Troubles in love for expats

By Alex Jefferson Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/17 17:08:39

Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT

When I moved to China, I was aware that my life would be very different. I knew that there would be language and culture barriers, but I never realized that there would be dating barriers as well. I'm 23, and while I'm far from being ready to do so myself, the majority of my friends are in long-term relationships, married or having children. And honestly, it's hard not to feel like the black sheep when you're pretty sure you're the only single one left.

I didn't come to China to get married. I came to China to grow and learn on my own and do something totally independent and new. Living abroad is empowering and has taught me a lot about who I am. China is making me into someone who knows enough about herself to know what she wants in a relationship and a partner. I love that about living abroad, and I would be thrilled to find someone to share my life with who is as eager to travel the globe as I am.

But I can't date here. I have two choices when it comes to dating. First, I can date in expat circles. The problem here is that most people come to China for a year until they figure out what they want to do with their lives. As a result, there is a sort of anti-commitment fever that runs rampant in the expat community, and I get it! You packed up your whole life and moved across the world, and it takes independence and guts to do that. This is a year of freedom before you move back home. As a result, most of the guys I meet here aren't looking to date anyone seriously. Rather, they're looking forward to a year of "exotic" carefree hook-ups.

The problem is that this is not what I want to do with my life. I want to stay here in Beijing and put down roots. I'm not here for a fun party year free of "real-life" responsibilities. I'm choosing a long-term commitment.

And speaking of commitment, there's my other option - dating a local. Now, do not get me wrong here. The men of Beijing are a fine lot, and I've met a lot of fantastic guys I'd be more than happy to go out with. The problem is that they want more than just a relationship; they want a wife. They talk about settling down and finding a wife like it's something their mom expects them to do tomorrow. And while I'm ready to stay in China long-term, it's just not long enough to satisfy a Chinese mom. A lot of Chinese men I have talked to don't see a foreigner as someone they can date because, ultimately, they wouldn't marry her. Neither option is ideal.

Living abroad is one of the best choices I've ever made, and I would make the same choice in a heartbeat. Of course, living abroad has its sacrifices, but the one sacrifice I know I won't make is giving up my adventure in hopes of finding a partner a little sooner. Not here, not now and not ever.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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