Dating Asian Guys 101: Fears and Frustrations

13.11.12 ShaSha LaPerf 6 Comments

Previous articles:
Dating Asian Guys 101: Initial Contact
Dating Asian Guys 101: Dating Asian Men and Loving Asian Pop Culture
Dating Asian Guys 101: The Matters of Shyness
Dating Asian Guys 101: Run Girl Run! Guys to Avoid

Woohoo another installment. This time I wanted to tackle the not-so-great things about dating Asian men.

More often than not, blogs about interracial dating want to focus more on the upside of it. It's totally understandable as people can get get nervous about the idea and will look for any excuse to say, "I told you so," when an IR relationship doesn't work out. And yes sometime times the reason why they don't work out is because of attitudes about race and culture on either or both ends. Let's face it, for most people, the honeymoon period doesn't last too long. I've seen many a black woman so eager to get into a relationship with a guy, but really don't put much thought into what the relationship could really be like with him. So I spent some time thinking about what I've encountered from dating Asian men as well as what I've seen other women who are married to or date Asian men write about. And no it's not always paradise for them either. I thought about the message board posts I've seen and emails I've received wanting to talk about the "other side" of dating.

So I made a list of what I think are the most common frustrating and/or fear-inducing issues that can pop up in a AM/BW relationship. The majority of what's here probably relates more to dating Asian men from Asian not so much Asian-Americans, but hey, I wouldn't be surprised if these things happened while dating an Asian-American as well. Sorry, no pics this time around. LOL I have a hard try finding good ways to convey the messages here.

We're Not On The Same (Language) Page
For a lot of people, language isn't a big deal at all. Some people see dating someone who's first language isn't theirs as a way to learn a new language, and get to know something about another culture. Others just look forward to communication hijinks, hoping their relationship is as wacky as Balki and Larry from Perfect Strangers. Yeah, I know I totally dated myself here, but whatever. Anyway you can also find conversations very hindered if there can't be enough communication going on. I found out just how shitty my "conversational" Japanese was when a date and I went to see a movie, and I didn't know enough about Japanese to really say what I wanted to about it. You'll find yourself relying on friends who are more fluent than you to translate things to your significant other, which can get pretty awkward at times. Or you'll miss his very cultural pun because you don't know much about his language. Or you'll think he's being aloof with you when he really just doesn't know all the words to express his feelings. And then there's the reverse: how much time has he put into learning your language?

An Internal Conflict: To Be Or Not To Be (American)?

No, I'm not trying to alienate my non-American ladies, but this section is a bit more based of my personal experience. It's pretty amazing how fast you can become insecure about something when you start dating a new person. For me it while I was in Japan. I was conflicted between the idea of being my plain ol "American" self vs. trying to take on the person of the "cute Japanese girls" I saw plastered on the TV, in magazines, on the radio, you get the picture. Would Japanese guys want an American girl to be more "Japanese" and was this possible to do without looking like an idiot? Or was it my "Americaness" or "foreigness" that attracted him to me anyway? Did he want a mix of the two? Hell what is being more "American" or more "Japanese" anyway!? You don't know just how fast these thoughts get jammed into your head, leaving you confused about yourself and what exactly the guy wants from you in a relationship. And I bet it goes both ways as well. Is he thinking, "well she's used to American guys, should I act a certain way that she's used to?"

The "He's Like That Because It's His Culture Right?" Paranoia
Yep more paranoia. Not everything is really related to a person's culture. Maybe this guy is an asshole not because he's Chinese but because...he's just an asshole. Maybe that guy is just a really outgoing guy and would be no matter his ethnicity or race. But when you're new to dating someone from a different culture it's easy to forget these ideas and assume someone is doing things because of his culture. Sure some things can be culturally related, but at some point you're just find yourself nitpicking at everything. "I just texted him like three minutes ago and he didn't text me back. Is this what Vietnamese guys do!?" "He blinked yesterday. Is this common with Korean guys?"  Okay, okay that sounds a little silly. But I don't think it's that uncommon to over-think things when you're dating someone new.

Is Blood Thicker Than Water?
Of course I couldn't talk about issues with dating Asian guys without talking about family. Either his family hates you with a passion or your family isn't too keen on him. You keep telling yourself you'll have a stern talk with you family. You keep picturing it in your mind, the day you tell them to STFU about your relationship and just accept the fact that you're in love with this guy. Or you're waiting for the day he takes you to his family's home and declare his love for you in front of everyone. But these days have yet to come...

Going for Gold in the Oppression Olympics
Racism can affect Asians and Blacks differently depending on the situation, and which can lead to some tense discussions when it comes to race. While I can't say I'm a total activist, I do like to keep up with issues related to people of color. And I remember being completely turned off by one Asian guy who told me people of color need to stop bitching about how they don't get TV and movie roles. Furthermore, you see two groups that are potentially battling damn near opposite stereotypes and it's easy to get into the dreaded Oppression Olympics, spending time deciding who had it worst, Blacks or Asians? Of course the right answer is we've both been screwed but that see how often that answer will come up in the heat of an argument.   

To Leave Or To Stay?
So that trip to China was just supposed to be a one year thing. Then you meet the guy you think you can spend your life with and you have a serious issue here: leaving to return to your own country, or staying with him in his country? What how about this one: He's leaving the states in a few weeks. It means the two of you have to decide on having a long distance relationship, breaking up, he stays with you or you go with him. Can you really pack up your whole life to move to a place that's still a bit unfamiliar to you? Can you expect him to want to do the same?

Ugh, Now We're a Skype Couple (Long Distance)
So it didn't work out. You had to come back to the states, and he wants to come, just that he can't make the full move yet. In the meantime you decide to take the long distance route, which means a whole lot of understanding time zones and communicating through your phone or web cam. It's not so bad at first. After all, his plan is to come in a year and you Skype and email each other a few times day. Then it's a few times a week. Then it's a few times a month...

Some scary stuff right? Well maybe for a few people it is. All of these things are pretty annoying to deal with. But before you think of any of these as deal breakers, here are a few general suggestions on how to work through these things. I thought about going through each situation individually, but I felt like I'd probably repeat myself a lot.

Don't let your paranoia get the best of you. I wrote this list because I feel like these issues are very realistic. It's stuff I had to deal with and stuff other women have dealt with. But not everyone has to deal with them and you should carefully think abut the situations before deciding they are deal breakers. Don't get so paranoid about having to deal with these issues that you decide to shut out men before getting to know a bit more about him.

Most relationships will have issues. Granted problems will vary from couple to couple, but not everything is perfect all the time. Hell given that what I listed up there is stuff that me and many other women have dealt with, these problems aren't even that unique. So don't assume that it's just the two of you that have problems. And you know what, even with problems, a lot of people can work things out. So don't get too upset when the sparkles start wearing off. Give it some time.

Communicate. Holding things in can be more damaging to a relationship than not saying anything. It just leads to the two of you acting passive aggressive and can eventually lead to a nasty explosive between you two. After you've had time thinking about the relationship and what you want, talk to him. Tell him how you feel, even if it means breaking out a Google translator. Ask him how he feels about things. If you think he's speaking Korean too fast and you're a new learner, ask him to slow down when he speaks. Let him know any concerns you have about living in another country, shut down Oppression Olympics as soon as it starts. Talk to each other dammit!

Compromise. Eh, I think this probably goes with communicating but whatever, I made it its own section. If takes two people to make a relationship work and after communicating, compromise will have a role. Work together to decide on solutions that work best for the both of you. If he decides to take English lessons, you decide to take Korean lessons. Well both of y'all should probably bootleg a program since it'll be cheaper, but you get the point.

If it's not working, then that's okay. Ladies, never stay in a relationship that you feel isn't working out. Yes, yes, I know he seemed like your dream Asian guy, but the two of you are on completely different worlds. If the negative things in your relationship is starting to outweigh the positives, you should think consider if this is the right person for you. But again, I stress putting effort into it, don't just give up the second you realize you don't understand his Japanese puns. And talk to each other dammit!

Sorry, I know none of the above is earth shattering advice, but it's a start. :) Well that's it for now. I'll have another installment sometime later on.


  1. Whether I dated Black men,non Black men,American or non American men,she would tell to see them as men as men. As general as that come off,women has to see them as just that:they have personalities,same functions in their bodies,they're either good or bad.

    Now it wouldn't be right to pretend that if they're from other countries that some consideration,still you are a human being first.I dated a guy
    from another country and Im not going to lie,I wondered how I was supposed to be around him because of his culture,but while there is nothing with people respecting the cultural norms (definitely would do
    if Im in someone else's country),the guy should also also understand
    that you are(fill in the nationality).This is not meant to be disrespectful to who is,but you are who you are. As you mentioned on here,some may expect for women to be a woman from their country.To me,when a guy does this,they are disrespecting you.Its like they are saying that something is wrong with you. I believe that both cultural worlds can be respected and celebrated equally.

    Far as that guy who said that Black folks need to stop whining about not enough Black actors being on TV.I know how you felt.I would seen steam coming from my head in! Dangerous thinking on his part. That kind of ignorance only set you up to be suckered. As long as he is and Im an minority,we are not better than our minority brethren/sistren.Ive once quote a general statement that I was taught as a child and that was never to always accept the first thing that you see. Why did you rag about because its about equality and humanity.
    My parents told me a story of how they had a conversation with a well respected civil rights activists.One of the things that he told them while he was fighting for equal rights he hoped that they wouldn't be fighting in vain or forgetting about their history. Its guys like him that the leader talks about.

    The biggest misconception that some people like the Asian guy you mentioned on here is that were minimizing other minority struggles,were about ourselves and the big one..we complain too much. Unfortunately,people like him dont see the who thorough picture to the problem.I guess Dr.King and those civil rights leaders was ragging because he wanted all people to coexist together.Oh well..

  2. Typo..ignore the word disrespectful on the very last line.I thought that I erased it.

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  4. I love this post. When I write on my blog and tumblr I notice that I get hundreds of views when I post a picture of my bf and I together. I feel that most of the girls visiting are fantasizing about the "look" of being in an interracial relationship. Many forget how much work a relationship is period. Such a good read =]

  5. Ditto. If being in a relationship is hard, being in an interracial one is doubly so. You have to break through any preconceived notions and realize that he is who he is for many different reasons besides just his culture. Funny enough, I had all but two of those problems. Wonderful post! Looking forward to reading the next installment.

  6. Shoot, I'm just getting around to commenting on this. :(

    Yeah none of this was really stuff I thought about when I first started dating Asian guys outside of language barriers. And it was a big relief when I found out that other people had these issues too because it mean I wasn't being crazy about things. The more I dated Asian men, the more I took into account what we would have to deal with in our relationship. For the most part, Shen and I haven't had too many of these issues outside of the Oppression Olympics one. I think that stems from Shen and I being very cynical at times though.