[Hold your horses! I don’t want offend anybody! I state my perceptions and experiences! I just know a few Chinese people personally, so my remarks are not representative!]
Here are 5 cultural differences that I witnessed being with a Chinese man for almost four years. Maybe I will write another version of this article focusing on differences in relationships.
1. Sense of Community
I noticed that many Chinese people are rather egoistic when it comes to the environment or empathy.
Please don’t expect a cheesy Valentine’s Day article from me. I’m not good at this…
When I was in my hometown during the holidays, I met my best friends. We know each other since school! One of my friends has trouble in her relationship for so long already (they are a couple since 3,5 years). I don’t want to go into detail but let’s say they fight more than they have “good days”. I am already quite sick of their relationship because they always fight and she cries about him but goes back to him…
Recently, I was watching a documentary about Confucianism. I always heard that if you want to understand China, you have to understand Confucius. It is basically the moral, ethics and behavioral code of Chinese people since thousands of years. So I started reading more about it. The bottom line of Confucianism is the community. In western societies individualism is the quintessence. Who am I? What do I want to do? But in Chinese society it is important to blend in, to be a part of a functioning nation or group of people. Living well with other people, respecting your parents and ancestors and therefore becoming a good person, are the most important aspects about Confucianism.
Did you ever wonder why Chinese people usually travel in huge groups and everywhere you go, you never see one Chinese person but a group? Confucianism is the answer. They enjoy being in a group. They don’t mind being with a lot of people were we rather travel individually with maximum our family or couple of friends as companions.
I don’t want to go too much in detail about Confucianism at this point. I still have to learn more about it and want to write a separate article about it.
There is something I haven’t shared with you in my Reality of an International / Binational Relationship article.
I moved in with my boyfriend in October last year and let me tell you, we had several arguments since then. Before we moved together, we were a couple for about 2.5 years. I lived at my parents’ house and he lived by himself in a shared apartment. Now we study at the same university at the other side of Germany and live together in a two-room apartment.
So far so good.
And now the reality of living together with somebody kicks in. Since living together I know that a relationship is work.
You think you know each other, but you actually just really know a person if you live together.
This week was my boyfriends and my 3 year anniversary! YAY! To celebrate this day, I want to share my experience in an international relationship. I was also in a relationship with a German guy before, hence, comparisons can be made.
First things first, I want to give you a little information on us: My boyfriend is Chinese and I am German. He lives in Germany since about 7 years and we both currently work on our master’s degree (in different subjects). We met in Germany at university (or rather on the way to university). We live together since 10 months and I wrote a seperate blogpost about tips on how to survive the “getting used to each other phase” when moving together!
When we had arguments because of cultural differences I looked for other people’s experiences online on how to handle this situation but I couldn’t find our certain problem. It seemed that people always wrote about the obvious problems in a binational relationship. That is why I called this post REALITY of an international relationship.
Well, it is easy to say that we have many cultural differences. Some don’t matter, and some I will never get used to. I’m not naïve. I know that we will always quarrel about certain topics just because we look at them in different perspectives.
This is not a happy-go-lucky post. There are serious matters to consider before committing to an international relationship:
1. planning the future
There are conversations you HAVE TO HAVE in an international relationship. At least if you reached a certain age where planning a family and buying a house is in the near future. Where do you want to live? How do you want to raise your kids? What is the role of a “good wife/husband” in your culture? What does your partner expect from you which is normal in his/her home country? etc. I think it is important to talk about these serious topics to check, if your future is even compatible. Don’t be naïve and think loving each other is enough. If your partner wants to move to the other side of the world or wishes that you behave differently because he wants a “good Chinese wife”, would you do it?
I don’t want to waste my time with a relationship that is not going to last. I don’t want to play around. That is an advantage of international relationships. You basically check on the most basic views of life (or at least you should be if you don’t want to be negatively surprised in the future). I think in a relationship with a German guy I would wait longer with these type of serious conversations. I write more about the guilty feelings in an international relationship here.