Stuck in the Comfort Zone

Do you have your comfort zone? Maybe it was under the bed sheets as a child, or It’s really hard to depart from a comforting familiarity. Everyone has that place, whether it would be the people, objects, or environment. This is the refuge we create when adversity strikes. It is almost an automated response manufactured by our habits.

While this is universal, I find it very interesting when applying this to relationships of Asian Men and Non-Asian women. As I have mentioned before, a relationship such as AMWF may face more challenges because there are different societal and cultural upbringings between the two parties. I would not say this is a setback, but it requires a different approach compared to an Asian Male Asian Female relationship. Regardless if the female is White, Black, Hispanic, or of another ethnic background we have to understand that these relationships are more of a complimentary paring rather than a similar (compatible) matching.

Both may value family (similar/compatible), but the Asian approach may have more family influence with children over a Western mentality. Weekly Sunday dinner visits to the parents would be almost expected – only to have a mundane conversation of work and weekly updates.

Now back to the comfort zone. What I find most striking looking back at my Asian upbringing was the creation of an environment where I was mostly unwilling to venture off to the unknown. I approached things when I was sure the results would exactly meet my expectations. Working hard would result in good grades and minimal scolding from an over controlling father. Video games provided a virtual challenge that failures would be less embarrassing. Not only that, I soon surrounded myself with like-minded individuals who enjoyed video games, computers, and other technological devices. Life was good.

There is only one problem with spending so much time in the wonderful comfort zone, relationships such as AMWF is next to impossible without some form of compromise and understanding. Traditionally Asian Men are measured by their social status and economic contribution to the family – so a car, house, and job would deem him dating material and additional cars and houses would make him even more attractive, and probably more respected by the Asian public. Don’t be surprised if an Asian Man makes gift giving gestures to signal his financial status.

While Western females recognize this, many also realize there is much more to life than just the collection of material items. Comfort to them is being able to finally take down the emotional barriers and be able to express their feelings candidly with a positive feedback. As a result, we realize that there are adjustments that have to be made when dealing with these kinds of relationships. Otherwise the woman views the Asian man as unresponsive or indifferent.

So how do we change our comfort zones? The simple statement is hard work, and the longer explanation is to create and develop a new environment which will result in a new comfort zone. It takes a lot of time to change behavior and habits, but it is possible – but not easy. Remember, nothing risked is nothing gained.

Asian Social Gatherings and Arriving Late

I have always noticed and wondered why in Asian culture arriving early for any type of social gathering never seemed to happen. Over the years I have been involved in many events and I always noticed that when I was asked to arrive at say 5:00pm for a party, I would be reminded by those around me that it meant I should arrive at 5:30 or 6:00pm.  Huh?! I never understood this. As the years have passed I thought and observed this kind of what I would call an Asian “secret code” that has been passed down for generations.  Everyone seemed to know but me that I should be arriving late. In western culture, I was taught that when I am invited to a party etiquette dictated that I arrive at the requested time, maybe even 5 minutes early in fact. So as I began to see this happen at every event with no one having a problem with it, I began to wonder why.

As I have spent so much time involved in Asian culture I have come up with a few reasons why I think that it’s appropriate to arrive late to gatherings:

Diffusion of Attention– By arriving late, they accomplish a diffusion of attention meaning that they can avoid awkward greeting or being particular noticed by others at the event. In a collectivist environment why would you want to stand out?

They May not Want to be There They are either there because their family wants them to, appeasing their girlfriend/boyfriend, or something of that nature. I would therefore make sense that they would rather come later then not at all because the social etiquette says they just should be there regardless of personal feeling or interest in the event.

 There for the Food Asian parties always have an excess of food. It’s always good and there is always plenty of it. Everyone loves free food and Asian people are no exception. At the end of a party everyone takes out the zip-lock bags and snags the left-over food for home. Why show up early when the best part of the night is what you get at the end!

So to me it seems that Asians all know that being late is customary, and no one takes offence.  In the Western style, everybody wants to make everybody else happy and show respect to the host by arriving on time.  Is one or the other better, I don’t really know for sure, but at first it seemed really strange to me.