Perfection is Unattainable – The Mindset of Asian Men

Perfection is to be marvelled at, but at the same time it leads to our own demise.  While there are some abstract components like mathematics which have a very clear expression or answer, living a life of perfection is truly another story. Even I must admit I have grown up demanding perfection upon myself, when in fact it was not attainable. Some of it I will admit came from my Asian upbringing as well. Just like every Asian child I was placed in the typical piano lessons and extra schooling. Math became my strongest subject, and I never took a liking to the Humanities during my K-12 years. Now that I think of it, what made English and Social Studies so difficult was the fact that it did not come as natural as Math or the Natural Sciences. I had to feel something. What was that all about?

Perfection Described

I remember the stories of my Asian friends who have parents who get upset at their child’s grades because they were not 100%. Phrases like “Where’s the 4%?” would come up after their child received a 96% test result.  Other times it would be the demanding mother forcing her child to practice piano until the song was error free. Perhaps you could say back in the early days of China with Imperial Examinations, those who achieved the highest grades were often rewarded with the best civil servant jobs. From then on, they were set for life. While perfection is great for theoretical pursuits such as mathematics, statistics, or natural sciences, it cannot be the sole basis when dealing with people. This is especially important in AMWF relationships, and every other relationship for that matter.

This becomes a huge problem for situations that do not call for perfection. Let’s take a look at a few TCAI examples:

Feng is your typical Asian Technophile. He’s great with Math and Computers, but when it comes to social issues – he’s completely lost. Once his girlfriend, Steffi asked him what he felt about the upcoming student elections. Feng shrugged his shoulders.
The problem is two-fold. Feng has never encountered this situation before and has no idea how to respond. Second, he may want the perfect response, leading into an “analysis paralysis”.

Alvin, an academic overachiever, can also be thought as an Ambitious Archetype. Recently he placed second overall in academic standing, and thus losing the Valedictorian spot.
Of course this just an example, but often at times Asians tend to measure their success by being the best. While it is great to win and be the best, there is no win-win mentality for us Asians. Thus we become completely consumed with the obsession of perfection – to be number one.

Hyun-Soo is popular among his friends, being the group Comedian he can always crack a joke to make people smile. While relaxing at the local pool, Hyun-Soo is dragged by his friends to the deep end of the pool for some diving board excitement. Although Hyun-Soo is not the greatest diver, he employs his patented belly flop. After a gigantic splash, hilarity ensues.
The Comedians are usually the best when it comes to dealing with perfection. Instead of being perfect, they tend to do something completely opposite and funny. While it is effective, there is a possible shortcoming if they overuse their humour. Then the excitement is lost.

Don, an aspiring jazz musician, plays the double-bass in his jazz trio. Almost always at the spur of the moment, he has the urge to improvise. His band mates recognize it and follow along.
Perfection for an Individual type is less of an importance than excellence. They understand things cannot be perfect, but just go with the flow.

Aiming for Excellence

TCAIIt’s important to realize not everything can be treated in a black and white manner. This binomial nature of true and false, yes and no, does not always work for real life. Instead of aiming to become perfect, we should aim for excellence – always striving to do our best. It doesn’t matter if someone is better than us, but as long as we put in our best and learn from our mistakes, we’re bound to improve one step at a time. Take for example any sport: soccer, hockey, football, tennis, etc. There is bound to be a winner and loser. When you win, it’s easy – but when you lose it is even more difficult to deal with. As much as we would like a perfect score or record, it’s almost impossible naturally. Aim for your own best, and improve yourself each time. Usually the biggest culprits of perfection-obsession are the Technophiles and Ambitious. This is usually because of their conservative upbringing. This is the old-world mentality. Comedians and Individuals are more liberated and usually deal with perfection issues better. In case you forgot, I’ve included the two spectrum diagram to refresh your mind.

Regarding AMWF

When in a relationship with a White Female, as an Asian Male it would be almost a natural tendency to go through all the “what-if” situations and try my best to make each situation perfect. I’d have the date planned out, what clothes to wear, rehearse the motions in my head – but then forget about being there in the moment with her. What I mean by this is when you are intensely focusing on a future even or past event while being with your White Female, you tend to make her feel disconnected from you. This can be perceived as you are uninterested or upset at her – which is not at all what your intentions are.  So leave perfection at the door, smile, and realize you’re with an amazing woman who loves you. So be sure to reciprocate.

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AMWF and Social Change in North America

After World War II, racial barriers began to lessen somewhat for the U.S. as servicemen who had fought and were stationed overseas in Asia began to return with Asian brides; mostly of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and Vietnam. Although the AMWF was not existent at that time, this did bring about a change in the way the US viewed interracial marriages/relationships. In 1967, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting the mixing of different racial groups through marriage were unconstitutional (Loving v. Virginia). At that time, many states still had formal laws that forbid the marriage of whites and non-whites.. Crazy but true!

Thanks to this change, and due to the diverse nature of North America, Interracial dating and intermarriage has increased in the last century. Studies have pointed to the fact that Asians have the highest rates of intermarriage, and most Asians who marry a non-Asian have a white spouse. However, most Asian women have a non-Asian husband, but here is a rising population of Asian men who are husbands to non-Asian wives. So, as the AMWF population slowly beings to grow, I often wonder what we as a society think about it. I mean for so many years it’s been AFWM, that naturally it was bound to happen the other way… right?

I think that our generation of Asian men is no longer afraid to step outside of what was their or their parents comfort zone. Women in North American are raised to be self-sufficient and independent, and I could see how that might intimidate more traditional types of Asian men. But today, Asian men no longer feel the need to be bound to the traditions of their parent’s generation. They realize that their ability to support a family is no longer a major contributing factor in mate choice for women. They see that the different way they look, languages they speak, and foods they eat are not a deterrent to women, but actually work in their favor. I think they are beginning to see that all along that they had the opportunity to have relationships with white women, but just never had the support and encouragement to do so.

Women in North America are also going through a change. We are beginning to see Asian men as a serious option in the dating/marriage market. Not only because of the values and cultural differences that as an Asian male you might bring, but also because of the simple fact that Asian men are here! They are all over North America and are such a part of the society that why would women not consider them as an option. Deciding to date or marry someone of another race is a personal decision, and in that choice you may face more challenges than if you married someone of your own race. But in return, you have the possibility of enjoying a diversity that same-race couples will never know, and you will have an identity as a couple that millions of other couples maybe never have or experience in their lives.

When looking for love, we are beginning to look beyond race, and for that matter, beyond appearance, social status and economic brackets as well. I think that as women in North America we realize that by doing so, we can increase our opportunities to find a satisfying relationship, and Asian men are doing the same.

The AMWF Relationship as a Partnership

When it comes to choosing a lifelong partner, it is important to not only understand what you are personally looking for, but to also understand that relationships are partnerships. Especially in the AMWF relationship, there may be cultural differences that can test the strength of your relationship. So as you enter into, or choose to want to be part of this relationship, here are some things to consider.

Similar Intellect

If you are going to spend a great deal of time with someone, being able to talk to each other is very important. Assuming language is not an issue, things can get pretty boring if you aren’t able to hold a conversation about things that are important and provide you with intellectual stimulation. So if you can’t stimulate each other with dialog, then you will be missing an important part of connecting to each other. For example, if as an Asian man you are reserved, and rarely want to chat with your lady and spend quality time talking, than there is little chance of her feeling an emotional connection to you. Without this emotional connection you have little chance of keeping her happy. Similarly as a woman, if you are not interested in the way your Asian man thinks, believes, and feels, then you will be less likely to spend time connecting to him.

Complementing Strengths and Weaknesses

People say that opposites may attract, but if you’re too much the opposite you won’t stay together. For two people to truly click, they should balance each other out. For example, if you’re the type of girl that’s kind of shy, but your Asian guy is friendly, and outgoing, then you will benefit from his strength and lean to be more assertive yourself. If as an Asian man you speak another or several languages and she does not, she can work together with you to improve her skills and bond with you in the process. Ideally, the person you spend time with should bring out the very best in you, not enhance your more negative qualities.

Interests in Common

Although you may come from different cultures, couples that share a few of the same hobbies will be able to build a deeper friendship than those that don’t. In relationships friendship equals longevity.  For example, although you may have grown up in different countries, or parts of a country, you may share a common interests like the arts or sciences. Regardless of your locations in the world, if you and your mate share a passion for something, chances are it will make you appreciate the time you spend together.

Similar Intimacy and Sex Drive

Physical intimacy is a large part of a successful relationship, and its important to make sure each other is happy. For example, if as an Asian man you may have rarely saw your parents express any physical affection to each other, you may not consider how important things like holding hands, hugs, and kisses are in a relationship. Also if you always want sex and she never wants it, then as a man you will feel unsatisfied.  Couples that share the same level of desire for intimacy will argue less and be happier.

Have the Same Life Goals

To make it simple, if you don’t share the same aspirations for family, children, and home life, it will make things a constant push and pull over the most basic areas of living. For example let’s say you met your WF while she was studying in your home town in Asia, she wants to go back to her native country, but you want her to stay here with you. If you can’t agree on what lifestyle you want then you will always be working against each other rather than together. Couples should talk openly about their wishes for the future and never assume that just because you love someone they share the same perspective.

Sharing Similar Faiths

The couples that have faith together stay together. Even if your religion is no religion, you and your partner should both be on board with what you believe. As I have said before I have seen many couples who blend Buddhism and Christianity with very good results and raising children this way has been successful. Faith is a foundation for many relationships, and if one of you just goes through the motions while the other is devout, it’s likely to cause serious conflicts down the road.

Disagreements

As a couple you are sharing a great deal of time together, and at some point you are going to disagree. How you choose to argue however, will make all the difference in your relationship. For example, your Asian family/ parents expect you be visit frequently and your WF is not used to it. She expresses to you that she, although willing to go on special occasions, would like to have more time alone with you, and less time spending it under the watchful eyes of family. Although her feelings may conflict with the way you were raised and or what your family expects, it’s important that you both are respecting each other’s feeling and work toward a compromise. In this example the compromise may mean speaking to the parents and working out something that everyone is comfortable with. Couples that focus on the issue at hand and discuss things immediately and respectfully often work through issues better than those that resort to name calling and dragging out past events to win an argument.

Share a Sense of Humor

Laughing is the best medicine and the ability to laugh with each other goes a long way in your relationship. If one of you thinks something is hilarious while the other is offended, you won’t be sharing happiness together. For example, as WF if you’re learning mandarin with your Asian man and the pronunciation makes you feel self-conscious. But rather then feeling that way, you can laugh at yourself and laugh with each other while learning. Sharing a sense of humor also helps make the simple moments in life that much more enjoyable. You should be able to enjoy your partner’s company and laugh together sharing in that happiness.

Too Much Too Soon – The Suppressed Emotional Intensity of Asian Men

Learning about relationships definitely does not come easily. Even I experienced many growing pains and life lessons when dealing with the emotional intensity. What I mean by this is that in general Asian men tend to be cautious and reserved, but when we see the one female we absolutely want to be with, we focus all our energies trying to make it happen. As a result, we either get immediately rejected or our perceived “seeing each other” relationship crumbles. Both situations have happened to me several times and I vividly remember those discouraging moments in my life.
For our readers who are not Asian Males, I will do my best to divulge into the minds of the Asian Men.

Examples of Emotional Intensity

The best way to illustrate the concept of emotional intensity is to describe various situations.
Ren a drummer for a youth orchestra has been eying Katie, a first violinist, for quite some time.   With a performance nearing, practice has been increased from once a week to twice a week. There’s this aura of elegance around Katie, a warm natural glow surrounds her when she plays.
“Hey Katie,” Ren starts as the practice has just finished and everyone is packing “are you interested in a movie with me sometime?”
“Sorry Ren,” She sighs, “I’m seeing someone right now”
Another week passes and Ren decides to try again.
“Yo Katie, I know you didn’t want to go for a movie, but how about coffee?” Ren asks. Katie shakes her head.
“You just don’t understand,” Katie says as she rolls her eyes.

Although this was just conversation, it happens commonly to females have to turn down males because they are not interested or already taken. For Ren, he has been thinking about Katie quite often. This is quite true for Asian Males as we tend to think about situations on a daily basis – probably how we imagine the woman to say yes and accept our love. Of course in this situation Katie is already seeing someone, and she has no choice but to decline. Problems will occur if you persist as an Asian Male, she will not change her mind and it will definitely worsen the situation. This commonly happens in the digital world as well. A random White Female won’t message you one day confessing her love for you – so why should you do that as an Asian Male?

Another situation deals with an AMWF situation when the couple are “seeing each other”. This means they are hanging out on a regular basis, but have not made it publically official that they are dating. Hyun-Soo and Jamie were mutually introduced by friends on a “double date”. Things went well, and they exchanged contact information. After a month of seeing each other, Hyun-Soo realizes how happy he’s been around Jamie.  To show his appreciation, he decides to purchase an eco-friendly purse and a small flower arrangement. His plan is to give these gifts to her when he picks her up from work to take her home.

“You know Jamie,” Hyun-Soo smiles, “I really appreciate being with you.” After a long hard day at work, Jamie smiles back. “I really want to thank you for everything.” Hyun-Soo starts as he reaches for the gifts, “So, thank you.”
Jamie takes the gifts and places it on her lap. An awkward silence ensues. “Thanks.” She smiles.

The hard lesson to learn is that even though Hyun-Soo has been seeing Jamie for some time, he has committed too much, and too soon. Yes, he’s probably thought about how he wants to take care of her and be a really good person for her, but it’s not quite the same for Jamie. Yes they have both hung out for coffee and meals together, but the passion and emotional connected has not been developed. For Jamie, she has no choice but to accept the gifts, but she is probably freaking out with the intense commitment from Hyun-Soo. It’s not that she doesn’t like him, it’s the fact that what Hyun-Soo is doing is similar to placing her into chains of commitment. Most women prefer having the choice, so being forced to comply is definitely not desirable.

Other situations can deal with the usage of digital technology – notable text message and online messaging.  Wen has been seeing Allison for a few months. Things are going well.
“Good morning, how are you?” Wen would write via text message every morning to her.
“I am fine thank you.” Allison would reply. The novelty would soon wear off. Later it turned into instant messaging.
“I miss you.” Wen would often use this phrase online as he wanted to show how much he cared for Allison. Instead Allison would give a smiling face icon in return.
Shortly after endless hours of consulting with her friends, Allison decided to end the relationship with Wen.

Wen is overcome with passion and truly has feelings for Allison, but trying to display his affection for her on a daily basis using technology starts out nice and quickly turns to clingy. Just because things don’t work at first doesn’t mean you should continue doing it more frequently. Now Wen is left alone, completely devastated, even though he does not actively show it.

The Green Light

One of the toughest things to understand as an Asian Male is that after a female gives the signal of “yes I am interested” is that we automatically turn on the afterburners and do everything possible to make the relationship work.  We suddenly take on a different character. Sometimes it is goofier, other times it is serious, or sometimes we get nervous. The problem with emotional intensity is that we need to learn to control it as Asian Males. There really is no other place for emotional release, maybe the closest thing we have is activities of video games or sports. We are not taught how by our parents, nor by mass media – in fact, I’m not even sure who we turn to.  The point is that the White Female isn’t looking for a male who is highly sensitive emotionally, or is he emotionally intense. She is looking for someone to share an intimate emotional connection with. Instead of you wanting to tell her how you feel about yourself, maybe it’s time to let her know you care about her and want to be an important part of her life.