All of us who are dating someone who is slightly more different than average will, at some point, encounter people who will ask strange, offensive and even racist questions. Along the way, we all learned to deal with them, learned to ignore them or repeat predetermined answers. But there are still these few questions, someone could not prepare for because you could never think that anybody ever could get the idea to ask these. Here are three of these ‘special’, ‘creative’ questions.

  1. ‘Are you happy that we are eating Austrian food?’
    Yes, this would have been a very loving, caring question if it was not asked at a get-together with Chinese friends in Austria. I think the Chinese person only had good intents, but really. Do you need to ask an Austrian in Austria who can cook and eat Austrian food every day because they are obviously currently living in Austria, if they are happy that they can eat Austrian food at that one special occasion? The person already knew me very well because I joined many parties of the Taiwanese Culture Association here in Vienna before and we already talked a lot too. So why even bother to ask me such a ridiculous thing? And, did the person ask other Austrians who came with their Chinese partners too?Too many possible answers run through my head and I was desperately trying to decide on the least offensive one. I am a master of ‘the art of cultivated sarcasm’, but this was out of question. I did not want to offend anyone here because, you know, the whole community would know that ‘the non-Chinese girlfriend of xxx’s son was a bit** not respectful at all’ the next day. So I remembered what my mom taught me when I was still a little child: ‘Do not always say what you think!’ Oh, she was so right about that one. I decided on the most diplomatic answer and replied ‘Of course I am, but I love Chinese food too.’ with a big smile.
  2. ‘Is your boyfriend already as white as you?’
    Of course we all know already that older people might not be as open as younger are – and it looks like that this especially counts for old, grumpy Chinese men. Or at least for a few I know. So when we once met with a lot of friends to celebrate for Lunar New Year, one of the grumpy old guys asked us, if Mr. Panda was already as ‘white’ as me when we greeted them. While I thought about what to answer, Mr. Panda already started to scold them in Cantonese and I went on to greet others.While this assumption was unquestionably racist, I still thought about how ridiculous it was. It was at least apparently visible that he was still the handsome caramel colored Panda bear he ever was. And how ‘white’ am I really? If you ask Mr. Panda, he will probably answer that I am ‘red’ like a lobster most of the time: when I shower and half an hour afterwards, the second shafts of sunlight reach my skin, when I eat spicy food or when I get emotional. Only thanks to the cosmetic industry my face is ‘white’ – a word of thanks from me on this occasion.
  3. ‘Since when are you in Austria? Are your parents still living in China or are they also here?’
    This was probably the most surprising thing ever which someone said to me. It happened about three years before at the Mid-Autumn Festival barbeque of the Taiwanese Culture Association. I was playing with one of the Chinese children in the garden of the restaurant, when a young woman suddenly approached me. We had a little talk about the BBQ, and what it was about, when she suddenly asked me something so unexpected I never even thought anybody could think of it. Since when did I live in Austria and if my parents were also here or if they were still living back in China?I never ever expected such a question, and I was too perplexed to think about what to answer at first. I stuttered ‘Do I look Chinese to you?’ and confused the other person as much as I was as well. ‘Well, you are here among so many Chinese, so I thought…’ ‘No, I am Austrian, and my parents too and we all are living here ever since!’ I answered as fast as possible. The young woman did not mean any harm, but embarrassed she took flight in panic.

 

Did someone ever say anything to you apart from the ‘normal’ stuff you would expect? Something you never thought anybody would even think of? Please let me hear about it.

Three things I was not prepared to hear when I started to date a Chinese
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18 thoughts on “Three things I was not prepared to hear when I started to date a Chinese

  • August 21, 2015 at 4:06
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    That poor young woman in your third example. What a crazy thing to say! She must have realized it later and felt really stupid.

    It’s good you’ve written some of these funny comments in your blog. My late Chinese husband and I were married for 31 years, so I must have heard some strange, funny, or offensive comments. But now I can’t remember a single one. It might be fun to have some anecdotes. Or maybe it’s better they didn’t bother me enough to make much of an impression.

    Reply
    • August 23, 2015 at 22:05
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      I also already forgot so many, I even trsy to forget the offensive and really stupid ones as fast as possible. Or at least these I was prepared to hear from the very beginning. But some were just unimaginable for me.
      So maybe it is good that you already forgot them. 🙂

      Reply
    • August 23, 2015 at 22:02
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      Ohhh I got really good at ‘that’ the last few years 😉

      Reply
  • August 25, 2015 at 9:35
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    Interesting post, Betty!

    Once someone actually asked me if I was Chinese (this happened in China). I guess I could possibly pass for “Xinjiang” because I have brown hair and brown eyes, and since AMWF couples are so rare here people just figured I couldn’t possibly be a Westerner. It was fascinating for sure.

    Reply
    • August 25, 2015 at 14:04
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      Thank you. It is really difficult to write about something nobody has written about so far.

      Instead of passing as a person from Xinjiang they probably tought it is impossible for a Westerner to be fluent in Chinese? Anyway, looks like there are still quite a few people out there who can’t handle AMWF couples.

      Reply
  • August 25, 2015 at 14:41
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    I’ve also gotten weird comments like you received in example 3. I’ve been asked on numerous occasions if I’m Chinese. I definitely look western European, but like Jocelyn said, maybe it’s just because people are surprised to see me with a Chinese man or out doing things that locals do or that I’m able to speak Chinese at all.

    It has nothing to do with dating a Chinese person, but once I was asked by a woman if I was my friend’s mother. My friend and I are both the same age, about 30. I suppose I look my age and my friend looks 15, so maybe it’s possible? But it was so strange!

    Reply
    • August 25, 2015 at 14:52
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      Maybe the woman was already old and almost blind? She should have held back, sometimes Chinese are too direct and too impudent for me.

      Reply
  • August 25, 2015 at 16:34
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    Mmm I don’t remember being asked anything strange like your examples!
    It doesn’t have to do with dating a Chinese man, but R Zhao’s comment reminded me of this: once, a cleaning lady asked me if I was pregnant… Nope, I just happen to be fat xD

    Reply
    • August 25, 2015 at 16:40
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      Once again, a too direct and impudent for me. But it’s too easy to drop a brick like that. When a distant relative told me she was pregnant, I asked her if she was due in 1 or 2 months, but she was only a month pregnant. Now I rather do not ask at all instead of going well over the target. 🙁

      Reply
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  • December 28, 2015 at 20:16
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    I was not prepared to hear, over and over again by my partner’s Singaporean chinese relatives, who are now Canadian citizens, that, and to my face, ‘We hate Canada. We hate Canadians.’ I have heard this too many times now to simply discount it as a one-off.

    Reply
    • December 28, 2015 at 22:15
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      So why do they even live there if they hate it so much? Mr.Panda’s brother’s ex-wife’s best friend and sister always were like “We hate Austria. We hate Austrians.” too, and one time I just stood up, told them that I’ll get dumb if I continue listen to them and went away. Needless to tell that they don’t like me. 🙂

      Reply
      • December 28, 2015 at 23:26
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        They live in canada for our free health care, but would much prefer america. The american daughter in law can get away with anything. The bluntness of chinese culture is disturbing, regarding the ausrian comments.

        Reply
        • December 28, 2015 at 23:35
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          I would recommend you to read number 10 of my Survival Guide To Living Together With Your Chinese In-Laws For A Long Time. I probably shouldn’t tell you that you should tell them to go back, but that would probably be what I would do. Like last time when Mr. Panda’s mom was complaining about all the foreigners here (she was talking about the many refugees currently coming to Europe from the Middle East), and I told her that she was a foreigner too, and that she should be more considerate about those people’s situation. She was at least baffled for a moment. 😀

          Reply
  • March 11, 2016 at 18:09
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    On the subway in China I would hear it alot. People would whisper to their friends in Chinese trying to guess what nationality I was. Some people thought I was from Europe. Another thought I was half-Chinese and even asked me if I was. I also looked Indian one day to someone else. I love responding back in Chinese that I’m american and nice try for guessing. They immediately become embarrassed though.

    Reply
    • March 11, 2016 at 19:16
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      I’ve only gotten the “Are you Chinese?”-question twice so far, but I’ve stopped counting how many times they assumed I am Russian. Yes, wow, I am tall and too pale to stay in the sun for more than 10 minutes, but not every tall person is Russian. There are tall people women in other countries too.

      I just saw your picture on your blog and guessed correctly where your looks might come from, but Mr.Panda tought you might maybe be an Asian-African mix because of your eyes? So maybe people who don’t have much experience in guessing people’s heritage might be at a loss? But for him I think he thought about his favorite soccer player, David Alaba. 😀
      All the more, at least you could embarrass some “never ever be feel embarrassed”-Chinese. 😉

      Reply

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