Men from different cultures share their tips, tricks and struggles when trying to pick up women

By Zhang Yihua Source:Global Times Published: 2016/9/12 18:33:39

The strategies of hitting on women in one country do not necessarily work in others. Photo: IC

Amelia Pope, 25, an English teacher from the US who is based in Beijing, shook her head as she was watching the hit Chinese drama A Smile Is Beautiful where the hero was patting the heroine on the head and she smiled, enjoying the act of affection.

"What in the world? I can't possibly believe that a girl actually likes having a man pat her on the head," Pope said. "The man is clearly treating her like a pet."

Hearing her Chinese friends gossiping about how they would fall for the cute hero and swooning over the moves he used to hit on the heroine, Pope decided to try the drama. However, she found many of the moves confusing and unappealing.

For example, she said the hero patted the heroine on the head multiple times during the two hours she watched the drama with her Chinese friends.

Each time her friends saw this, they were excited and said they would love for a tall, handsome man, like the hero, who would put these moves on them and if he did, they would surely marry him. "But for me, if a man dared to pat me on my head one time, I would literally give him a kick," Pope said. "Being patted would make me feel stupid and inferior, and most of my friends back in the States would agree. I can't understand why the heroine and my Chinese friends like it."

Pope is not alone. Many people find that the customary way of hitting on women in one country do not necessarily work in other countries, due to language and cultural factors.

Kissing a girl on her forehead is a popular move for Chinese men when hitting on women. Photo: IC

Classic Chinese moves

Besides patting on the head, Pope has also heard of other classic moves many Chinese men use to hit on girls, including tying their shoes, fastening their seat belt, kissing them on the forehead, hugging them from behind and pushing them to the wall and then kissing them.

"My Chinese friends told me that if men behave this way, they could not help but fall in love with them instantly," she said.

Since she came to Beijing in 2013, she has seen quite a few men squat down to tie their girlfriends' shoes.

"I don't understand why they do that since their girlfriends are clearly capable of tying their own shoes. Very few American women would find that romantic or even sane."

Other women from the West don't embrace classic Chinese moves, either. Wang Lindong, a junior at a university in Beijing, recently tried these techniques on a girl from Spain named Susie, and failed.

Wang is only 21; he has been in multiple relationships with Chinese women and is popular with girls. He said he knows exactly how to hit on women and most of his methods turn out to be very effective.

When he returned to school after summer vacation, he met Susie, and it was love first sight, so he asked her out for dinner.

On their way back to campus, he noticed that Susie's shoelaces were coming untied. "I thought to myself this would be a perfect opportunity to show her what a considerate man I am," Wang said.

His gesture shocked Susie as he squatted down to tie her shoes. Rather than seeing it as a tender and loving sign of affection, she was dumbstruck.

"She stepped back, with her fists clenched and looked at me confused. Then she told me that she is not a baby and felt uncomfortable with me tying her shoes," Wang said.

It shocked him that a gesture that many Chinese girls consider romantic turned out to be the opposite. After that, he felt Susie was starting to lose interest. In order to rekindle her passion, he threw a party for her where he kissed her on her forehead in the candlelight, while a slow song played in the background.

The moment his lips touched her forehead, Wang could feel Susie stiffen. She looked angry and insulted. "She shouted, 'Why didn't you kiss me on my lips? You completely ruined it,' and then she left," Wang said.

He did not understand at the time why a gentle kiss on the forehead would trigger anger but then he heard from some of his friends that in Western culture, a kiss on the forehead is something that a father would do.

"Differences in culture can determine the success or the failure of your techniques," Wang said.

While Western ways of picking up women may not be as effective for Chinese girls, Chinese ways may also not work for Western girls because of language and cultural differences. Photo: IC

Western ways

Thomas King, a 28-year-old Canadian graphic designer based in Beijing, found similar difficulties when trying to pick up Chinese women when he came to Beijing in 2014.

According to King, the best strategy for hitting on Western women is to be as direct and smart as possible. He learned some witty lines from the Internet, such as "Kiss me if I'm wrong, but dinosaurs still exist, right?" and "Excuse me, do you know if there's an airport nearby? Or was that just my heart taking off because you walked past?"

He tried the lines on Western girls when he was in Canada and it worked wonders. "Some girls were so happy and even gave me their number without me asking for it," King said.

After he arrived in Beijing, he asked some Chinese friends to translate the lines and decided to try them on Chinese girls he had a crush on, but it did not go as smoothly as he expected.

King tried the "dinosaurs" one when he saw a beautiful Chinese girl on the street, but she did not find the line amusing.

"She looked at me, very confused, as if she thought I was a lunatic. Then she hesitantly said no [because dinosaurs do not exist]. After that, she was supposed to kiss me [because I was wrong], but she didn't."

 King tried to kiss her but the girl ran away in horror. As she was running, she yelled to her friends that a lunatic just harassed her and they needed to run away as quickly as possible, leaving King stunned and speechless.

It is not the only time that Western humor fails to cross the border.

Two months later, when he was running in a park, he saw another Chinese girl he liked and said, "Can I get your picture to prove to my friends that angels do exist?"

"In the past, when I said this to Western girls, all of them were very happy and did not hesitate to let me take their picture, but the Chinese girl just gave me a dirty look," King said. "It felt like I made a fool of myself."

He was confused as to why his use of Western humor continued to fail.

At first, he thought the reason might be the wit and the charm of the lines were lost in translation, but his Chinese friends told him that was not the major reason.

"They said even if I had used the lines in the English form to girls who would understand, I would probably still fail," King said. "What seems to work for Western girls does not work for Chinese girls, but I don't quite understand why."

Different needs and cultures

According to Zhou Yi, a senior consultant from Yutianqing Education and Technology Corporation, a psychology consulting company based in Beijing, the failure Wang and King experienced is due to cultural differences.

Zhou said, generally in Chinese culture, which is more implicit in terms of expressing feelings, the way to a woman's heart is through paying constant attention to her and doing nice things.

She added that many Chinese girls act like big babies. They are looking for a boy that can play the role of their dad or mom and take a good care of them, which also explains why the direct and sometimes smart romantic lines Western men say do not work.

Noah Prior, a relationship adviser based in Edinburgh, Scotland, agrees. He said, many Chinese women are not born that way but as they grow up, they are educated that a woman is supposed to be weaker than a man and should be taken care of, ensuring a happy life.

"Some of my female Chinese patients told me that their parents said if a woman is too strong and acts like she does not need to be taken care of, she would end up lonely and sad," Prior said. "So sometimes they force themselves to act like they need help and to be cared for." 

 According to Zhou, most Western girls are more independent; they like men to share their feelings for them openly and directly and that is why the subtle and implicit moves Chinese men use do not work for them.

Prior said, a sense of humor plays a very important role in Western relationships and is often an indicator of success when a man tries to hit on a woman. "A sense of humor in Western culture is as deeply-rooted as diligence in Chinese culture. Westerners consider relationships a light-hearted thing, so they resort to humor to spice up daily life in case it gets dull," he said.

Despite realizing there is a science to hitting on women, King is still optimistic as he has seen many cross-cultural couples who are very happy together.

"Although cultures may vary, sincere affection is what really matters in every relationship," he said. "I'm not an expert in my strategies but as long as I'm sincere, I'm sure Chinese women will be attracted to me."

Newspaper headline: Making moves

Posted in: Metro Beijing

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