The Mysterious Asian Male & Passion…Where Did It Go?

I was most fortunate enough to have exposure to an Asian and a Canadian lifestyle growing up. Not only did I learn particular mannerisms and behavior from popular culture, I had my Asian friends and family to relate to as well. These days I have come to wonder if there is actually a distinct difference between Western and Asian perceptions of passion and emotions.

The prototypical Asian tends to have some form of subdued behavior. He is courteous, yet has a quiet and gentle presence. I wouldn’t go as far to say he would be shy, just a slightly more reserved. It’s almost as if he’s ensuring that everything is comfortable and safe before placing himself in harm’s way. I can even relate myself. Growing up, I was the regular Asian kid, hanging out in my big Asian group of friends. We hung around each other because it was easy. All of us had some form of strict parents. We went through the piano or violin lessons as a child, had some form of liking to Sanrio (I had Badtz-Maru and Keroppi), and most of all multiple video game consoles (no surprise there). When I was in my comfortable group, I could open up with ease. Hence why large Asian groups are loud (aside from the fact that it is very loud in urban Asian cities) it’s easy to share jokes and relate in their native tongue.

This is a significant contrast in comparison to Western popular culture where there’s a considerable amount of body and facial language in conveying passion. Their eyes will light up in excitement and their face will give a beaming smile. Amazing charisma is infectious. Somehow I don’t quite get that same captivation when I relate to my Asian side.  I would remember when my parents would have their eyes glued to the television watching the latest Chinese prime time drama. For those unfamiliar with the format, it is usually some 25-40 episode series that runs nightly.  It usually centers on a love triangle filled with jealousy, and family dialogue often at the dinner table or living room sofa.  By the end of the series, the virtuous male ends up with the love of his life. How typical.

Many years later, what struck me was that there were very subtle differences between how Asians and Western cultures perceive passion.  As we have mentioned in earlier posts, Asian Males tend to express their feelings for a significant other through actions and gifts. This is also true when it comes to other forms of expression, such as passion. When I talk about passion, I talk about having interest in something, whether it is sailing, music production, cooking, or anything that involves you as a person; it is usually fueled by passion. So, by following this pattern, what will happen is usually the Asian male works harder, and makes sure things are done right – almost to the point of perfection. What is implied is that expression through facial, body, or tone is severely underutilized.  In no written Confucian conversation do I ever recall Confucius telling his pupil to “smile” or have “charisma”.

A Westerner would scratch their head in confusion. They can tell when someone clearly is involved passionately. It’s undeniable. They emit this kind of aura around them. Unfortunately there is one problem with popular culture and consumerism, is that passion borders sexual. The problem is that both can be very intense and often gets used interchangeably. Passion for art, sport, or whatever comes from a combination of challenge and skill. Sometimes we lose track of time and become completely involved. While this is true in a sexual nature, I would classify this as a subgroup of passion with an emphasis on desire than challenge and skill.

So do I believe if Asians can be passionate as well? Yes I believe they can. Unfortunately most of our expression is limited to our actions and not how we project ourselves to others. Instead of sexual attraction that is prevalent in Western popular culture, Asians tend to use jealousy and rage as intense emotions.

Now this becomes a serious issue when it comes to AMWF Relationships. The Asian Male needs to express himself beyond actions such as working hard or listening, while the Western Female has to be receptive to his good intentions despite the lack of expression. Initially I would say the Asian Male will have to learn to express in a way the woman will be receptive, but in a long-term perspective both parties will have to learn from each other. The passion was always there to begin with, but the approaches are different.

To my Asian Males: step out of your comfort zone, and take a chance.

To my Western Females:  understand his cultural upbringing, and don’t ever stop smiling – a soft gentle aura will warm (or melt) any Asian Male’s heart.

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17 Responses to The Mysterious Asian Male & Passion…Where Did It Go?

  1. jvictor_o says:

    Why are so many american white girls go to Asia in OSAKA / TOKYO to play in yomono erotic genre?
    I had traveled alot to Japan & Hongkong. 280 white girls from European Union & USA alone each year have applied for a model job to play in that “Yomono entertaining adult Category – the western girls with japanese dudes” in Tokyo & Osaka. Some fell in love with them and married the guys. The most japanese guys do believe that the big “boo” white girls /erotic Artists are very exotic nice white women. And the white girls are generally curious enough in the subject of sexual desire, cause some japanese young guys are really cute. And Japan is a very wealthy & rich nation.

  2. Sally says:

    I work with this Chinese guy who I’m interested in. I’m a foreigner in China and we work for a government office. From when I started this guy showed an interest in me and started asking me questions about myself, etc. Because we work in the same office I have been fairly shy and I get a feeling that he’s been shy around me although at times flirting.

    When I went away for Chinese New Year he wanted to know if I was going with a boy or a girl…He’s also come over to my desk at work and started up conversations which I know are an excuse to talk to me,

    When I went home in the summer for 3 weeks I know he was pleased to see me when I got back.

    I know that there are rules with locals dating foreigners in my company so I’ve always been not that expressive with him in the office.

    Recently I discovered that for him to get promoted he needs to do an overseas post. He is going to another country in Asia n 6 weeks.

    Because he’s left our department I decided to text him and invite him out before I go back for christmas, He text back immediately and we had dinner last night.

    We spoke about the UK and the US (where he studied) and we also spoke about Chinese things. He asked lots of questions. I get a feeling he’s interested in me. Although he has no idea I like him.

    When I get back to China after Christmas I’m thinking of contacting him. What do you think? I don’t want to be too scary although I’ve just realised he has no idea that I’m interested him in…

    any thoughts?

    • AMWF Love says:

      Hi Sally,

      Before you choose to contact him you should do two things:

      1. Have a good judgement of his character
      2. Do a gut check

      If you are serious about him then he should pass both tests – assuming you are looking for a long-term relationship. Is he someone you can count on when you need him the most? Do you feel comfortable confiding personal insecurities and worries with? Will he ultimately respect you, and forgive you when adversity arises?

      A gut check just comes down to trusting your senses. While you should not look it as something that is a positive confirmation, its strength lies in raising any “warnings”. For example, he is nice to you, but very mean spirited to several individuals to the point that it freaks you out – then you may have to reconsider. The gut check essentially is a final warning check, if nothing puts you off about him, then he passes the gut check.

      Speaking from an Asian male perspective, knowing the other party has expressed interest is a complete relief of pressure and stress. I would not be offended if a woman contacted me provided that it was not overbearing or clingy. Sometimes as Asian males we are looking in a different direction and we forget about our blind spots. There might be a woman interested in us, but we didn’t even notice her (would have pursued if we even knew she existed). Sadly there is always a risk factor involved.

      If you want to contact him you can leave him a message, just to let him know that you aren’t purposely ignoring him. It doesn’t have to be a long message either. When you decide to meet in person, you can choose how you want to explain the past feelings. The most comfortable way is probably to start off in a public area, then have the real conversation somewhere more private – inside a car, on a walk home, or really just somewhere quiet and free of eavesdroppers.

      Hopefully everything works out in the end, and don’t be surprised if the Asian Male ramps up his romantic intensity as we tend to start a bit slow. 🙂

      Good luck.

      – Brian

  3. Sally says:

    that is so helpful…
    do you think if I express an interest in visiting him when he leaves China that will make it clear that I’m interested…or do I need to be really clear?
    best wishes

    • AMWF Love says:

      Hi Sally,

      You will probably have to be really clear on it due to the communication/language barrier. In Chinese it is very difficult to be emotionally expressive beyond basic emotions. Come to think if it, we usually say we “like” a person over “love” because that is such a strong word to use in Chinese.

      If he truly is clear on being with you, he will make arrangements to communicate with you anyways. The real key is making sure you want to talk to him and you are not trying to “ignore” him, otherwise he will eventually give up and move on. Just send him a message asking when he’s leaving (even though you already know) and ask if you can meet with him before he leaves China. From the looks of it, the feelings for each other is mutual so it isn’t a big deal who is first to admit their feelings. For the sake of his manhood try to guide him to having him confess his feelings for you first – even a broken attempt is fine. When you know he’s genuine about it, then you can reassure him that you’ve been also feeling something similar. 🙂

      Don’t leave things up to luck. If you want to see him again, tell him and go do it. The worst thing that could happen is that you realize you were willing to risk being hurt for love – but that’s really what it’s all about.

      – Brian

  4. Anonymouse says:

    I understand your POV, but jealousy and rage are emotionally abusive. Full stop. No one should ever be expected to tolerate it, and culture shouldn’t be used as a justification for it. I’ve also noticed that abusers always claim it’s because they love the victim. That’s bull. It’s really about control, both in the West and in Asia. (Incidentially, I’m told that this is why most Asian men don’t want Western wives — we’re “too difficult.”)

    Everyone talks about the media portrayals of Asian men as effeminite as the reason why AMWF relationships are so rare. That may be part of the problem, I think the acceptance of this form of abuse actually has more to do with it, particularly among expats living in Asia. It’s why most of us date Asian men once or twice, but once we confirm this pattern with our friends, we stop dating Asian men. Finding the few Asian men who don’t behave this way just isn’t worth the stress. And while there are white men who are emotionally abusive too, it’s much less prevalent, so the dating process is much easier.

    • AMWF Love says:

      Thanks for your comments! It is really a sad thing in Asia that we don’t recognize our own emotionally abusive tendencies. Not all of us have this type of behaviour but the problem is that this sort of “family structure” has been practiced for hundreds of years dating back to the Confucian Filial Piety ideals. A senority system gives grandparents and parents much more influence over their grandchildren/children and there is virtually no accountabilty required.

      I believe through a more shame orientated society that as long as society does not know what is going on, then there is nothing to be accountable for. In the right hands this is not a problem, but not all of us are benevolent dictators – and thus the rein of tyranny from “Tiger Parents” perpetuates.

      What makes matters even worse is that these behavioural characteristics are subliminally practiced into their children. Yes, discipline and hardwork are great traits to possess, however when under duress we revert to our subconsious. Whether it is through a verbal mess or a disengagement we remember those past events and unfortunately reproduce those behaviours.

      Looking back at how I wrote this almost two months earlier, I think the intention was to really discuss that Asian Men are also passionate people despite how we can be perceived as emotionally disengaged. Our facial expressions in contrast to Western facial expressions because they tend to only express very simple types: confusion (half-smile), relaxed (not really any smile), and focused (intense eyes). Using Western values, they could be perceived as sarcastic/uninterested (half-smile), not pleased (not really any smile), and angry (intense eyes).

      I would also like to make it very clear that not all Asian Men should be labelled as emotionally abusive or indifferent. Many of our Old World Traditions seem to come across like that, but I believe we have to recognize our inherent shortcomings. It is a rather difficult topic to discuss and I don’t know many other Asian Men willing to disclose our own societal issues. Thus, I hope you understand I am just trying to express another viewpoint that may have never been discussed. While I am very sorry if you have had bad experiences with Asian Men in the past, I hope you find love regardless of their cultural background. 🙂

      – Brian

    • Shirley says:

      I am a white female married to an Asian man and he is a slob. When I ask him to pick up after himself he laughs at me and says “thats why I have a wife.” I cook for him, clean, take care of our 2 kids, have a part time job as an RN, go to school to further my career, and try to meet his every need and he is still constantly angry with me. He is very verbally abusive and screams at and cusses me in front of our kids. God, how I wish that the 5 traits you listed were true. My husband has none of them. He has no compassion for our relationship and I have always been faithful and subservient to him. And it has gotten me no where. I came across this site when I googled “how to live with an Asian man.” He tells me that we don’t get along because I’m white. I always think to myself…surely ALL Asian men are not like this…how could getting taken care of make any man so unhappy?

      • AMWF Love says:

        I’m truly sorry to hear your situation Shirley.

        Yes, even Asian Men can be very verbally and emotionally abusive – there are a few select bad apples but not all of us are like that either. A very traditional and old world mentality treats women as second, or even third class. The fact is behaviour like this in my behaviour is unacceptable no matter what ethinic background the male is from. Chances are that behaviour like this are signals of mental issues and/or angst that have stemmed from a particular event or upbringing (broken family, war torn military history, etc). Agent orange used in the Vietnam war has resulted in significant birth defects and neurological disorders for many of its people during the war. (http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=2141&page=640)

        What I can tell you Shirley is that it’s never healthy being in your situation. This situation is not exclusive to Asian Men, and I know my empathies will not be enough to ease the adversities you have faced for the years. I am glad you still have the strength to look for help in others, and there are many people and groups to help reach out to you.

        Keep moving forward, even though I feel your struggle, you are a woman who deserves to be treated fairly and you deserve to be loved. People are here to help, and even if feels like you are alone on this, you are not. One day at a time.

        – Brian

  5. Rosie says:

    I’m European and I’ve met a chinese guy. We’ve been friends for a few months. I went home for christmas. I text him when I got back and asked if he wanted to catch up in the week and he said he’s really busy. Is that a no? Maybe if he wanted rid of me he wouldn’t reply. He’s been keen on me for a while…he’s asked questions about my life and my plans so I’m confused he’s not interested. I know he is genuinely busy. Shall I let him breathe? Do you think he’s scared because I went away? I’d really like to know your opinions. Cheers

    • AMWF Love says:

      Hi Rosie,

      There are multiple reasons and explanations for his behaviour:
      1. He is genuinely busy and he is interested in you – give him some space, leave him a message periodically (maybe once a week) to just remind him that you want to meet
      2. He is interested but is scared what others will think (friends, family, society)
      3. He is interested in you but feels ashamed that he is not worthy (job, car, and house)
      4. He is interested but does not want to look desperate or thinks you are interested in someone else.
      5. He doesn’t even know if he is interested (believe me it happens)
      6. He has interests elsewhere

      That being said based on these possible outcomes there are pretty much 5 out of 6 situations where you can make it work (83.3%). Most relationships do not begin with perfect instant chemistry. They take time and patience, but as long as the main traits are there, then love can make it happen. It’s a strange thing, a small percentage of people are highschool sweethearts and stay like that, while others go through trial and error. Some people are happy alone, and others happily married with kids.

      If I was genuinely interested in a woman I would wait for her. The sad thing is that I have been in your position before. It started off great at first, and I could definately tell she was interested (speech, body language, comunication, etc). I held back initially only because I didn’t want to look like a total goofball for also being very interested (may have came off indifferent). Months later she was very busy with schooling which didn’t bother me, but the fact that I would contact her only to rarely get a response – at best it felt like a one-line indifferent response. Eventually I gave up out of frustration. I felt slightly cheated because it started out great, but only to have it fizzle out months later. Also I must admit I may have been too naive in the sense that she behaved like that to other men. Well I am a romanticist at heart, it doesn’t hurt to dream a bit.

      Communication is key to any successful relationship, so I empathize with you on your current predicament. The action you choose will be the made because you made the best choice given the circumstances. While I cannot say if this man you speak of is someone you want to spend a long term relationship with, you are always in control of how you feel. Take action if truly believe (without any doubts) it is beneficial, otherwise invest your energies that would complement a relationship (developing Chinese knowledge, career, health and wellness, etc).

      Good luck, but don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work out – the main thing is you are an amazing woman who deserves to be loved and cared for. Good things happen to good people. 🙂 Be patient!

      – Brian

  6. confused european girl says:

    Your website is really excellent…

    I’m friends with this Chinese guy. There is a definite spark and I think he likes me. He’s made a good effort with getting to know me. We are both in Beijing.

    I discovered recently that he’s leaving China to another Asian country for a really good work opportunity. I know career is important to Chinese men in their late twenties. Although since he’s been preparing to go he’s been quieter and more distant with me. Before Christmas he made a real point of saying the he is definitely coming back.

    He’s going soon. What shall I do? Shall I tell him that I like him or not contact him and leave him be? I’m so confused.

    A few days ago he asked me how long I plan to stay in China and if I’m doing another year in Beijing. I see this as a good sign that he’s interested in my future plans.

    I said to him we should see each other before you go and he said he would call me when he knows his schedule. I think I will focus on the friendship and maybe suggest an interest in visiting him. What do you think?

    p.s at our spring festival gala on Friday he came up on stage and gave me a hug and a flower when I sang on stage! Very unexpected considering how shy he is!!

    • AMWF Love says:

      In China things are slightly turned around. The “One Child Policy” once encouraged families to give birth to a male, as he could provide working income. Ironically, due to the lopsided distribution of Mainland Chinese Males and Females, Chinese females are in high demand, but less of them are available.

      As a result, we run into a few issues:
      1. Being the only child means you get spoiled – Chinese girls risk being raised with a princess mentality
      2. Car, Job, House – albeit the “Chinese Dating Holy Trinity”, these are almost a must-have in order for a Chinese Male to even date a Chinese Female.
      3. Shame & Societal regulation – a collectivist mentality often values thoughts and opinions of others as approval (you can find some blog posts on that)
      4. Popular Culture & Consumerism – related to shame and fitting in for Asian Societies, however the impact is even greater due to the cultural and societal tendencies.

      From what you write, he is absolutely head over heels for you. This is both good and bad due to his career situation. The only problem for Western females is that this may come off very clingy, weak, or even desperate. You have to remember that women in China have a very strong say in relationships – perhaps still not in the corporate world, but domestic family life is their forte.

      Right now you have a Chinese male who is absolutely interested in you, but may not have the car, job, and house that makes him truly “worthy” of being in a relationship with. This may sound absurd to a non-Chinese person, but that is really how it is. He is yours for the taking.

      Chinese Males and Asian Males can be quite peculiar, however if you do read other articles there are posts on our TCAI model at AMWF Love. I reccomend that you go read them and find out which archetype he is (I’m going to probably say he’s a Technophile given what you have told me). Then it will probably make much more sense how to approach the situation. Good luck!

      – Brian

  7. confused says:

    that is so helpful. Sincerely helpful.

    He is leaving China soon to another European country. Do you think I should let him invite me to visit him or suggest visting. So as to keep the friendship going?

    He really needs this job so I know it is really important to him. He asked me about my future plans so do you think he really is seeing a future with me even though I’m wetsern?

    • AMWF Love says:

      There is a possibility of a future with him, but it certainly would not be immediate based on the given circumstances. If the relationship is to progress further, someone has to step up and say something about it being more serious.

      Unfortunately the generic approach is the friends to romantic interest which begins as mutual friends in a larger group that “pairs off” over time. That is they start to put themselves in situations where they can talk more in private (the walk home, the car ride home..etc). Although he does give such obscure hints (he is interested in you, but he cannot commit fully given the career/job circumstances), it really doesn’t matter who admits their feelings first. It’s a weird way to describe it but the interest that comes from Asian Men usually isn’t in a form of sexual desire – but more of a really comfortable, secure feeling.

      Being around someone you enjoy being with gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling, and for many Asian Men it is incredibly difficult to express our feelings. There is probably no protocol or procedure to do so anyways. I am not even quite sure who they confide to, it’s really a case by case basis. Like I have said before, he wants to get an established career to prove to you that he can support you financially. Otherwise he inherently feels unworthy to date you. I know it sounds shallow, but it is true.

      If you really like him you should just go for it – don’t even feel afraid of what others think. If your gut feelings tell you to pursue, then follow it.

      – Brian

  8. confused european girl says:

    at the spring festival gala last week I said oh we should meet up before you go away? And he said he didn’t know his schedule and he’d call me.

    Is this a way of saying no? Or do you think because earlier on the same night he gave me the flower and hug on stage it was too soon…

    I know it’s spring festival which is a really busy time for Chinese people, especially as he’s leaving. Although I don’t want to leave it too late before he leaves next month.

    If I text him will it come across as aggressive? Him saying he’ll call me makes me think he’d rather organise something. Hmmm what are you thoughts?

    • AMWF Love says:

      Only you will be able to assess the situation properly. Honestly you may just be putting too much thought into the situation, and clearly you are interested in him if you spend this much time trying to find answers.

      Perhaps he is trying to find a “perfect” situation, which in reality does not exist. If my hunch is right, what you really just want is to just be able to admit your mutual feelings of attraction. It doesn’t have to be at a Michelin Star restaurant, or at some amazing expensive place either.

      He is genuinely busy, so have some faith and patience. Even busy people are willing to make time for others if they truly are attracted to them.

      – Brian

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