Foreign men share tips on how to woo young women in China

By Wang Han Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-17 18:38:02

A recent Korean television show, Descendants of the Sun, caused quite a stir in China. Starring Song Joong-ki, his on-screen techniques at charming and seducing the female lead provoked heated discussions on China's social websites.

Chinese men have been criticized (often by Chinese women) for lacking romantic ideals and not being able to woo women with style and passion. Certainly many Western men have a tradition of romanticism and a perceived ability to be able to charm women off their feet.

The Global Times talked to four foreign men about how they had, or would, pursue Chinese women and how to win a woman's heart in Shanghai.

Different stages

Thirty-something Lee (pseudonym) is from California. According to him, there are different stages of dating in the US, from the first meeting to the stage of becoming girlfriend and boyfriend. He said that what makes him good at attracting women is knowing what to say at different times.

In the initial pick-up stage, his tip is: be confident and approach the girl you are aiming for as soon as possible. "The technique we have back home is to approach her within five seconds, introduce yourself and then give her a compliment," Lee said. "If you take too long, she will feel you aren't that confident, and this increases awkwardness."

He said the compliment should not be generic (like "you are beautiful" or "you are slim"). Instead, a man should have been carefully observing the girl to see what makes her different.

"Maybe she has attractive eyes, or maybe she wears a piece of stylish jewelry. Then the girl knows this guy is not saying generic stuff, he is observing her," Lee said.

Once a man has approached a girl and introduced himself, the next step is to ask for numbers. But Lee said it's better not to rush - have a relaxed chat with the girl and get her involved before asking for numbers.

In the introductory chat Lee advises that the man should not talk about himself too deeply - just offer light information that will make the girl feel comfortable about sharing some of her details. "Your ultimate goal is to make her comfortable, and make her willing to give you her number."

He also stressed that a man should observe the girl's body language to see if she is comfortable with him and trusts him.

"For example, if she is showing you the inside of her wrist or flossing her hair, or asking you to look after her purse when she goes to the restroom, it shows she is starting to trust you," Lee said. "But if she folds her arms or answers you using only one or two words, it is not a good sign."

Then, with the phone or WeChat number obtained the next step is for the man to keep in touch. But the key for this stage is knowing when. In America Lee said men usually wait two or three days before calling to show that they are not desperate.

"In America, it is all about independence. If you call a girl immediately, this shows you need her and shows weakness." 

He advises when the man does make the call to make sure she knows he is worth staying in touch with. "A girl might have two or three guys calling her. But showing you are worthwhile is not about showing off. You can show your status, your power, gracefully. Once she sees you have a value and are better than other guys, she may go on a date with you."

One headache at this phone call stage is finding things to talk about. A poor choice of subjects or silences are awkward and not conducive to someone wanting to go out with you. Lee said you should listen carefully when the girl is talking.

"Only when you start listening, you might get what she likes to talk about. For example, if she says she went to the gym this morning, then you can say 'I work out too,' and then you could talk more on this topic," said Lee. "It's not about you and your conversation, it's about putting the spotlight onto another person. Once you put your focus on another person, topics will come naturally."

A magical attraction

Antonio (pseudonym), in his mid-30s, is a Spanish expat and he has found his nationality has made some women take a real interest in him. "As a foreigner, many local girls find me attractive because they have the impression that the world where I am from is different and magical," Antonio said.

But unlike many expats that brag about foreign achievements and the places they have traveled, he prefers to dispel any notions the women have that he is from a better country or, in any way, superior. "I just explain that I am an ordinary guy, and tell them I like to enjoy the city with somebody else. Women with good intentions appreciate my honesty and friendliness."

As well as being honest and friendly, Antonio had a trick to picking up girls. "The key was to make women think having fun with me is their idea."

He would meet a girl near his home for a coffee or something during the daytime to make her feel safe. Then he would ask her where she would like to go. On the way to the nearest subway station, he would suddenly say: "I need my jacket. Do you mind if I go and grab my jacket? I live right here." And most girls went with him.

"Once they entered my apartment, I sat them down on a sofa, and I sat in another place to create some distance, so they felt safer. But when they sat on the sofa, they could see the guitar in the corner of my living room. Then they would ask if I played the guitar."

He would then pick up the guitar and get the girl to sit on another, closer, chair. From there they could look into his bedroom and see a piano. Most girls were curious and asked if he also played the piano. So he and the girl would then sit next to each other at the piano. He played something for them and then would ask them to sing something with him.

"Then everything comes naturally. We kiss each other and spend the rest of the day in my apartment - and those girls thought it was their idea to have fun with me," Antonio said.

He said this ploy always worked except with one person - the girl who became his wife. "She was the one that refused to go to my apartment, and she was the one that made it really difficult to get her to like me. And that is usually the kind of women we end up marrying - women that are not easy, and women that really make us make a big effort," Antonio said.

Creating a challenge

Jay Thornhill is an American running an online business ( in Shanghai. The 29-year-old said that many Chinese men were too desperate when they were pursuing girls. "I've asked Chinese girls what they think Chinese guys could do better, and many of them say that Chinese guys move too fast to jump into a serious relationship. They don't create a challenge for the girl," Thornhill said.

He said men and women were attracted by challenges - when something or someone looks difficult to attain, it takes on a greater value.

"Some guys will have a date with a girl and the date goes pretty well. And then they'll rush to assume that the girl really likes them and sort of belongs to them," Thornhill said. "So they'll message the girl every day, and expect her to react like a girlfriend. But in reality, the girl may still be talking to other guys and considering her options."

He said if a guy was making himself so available to a girl, she might think he was not that worthwhile and she would pay more attention to guys who presented more of a challenge. Thornhill suggested men should be a little bit slower and more patient. Make the girl question a bit, make her wonder: 'does he like me or not,' and don't be so consistent in giving her attention - be unpredictable."

He said if a man was going out to bars or clubs trying to meet women, the most important thing was to go out with a group of friends, and make sure that he had more fun than anyone else in the bar, rather than make it his mission to get a girl.

"If you're walking up to every girl in the club by yourself, and trying to hit it off right away, then girls will be turned off. But if you are super happy and enjoying yourself, people will be looking at you and be naturally drawn to you."

The French approach

Dezio (pseudonym) is a French man who believes people often misunderstand what romantic things are. "Saying something like 'you are beautiful' or 'a diamond in my eyes' is often thought to be romantic yet the words are often flat and with no real meaning. Something romantic is usually very personal, it's often very subtle and simple, but means a lot because of who, when or how it's done."

He has a variety of romantic actions to make girls feel special. "I've climbed the outside of a building to put a rose on the balcony; I've painted an entire sidewalk with chalk in front of my girlfriends' apartment to surprise her when she went to work; I've bought and placed special gifts in special locations to surprise her at random times during the year," Dezio said. "I think the key to doing something romantic and successful is to do something unexpected which shows you care. It's not about how big or expensive but about how thoughtful it is."

While many men approach girls in standard environments, Dezio said if he found a girl interesting, no matter where he was, he would go and talk to the girl. Be it a bar, a club, a restaurant, a supermarket, a bus stop.

"As long as you are very casual and not creepy, people tend to appreciate simple easy conversations. Getting both in a comfortable and playful situation is usually enough. People all over the world are the same. They enjoy having a good time and meeting interesting people. One thing however is also not making yourself too available - you must keep each moment special."

While Chinese men tended to think fortune, career, and social status would make them more attractive to ladies, Dezio said this was almost the same in their culture, but French men preferred to display their advantages more gracefully.

"In the West men usually only hint at their social status, heritage and fortune. Instead of showing it upfront or bragging about it, they will usually not say anything and let the other person discover it so that it comes as a bonus once you catch a girl's interest."

He thinks that what makes French men stand out is that they usually have contradictory facets. "We can be serious yet goofy, harsh yet tender, very bold yet a little insecure. We also do things that are very contradictory. For example, an import export salesman by day can be an electro DJ by night or a race car driver on the weekends."

A foreigner and a Chinese girl kiss on a street.


A couple wearing traditional Chinese costumes takes wedding photographs. Photos: CFP and IC

Newspaper headline: Picking up pointers

Posted in: Metro Shanghai

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