A Chinese first boyfriend who ruined dating for years. Suffering through sleep apnea on a first date. Offered money for sex with a stranger. Women tell true stories of their dating experiences in China.
This guy pressured me into giving him head. He guilt-tripped me for not wanting to until I gave in. At first it was very stressful for me, but I gradually became comfortable with it. The very first time that I actually wanted to go down on him we were interrupted by his friend, who’d come over to play video games. I thought he’d tell his friend to go away so we could finish what we were doing. He didn’t. I was flabbergasted, and super unhappy about it.
I am half Chinese, half American, and my identity was always a huge source of conflict as I was growing up. I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere, yet it seemed as if I should fit seamlessly into both cultures.
When I started college, I thought to myself ‘now that I’m finally out of that tiny rural (white) town, I really want to befriend more Chinese people and really get in touch with my heritage’. A few months in, I found myself with this Chinese boy who had just arrived in the States. He was my first everything. Everything about physical intimacy was absolutely paralyzingly terrifying. I was half-asleep for the start of my first sexual encounter, and it wasn’t until years later that I realized it was rapey. A decent guy would have waited until I could handle being fully conscious for it.
He was incredibly selfish in so many ways. He totally ruined Chinese men and dating for me. I began to avoid any sort of intimacy like the plague. I wanted to have a positive sexual experience, but I just wasn’t able to handle dating.
Fast forwarding a few years, I was working in China. When a bunch of my Beijing friends were leaving China, a few of my guy friends bequeathed me with a Tantan (Chinese Tinder) profile as a parting gift. It’s such a hoot!
Tantan was my first foray into this mythical land of online dating. I was very apprehensive because it has such a reputation. But long story short, I found that all the creepers were surprisingly easy to weed out. Most of the guys I ended up meeting were actually pretty decent and laid back.
I eventually met a Chilean. Our first date was a 12-hour trip hiking on the Great Wall. He turned out to be super laid back and straightforward about everything in the sweetest, most charming way, which has really helped to soothe a lot of my frazzled nerves. Of all the things that could help, I never thought it would be Tantan, the Chinese Tinder.
– United States of America, 27
I haven’t been dating for a while because I was in a relationship that ended recently. Then one night I met this guy who was super sweet and really fun. We had a lot of fun going from one bar to another and I ended up at his place. I never do that usually. Everything was really nice. But when he fell asleep, I realised he has some kind of breathing problem. It meant that I couldn’t sleep at all, but he could sleep. At some point in the night, I woke up because he was holding me. He was almost choking me. He must have been dreaming about something really intense. I woke up in the morning and I asked, “are you okay?” and he told me “oh, yeah, I have sleep apnea, it’s fine.” We went for breakfast together and then we didn’t talk for a couple of days.
I don’t know what dating is like, so I didn’t think it was weird when I didn’t hear from him for a while. A few days later, he sent me a message asking me out. So we had another date, and it was really nice, we had good conversation, I had a good feeling about him so I was like ‘let’s do this.’ We watched a movie, went to his place again, but then, the same thing, sleep apnea!
I couldn’t sleep, and he could. He woke up in the morning in a really bad mood, swearing, so I decided to leave. I thought ‘I don’t understand what he wants,’ so I just went home. I had to go out of town that day for a workshop and I was so tired that I missed two of my trains!
I thought to myself, ‘damn it, I shouldn’t be not sleeping with that guy. F**k that. I won’t see him again.’
Then he called me at midnight on a weekday, super drunk, and I thought he was joking because who would call someone at midnight? Who would do that? I realised that he was just really drunk when he asked,“what are you doing now?” I told him:“I’m in my bed and I am going to stay in my bed, and that’s going to be it.”
On Friday he called me and asked what I was doing that night. I told him I had plans to see a show and he said: “why didn’t you tell me about the show before?” I was thinking, ‘who are you? I don’t owe you anything!’ I didn’t understand this guy, but he was probably drunk or whatever. I didn’t want to attack him, I’m really into non-violent communication, so whenever there’s something, I just do my own thing. So I told him my plans for the next day.
As planned, I went to a bar to hang out, and he showed up so completely wasted that he couldn’t speak! He was so drunk! He didn’t even realise that he was drunk, so he kind of mumbled at me trying to be cool. I felt super bad, because he was trying to hit on me but it doesn’t work like that. I just said, “I’m tired” and left. He texted me an hour later saying “I’m hungry, you wanna eat?” I didn’t reply to him.
He sent me a message the next day, and I felt momentarily hopeful for his self-reflection skills, but no. He was just like “I felt a bit uncomfortable at that event because I arrived too late.” He didn’t even realise his mistake.
– North America, 30
I was thinking: ‘this is crazy, I have never heard of anything like this’. I told my friends what had just happened and one friend was like, “that’s crazy.” Another said, “I don’t know, that’s a lot of money, maybe you should do it.” I couldn’t decide whether this was the most insulting thing ever or just sketchy.
I was bartending an event, and there was a guy there who was very well dressed and quite good-looking. Whenever he got a drink he would come flirt with me and hit on me a little bit.
Towards the end of the night, sometime after 2am, he came over and asked if I would like to go on a date with him, and asked for my wechat. I agreed, thinking that he seemed very nice.
About twenty minutes later, I was talking with some friends and cleaning up the bar. He came back over to me and said, “I have a room in this hotel and I’d really like it if you came upstairs with me.” I told him I did not want to do that, saying “I’m going to go home once I finish up at the bar.” I wasn’t ready to leave just yet.
He replied, “I’m really, really interested in you, you seem like a beautiful person”, and kept saying all these very flattering things. He was the owner of a very well established restaurant chain and a very well dressed, good-looking guy, so I was a little bit confused why he was so persistent with me. I said, “I’m not like that, I’m not trying to go up to your room, I don’t really know you.” So he said, “I’ll make it worth your while. How about I give you 30,000 rmb?”
I said: “I’m not a prostitute and that’s completely insulting.”
He told me, “no, it’s just that I really want to spend time with you and money is no obstacle. So how about 35,000?”
At this point I was completely flabbergasted, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I excused myself and went to find my friends who were cleaning up in the lobby. I told them what had just happened and my friend was like, “that’s crazy.” Another friend was like, “I don’t know, that’s a lot of money, maybe you should do it.”
I was like, ‘oh my gosh this is crazy, I have never heard of anything like this. I don’t know if this is the most insulting thing ever or just sketchy.’
As he walked toward the elevator, which is right by the lobby, he grabbed me by the wrist and pushed me into an alcove. He shoved me against the elevator and started making out with me. I pushed him off me and said, “you’re being really forward, I don’t understand why a good-looking guy like you is being so pushy.”
He replied: “I just wanna get what I want.”
So he got into the elevator and said, “come up to my room,” and I said “no, I’m not going to do that.” Again, he said, “come up to my room,” and he grabbed my hand and tried to get me to go with him. I said, “no, no, no, I’m going to go home,” so he told me which room he was in and left.
I went with my friends and went home, and I felt completely stunned by this whole situation. But then I was stunned because my friends had all these different opinions about what I should have done. Not everybody agreed that I did the right thing, because I could’ve made a lot of money.
So I was left questioning my decision, and he kept texting me throughout the night and I just kept ignoring him. It was one of those situations where you wonder: ‘Is this because of me? Or is this because of him?’
You know what? I’m worth way more than 35,000* so he can suck it!
– United States of America, 28
*35,000 rmb is about £4,000 or $5,000
Learning that an ex is married. Walking away from a Tinder date. Getting set up by your boyfriend. [part 1]
Humiliation by comedy in a Beijing bar. Parents say, “break up with him” because boyfriend is not Chinese. [part 2]
Guy uses Chinese whispers to ask for a date. Remedies for dating in inauspicious circumstances. [part 4]
Date says more attractive with clothes on. Does an open relationship translate to open dates? Getting an I.O.U. for accepting a drink. [part 5]
These stories are shared by the women who experienced them in their own words. All stories took place in Beijing, China, unless otherwise stated. Identities are kept secret out of respect for the individuals in the stories.