Relationships, Marriage, and the Four Horsemen

Regardless of the fact that the level of relationship may be dating, courtship, or even marriage, there are always trouble signs that will greatly predict the success of the relationship. Strangely enough I stumbled upon literature from Dr. John Gottman using the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse analogy from the Bible. Bear in mind that disagreements and fighting every now and then are signs of a healthy relationship. In any case here are the four key behaviors:

Criticism

Criticism in my opinion has two variants, a positive form and a negative form. Positive criticism is about improving the situation without any intentional personal attacks on your partner. There is possible frustration expressed, but definitely not offending. Take for example you were watching your favorite reality competition and one of your favorite competitors was sent packing. I know for one I would be in absolute shock. “How could he be eliminated?”  I would exclaim in discontent “that’s not fair.”

In that situation I do not wish harm on the judges, but I am clearly disgruntled by the apparent unfairness. Now when it comes to negative criticism, this behavior may start out as dissatisfaction but then becomes unbearable. They start with phrases like:

“I can’t believe you…”
“Every time you…”
“What kind of (noun) is this?”

The usual intention is to claim that you are right, and the offending partner is clearly wrong.  Unfortunately it comes with a vicious attack on your partner’s character. I can honestly admit criticism in this regard is almost considered normal in Traditional Asian upbringing. Not only do we get criticism from our parents, we are expected to accept it, as it is supposedly their way of expressing how they care.  The tragedy is that then if we start to believe our actions bring criticism, then as Asian Males we resign ourselves of apathy, and stop believing in anything.

Contempt

Although contempt is very similar to criticism in the fact that there is intent to draw some form of mental abuse, it differs by not focusing on a particular event, but as a global degrading feeling. You could almost say that criticism occurs as a reaction while contempt is a lingering feeling no matter if it is premeditated or reactionary.

Examples usually come from verbal insults, mockery, and most often through body language combined with tone. Since most of contempt is something that is “read between the lines” I will describe obvious situations where it could happen. A couple fictitious examples I have spontaneously thought of is as follows:

Example One:

Shen and Ashley decide to spend their Friday night window shopping at a local trendy district. While passing by an eclectic store Ashley stops to point at a cute summer dress.

“Are you kidding me?” Shen said as he rolled his eyes in disgust, “that dress makes your arms look even bigger.”

While Shen was able to voice his opinion, Ashley would be more disappointed over with the implications: he shows indifference to her opinions, and reinforces her apparent weight issues.

Example Two:

Han and Angela have been officially dating for a couple years. In preparation for Han’s cousin’s wedding, there is a banquet party group dance that both of them are involved in. Unfortunately being a typical male with two left feet like Han, the steps do not come naturally. To make matters worse, Han not only has to remember his steps, but also has to lead Angela. Trouble arises with alignment issues. Angela stops and glares at Han.

“I don’t get it” Angela voices in frustration, “this is so easy.” Han recollects his composure and tries for a second time. Failure ensues. “Nope,” she says while biting her lip. Completely petrified Han tries for a third time, only to get a tongue lashing.

While not as direct as the first example, there are many situations when the male feels emasculated by his partner. This is something that comes with experience, and no video game is going to teach you this.

Defensiveness

Just as criticism and contempt are more offensive approaches, there are defensive approaches that Gottman classifies as action and inaction. In a sense it is an approach that minimizes the incoming threat to give an opportunity to respond back offensively by both criticism and contempt. The defense comes by evading a perceived attack or using a victim mentality. It is only natural for us to protect ourselves from harm, but things get muddled when things are tense.

“It wasn’t my fault…”
“But remember the time you…”

Now by developing the two examples above, we can create both a defensive and non-defensive approach.

Example One Development – Shen & Ashley

A: “That burger you had for dinner isn’t helping your waistline either.” Ashley quips as she pokes his belly.

B: “Great,” Ashley smiles, “I’ll be sure to wear it next weekend for your mom’s birthday dinner”

Development A used a diversion to place the weight issue onto Shen, while B turned the situation from displeasure to humor. Mind you Ashley may get the last laugh if she gets all genuine compliments for the dress next week.

Example Two Development – Han & Angela

A: “It is sooooo easy” Han responds.

B: “Backseat driving.” Han grins.

C: “As expected from your formal training” he sighs.

In response A, Han repeats what Angela had said earlier, with a slightly altered tone. This has the intention of having her believe that Han was listening. For response B and C, Han diverted the perceived threat by countering with a comment that may actually escalate the situation. While this may seem the most viable option, it does nothing to help the relationship. The problem really is not the small disagreements but the fact that this will accumulate over time and the behavioral response will be the same. Only when enough is enough, then a sudden change tends to follow.

Stonewalling

I confess that growing up this was my main arsenal when it comes to dealing with conflict. It made perfect sense to me, keeping a neutral tone would make the other person feel that I not offended and won’t retaliate. I was always taught to turn the other cheek, but it often is with physical conflict. When it comes to an emotional connection with a woman and especially a White Female, it conveys actually a lack of effort in the relationship.

Examples include:

  • A blank face
  • Crossing arms and refusal to communicate
  • Leaving the situation without any explanation during or afterwards
  • Using the pseudo-agreement of “yes” responses

Granted that the natural response for a male is to hide in his cave to regenerate himself, constantly disconnecting yourself as a male towards a female is extremely hurtful over time. This is a serious issue when it comes to Asian Males as we are taught to maintain a stern disconnected composure.

Fortunately this can be worked around by giving signals that you really want to connect as an Asian Male. Get into her personal space, hold her hands, tell her how much you really care for her – she will forgive you for the lack of expression and recognize your sincerity to be with her. Remember it is a healthy relationship to encounter conflict, but what is important is that you both ultimately respect and acknowledge each other.

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You Don’t Need to Buy Her Fancy Things to Make Her Happy.

Did you learn that the best way to be a good partner is by being a provider financially, and placing a strong emphasis and spending lots of time on that?  So much of an emphasis that you have not ever really considered the social and emotional needs of your relationship?  Now don’t get me wrong, a man who provides his family is a good thing, better than a man who does not, but do you feel that to have a good relationship this is a top priority? Maybe because that is the model of behavior that you have seen for most of your life?  Dad would make money and focus on giving his family all the material things they needed and mom (even if she works) would take care of the emotional side of things. But you rarely saw mom and dad spending time together, making the essential emotional connections with each other. They seem to live peacefully in that relationship with each contributing to the family life, and as long as the basic needs are met everyone is happy.

When I look at the older generations of Asian couples I often see this situation, and to be honest this mentality can be very confusing to the average WF in today’s society. I can understand as a man, Asian or otherwise, there has been a long history of that type of relationship structure and providing for the ones you love makes you happy. That is a great thing, but for your average WF who was raised to be independent and care for herself she expects more from her relationship with you then just the basic comforts and material needs being met. She is looking for you to be her best friend, her confidant, and her lover. She wants you to share the financial responsibility of having a life and a family, but also expects you to be emotionally available for her and any children you have. The structure of the relationship is a 50/50 one where each contributes to the overall health and wealth of the family and your relationship.

I think today’s generation of Asian men is in a very different situation then their fathers before them.  Ten years ago your father would have not considered marring a non-Asian women, it just would not be the norm. The fear of cultural differences and pressure from family expectations would have not allowed it. I’ve sad it before, Asian men are pioneers when it comes to choosing who they want to be with and so understanding the dynamics of the AMWF relationship is important. The model of behavior that your parents provided for you cannot be fully applied, and if you think that just being good provider for her (like fancy cars, LV bags, and, etc…) without up keeping the emotional side of the relationship, it will inevitably end in failure.

I hear Asian men say it to me over and over, that they don’t want women who are materialistic. They want to get away from that because they see it a lot in Asian culture. Your WF won’t mind that nice gift you bought her, but it’s not required to show your love. She wants you to be emotionally there for her, she likes to see your softer side, and she wants to support you just as much as you want to support her. Only you don’t need fancy things to show status, or to prove that you love her, she simply wants you.

When You Live in Asia, WF’s are Hard to Find

So you love the way she looks, with her very distinct facial features like big, deep eyes, and straight nose. Of course you enjoy the curves, and the direct manner in which she tells you how she feels and what she wants. You are excited by the fact that she has a strong sense of personal character, independence, and her focus is rarely on the amount of money you make. The cultural differences are very exotic and it seems like all the things you would want. But there is one problem, you live in Asia and white women are hard to come across.

If you are like the many men in this position, you often find that most of the WFs just come and go. They may stay in your country for few months only and leave soon after. The younger group of WFs (in their 20’s) when in Asia often stay in the very western areas, and are often only found at bars and clubs(which to be honest is not the best place to meet anyone). Any thoughts you may have about trying to form a serious relationship seem almost not worth the effort because of the inevitability of such factors like long distance relationships or parents disapproval. You may also meet some opposition from your friends. When you tell them you are interested in dating and marring WFs, they might  think you are crazy. They may wonder why you just don’t just go after an Asian girl, as mom could set you up with the pretty daughter of her best friend making the process so much easier.

I’m sure you think, yeah there will always be guys who will be like that, friends who will just want to marry Asian, and that’s ok for them but not for me. But it’s so frustrating because even if I meet the often hard to find WFs living in Asia most of the time some other man had the same interest in western women and culture as you, and has already made his move. Grrrrrrr…. So what can I do?  You do have options and here they are:

Have a Positive Mindset

It takes a more independent minded and strong man to want to meet someone who is different, to see past the differences into something that could be so much better than just accepting what parents want, or social pressures. So it’s important that you always keep a positive attitude even when at times things can seem hopeless. Keep things in perspective and be confident in yourself. You want to meet someone your attracted too, not just any WF. Someone you truly have things in common with such as values, morals, and family. Don’t be discouraged if your meeting WF’s but nothing is working out. It takes time to find that special someone, so don’t give up!

Consider a Change in Location

If you are interested in western culture then you might want to consider studying, working, or trying out a cultural exchange program. This will allow you to meet, live, and be around western cultures. You will have the opportunity to improve your English/communication skills, and ultimately have the advantage when meeting WFs and socializing with them. Unfortunately as a women, most usually don’t consider or feel safe just moving to another country alone  even if we have an interest in Asian culture and men,( although some women do) so the task often falls on you to take the indicative to make your way to the west.

Make Friends (from all over the world)

Never underestimate how important friendships are. Friends will provide you with not only support, but the more western friends you have the more your chances are increased of meeting a WFs. You want to meet someone naturally, and for a women one of the ways we can trust you right away is if you already know someone we trust. This trust will put you miles ahead of the guy that approaches her out of the blue. Just make sure you express your interest right away.If you are not able to live for an extended period of time in the west, the internet is the next best option to establish and keep in touch with friends. Opportunities often appear when you least expect them!

Meeting her is really the first step, and all the other cultural and social thing will work out. Meeting her often seems to be the hardest part but don’t give up. Sure, it’s going to be odd when you want something outside the norm, but it’s always worth the effort. You never know where or when an opportunity will appear, so get out there!

A Decade Later – Have Perceptions Changed?

In 2001, Yankelovich Partners surveyed 1,002 Americans about Chinese American and Asian American stereotypes for the Committee of 100.  While this may have been over a decade ago, I find it still relevant and useful information. Among the many results I found, the two most interesting facts were regarding family disapproval of a marital partner and general attitude to Chinese Americans.  Approximately 24% of the sample indicated that an Asian American marital partner would face family disapproval and only 32% of the sample had positive opinions about Chinese Americans (43% Somewhat Negative and 25% Very Negative).

I have included a portion of the results in pie chart format. Since I am not Caucasian, I suppose I will comment on my own thoughts.

Historical Fears

Being Canadian myself, I went to take a look at some Canadian history of Asian immigration. After the Gold Rush came the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway between 1880 and 1885. With poverty on the rise in China, approximately 15,000 Chinese labourers helped construct the railway often by moving rocks and the handling of unstable explosives. The Chinese worked long and hard hours, often for 30-50 percent of the regular pay. After the railway was completed, the trip back to China was unaffordable so they opted to remain in Canada.

With growing fear of the Chinese, in 1885 the Chinese (and only the Chinese) were imposed of a $50 head tax that would increase to $500 per person in 1903. (According to Canada in Making, that would be the equivalent of 2 years of salary) Even the Japanese faced heavy racism and were relocated to “internment labour camps” away from coastal British Columbia during the Second World War. What made matters even worse was that the majority of their personal assets were confiscated by the government and auctioned off.

Mind you that this was almost seventy years ago, and times have changed. Even in the 1970’s my father recollects his experiences with negative opinions against Asians in Canada.  Working various jobs to pay for post-secondary, he would be often be called by ethnic slurs, but fortunately did not face any physical abuse. In light of everything he took it all in stride and years later managed to reconnect with his high school sweetheart who recently moved to Canada from Hong Kong. I’m sure he would have been open to a Caucasian woman, but the perceptions in the 70’s may have been considerably harsher. (Had he done that I probably wouldn’t be here writing this article)

A Recollection of 2001

When this survey was carried out, I realized my perceptions of Caucasians were definitely different a decade ago. At that time, I would say about 90% of my friends were Asian, but because my involvement in competitive soccer, I did have a few Caucasian friends. I was one of those smart-athletic Asian types of guy. To my Asian friends, I was probably the only male that had experience in an AMWF Relationship. In all honesty, looking back when I was in that particular AMWF relationship, it was really under our common love for soccer.  I was physically attracted to White Females back then because they tended to be more athletic. This is probably because I was just beginning to develop emotionally. Yes I could talk about cultural specific things with Asian Females like our overbearing mothers, but I just felt like friendship was the only viable option.

Having a large Asian-based circle of friends was both comforting, but at the same time it was restrictive. With the majority of them being Hong Kong Chinese born Canadians, we stuck together. Birthdays were not forgotten, and I remember the intense nights of Pictionary or other group games. (Yes they were a nice bunch of friends) The more enjoyment of being as a group we shared, the closer we stuck together. Somehow only the White Males would be brave enough to enter our group, which we fully welcomed, but the White Female just never happened.

You could say we just grew too comfortable to make our group open to non-Asians. Perhaps we were viewed as a clique, but when your circle of Asian friends is large enough, it seems as if it doesn’t matter if the group looks closed off.

Present Day 2011

With a stronger level of emotional development and a level of maturity ten years later, I still do find White Females extremely attractive but for different reasons. Not only am I physically attracted to them, but also how they offer a completely different perspective on life that is more complementary than anything. Emotionally it has been very satisfying to communicate on a level beyond the frivolous and absolutely incredible when we respect each other’s viewpoint despite our differences. I am always blown away about how creative and expressive White Females can be (beyond basic fear and cheerfulness).

There is one slight problem, White Females like that are very rare. So Asian Men, if you do happen to run into an amazing person, don’t let the opportunity slip away – just go for it.

The Connection Gap – Neglected AMWF Issues

Physical attraction is a funny thing.  As an Asian Male what you need to know about most is that it begins with a pass or fail. What I mean by that is that even before someone is remotely attracted to you, there needs to be a minimum level of hygiene, grooming, and overall image. Otherwise you will face some form of rejection from a female of interest. Even before you open your mouth you have already been pre-categorized into a no, maybe, or yes kind of guy. The reason for this is that people do not enjoy being emotionally torn apart by a relationship that could have been easily avoided.We do our very best to avoid the creepy, abusive, or twisted individuals, sometimes they manage to slip through the barriers.

When it comes to short-term relationships, the short-term criteria doesn’t necessarily equate to a fulfilling long-term relationship. In the short-term relationship, the excitement lies in the intensity and mysteriousness of the relationship. I would even go as far as to call it the honeymoon phase where passion often expressed in a physical manner. This may also include the provision of gifts or gestures that Asian Males use to show their affection. It is not uncommon to see gifts early on, or have him decline your offer to split the bill. To this day I still witness the typical feud between family friends and my parents when it comes to paying the bill for dinner. Being a provider is one quality Asian men pride themselves on.

Perhaps that may draw parallels to why Asian Parents tend to pressure their kids into taking a professional career. With a generous amount of remuneration, they would be capable of being solid providers and not struggle financially. Traditionally it would be common to have the husband of the family be the sole income earner while the wife would allocate the household resources. This is what Asian men believe makes them a man. To this day, even I still believe it to be true – well at least partially true. Enter long-term relationships.

While being a solid provider is great, that is also the problem in a long-term relationship with an Asian Male. That’s all it is. You believe him to be a good person – someone trustworthy, loyal, and attentive. You know for sure he cares for you, but deep down inside as a White Female, you still feel incomplete.  This is what I like to call the Connection Gap.

The Connection Gap

The easiest way to explain this is to break it down from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Essentially it is as follows:

Level of Need Asian Male White Female
Physiological As the provider, this can be attended to financially. A healthy lifestyle and a place to call home.
Safety/Security A stable job, house, and car. A comfortable lifestyle, extravagant is bonus, but not required.
Social Some friends, co-workers, neighbours, and family. Always large gatherings for special events.

Parents may play a large role in the decision making process.

To enjoy an event with others (i.e. sport event at the bar with the boys).

The “status” of being taken.

A network of family, friends, and partner to share life with.

Establishing and maintaining a strong connection with her partner. A close support network to turn to no matter how tiny the issue is.

Bonding as a group through conversation (girls night out).

Being surprised with signals of affection every now and then.

 

Esteem Largely based on having a happy marriage often with direct family support.

“If the partner is happy, then I am happy.”

Friends are present physically and virtually to share milestones and accomplishments.

To not be hated by anyone.

Being appreciated and needed by her partner and close network.

Sharing accomplishments first with the ones she loves the most.

Having love reciprocated in a genuine manner

Self-fulfillment Engage in activities that require sufficient skill and challenge.

Technical: Photography, Model building

Creative: Music, Acting, Singing

Generosity: Volunteering

Transcend beyond the physical and engage mentally, emotionally, and possibility spiritually.

Engage in charitable (youth group), creative (painting), or spiritual activities (yoga).

Now this is just a hypothetical example illustrating the two different viewpoints that applies to males and females and not just AMWF exclusively. Where the Connection Gap lies is when the Asian Male is focused on the Safety/Security or Social Level when the White Female is looking for Esteem and Self-fulfillment needs. Consequently the Asian Male will feel content with the relationship because he clearly is doing his job providing. While having basic needs and safety taken care of is excellent, there are often higher levels of esteem and self-fulfillment that are neglected in an AMWF relationship. If left unattended for extended periods of time, the relationship risks deterioration.

Dealing with the Connection Gap

If not already in a relationship, a White Female may choose to find someone who she feels able to meet that social, esteem, and self-fulfillment needs. As a result, instead of choosing Technophiles, the White Female may opt for the Comedian archetype. Asian Males who are naturally the Comedian type will attract many through their jovial temperament. Others prefer the Ambitious to provide the energy and intensity she craves on a social and esteem basis.  Individuals are few in numbers, but are often the most suitable to meet the self-fulfillment needs given their creativity, expression, and awareness.

What about the poor Technophile who was pushed aside? There’s nothing to fear – the most important thing to remember regardless of TCAI group is the ability to open and maintain healthy channels of communication between each other. While there is no perfect formula, there are two general steps. The first is to encourage healthy communication by taking a proactive stance. Instead of her always trying to bring up issues, take the opportunity as an Asian Male to genuinely let her know that you care and want to listen to her. After that is done, be sure to carry out actions deemed necessary.  Even though there are inherent gaps in the connection, by making an honest effort you move one step closer. Continue the process and grow together in the AMWF Relationship. The sooner you address the situation, the better. Don’t wait for things to get to nuclear levels as an Asian Male. Not only will the relationship become unmanageable, but it may lead to its eventual demise.

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.

Blending Eastern and Western Foods

When you are in an AMWF relationship, you not only share the cultures that you came from but also the foods that are part of it. I was raised to believe that taking the time to share a meal with someone was a way to connect, to get to know, and to enjoy someone’s company. It was over a big bowl of pasta that my family and I would share stories about our day, talk about the trials and tribulations of our lives, and generally find comfort and love from one another. So when it came time to experience Asian foods, I wanted to know what this was all about.

The first difference to me in comparing East Asian to Western foods was the way the food was prepared.  From the very start Asian foods are cut into bite sizes, and then stir fried or steamed, and served to you family style. In contrast, my experience with Italian/western cooking was different. All the ingredients were usually in larger pieces and we always cut the food on our plates with knives and forks. It’s not that things were not family style, because there would often be items like salad, pasta, meats, or etc, out on a table, but you just selected the portion you wanted and placed it on your dish. Another difference was the food choices used in the dishes. There are some ingredients or seasonings in Asian cuisine that Western cooking seldom uses, like jelly fish, sea cucumbers, shark’s fins, bean curds (tofu), oyster sauce, black bean sauce, salty shrimp paste, soy sauce, etc.  In western cooking there are also, like Asia, lots of sea foods, meats, and etc, but herbs like rosemary, dill, sage, oregano, thyme, basil (etc) are used, where Asian cultures add ginger, spring onions, mints, corianders, and white pepper.  Sometimes you can find Asian foods that contain cheese, butter, cream or milk, but I rarely see it.

So even with these differences, I found that I enjoyed trying all the culinary delights that East Asia had to offer… well almost. One of the most common problems when trying foods from Asia was not taste, but texture. For me anything with a spongy or jelly like texture just freaked me out, and just eating it would send a shiver down my spine.  So, when I would share a meal with anyone Asian, they would give and a smile and laugh because they know I don’t like the texture and that the western palate is just not used to it.

At home, when I look at the foods I eat every day, I realize that it’s always a blend of the best of the east and west. In America you can find any foods you want, Asian, European, or more traditional regional US foods, but I always find myself drawn to either Asian or Italian cooking. One day its chicken parmesan with ziti and homemade sauce, the next day its Korean BBQ beef, rice, and broccoli. Other times I will fuse the two together creating something I never even thought of before. Sticky rice goes with just about anything and for example often I use it as a replacement for the crust that is found in a chicken pot pie recipe. Yes really.. Just make your pot pie base like normal ie:  creamy stock, vegetables, onion, garlic, pepper, and chicken. Instead of putting that base into a crust and baking it, just place it hot over sticky rice…and there you have it!. a creamy, vegetable chicken, mock risotto like meal. Yum yum.

To me food is a way to show how much you care about those around you, and this feeling is probably true for all cultures around the world. I often find that I feel so privileged to be part of an AMWF relationship because I am able to enjoy the foods that represent a culture(s), its history, and an experience that I would otherwise have not considered.

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

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

The Asian Family Issue

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

Silent Expectations

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

Finding Middle Ground

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

The Order

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

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

The Suggestion

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

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

The Request

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

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