winter because I was sobbing uncontrollably. Well, I was doing some mathematics two years ahead of my grade. I still remember that even to that day, but I still love and respect my father.
Unfortunately we as Asian Males tend to learn even subliminally through our experiences. We were usually not given much input in matters and our parents made choices for us. Our extra-curricular activities involved piano or violin lessons. Maybe if we were “fortunate” enough there would be extra academic studies in math. Yes, it taught us how to be disciplined, but more of how to follow, and not how to lead.

The Asian Family Issue

The reason why I bring this up is because of the upbringing differences from the East and West. I cannot assume the White Female I am with automatically knows everything about cultural traditions. Moreover it isn’t fair to express frustration, nor demand submission from her. Yes I was guilty of this before, and I have to consciously remind myself from time to time that this is what I signed up for. I want to be with a White Female, and I must be responsible to make things work as well.  When dealing with his Asian Family you only need to remember three things: respect, manners, and humility. Anything that incorporates one or all three such as greeting all his family members when visiting, or sitting quietly at the dinner table, has these qualities. Isn’t that great? You don’t have to do much, or be the life of the party, and you earn your respect from his family.

Silent Expectations

Silent expectations can also be a form of passive aggressive behaviour in Asian Men. This is something you have to pay attention to closely because if he is the kind to never show anger, then he definitely bottles it up. However, this is not quite the silent expectation I was getting at. What I was referring to was actually in regards to the Asian Family and Culture. There’s this silent expectation that as a White Female that you will integrate into Asian society. Of course this will depend on how traditional the Asian Family is to begin with. Some White Females will gladly accept this, but there are many that raise an eyebrow. Women have spent the last half of a century combating for equality and recognition. To demand a female submit and integrate as an Asian is outrageous. Women have fought so hard for equality. How is it fair that as an Asian Male you can demand so much from a White Female to come over to the Asian side, when you do nothing as a male but wait for her? If she is willing to give up some of her own individuality to be with you, at least have the courtesy to meet her somewhere in the middle first.

Finding Middle Ground

On a figurative basis, this is the equivalent of walking the female to the door. Unless otherwise requested by her, this is something you should always do. Now this applies to situations beyond the Asian family. Making “suggestions” does not suffice either. A White Female doesn’t need to be told what to do; she needs to know you love her. She needs to know you’ll stand by her side no matter what, and your requests are because you care about her. Let me describe some examples:

The Order

“Sit quietly at the dinner table”
“Say hello to the family members”

While statements like these are very clear, they are just orders to be fulfilled. There might be a language issue because this is direct translation. For example Chinese is tone based which can describe different words or actions. To buy and to sell are the same word with different stresses. English can utilize emphasis to express sincerity or sarcasm. Take for example the word, “really”. It could be a question of “really?” or frustration of “really…?” Orders are orders.

The Suggestion

Zhen is bringing his White Female girlfriend, Diana to a family dinner for the first time. Diana is completely nerve-stricken with fear after hearing some horror stories from her close friends.  While driving to the restaurant, Zhen reaches for a small package in the front compartment.
“I bought this especially for you” He says guiding the package over to Diana’s lap. She carefully inspects the generic red box only to reveal a jade bracelet. “Why don’t you try this on?”

Not that this approach is incorrect, Zhen has tried to solve Diana’s fears by getting something that would make her calm down. In addition, his mom, who loves jade, will immediately feel more comfortable around Diana. The problem is that this is something where Diana really doesn’t have a voice. Of course Zhen means well, but it doesn’t connect with her on an emotional level.

The Request

Feng’s grandfather is turning 80. To celebrate this milestone, Feng’s family is celebrating by going out for dinner next Sunday.  Feng has the option of inviting his girlfriend, Amanda to the dinner, making the total attendance to 16 people. Amanda, who has next Sunday free, has reservations attending. Feng’s family didn’t receive her as well as she expected. When she told his parents she was pursuing a Master’s degree in sociology, his parents took a long pause mumbled and pouted.
“Will you be free next Sunday for dinner? “ Feng casually asks while sitting on the couch watching television with Amanda.
“Yes, what did you have in mind?” she replies smiling while she turns to his direction.
“Well,” he starts off, “next week is my grandpa’s 80th birthday and we’re going out for dinner. I’d love for you to come.” Amanda peers downward, pausing for a moment.
“Do you remember last time?” asks Amanda.
“Last time when you met my parents…?” responds Feng as he mutes the television. Amanda nods. Feng turns to face her, and reaches for her hand. “I remember,” He starts off, “I’m sorry they gave you such a hard time, they really do like you a lot. It’s just their way of making sure you’re serious about our relationship.” Amanda breathes a sigh of relief.
“Well, I wasn’t sure.” says a smiling Amanda, “You’re not lying to me right?”
“It’s the truth,” Feng starts as he gazes into Amanda’s eyes. “If anything goes wrong in any way, I’ll be right beside you the entire time. It’s a big milestone for my grandpa, and I’d really love it if you could attend with me. So will you?”
“Yes.” She replies, “Yes, I’ll be there for Sunday.”
“Great,” Smiles Feng as he reaches his arms to embrace Amanda. “Thanks for understanding”.

What makes a request different from a suggestion is that a suggestion is an order in disguise. There are no condescending undertones in a suggestion, but it doesn’t fully connect on an emotional level with a White Female. A request gives the recipient a choice, and not an order. In this example I made Feng utilize multiple non-verbal elements that reinforce how much he cares about Amanda. Feng mutes the television to give Amanda attention, and then turns to her, holds her hand, establishes face to face contact, and hugs her at the end. Feng wasn’t trying to solve her situation like an order or suggestion would do, but express his intent and true feelings for Amanda. That is what a White Female really needs.

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8 Responses to Ask Nicely, but Don’t Force Things – The Order, Suggestion, and Request

  1. Albert says:

    Great advice and nice examples for all the asian males out there. For any relationship to be successful, it is important to maintain communication, not just verbally but through intimacy also. The Feng example illustrates this well. I liked how Feng said, “I’ll be right by your side the entire time.” Let her know that it’s not just her struggle, but yours too.

    • AMWF Love says:

      Hey Albert,

      Well of course those are completely ficticious names I have used just to make him sound more Asian. All I wanted to illustrate is how much we neglect non-verbal communication. We forget that our actions serve a purpose to give undivided attention as well as a sense of physical connection or intimacy. This does not mean you have to do some hot makeout session everyday, but to establish some consistency. Your actions as a male have to be consistent with what you think, and say. From friends and personal experiences, I have seen countless amount of times when the woman feels lost because there was no “real connection”. This is one of the largest struggles for Asian Men because we view it by providing things for her out of love. The White Female is very receptive to the emotional connection – so while tangible items are great, it’s not considered a true bonding experience for her. She may be patient with you if there are language and communication barriers, but this is something she secretly longs for.

      – Brian

      • AMWF Love says:

        This is exactly true! As a woman I feel lost when there is no “real connection”. It is a struggle for Asian Men because they do view providing things as a way to show love, of course its one way.. but not the most important way. As a White Female having an emotional connection to a man is so so so important, and I will admit that sometimes we forget that perhaps as a asian man.. you may not have seen that type of behavior modeled to you when growing up. So yes, while providing tangible items are great like having a comfortable life style, home, fancy car and etc… it’s not considered a true bonding experience for women.

        -Laura

  2. AMWF Love says:

    This article really came about because I am secretly a rebellious bad boy. I don’t follow orders. I absolutely hate being pushed around by others. Not only is it selfish to be ordered around, I feel it to be inconsiderate with a dominant-submissive vertical relationship instead of a more horizontal sharing found in requests. Of course there are many situations where this could be life or death (military), so we’ll take exception to that.

    What sparates the suggestion from request is that a suggestion can be considered an order carefully gift wrapped. If you deconstruct a suggestion: “How about trying this?” the intent is that you try it. The request is different. This is something you ask a person to do while giving them the opportunity or voice to do so. “Honey, tomorrow is our crazy day at work, how about we go out for dinner?”. Here the intent or objective is to solve a potentinal problem for the next day. Since they will probably have a hectic day at work, adding on making dinner adds more stress. By requesting, you don’t exactly get your way, but you establish a verbal connection in your relationship that both parties are involved in the decision making. That’s the key difference than the one sided decisions of orders and suggestions.

    You could also consider this a form of delegation, but there’s a very fine skill to it. Nobody wants garbage thrown at their desk, so if you give them garbage to work with, then you get a garbage response. Garbage in is garbage out. This can be done in two words, “May I?”. That would be the request to speak, which then leads to the actual request. It’s unfortunate that as Asian Males, we don’t learn this in school and very rarely while we are in relationships. I thought it would be nice to let everyone know. 🙂

    – Brian

  3. Alex says:

    Really nice post Brian, I think you are pretty much right in what women need. Although I would guess that that would be regardless of the race of the women so its not particular just white girls that like this. I do want to add something thou. I think the thing you are bringing is just one part of it. Not all women have the same background and I think personally that what a woman needs can be shifting so I would say that a guy need to be flexible in his approach. Personally I would not be happy with just a horizontal communication. I think that even if we don’t like everything from our childhood it is still something similar we may search in our relationships but masked in different form, or how I want to see it, I’m searching for the better version of my childhood. I don’t know for Asians but I think that often the father has a huge impact on what a women will search in a man or how she is gonna identify her self. Of course the same goes with the mothers and sons. In my case father was military, best described as Jack Nicholson in movie “Good few men” but with good morals. I had to go throu the same thing as you guys but in my case I worked hard and earn the respect from my father and in my household soon everything became directed to me. My father would often say No I want Alex to do it, even though I have a brother.Im also the only one who get to sit in his chair when I visit. And I don’t know in Asian family and maybe you can answer this Brian but I think that in many western families even though your father want you to obey him, he also secretly want you to rebel agains him because somehow to test that you are strong or to test that he is still strong.Is that the same in Asian families?The reason that I bring it up is that I personally think that dominate-submissive thing is not bad for all women out there. Some women will need it as a part of the relationships.There is this Korean movie called Frozen flower and it just brilliantly cover this father-son relationship but in a homosexual way. I know this sounds crazy but that is exactly what I search for as well. My father never treated me like a daughter totally even though I m femme and not boyish looking, but because of it I cant help it but a part of me search for a type of King with his soldier relationships but with flexibility. I believe like I said earlier that Asians have got it more how it should be, the only thing that is missing that I have a feeling is that Asians may not be open with gender rolls being different. I personally think that a man is a king in certain situation but he needs to be able to switch and be the soldier that can take orders. I don’t mind taking orders from someone I respect and Im good at it but the only problem can be that a traditional Asian man or a weak western man will not be happy with me being the king. Often here in West they call it feminazi thing but in my case this is how I was raised. When I talk to my father, when we fight, its like two men and in the few occasion he does question me, he will be directly addressed with Are you questioning me?Now I cant help it but I love that type of thing in my relationships. A guy should question you but at the same time he should know when to be submissive. Of course this needs lots of trust but you get it by doing the horizontal communication that I consider more womanly but still it is needed for the dominate-submissive part to be perfect.When that happens the ending will not be the same as in Frozen flower 🙂

  4. AMWF Love says:

    Well for the most part in Asian families, rebelling against parents can be consider very disrepectful or shameful in that matter. They have no intention of making their child into a rebellious fighter, but someone completely pious to the family unit.

    I honestly believe in equality between both genders. Yes there will be situations where the male may have more control of situations, but the female will have controlling interest for others so it all balances out. There are many ways to divide up the tasks, so I am not saying there is only way way to carry it out. The difference between dominance and submission in my view is that being dominant is one who expresses the willingness to be decisive (without the overbearing agression) while the submissive one is completely giving into external forces. While I wouldn’t use the dominiant-submissive terms in a relationship I think it’s more of a tandem lead-follow. To be a male would be to initiate the intent and request for the lady to take proper action. As a male I would give the lady a choice of ways to take action, but express my intent/purpose. Whether she does it one way or another, that’s her perrogative, but we should end up in the same point more or less.

    Let’s say I’m going out for a meal with a female friend. Do I:
    A. Lift her up and drop her into the seat.
    B. Pull out the chair for her to sit down in.

    Both methods get her to sit down, but only B she voluntarily has a choice of getting there. Whether she enters from the left or right that’s completely up to her. I don’t even care if she twirls before she sits down. That’s her choice, because she has one. 🙂

    – Brian

  5. Alex says:

    Ok I like what you are writing just that I wasn’t saying that I wanted an unequal relationship when talking about submissive-dominant. Its a common misunderstanding that submissive and dominate is never about being equal.And the same people who don’t get this are always viewing the submissive one as the weaker part in the relationship when in reality they are the strong one. My view about the subject is that a person is either one or the other predominantly but not by choice. You don’t choose to be dominant or submissive you are what you are. For example many men like to think that they are dominant and act like that but in reality they are just weak men and they are trying to cover that up by acting what they think is dominant. Of course people do make it in to rolls and switch,specially sexually, but even there its just roll playing because they don’t actually become the other part. Now also having a horizontal communication may just seem that there is equality in the relationship but that is just the same people who have hard time accepting themselves and think that horizontal relationship is what makes it more equal.A little bit if we think of a guy who never gets heard and if a person allows them to voice they opinion now they automatically assume that the person allowing them to voice it sees them as equal. Also lots of women stupidly think that just because a guy is open for the horizontal relationship and listens he automatically must view them as equal. What I was getting at is that personally I still think that this is what is best not maybe for all the people because some people do have they own needs. But for me the issue isn’t about equality, because I think that it is beneath me to ask for that, meaning it is naturally gonna be there just like air.What I want in the long run is flexibility and the trust it takes to have dominant-submissive relationship. Now when Im saying that its not like media has pictured submissive -dominant that I want. I suspect that its how you guys view it.What I mean is that I don’t picture my marriage containing of me coming home and having discussion about that the garage door needing to be fixed, or that my husband need to change the schedule because it doesn’t suite him to drop the kids off or that we need to have a talk every freaking time something happens. I rather cut my wrists.How I see it we should build up the relationship effectively and that includes all the boring stuff that I wish not to have discussion about. Stuff should just be done and some stuff should just be accepted.For that you need to have orders at the beginning and later submission.That way when I come home I can have discussions about silly stuff like would it be weird if McDonnell’s suddenly start to have buns in a triangular form.What I don’t want to have discussion about is, the kids are sick and someone needs to take them to the doctors bla bla bla.It should be more like, yesterday I took a really small elevator down to the basement and suddenly I got really scared, do you think that something may have happened in my childhood bla bla bla, 🙂

  6. AMWF Love says:

    Fair enough Alex.

    I think the key for me is it doesn’t matter that someone has to take charge and lead. That’s only natural – but even as a leader you have to make sure people follow along as well. There should be mutual respect for each other otherwise we run into things like tyranny. (and we don’t want that). This is not to say men should not be masculine, but they have to recognize the needs of a woman as well. A man doesn’t need to solve all her problems, he just has to “be there” for her when she needs him the most.

    We need both horizontal and vertical communication channels. 🙂

    – Brian

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