Ask Tara: Relationship Advice from a Chinese and American Perspective

My best girlfriend, who is Chinese, is dating an American classmate.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you already know that I am also dating an American, so she has been using me as her own personal relationship coach (which I am more than happy to be!).

I guess other foreign students might have similar situations if they are dating Americans, so I want to share our discussions with you guys.  Also, the advice I would give if she was in China asking about a Chinese guy would be very different, so I’ll highlight the different reactions in China and the U.S. for the same situation.

Have you had any of these problems? Do you agree with my answers?  Let me know in the comments!

Problem 1:

“We had a very romantic and intimate second date, but after that, he did not call or text me for three days! What is going wrong? Will he contact me again? If he won’t call me, should I call him?”

American answer: It depends on how much you like him. If you like him and want to hang out again, just call him and ask him out. Who cares!

It is possible he won’t call you again; maybe he found you are not the right person for him.  If that’s the case, move on and find someone else. You guys have only been out for twice, nothing has been developed yet, no big deal!

It is also normal that three days would go by without him calling, because he may be just busy at school, or maybe seeing other dates; after all, you guys have only gone on two dates. TWO!

Chinese answer: Firstly, this wouldn’t even happen in China after having such a big, romantic date. People in China make emotional commitment right away and make lifelong commitment after intimacy, which sounds really scary to Americans.

If this ever happened, this guy would be considered a very non-sensitive type, and will be blamed to death when he shows up again.  Guys in China are very attached, and girls are used to be spoiled by the over-attention from dates.

Problem 2:

“We went out on Thursday, and he scheduled the next date on next Wednesday. What will he do during the week?”

American answer: What he will do during the week has nothing to do with you. You guys only went out twice; you are not supposed to know his personal business, and he is not supposed to know yours either.

Seeing each other once a week at the beginning of dating is absolutely the normal pace. You guys are taking time to know and evaluate each other.

Chinese answer: Ohhhh, that is so dangerous! He must have another girlfriend now, you should be careful! He does not sound like a reliable guy. You should watch out.

Problem 3:

“He wanted to take me to his hometown to see his family. What does it mean?”

America answer: That is cool. Have fun. Meeting his family is a positive sign that means things are going well, but it is really not a marriage sign, or even an engagement sign.

American parents will not ask their kids a lot about their personal lives, and basically do not get involved that much. Therefore, parents do not serve as the final judge for the relationship, and you do not have to feel stressed about going to see his parents.

Chinese answer: Wow! Congrats! When will be the engagement date (or wedding date)?

In China, meeting parents is a big big deal in relationship. Seeing parents means you guys are 95% certain to get married. Family is like the final approval – you make sure everything is marriage-ready, then get final approval from the parents. After that, you guys HAVE TO get married, otherwise, your entire family will have their feelings hurt.

Do you agree more with the Chinese answer or the American answer?  How would you answer these questions? Leave a comment with your opinion!


  1. Hi Tara,
    I saw you at Starbucks on May 13, we looked at each other, unfortunately, I was very tired and thought that the approach you will not be a good idea, so I am writing here.

      1. im not kidding you, I absolutely seriously saying that I like you and I want to meet you

  2. Ooo, some great advice and definitely a great question re: boundaries. I’ll write a post on it asap!

  3. Like the column. Really good idea. Having lived in China, the whole relationship thing really is so different. But as an American, I also have to say on the 3rd one about meeting the family, it really does depend on the guy, the family and what part of the U.S. they are from (for instance in the South, meeting the family is more likely to mean it’s getting serious). For some people, the family only gets introduced when it’s serious. For others, it’s just a way to see how the girlfriend (or boyfriend) relates to the family and to get the family’s opinion before getting serious. Also if the parents live far away and you go to meet them a bigger chance it’s because it’s getting serious. Usually a positive sign, and sometimes people don’t do it until they are close to thinking about getting engaged. Also some American parents do ask their children a lot about their personal lives. It really does depend on the family.

    1. Hi, Maggie

      Thank you so much for your comments. I am honored that you like my column. I totally agree with you, people from different parts of America are so different, like in L.A. where I am living, people are like never going to get serious, no matter how long the dating is……kinda frustrating, sometimes, my friends (including myself) want to move to south or mid-west, you know girls wanna love…..guys are usually….dumber….lol……

      It is hard to/supposed not to generalize a certain situation but sometimes I may have to do it because of representing the foreigners observing the U.S. as one entity. But I would always want to do an article comparing relationship scene in different parts of U.S., and I would appreciate if you can help me with it.

      I would choose L.A., NYC for sure, and also choose some cities/ towns from mid-west, south….other regions? Just want to represent different parts of the country. Any ideas on the cities/ towns I should choose?

      You can reach me at my facebook fanpage at, and my email at

      Thanks again for reading my posts.

      All the best,


  4. If I may make an annoying grammatical comment – “you guys” may be an ubiquitous phrase, but it is poor grammar. “You” is a plural and a singular word. “Guys” does not need to be added.

  5. Haha Tara, you can really give a good American answer for each question!

    I always feel Chinese culture and western culture is like oil and water… they don’t mix, you have to choose to follow one or the other.

    ‘When in Rome….’ as they say.

    1. Hi, Sam

      Thank you for making comment on my post again, and I am so honored to get the “approval” of American answers from you. You are right about the how big the culture difference is. It is much bigger than I (and other foreigners) thought before we actually came to this country. It is fun to “travel between” the two cultures and value systems if you would like to try.

      Thank you so much for following my posts and VOA student union.

  6. I’m from Iran. Firstly I want to thank you for your well-informative posts about American dating culture. I follow your posts almost every week! 🙂
    We face some cultural perspectives here in Iran which are almost like the Chinese perspective you said.
    But I, personally, prefer the American perspective for my relationships and as a result, it is not completely understandable to the most of people around me specially girls, unfortunately, unless I explain my point of views to them.
    But it’s the point that each time I explained the case to them, they logically and emotionally understand my point of view and accepted it and revised their opinion about their prior judgment!
    I thought several and several times about these problems during long periods of time in different situations and every time I reached the same conclusion that I’m right and it works very good to me!

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