Full Circle: Looking Back Into The Past

After a two month sabbatical and extended hiatus, it’s good to be back. During my period of non-posting, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time reflecting upon our whole AMWF journey at AMWF Love. When I revisit my first few posts on AMWF I begin to wonder how I ever managed to write those topics. The majority of my compositions come purely spontaneously. It began with just Laura and me posting a collection of writings that soon turned to some form of formal blog. While we may never know our actual reach to our audiences, we were grateful enough to receive feedback from our supporters.

It was great to know that there were other people who expressed their mutual interest in interracial relationships involving an Asian Male. In fact our scope reached out to not only Caucasian females, but also to many other visible minorities including those with African or Latin origins. This was not our intent at AMWF Love to exclude these populations, but to share our thoughts and real life experiences online.

With Laura and I having a Caucasian and Asian background respectively, we elected to talk about AMWF because it would most accurately reflect our thoughts and feelings. I could not speak from an African-American perspective or from a Latin American viewpoint either. Instead I believed it was important to discuss principles of relationships through the perspective of a Westernized Asian Male. At AMWF Love we strive to discuss topics regarding AMWF as well as cultural, emotional, and social issues relating to Asian Male and Non-Asian female relationships. These principles can be also used for Asian Male Asian Female relationships or any other possible combination as well.

So back to the full circle reference – what does it mean? I see it as a way of evaluating progression of interracial dating with emphasis on Asian Male Western Female. Times have changed, and even a decade ago I probably would have a significantly lower chance developing a long-term relationship with a non-Asian female. While I did run into my former girlfriend (AMWF) who I haven’t seen in over seven years, I found out she is happily married (non-AMWF) with a caring husband and son.  Fast forward to present day 2012, I would say instead of getting the automatic rejection from a non-Asian female, there are times when I do get a warm response. Nobody said it was easy, but we are making progress one step at a time.

What about the plans for 2012? Well, we will be discussing more current and present day issues of AMWF relationships as opposed to the prior years of diving deep into historical reasons for typical Asian Male behavioural responses. Things are constantly changing, and clearly what I remember about Asian societies from my elementary social studies classes do not accurately reflect present day society. In the meantime, if you haven’t read some my principles to Asian Men, you are most welcomed to read topics regarding my TCAI model. Happy reading!

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Only if the “Undo” Command Worked in Real Life

Our favorite geeky command – whether it is Ctrl-Z or Command-Z, this is the quintessential keyboard combination when things don’t work the way we want it to. Didn’t like the line you drew in your graphics program? No problem, “undo” and try again. Renamed the wrong file? There’s an “undo” for that too! This was the beauty of technology. In a way you could say this was a form of trial and error in a more unemotional and analytical procedure. Now only if this worked in the real world.

Just like many of you I have had my relationship blunders. I’ve been paralyzed by complete fear of messing up conversations, forgotten many important dates (uh oh), or came off a little too intense in relationships. While I am not proud of those moments, I look back realizing they were important life lessons. I have done it all. Missed the kiss on her lips because I prematurely closed my eyes? Yup, did it. Confessed my feelings to a girl who I thought was interested but got completely shot down? I did that too. Being completely oblivious to a girl interested in me when I ditched her to go cram for my final? Yes I actually did that.

As much as I would like to fix my embarrassing relationship blunders (good thing I don’t talk about the other things), there is no “undo” command.  I have learned to accept my tribulations with a smile. Then it kind of hit me. I was certain that I was not the only Asian Male in the world that royally screwed up things. Had I been raised in a very tradition Asian environment filled with shame as the social regulator, I would have burrowed deep into my shell to avoid contact with the public. Friends and family would endless harass me for my gaffes. Instead having guilt as a form of social regulation in Western Culture, I feel somewhat liberated sharing my mortifying moments in life.

Back to the “Undo” command, when it comes to actual real life situations, there is no reversal button we can press when we stumble.  This is very common with new relationships as well as long-term ones. For the Asian Male, this now becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy “No mistakes will happen if we take an inactive/passive position”.  Who needs to “Undo” things when there is nothing to “undo”? In other words, it comes back down to our favorite Asian Male inhibitor, fear. The fear of utterly embarrassing yourself and face a lifelong earful of shame from friends and family is definitely a strong deterrent for Asian Males when it comes to approaching women (and also while being in a relationship).

So what can Asian Males do? The first part is to realize that perfection in real life does not exist. While theoretical and analytical procedures allows us to create hypothetical models, that’s all it is, just theory. As much as we want that 100% in love and relationships, it’s okay, you aren’t going to get lectured by your Asian parents for the missing 2% when you get a 98%. The next thing is to go for it. Just give it a try. Yes you will stumble and blunder, but it’s still better than doing nothing. Finally, look back at the moments learn the important life lessons and try again (with the newfound knowledge). When you can look back and laugh about it, you will be fine – no Ctrl-Z or Command-Z required.

The Public and Private Life of AMWF Relationships

Despite my Western upbringing, I still retain some conservative tendencies when it comes to relationships. When I tried to trace the roots of my behaviour, I found it fairly muddled. I suppose the majority of the tendencies came from watching my parents as an example and perhaps the Asian notion of love in general. In any regard, what I wanted to focus on was the difference between the public and private lifestyle in relationships with a focus for AMWF.

Background Information

There should be no surprise with the onset of an Asian shame society; appearances play the number one role. I would take it another step further and say it is how you are perceived by others. Probably the very first thing people notice in an AWMF relationship is the fact that it is an interracial relationship but a lot less common than the WMAF variety. After the initial shock, they will probably think of “how” the relationship was even possible.

AMWF relationships also do come with a preconceived notion of White Females being hedonistic or at worst promiscuous. While it may be true for a small select proportion, it is simply unfair to label the entire population as such. Many of us forget the great strides White Females (and other minorities) have done to progress society for equal rights as well. They didn’t just think about it, they committed themselves to change, bonded, and took action. Back to AMWF – When it comes to a serious committed relationship, White Females also have the ability to involve themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. It means they are willing to establish a connection while also risking their own pain and suffering.

For the Asians, most of our ancestors have vivid memories of coming from impoverished and war-torn societies. The majority of the time was spent on hard work and survival and less on love and relationships. If anything our expression of love came from our actions – primarily through going out of our way as Asians to do something (with no expectation of reciprocation).

The Public Life

Dating is almost synonymous as intentionally being around each other (just the two people together) on an occasional basis. While this may not seem like much for a White Female, it means a considerable amount for an Asian Male. For the most part, they are looking for someone who they can introduce to their parents. When his Asian parents accept the relationship that is an incredible milestone, because not only does the Asian Male have to worry about public opinions, his parents are the most important to please. That being said, if you can have Sunday night dinner with his parents at a restaurant without a hitch that is something to be proud of.

While you may think you have to show your affection for your Asian Male constantly, there is nothing more Asian Males love having their White Female be present physically, and show commitment through attentiveness.  You don’t have to show how madly in love you are with each other in public (which you both should already know), but showing a willingness to be together is something that will make an Asian Male very happy.  In other words, the absence of hostility and the pure comfort about being around each other is really plenty. For the most part, being calm and well-behaved is exactly what the older Asian generation likes to see.  This does not mean you have to be weak and submissive, just refrain from being obnoxious and outspoken.

Again, I reiterate commitment is something Asians value strongly (especially the older generation). I would personally have to say one of the worst feelings about relationships is being in a limbo. When you aren’t really sure of things: “Does she really like me, or is she like this to everyone else?” Whatever you do to show that you care, it’s important to reconfirm it and make sure the intentions are clear.

The Private Life

As many Asians know already, expressing the word love in our native tongue is a very difficult thing to say. This is not quite like how we can use the word love in English. We may love chocolate or ice cream in English, but when it comes to Asian languages, I would say it really means more of a total commitment than anything else. This is probably why we tend to use some form of “like” in our language in contrast to utilizing “love”. Yes there is a “really like” and if I recall in Cantonese there’s a “caring by spoiling” word as well. What I mean by that is the nature of how Asian Males tend to use actions like gift buying to show that they really do care.

When it comes to communication in private, the truth is Asian Males really want to communicate, but it’s not something they will immediately warm up to. Sometimes I would say it stems from the whole family system of filial piety and authority. Traditionally we have to defer to high authority as our thoughts and opinions are replaced by the wants and the needs of the family. Sometimes it’s a really strange notion to wrap your head around, but for me, it was just second nature.

In all honesty there is usually one type of love that almost every Asian Male will experience, and that is motherly love. With the exclusion of the psychotic Asian mothers, they are often very loving and caring. Perhaps it may not be in the same way through words, but through their actions like making their favorite foods or deliberately doing all of the cleaning duties. A woman truly willingly to do things like that for her Asian Male will probably win his heart instantly. A White Female does not have to be a supermodel, but she has to be attractive in his eyes. Of course this is not always the case, but if he’s willing to do most of the household chores anyways, it probably means he’s head over heels for his woman.

How about physical intimacy? Well, I will leave the up to the discretion of each couple. It does vary, but we are definitely not against things like that “behind closed doors”. The toughest part is actually the beginning of a new relationship. By default Asian Males will play the conservative approach, trying not to be too touchy-feely, but with enough trust and communication, things can definitely change. Remember that nerve-wracking first kiss or hand holding? Yes Asian Males sometimes don’t take enough proactive action, probably because they are too busy trying to analyze the situation to see if it is the right moment or not (getting embarrassed is a really bad feeling).

Just like the public life, there is a certain level of bonding and commitment, but usually there are more opportunities to speak candidly about issues. Unfortunately if there are language barriers, it is a little more difficult to convey thoughts and feelings. Sometimes the pride of Asian Males also is something to be aware of. While females have a vast supporting network of close friends and family, Asian Males will tend to keep their own problems to themselves. While he may talk about the external stresses, like his oppressive boss, when it really comes to talking about the intangible things like emotions or spirituality, he’s usually at loss.

Personal Commentary

Nobody enjoys having retarded moments in life. This is especially true when other people witness and recollect your embarrassing moments. The fear of shame is still deeply ingrained in our Asian mindset. Consequently we resort to waiting for the perfect moment where we are almost guaranteed success, but we forget the many opportunities pass by because we weren’t willing to take a risk. I have missed many opportunities because of my own conservative nature. It didn’t matter if I had the future planned, I totally forgot about the present. The travel plans, adventures together, and plans to be together went up in smoke because I was so self-absorbed in the future.

I always thought the true commitment came from doing the trivial things together. Things like going to her little sister’s graduation or just really being there for her when she was on the verge of an emotional breakdown. While it does sound nice, the fact is that we tend to meet people in a public setting first. As much as we want to completely open up as an Asian Male, it would be inappropriate at such an early stage because there are no connections built. I would probably say it would reveal a level of desperation or insecurity more than anything.

Somehow as a result it just hit me. That’s exactly why as Asian Males we go for the friend into lover approach. It makes perfect sense as it reflects the transition between the public and private side of Asian Males. Initially as friends, it is about getting to know each other without divulging too much into any intimate details. Things are lighthearted and fun, and until there some sort of chemistry or connection it progresses into the private and more candid things.

The key is that there is usually some sort of opportunity be together privately. Say it was some mutual friend’s birthday, the opportune moment would be the time when the two would be alone together. Take for example the car ride home. If there are no other passengers, this is actually an opportune moment for one of the parties to speak up. There are many other possibilities, and for the White Females that want to give their Asian Male of interest a little helping hand, provide a situation that allows just the two of you. Have him walk you to your car, ask for technical assistance with some sort of technology, or just simply flat-out approach him (if that is your style, it’s really not a turn off for Asian Males – sometimes it clears things up really fast).

So Asian Males, take more chances, and White Females, recognize the difference between the public and private life. When in doubt, just be upfront about it and communicate.

Does She See You as an Asian Stereotype?

The idea of being stereotyped is one that many an Asian man has faced at least once in his life. In America it happens, maybe as a joke by one of your buddies. It probably had a good intent, maybe to strike up a laugh from friends, or perhaps you may have even made jokes about your own ethnicity. Joking between buddies or poking fun at yourself is one thing, but when you think it has the potential to affect the way the WF sees you, that is something very different.

So yeah you all know it, so I’ll just say it.  There are two stereotypical ways Asian men are sometimes viewed. Your either a “Twinkie” (as we say in America)/“banana”, or you’re pinned as a FOB or “fresh of the boat” type. If you’re a Twinkie, besides the fact that you look Asian, there is little to distinguish you from white people. You speak English, and you grew up in western cultures, you have few Asian friends, and you barely can understand or speak an Asian language (or you choose not to speak it). If your pinned as a Fob you were not born in America, you speak your native language fluently and so do many of your friends( who are mostly Asian), your parents do not speak any English, and you have trouble  using the past, present, and future, tenses correctly. But whichever stereotype you may at times find yourself falling under, as an Asian man in an ever growing dating market, your choices are unlimited. In fact if you were born in a western culture or not, you have most likely found that your choice of significant other is not Asian, and might never have been.  With an interest in the opposite sex, from an opposite race or culture, how can you confidently know that these types of stereotypes would not lessen your chances in the dating market.

You can’t know for sure, but speaking from a women’s perspective, these stereotypes do not carry the negative associations that you guys think. In fact we actually view it as two different types of men with associated characteristics, and neither one is better or worse than the other. In fact it’s all about personal preference. If she wants to be immersed in another culture or learn a new language, she may in fact prefer a man from Asia. If she perhaps likes the Asian look without the complication of a long distance relationship and language barrier, she might find herself interested in a guy who’s right around the corner. So are you seen as a stereotype? No not really. Your just another guy who has a an exotic look, or accent, that makes you interesting and unique.  Will being Asian lessen your chances of winning the heart of that beautiful WF, absolutely not. Any man can sweep a lady of her feet by just  being confident and letting her know that  no matter where you are from, or what your first language was, that you can be the man that she needs.

 

The Commonality of Language

As more and more people are living, working, and studying abroad, one of the byproducts of this is that there are more and more intercultural marriages. But before marriage there is the long process of dating, and when your first languages are different, this makes for more issues then in the average dating process. Anyone who has dated someone with a different culture from their own will tell you that dating can be both exciting as well as frustrating at times. Of course, dating always has its ups and downs, but adding cultural differences, like a language difference, to the natural course of dating can make this a bit trickier.

In the AMWF relationships it is often the case that one partner speaks their second language (English) while the other partner speaks English as their first language. In this case, the one for whom English is a second language has to put significantly more effort and time into communicating with their partner. It’s only natural that this can cause some strain on the relationship, as misunderstandings can arise in any number of situations. For example  the little signs and signals, that are so natural to a native speakers English, are missed, or misinterpreted, by someone who learned English only in school and rarely spoke it in everyday life.

Communication is absolutely vital to any relationship because it allows for the relationship to develop further and more deeply.  Rather than having one partner take on all the responsibilities of learning another language, both partners should work together on their communication. It’s important to be willing to put a lot of extra effort into communicating, because with an even level of communication can make people feel connected with one another. Especially for your WF, the need to be in a relationship with someone who is ‘in tune’ to her is very important. But if you can’t communicate your feelings to her and that you understand  her feelings, then she will be left feeling like you do not care.

Dating and relationships are about making connections with another person, and as human beings, talking is one of the most important ways that we can connect with one another. This is why communication of a high quality is so important in a relationship, especially as it develops from casual dating into a more serious relationship. Intercultural relationships, like the AMWF relationship, can be rich and fulfilling when communication is open and highly developed.  It’s about working together to share yourself and to create a strong bond between each other thought the commonality of language.

Another Scholastic Year Begins – Asian Educational Differences

With the exception of locations south of the equator, September brings about a new scholastic year for many students. It’s sad to see the sunshine and warm weather fade away, but for many of us, it is exciting to reconnect with fellow peers. At one point in time I began to wonder if it was any different for individuals going to school in Asia. I definitely remember hearing about the kindergarten entrance examinations for Hong Kong students, and of course the uniforms. Somehow it sparked some interest researching into the school life in Asia. Perhaps it may bring some key behavioral elements unique to Asia and may explain why Asian Males behave in a particular way.

When I speak of the educational differences I loosely regard it to K-12 and Post-Secondary education. I will admit that most of my influence comes from Hong Kong but I am certain there are many similarities across Asia.

The Beginning of it All – Kindergarten

Unlike where I reside in Canada, students are free to choose their elementary, junior high (7-9), and high school (10-12). The educational model is open access for public and separate (mostly Catholic) schools. There are some private schools, but for the most part K-12 education is covered by the government (Provincial). From what I remember, in order to achieve a successful path, an Asian family must plan their child’s scholastic path from kindergarten. A good kindergarten will lead to a good junior high and high school, and then to post-secondary. Since there is limited space, there is really only one way to get accepted, be the best. Trivial things such as arithmetic (yes, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) was something my former classmates (moved to Canada later as a child) had to prepare for.

Examinations

While it may differ across Asia, the majority of examinations are still strongly based on rote memorization. What makes matters worse is that after an exam, the scores are publically posted for the eyes of society. Not only do you see your score, you know exactly where on the “totem pole” people are after the assessment. The brightest students are awarded with praise from the teacher and the bottom-feeders are placed under public shame and pressure to perform better. This feels completely absurd in my opinion, but I have been raised in an environment where information such as this must be kept private and it is protected by government legislation. Shame does exist beyond parenting, and the general public, it exists among your classmates for supposedly healthy competitive reasons.

I would not even be remotely surprised if there were monetary incentives for those who achieve perfect scores, or even if the teacher was offered financial bonuses for the number successful students. When I talk about successful, I mean those who have the ability absorb information and regurgitate it as proof of amazing memorization skills. It doesn’t matter if you understand what is written in the book, as long as you can recite the information perfectly. Personally, skills such as empathy, critical thinking, creativity, mediation, positive criticism, or innovation have no place in many Asian education systems.  While I am not saying the rote approach is wrong, I am simply stating the inflexibilities of the system. Not everyone is meant to be a brilliant analytical stoic genius, but the perceived status is simply too powerful to be ignored. This is probably the result of government policy to eliminate any potential threats by pacifying its nation.

Uniforms & the Classroom

Along with my fellow North American colleagues, we did not have uniforms K-12 or in Post-Secondary.  We pretty much had free “tasteful” reign of clothing choices, but with my strong Asian influences, I often ended up defaulting into my most versatile “Asian” color: black. Perhaps it just matched my hair, or it was the fact that it black was the easiest color to work with. I admit I have changed my ways, but it must have been a style in the 80’s and 90’s. Otherwise it was silver, the alternate choice for our electronics and motor vehicles.

Outside of North America, uniforms are commonly used for K-12 education. While some may agree it has a standard clothing appearance for its users, I would also believe there are problems created because of it. Hypothetically, if everyone had the same clothes, the evaluation of a person in a school setting is really by two ways – grades and appearances. We have gone over the grades but when it comes to appearances, since it is standardized when someone has bad acne, poor body weight control, or bad hygiene, they are immediately identified and end up ostracized from their own peers. As I have talked about in previous articles, shame is what regulates Asian society, and not guilt. To stand out as an individual may lead to incarceration.

What makes matters even more difficult is the nature of a class. More commonly than anything I have seen a hybrid cohort system for K-12 classes – especially for Japan. The class remains in the classroom and different teachers for different subjects move around the school. This seems counter-intuitive to North American standards for secondary and post-secondary where students freely move from class to class. Often there is a class representative who acts as the liaison for the class, and assists with their fellow peers in the school cleaning duties. While this does have a strong militaristic approach, to be successful requires strong obedience and hard work. I appreciate the discipline put into their education, but I wonder if it truly robs Asians of their own identities and just being a caring human being.

The AMWF Link

The reason for writing this was to find another reason why Asian Males behave in such a manner. Yes we often have to deal with strict parents and possibly and overbearing mother, but do we blame that on Confucianism or just the way things were, and still are? Our own Asian education system produces excellent students who shine in rote memorization, but have been so hammered into subdued obedience designed for introverted professions such as the common doctor and dentist – whereby both are highly respected and well paid. Other skills in manufacturing and processing are useful as well.  The sad truth is that I believe that it makes us into a quantifiable unit of labor – not a person.

This is one of the greatest issues when it comes to AMWF relationships. A White Female needs to be with someone who cares for them as a human being. Someone who listens to her, respects her, and is willing to show his love beyond the provision of physical means. I am not saying attraction is not required, but when I talk about concerns like this, I mean for long-term and permanent relationships that expand to marriage and family.

There really is no absolute perfect approach to solving this situation either. Asian Males will not be able to leverage their rote memorization skills, but have to develop a new set of skills – an emotional capacity, and a willingness to be emotionally generous as well. It is definitely not an easy task either. Even I am always learning how to be a better man, but when I was younger there were definitely times where my AMWF relationships fell apart because of my aloofness. It’s a work in progress.

Just remember Asian Males, as Bruce Lee says, “Don’t think – feel.”

AMWF Love Asks You: Do You Bury Your Love Away?

So you’re interested in that WF, but for various reasons you’re not sure how things will work out? The reason could be anything from parent’s disapproval, long distance relations, or just the fact that you’re not sure how to approach her? With any or all of those reasons being a possible factor, I often see Asian men just bury their love away and force themselves to move on. I’ve seen men just stare at a beautiful girl from afar and even when the situation might present itself as a perfect opportunity to take action, it never happens.

I never really understood why. I see it in anime, dramas, and etc… the idea of self sacrifice for a greater good..or for a better future? I’m not really sure. My guess has always been that if you feel that it might be difficult, if there is not a very strong chance for marriage, then somehow you learned just to suppress the feelings of love and force yourself to move on? Did your parents perhaps influence the way your life should be lived and the types of risks that you should take?

In all honesty, why not give it a try and see what happens. Just say hello! I know it can be scary, but love it’s never easy. I think people forget that relationships take work and compromise. True, there is a point where you might know it’s not the right person and moving on is the best thing, but if you never give something a chance, will you never know how good it could be?

When it comes to relationships I think you should ask yourself this important question. Will I regret not talking any action?…. and if you answer yes then just go for it!

No regrets ! What’s your story?

On Appearances & Fitting In

Our eyes are something to be marveled of. Not only does it provide us with sensory information related to our daily lives, but vision has also is often our first line of preventative defense. Why endanger yourself when there is no need to? It’s easy when it comes to physical preventative measures like noticing that the edge of a cliff is unsafe, but when it comes to human interaction, it becomes muddled.

Consumerism & the Predetermined Lifestyle

Having the economic freedom and a vast array of consumer products available is one of the great qualities of a market system, but when it comes to choosing products there are many factors that come into play. When I think about it carefully there are really two predominant factors: society and friends.

Society includes mass media and major corporate brands that portray a vision about how to behave and act within the society. We tune into our favorite shows following the characters as if they were our alter ego.  Subliminally we align our lives to reflect that also though our purchases.  We buy into the “lifestyle” that should let us fit in with society.

In a sense unlike society as a whole, your friends are those whom you share some sort of common ground with. It could be as simple as the same alma mater, work, or just general interest. While this may seem rather trivial for those without an Asian background, friends (and family for that matter) play a significant role in determining our preferences and lifestyle.

Would you prefer: Happily married with a house in the suburbs with two kids and a dog? Or perhaps the downtown loft? We make choices in life based on the lifestyle we want to live.

The “Asian” Collectivist Mentality

What I have experienced with my upbringing and conversations with my friends over the years was the inherent nature of Asians adopting a passive behavior to submit into the common opinions as a whole. These common opinions are far from philosophical, but rather a level of acceptance. Personally I do not have much interest in the latest luxury designer brands, but social status is clearly important for Asian culture. While it may garner some sort of quasi respect, it is certainly better than the latter. Otherwise from an Asian viewpoint it may be considered shameful. Shame in the regards of not being successful in some sort of capacity, and as a result there is this invisible social barrier one will face. What makes matters worse is that shameful events in Asian culture will be remembered and will be rehashed.

Now where does this all tie in with appearances? When somebody clearly stands out not looking typical (usually below average) Asian society has the informal belief that they can be targets for gossip. My parents used to hound me all the time as a teenager when I had facial blemishes. At the dinner table my father would give the condescending surprised tone pointing at my face. It outraged me that he was entitled to pick away at my imperfections (usually physical) while I could fire back over a dozen of his faults. I learned to brush it off, but my parents still get on my case for having longer hair (Communist military buzz-cuts are horrible).

We have devised a clever way to avoid these problems – blend in. This works wonders in Asia, but the styles and tastes in North America or Europe are distinctly different from Asia.  Sometimes our quirky Asian style for men might be more suitable for Asia as it can often be emasculating. I admit times are changing and Asian Males have made strides to improve their style, but you are what you project yourself to be.

On AMWF & Appearances

As an Asian Male I can understand how difficult it is to synthesize thoughts and feelings and transform them into words. I absolutely hated my English classes with a passion, because I found it much more difficult to excel in compared to Mathematics and the Natural Sciences. There was this visual element I was able to utilize which only hindered my social and emotional knowledge by relying on visual/analytical components instead. Chances are many Asian Men also struggle with the humanities and possibly the English language just as I did throughout my academic upbringing.

The problem is that we become so reliant on those channels such as visual information that we overlook the social and emotional components. This does not help the fact that we are constantly barraged by visual information from advertisers. However amidst all the visual advertising there is one good thing. Speaking from my Asian viewpoint, the more we see visual representations of AWMF and many other combinations of interracial relationships, the more society gains acceptance.

Others will claim that AMWF is merely a fetish of some sort. Having a Caucasian girlfriend (or wife) to show off may be an ego booster, but it is still a relationship. If the relationship is to progress beyond initial attraction, there must be much more that has to develop. Unfortunately the majority of those qualities aren’t in our favorite shows, for that does not make interesting television. Instead it will be a unique journey for every AMWF couple as they share both highs and lows of the relationship.

It is definitely unfair to make complete assessments on individuals solely based on their appearances, but it is a fact of life. As the saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover” – just make sure you have a good cover.

Stuck in the Middle – My Dual Identity

The majority of my Asian friends were the ones that progressed with me through my academic years. Almost all of us were born and raised in Canada with a Hong Kong background. Honestly I would say we progressed together as a tight-knit group from Junior High, to High School, and onto University. To the outsiders we may have been perceived as a clique not accepting non-Asians, but this was not the case. Since we all came from similar cultural backgrounds, it was only natural that we gravitated towards each other. Somehow we were raised pretty much the same way. All of us had to go through piano or violin lessons as a child, and of course the wonderful Chinese school on Saturday mornings.

There were a few White Males that did manage to hang out our Asian group as well. This was probably because they made an effort to join us. Fortunately being a Westernized Asian group, we still conversed in English; all they had to do was have the intent to hang around us.  As far as I remember there was actually never a single White Female in the massive “Asian Group” of friends. It never struck me as that being odd; just perhaps the passive nature of Asians may have been the reason for them not to hang around us. The group was large enough as it was already, and there was no need to seek out more members.

Maybe times have changed, but as I remember dating White Females, I was the one who had to depart from my circle to join her circle of friends. Had I not done that, I probably would not have been in a relationship with a White Female. Fortunately when things did not work out, my Asian friends still took me back as if things never happened. Looking back I laugh at myself because the group was really just a group where we shared common interests. There was nothing really beyond that. We celebrated birthdays, watched movies, went to events, but never really established lifelong bonds.

As I progressed into Post-Secondary education, I was in the shock of my life when it came to Asians. You see, the majority of the Hong Kong Chinese came before the 1997 return to China. This meant that the only Hong Kong Chinese left were my friends I attended school with. Now the Mainland Chinese students dominated university campus in the analytical fields of mathematics, statistics, engineering, chemistry, and physics. Great, now in my head I’m experiencing “FOB 2.0”. For those who are unaware of the term FOB it is a slight derogatory term for Asian immigrants. During the Vietnam War there were many families who fled Vietnam in boats all across Asia. However the term “Fresh off the Boat” or FOB probably more accurately means “Fresh off the Plane”. While it wasn’t their appearances that bothered me, it was the lack of social etiquette for North American standards. I could deal with the scent of moth balls and loud voices, but it still baffles me when I watch someone with seven small containers heat up one individual dish at a time to monopolize the microwaves with a lengthy line waiting behind the user. Then I remember that it is shame, and not guilt that often regulates their behavior, and if nobody tells them they are doing something wrong, they will assume that everything is normal.

I’m sure they are very good people, but somehow it’s extremely difficult to relate to the Asians from Asia. Despite my Asian features of black hair, soft skin, and single eyelids – I find it difficult to connect with non-Western Asians.  This is probably because my interests do not match up with many traditional Asians. My taste in arts and entertainment takes me to South America and Europe, somewhere completely unrelated to Asian popular culture. The irony is that when I move to social groups primarily of Caucasian individuals, I still feel a lack of a true belonging.

Thus I find myself stuck in the middle as a Westernized Asian. Fused with both Eastern and Western values, I went to school learning the Western Culture, and learned about my Eastern roots at home. You could say it was living two lives, but I found it completely normal. With a large Asian group of friends, it was bound to break off into small groups. Eventually people began to pair off, and commit their time into their careers and relationship partners. The large group that hung out in the circular group tables in the student lounges was no more.

The most difficult part of two identities is the fact that you have two. Sometimes it feels like you have to choose between the two, always in conflict between your Eastern and Western identities. I’ve always wondered if having a single identity would have been a lot simpler. Instead of being pressured to take a professional career, I may have been encouraged to pursue something I truly enjoyed over stability and security. Maybe by being “just Asian” would leave me in a mindless state having to constantly submit to parental pressures.  At the end of the day, I would end up being with one group, and not between two different groups.

So why not pursue a Westernized Asian Female? Well the answer is twofold. The first part really comes down to the numbers game. Even here in Canada there are CBCs (Canadian Born Chinese) in every major urban area but attraction does not occur just because they are born and raised here. Yes, they understand my upbringing, but my past experiences did not leave anything memorable. Perhaps it was a matter of personality, but even my prior relationships with White Females have been such a pleasure regardless of the outcome.  They were open to share their thoughts and viewpoints as White Female, and very emotionally generous. This was something I felt difficult with Asian Females born and raised in North America. I could never fathom their obsession with the latest status accessories, and was unwilling to be just a provider by Asian traditional standards.

These days I really have learned to embrace the dual identity. It’s what defines who I am, and I would not change anything if I could go back in time.  While I might be more Western than my Asian counterparts, I have learned so much about my own identity that I would never would have learned remaining in a tight-knit Asian group. Instead of always trying to fit in with a group, I’ve learned to love myself instead of seeking constant approval from others. I definitely am who I want to be.

The Technological Crutch

When we look back to how our parents met, they did not have the vast array of technological tools we have in modern times. Text messaging didn’t even exist, nor did Facebook. So how did people manage with the absence of Internet and Communications Technologies? You guessed it, real human interaction.

Our Technological Crutch

Information has not only shared knowledge, but it has completely transformed our society. Had it not been for the Internet, I would have never been exposed to the Popular Culture of Europe and Asia. To be honest, the majority of the information was purely for entertainment purposes – but it was a refreshing alternative to the typical Top 40’s radio stations and mainstream television channels.  However, being compromised primarily of music, video, and pictures, a strong emphasis of visual and auditory sensing was used.  What made it worse was that organizations picked up on the information and began feeding us a lifestyle we wanted to believe in. From the nature of how to behave, think, or feel, we tune into the shows we enjoy. We buy products that we identify with, live the lifestyle, and surround ourselves with people alike.

Information is at our fingertips. Instead of purchasing a product at a store, it may be even more effective to purchase the product online and have it shipped directly to you. We can look at product reviews, read about the user experiences, and make the best informed decision. However, when we apply this concept to human relationships, it does not exactly work out the way we expect – especially as a typical Asian Male.

Our Online Presence

The anonymity of Internet works as a perfect foil for Asian Men. We are able to assess the situation, learn about information, without having to expose ourselves (assuming we are careful). With the modern developments of Social Networking, we are able to share immediate information with our friends, but does that apply to meeting new people?  Honestly there is no clear answer as its effectiveness varies on the situation.

In a situation where there are no prerequisite criteria, this is essentially an open door policy for Asian Men. This is made possible because of the lack of shame from public opinion. A social network group devoted to interracial dating and open membership will have a vast amount of members.  Despite the high membership, the real success rate may be much lower than perceived initially. Again, the immediate feedback nature of information works against us.

Immediate Feedback

In a sense our preferences are shaped both by predetermined genetic architecture, and social factors such as exposure to television, or other forms of mass media. Being raised in a consumer driven society, the users dictate the needs of society through their consumption. If they do not like a consumer product, it will be reflected by its sales. It’s as easy as saying “no”, because of our inherent consumer driven mentality. This also applies to communication both online, and in real life. If someone absolutely repulsive approached you with the intentions of dating, chances are you would reject them immediately. You could say it was just a natural response to prevent future pain.  Within a split second, we are already able to determine if someone is attractive or not before any real communication is met. How easy is it just to ignore the individual (assuming no prior human interaction) online by a few clicks? It is really that easy.

Back to the Basics

While I speak for Asian Men, this is certainly applicable to every group regardless of belonging. Technology should not be used exclusively in relationships, but as an aide. This is extremely useful for long distance communication, providing that some sort of relationship has been properly built up. As much as we enjoy instant messaging, to be in the actual physical presence with someone you truly enjoy being with is far more effective.  Yes it is also a long and difficult process to develop social skills, and even to this day I still am working on improving myself. If we are left to depend on Information and Communication Technologies, we are merely just a dead face behind a screen. If you seek for something beyond the online world, get out there and experience what life has to offer.