Having a native boyfriend was like being given a key to China.I learned so much more about the country, its people and their values during the three years we were together.
There’s a common joke here that a girl should never ask her boyfriend who he would save first if she fell into a lake with his mother.
These girls are already aware that if you want to be the number one woman in a man’s life, you’ll just have to wait until you have a son of your own.
And I went on three dates with a New Yorker who proudly boasted of a book he kept that contained the names of every woman he’d ever slept with (with scores).
However, unlike the majority of Western women living in China, who watch bitterly as the egos of below-average men swell from the admiring looks of Chinese girls, I took an altogether different approach and chose to date Chinese men instead.
Although I admire the strong bond people here have with their parents, being with a man whose mother plays such a fundamental part of his life undermines any sense of a mature relationship.
My Chinese girlfriends often moan about their exhausting mother-in-laws, who become jealous if their son pays his wife too much attention.But it wasn’t the problem of my boyfriend’s mother that ultimately destroyed our dreams of a future together.It was an accumulation of things I found increasingly hard to ignore, such as his criticism of Western women (who he would condemn for being overweight, aggressive and too easy) and my deteriorating patience with his personal habits (the stomach-churning sound he made as he spat in the bathroom sink – a daily habit of most locals – or his insistence on wearing the same unwashed clothes for several days in a row).But in the end the sight and sound of my beloved slurping his way through a dish of noodles, his face half an inch from the bowl as he sucked the meal into his mouth like a top-of-the-range Dyson, was enough to extinguish any flames of passion.I am faced with two options: either scraping the bottom of a metaphorical barrel of Western men, or dating local guys, with all the challenges that entails.Most Western women shy away from the prospect of having a Chinese boyfriend: they find them too traditional, overly effeminate (it doesn’t help that many carry handbags and adore boybands such as Westlife), and the cultural barrier too immense to overcome.