Thursday, 21 March 2013

Relationships in China (must read)

                                         Pampered From Pampers

Relationships in China. They just FASCINATE me. I never knew.

This is a hefty category, and is further bloated by subcategories; so I am going to be “picky-choosy” here with what I discuss. Only having been here seven months, I already feel I could write a book about RELATIONSHIPS.

FOR THE RECORD, I am NOT trying to offend Chinese people or make fun of their culture. I am telling it like I see it. Anyone reading this should keep in mind that I come from an entirely different background and that this is all very new for me. I know I'd want to know what an outsider thinks of American people. Also, there are EXCEPTIONS to commonalities in all cultures. For example, you will never hear me supersizing anything at McDonald's or wearing spray tan from a can. 

Do I begin with the fundamentals? Should I start off with explaining the changes China is seeing in a new generation of relationships and why that it is? Maybe I should begin with the way domestic abuse is viewed and skewed here. Would people be interested in China’s one-child policy and how that law has effected today’s newest Chinese relationships? Are people interested in how “saving face” has set a platform not only for winning arguments, but also when it comes to dealing with relationship affairs? Perhaps people would be entertained by the role men take on to impress their girlfriends. Do people know what Chinese flirting involves? I’ve witnessed countless relationship arguments on the streets; care to know what I’ve seen? Maybe people want to know what the deal is with sex and what the norm is.

As you can see, I have a lot to say. I will condense this, and possibly write Relationships: Part 2 blog if you’re interested and anyone requests it.

What I  am telling you throughout this blog has come from personal accounts, personal experience of expatriates who have lived here for years (some of whom have been in relationships with Chinese men or women), explanations from my Chinese friends, and a little online statistical research.

                                               Traditional Chinese Relationships

I’m beginning with this for those of you who are like me and enjoy seeing how generations evolve.

I’m not getting too historic; I am only taking it back to the Mao generation (Mao Zedong proclaimed Communist China 1949-1966). In short, relationships during that period went something like this:
When you were finally in a relationship, it was automatically assumed that the two of you would be married. It was not necessary to have “the talk”. Women only had sex with one man, and no man wanted to hear that a woman had ever dated a man prior to them. Tainted. You would date and make love to one person all of your life and divorce was unheard of. Domestic abuse was ubiquitous and hush-hush in the home. Most women were housewives. They put their children to work whether it was around the kitchen or out in the fields. The End.

                                                 One-Child Policy

This one- child policy has paved new and various paths for the newest People’s Republic of China. The new generation is so unlike the previous and the effects this puts on their country (in so many spectrum's) is still up in the air. In the case of relationships, they’re screwed.

Get up to speed on this policy: Effective as of 1978, this policy is only 35 years old. There are exceptions to it: foreigners, the upper class, twins (if you can pay the fine) and parents who are both single children themselves. If you cannot pay, you will be forced into an abortion. The government will send people to your home and use force if you do not cooperate.

The children of this policy are China’s newest adults now. Let’s stop and think about how they were raised.

Prior generations had multiple children which meant more money was necessary to survive and parents needed a helping hand. All I really mean is that children had to pitch in and DO SOMETHING. Now, nearly every family is producing a child infected with only-child syndrome, but far worse than what we know of it.

I see it with my own eyes every single day. I see it in school, in homes, and on the streets. From the time these single-children are born, they are spoiled to no end by their parents and their two sets of grandparents. These kids do not have to do anything on their own except study and wipe their own ass (wait…I think they wipe their own ass). Again and again, I see parents hand feeding their grown kids. Parents wiping their faces. Parents carrying their belongings. Nowadays, you’ll actually see a handful of overweight (according to China’s standards) kids. This is probably because many of them barely even have to walk! Parents are constantly tending to the every need of their one child. Also, parents do all of the thinking for them (outside of their studies). Parents and grandparents even allow their young kids/grandkids to double-slap them in the face (in public). These kids never cook. These kids don’t have to clean. These kids are used to attention and are not reprimanded when they scream for what they want. In cases of an unhappy child, parents/grandparents are nearly panicking to please them whether they realize it or not. These kids are not equipped to do fend for themselves in any way, shape, or form. They are pampered from Pampers.

Fast forward to their first relationship. Men expect women to know how to cook for them, clean and take care of them in the same way their mother did for their father. Women, now holding college degrees and pursuing careers, not only do not have time for it, but they simply don’t know how. They don’t know how to take care of THEMSELVES let alone a home, and they too, require attention. These DEMANDS and NEEDS of attention bring me to my next topic.

                                                              Couple Interaction

What you see today was not what you would typically see fifty years ago. When I first saw what I am about to share with you, my eyes and mouth dropped, like those people in The Ring after they watched "the tape" and died. I couldn’t stop staring. I knew it was cancer to my mind, but I couldn't stop. The effects it has had on me are unknown until I am back to my homeland. You may find me scribbling in notebooks and pulling flies off tv screens. I wasn’t used to it. Just when I thought I’ve seen it all, a new couple proves me wrong.

So, you know they were spoiled and you know they (both) crave attention. It is also crucial to know that due to the one-child policy, a growing gender imbalance is screwing the male population.  As of right now, the ratio is 105 boys to 100 girls. In 2012, China’s male-to-female ratio between the ages of 15-64 was: male 505,326,577/female 477,953,883. With the policy in effect, those numbers will drastically widen (as older generations die off) which will increasingly apply pressure on the male population. Let the rat race begin! Now, take the ingredients of only-child syndrome, neediness, gender imbalance, and pour in the norms of their culture (nose picking, spitting, public urination, eating and talking with their mouth open, running with their arms whaling about, matching outfits, heavy platform shoes, Hello Kitty insanity, etc.). Suddenly relationship normalcy becomes a recipe for an unsettling, exploding, raunchy cluster-fart. Open a window for the love of God.

                                                              He Is Useful.

Couples are permanently locked in arms (or hands) at all times. Their bodies are never more than a few inches apart. In the presence of his girlfriend, he will never follow another female with his eyes. Should he do so, he is asking for a meltdown from his girlfriend (in public). He will carry her purse around all day. Guys, take notes. If you find him wearing pink or orange rimmed non-prescription glasses, the odds are his girlfriend is wearing the same pair.

Girlfriend or no girlfriend, most guys in China are not the type to “holla” at a female walking down the street, and in China, females are prancing around in stilettos, mini-skirts, and thigh highs. And yes, they fall down. With his girlfriend in sight, he will never look your way. She’s watching. He is just as obsessed with her as she is with him. It’s quite normal to see him playing or patting her hair in public. He gazes at her. He plays with her hands. He kisses her cheek again and again in public. If she so much has to walk over unleveled pavement, he holds her hand. I am not embellishing the truth. This-is-the-way-it-is.

Girls in this generation are used to spending the money their parents worked hard for and saved during the Mao period. This is a generation of spending thanks to current means of transportation, endless industrial progress, and the spoiling of only-children in hopes they will succeed in all they do. Girls expect the same luxury of their parents from their boyfriends. If a guy cannot put out the RMB, then she will have no problem finding another boyfriend thanks to the gender imbalance caused by the one-child policy.

The number one point to take from this is that guys have to give women what they want if they wish to reproduce. The simple fact is there aren’t enough women for all the men. If these guys don’t hold purses, feed her seedless grapes, play with her hair, eskimo kiss her bleached nose in public, and buy her trendy bow ties, they might be the last branch in their family tree.

                                                           She Does Have Power.

If her boyfriend has a visible pimple, she will pop it in public. She cannot stand still directly beside him; she always has to lean on him or lock her arms around his waist and look up at him while swaying about. She will let him take bites of her apple. She will push him and yell at him, but then jump on him with joy like that crazy chic in The Notebook. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. No wait, watching them playfully run together hand-in-hand is far weirder.

She purses her lips together and yells at him, making a public scene if she does not get her way. She will even take back and carry her own purse as if to say “you’re not good enough to hold my purse, fool!”  Those public fights are undoubtedly more entertaining than the infamous Jerry Springer because it just doesn’t seem like real life. Punching a home wrecker is far more realistic than a couple skipping together.

Together they collide, and once it starts, they are inseparable. Really. They start doing things that we would find scary and obsessive in America. What would you think if your best friend and their significant other arrived (unjokingly) at your doorstep in matching outfits, head to toe? Imagine what I was thinking. I’m talking matching hats, shirts, pants and shoes. The overly spirited ones include matching glasses and some sort of wristband. It’s never over because then when they reproduce, they include their child—passing this frightful idea to the next generation.

If that doesn’t scare you, then maybe the fact that the rich ones with cars flaunt their relationship status on their  windows and/or hoods, and pile on heart stickers and other cheesy love-related paraphernalia. I am not even in their relationship and I feel myself choking. “My Damon” “I love you Mary” “Love Kisses Joe” ---YACK!
Funny side note, they always write their English name. I have yet to see a name on a car in Chinese.

                                                                 Couple Fights

The funniest damn thing I’ve seen since Sweet Brown’s “Oh Lord Jesus, there’s a fire” interview. What I am about to tell you may sound like I am joking or fabricating reality for entertainment purposes, but that is false. “Ain’t nobody got time fo dat!”

When a girl is upset with her boyfriend, she lets the world know it. I suppose it’s common for people to mind their business and keep walking, but for people like me, that is impossible. I will stop everything I’m doing and just stare at them. My eyes and mouth just fall.

You know how a child will huff and puff when they don’t get what they want? Children will actually stomp their feet, quiver their lips, and whine. It’s so bad that half the parents out there give in to them. Well, that is exactly what grown girls do here. They puff their lips, stomp their feet, cross or throw up their arms, and whine (loudly) to no end. The Chinese have a very nasal-based language, so when they whine, it’s three times as irritating.

Not only that, they hit. The whole scenario is like some learned routine amongst all Chinese women. First they pull away from their boyfriend. Oh snap, pass the popcorn. Then they take their purse back or cross their arms. Smack him with it, do it, do it!  That’s when the whining starts. Ohhh, shutup. The boyfriend will say a few words and that’s when the girlfriend’s pouty lips, stomping, and arm flailing goes full force. Crap, where’s my camera? If the boyfriend does not give in, then she’ll smack him with her bony arm on his chest and yell at him. You tell him girl! Her head will tilt with the tone of every other syllable she yells, and when she cries aloud, it sounds like a few hyenas were just pinched in the ass.

He stands there the entire argument with a puppy dog-I’m sorry look on his face. He just takes everything she says. He tries to comfort her, but usually she’ll pull away and purse her lips. Sometimes he’ll get down on his knees. She will usually quiet down at that point and give a really ugly, forgiving facial expression that irks every fiber of my being. It’s worse than the sun; I have to look away. Sometimes he will stand there looking away from her while she just lets him have it. It usually looks as if he’s looking away from her because if he faces her, he’ll cry. He looks like someone just killed his dog.

The ultimate Kodak moment is when she won’t stop whining and he tears up. He will just stand there and tear up in public. It is unbelievable. Sometimes they will both cry and touch each other’s faces. It’s disgusting. Get a room! Go to your car! Go to a bench! Most importantly, stop watching Chinese soap operas!

                                                  Dating/Flirting/Mind Games

This is where many more of my personal experiences come in. I had a few cases where I thought I befriended a few obsessive weirdo’s and I was going to have to change my phone number or carry my pepper spray at all times. Though one or two of them were truly out of their minds, the others were no different from any other man in China.

First off, there is minimal flirting here. If I'm wrong, they do it so differently, I don't recognize it. Housing a burger, fries and ice cream in under five minutes on a date is less than vamp (I've seen it) in my opinion. The closest thing to "flirting" is sex appeal, and they use it. One of my good friends (I’ll call him A for now) explained his unawareness of “flirting” to me after I unintentionally “broke his heart” (he quickly got over it). They don’t understand the concept of flirting/guessing games/mind games/mind reading, etc. Deny if you must, but we are all guilty. You should never assume they know what you’re implying. And to you, they will imply nothing; they’ll just say it. For example, A could not understand how winking could be sexy. He also couldn’t figure out why he shouldn’t put himself completely out there to a western girl if he takes her on a date. We had dinner once and he pointed out that I ate more soup than him. Bad move son. He also had all kinds of imposing questions that I didn't wish to talk about! I had a different guy TELL me where to sit, what I should eat, and to keep eating when I was picking at my plate. He would not let up and looked frustrated when I did not listen to him. If he knew anything about "flirting" or "the game" then he'd have understood why it ended early. Awkward, and so was not knowing when you’re out alone with a Chinese guy, they think it’s a date. WHERE WAS THAT IN THE TRAVELER BOOKS?

They can bat their eyes, giggle, and attempt to swoon each other, but they do not hide their feelings like we do. To date a western girl, they are too open for their own good. Flowers and text messages (My Dear Alexa) will not cut it. Call me fat, you’re dead. This goes for both genders. They are extremely upfront and honest about how they feel. If he tells you he loves you on the second date, it’s not weird. If she tells you she wants to see you 7 days out of the 7 days there are in a week, it is okay. They will come out and tell you if something is wrong, if you look fat, or if you need to fix your hair. It is a truly romantic world over here.

Once I had an American (from New Jersey) call my phone up to 20 times a day. It went on (on and off) for three weeks. I hoped every day I would not bump into this guy (and of course I did). When I told A about this, he didn’t understand why I was annoyed. Chinese people always answer their phone (it’s true). If they don’t, it might mean something is seriously wrong. It is not “crazy” or “stalker-ish” to blow up someone’s phone. I gave my number out a lot in the beginning, and every single person I befriended blew up my phone at some point. Here I thought I was just that damn good looking.

Most of my Chinese friends are guys and they share a lot of the same relationship views which I’d like to share with you.

Most of the younger generation watches way too much American television and they get the wrong idea. They think all American women are “easy” because in the shows/movies they watch, women are unfailingly having casual sex. Many of my friendships ended because they tried getting in my “apartment.” Also, they are jealous of the kind of “meaningful love” we share because it’s nothing like what exists in China. They little understand the lines between one night stand/dating/in a relationship. These statuses do not apply here. You’re either single or in a relationship. How could “love” in America be more meaningful and sought after? They run holding hands and wear matching outfits for goodness sake!

It was explained to me that meeting women is difficult, unless you go online and meet up for sex (it exists). Guys do not typically approach women at bars and most Chinese women are shy towards men. Oftentimes, parents might arrange a date or perhaps you will meet someone in school. Regardless how you end up on your first date, unless you’re rich, it is a disaster. Apparently it is known among every Chinese citizen that if you do not have a house, you will never get married. Girls enter relationships assuming marriage, so good luck. You can be the most charming, handsome, intelligent man there is; if you cannot afford your own house, she has no time for you.

I hear that dates are more like business meetings. Remember, there is no flirting. Women straight-up ask men what they do for a living, how much money they make, where they live, and are eyeing up their shoes which apparently reflects their status in society.

Men here are openly more sensitive than at home. They have a huge problem with the pressure dating brings. Some of them like to hide the money they have because they do not want a girlfriend who is solely with him for that reason. They see “American love” in movies and sitcoms and are envious, though I do inform them that gold diggers are universal. I was told about a Chinese reality television show that aired recently. They took a handsome/charming guy and girls competed for his hand in marriage. In the end, the winner claimed she loved him from the beginning and balled her eyes out of finding the love her life. Such a dramatic culture. There was a twist to the show, of course. He had a mediocre (not bad) job and still lived with his parents (common for his age). On live television, she took back everything she said and chose not to marry him.

I’m going to end it here, but honestly, I have so much more I could add. If anyone would like to hear more (lol), let me know and my next blog will be a continuation.

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