Relationship is a very touchy subject in an Asian family. Growing up my parents would always say to me, “You cannot get a girlfriend until after college.” I always wonder about what my parents said. I just don’t understand their logic. What is the problem with dating someone? Perhaps, they think a relationship is build to serve one purpose. That purpose is to start a family. And there is nothing else in between. There is only one absolute goal. Relationships are not for sexual pleasures, it is not for developing one’s social skills, nor is it for love. It is about starting a family.
Recently, having finished my undergraduate studies, my parents have been nagging me with questions. They asked me, “When are you going to get married?” or “Why don’t you have a girlfriend yet?” These questions are stupid. My parents are stupid. Do they expect me to develop social skills overnight? How about the ability to court any girls I want just because they think I can? How do they expect me, who has never been in a relationship let alone kissed a girl before to become a sudden champ in finding a mate?
I cannot lie. Sometimes I hate my parents. These years of denying me the chance to develop a relationship with women has delayed personal growth in that area. I am awkward around girls. In fact, I can hardly talk to them without feeling uncomfortable the majority of the time. I know this is a major issue that I need to work on and hopefully I will improve my social skills.
Coming to an understanding with my parents is hard when there are obstacles in the way. I know that I should not hate on my parents, but I feel like they hindered me from learning. I am playing the blame game. What I am doing is pushing all the responsibilities to my parents, blaming them for my current state. I acknowledge that what is done is done. I want to move forward and I want to understand my problem as an introverted Asian on relationships. In order for me to improve, I will try to understand my parents and most importantly my own desires.
Understanding my Parents
My parents are 1st generation Chinese immigrants. Often times I would ask them about their lives before coming to America. It was a way for me to learn about my origins and theirs as well. In China, my parents were poor. Both of them started working in their early teens, barely graduating from high school. My dad would herd sheep during his spare time from school and my mom worked in a Chinese supermarket. Right after high school, my dad learned how to be an electrician from a relative and my mom was selling makeup supplies at a supermarket. They always had to work hard. Otherwise they would starve.
My parents lived in an extended family. This means the majority of our relatives live next door to one another. In fact, most of my uncles, aunts, and cousins lived in the same neighborhood. Family is very important because we are always looking out for one another. Due to the poor economy, lack of opportunities, and intense competition, all my family members wanted to move to America, the land of the riches.
My dad defected to the United States in his early 20s by pretending to be a study abroad Chinese student. His goal was simple. He was chasing the American dream, the idea that America is the place where one can obtain wealth and prosperity through hard work. As a traditional working man, he wanted to become wealthy, so that my sister and I can live a happy, stress free life. Arriving to a new country without any prior knowledge of the English language, my dad struggled to adapt to the new environment. His only goal is to work hard to be successful. He gave up on his personal dreams by sacrificing all his time working for the family. My mom also had to work just as hard when I immigrated to the United States a few years later with her and my sister.
Understanding the value of hard work, my parents’ wishes and goals were all pushed onto me and my sister. They would often steer me towards academic excellence, hoping that one day I can live an easier life working a less strenuous job. To my parents, dating and relationships are not important in the early parts of my life. If my parents met through recommendations from family and friends, then surely getting in a relationship is fairly easy. It is better to prepare for your financial future. Observing my parents’ reactions, I found several repeating reasons they used to neglect my desires.
Reason 1: Relationships lead to distractions or possible failures in academics
Reason 2: Only responsible and mature men can date
Reason 3: Interpersonal compatibility is a must in a relationship
Reason 4: Only Chinese girls are allowed
Each of the reasons is understandable within the context of how my parents perceive relationships. Some of the other reasons are really unjustifiable to me, but in order to understand my parents, I will further evaluate their ways of thinking without refutation.
The 1st reason states that having a relationship is harmful to academic progress. I can see how this works. Growing up, my parents stressed the importance of education. Their experience in life is greater than the sum of their education combined. As a result, they knew everything about working hard and striving for personal success, but they never had much of a career choice. They wanted the best for their kids because they never had the opportunity to choose what they wanted to do due to obligations to work and other time commitments. My parents worked very hard, and knowing how tough life can be without money, they consistently pestered me to excel in my academic studies. Their goal is for me to get a good white collar job. Otherwise I would have to live a life of hardship just like theirs. Despite the limited views from my parents, I still honor their good intentions. Relationships do take huge time commitments. And it might possibly infringe upon my academic studies. What they want me to do is to prioritize my education before relationships. It does not mean that relationships are not important; it just means that there is a time and place for it later on in my life. My parents view that if I can’t live my life with self discipline and focus on one simple task, then surely I am not capable of handling another task that is harder at the same time. It is understandable, and I wished my parents had better communication skills. This way they can just express their thoughts clearly and logically without being mean and strict.
The 2nd reason states that relationships are only meant for responsible and mature men. My parents shielded me from hardship in life as a child, but consequently I grew up not knowing anything about personal responsibility, integrity, and maturity. Growing up, I was lazy, crazy, and klutzy. I hated cleaning my room and doing any chores. As a result, my parents identified me as an irresponsible and immature child. Everything I did was dictated by my innate childhood desires and selfish needs. I am merely irresponsible and immature until I reach the right age after college. Why after college? It was then, my parents supposed, my mind would achieve adulthood nirvana when I suddenly obtain qualities of being a responsible adult. I would have a job lined up and an income that can support my own family. There is some truth in my parents’ thoughts. I mean I never really took the initiative to be responsible. No child does willingly. I don’t know how to cook my own meals or take care of myself. This perceived bad habit of mine only served to convince my parents further that I am not qualified to date girls. If I can’t be a responsible person, then I will make irrational decisions. It is only logical for my parents to feel that way. They wanted to protect me from making huge mistakes in my life when I was young. I could hypothetically make horrible relationship decisions like having unprotected sex and getting a girl pregnant, but I didn’t. I guess if I look at it that way, I am actually given the great opportunity to take responsibility now when I am older and wiser. It is slightly harder to change who I am being an awkward, shy Asian fellow, but I really do appreciate the growth challenges in changing my outlook on relationships.
The 3rd reason states that relationship requires interpersonal compatibility. What does this mean? It basically means that the girl I date must have similarities with me. These include, not limiting to, social status, culture, interests, and intelligence level. My parents always believe that a relationship must follow the rule of compatibility. If you are not compatible with your date, then your relationship will fail. From my evaluation, I believe that my parents neglected my desire to date women due to my inability to distinguish compatible relationship companions. They think that since I was a kid growing up, I will go through a phase where I will randomly fall in love with various kinds of girls. This chaotic love energy can only lead to disaster since I may fall in love with someone incompatible. My parents believe that when I find a compatible lifelong partner, I will be able to overcome any burden and challenges in life. I will have a partner who will support all my decisions and someone who understands my every action. Dating on the whim is not a good idea. This will surely lead to divorce. My parents believe that having a common ground with each other is the root of all relationships that propagates deeper connections. Incompatible relationships require me to overcome the barrier of differences before I can reach a common ground of understandings. I will need to work so much harder to get along with my lover. And most time if I can’t overcome the barrier, my relationship will go sour. My parents always point out the American couples and the high divorce rates in America. They know this works since they are prime example of compatible relationship. My parents have the same beliefs, culture, social status, and others. Pushing their ideals of compatible relationship, they only want me to find someone who I can relate, communicate, love, and enjoy life together.
The 4th and last reason states that I can only date and marry a Chinese woman. My parents are very peculiar around people of other race. It is not wrong to label my parents as racist Asian parents, but I would also point out that they are just ignorant and unwilling to change several stereotypes about Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics, and other races. Perhaps the most obvious reason why I can only date Chinese girls is the importance of preserving family ties. My family is deeply ingrained as a part of my identity. By marrying someone outside of the Asian race, I will introduce language barriers between my parents and spouse as well as cultural differences on habits and behaviors. My parents don’t want the family to grow apart. They feared that my children will not be pure breed Asian anymore, causing a loss of identity to who they are. It is logical to assume that my parents are really traditional. They view Asian women as introverted with a quiet, caring, and hardworking personality. On the other hand, foreign women are regarded as lazy, too outspoken, and big boned. My parents have high expectations from not only me, but also my future spouse. These high expectations only serve to cloud my parents’ judgments of women outside of the Asian race. I mean surely it makes sense that my parents would want me to date and marry a Chinese girl. They are just scared about the uncertain future that is different from what they envisioned for me.
Understanding my Personal Desires
I often always question my desires. I have no idea why I was so keen on wanting a relationship. I do, however, now know that it was my innate desire to connect with someone on a level that is more than friendship. Needless to say, I just wanted to love and be loved in return. When I was young being denied relationships from my parents only served to cause ignorance in me. I had no idea what it means to go on a date with someone. I just know that it was forbidden and that elevated my desire for one. This contradiction of thoughts and beliefs caused stagnation to my personal growth in relationships with women. Despite all the mental conditioning that limited my beliefs, my curiosity and desire never waned.
“What is the purpose of a relationship? What do I want to get out of a relationship? Why does it matter at all?” I ask myself these questions all the time. After evaluating my thoughts I can finally claim what I want. My purpose is to learn and appreciate my own desires. I don’t want to deny myself anything nor do I want anyone else to deny me of anything. If I can’t claim what I want, then I don’t deserve it. Repressing my desires will result in depression, desperation, and self loathing. I kept telling myself, “I am not good enough for any girls. I am really ugly looking. I am very awkward.” This self deprecating habit destroyed my confidence in my own identity. Repression is not the solution. If it was, then there wouldn’t be any problem. One of the most important lessons I learned is to be true to my own desires. I want to be in a relationship to grow and learn as a compassionate human being. I want to become a perfectly sociable person, capable of loving, caring, and living freely.
As a kid, I was very lonely. My loneliness got stronger the more I tried to deny and hide it. My parents were constantly working and I was isolated from everyone else. There was no one I can connect to without the fear of being seemed as needy, clingy, and weak. Sure, I had plenty of friends. Most of them are really smart, but none of them were friends I can truly love and appreciate. At certain periods of my childhood and teenage years, I felt really sad because there was no emotional support. I held everything within me, locked up within my own consciousness. Wanting a relationship was merely an illusion to me that specified personal freedom from caged emotions and thoughts. I just wanted a partner who can cheer me up and make me feel special. I wanted someone to communicate to truthfully. This way I can fully love to my heart’s content without holding anything back because I know I am not hiding from my desires.
Seeing as how desperate I was back then, I was fixated on a dangerous mindset. What I want was merely amplified by neglect and this led to frustration. I was accommodating for lost affections. At the same time, I was fearful of change because I am only comfortable with my current living situation. This is why the whole relationship thing became so prominent in what I want. However, I also discovered a gigantic flaw in my thoughts. I only wanted someone in an emotional fashion. I did not account for logical future consequences, nor did I take any actions toward my goals. I was merely wishing, and wanting something without taking the initiative to make things happen. That is my biggest problem.
Relationship as a whole is an extrinsic property. It relies on my actions and my will. If I truly want something, I should not let fear hinder me. Nor should I make excuse by stating that it was my parents who limited me from having any relationship. Everything is up to me. I need to live my life courageously and consciously. I will compromise my desires in relationship with my parents in hopes that I can reach a solution.
Reaching an Optimal Solution in Relationship Desires
I never understood why life can’t be perfect. That is to say why can’t I get what I want and my parents get what they want. However, I realized that there is a huge misconception in my thoughts. Why? Because sometimes I don’t even know what I want. I remember a quote from General Ford (the guy who invented the first affordable automobile for the middle class) that described me perfectly.
“If I had asked what people wanted, they would have said faster horse.”
Had I asked myself without thinking properly, I would say all I want is a relationship with a girl. However, I wanted so much more than that. In the grand scheme of things, I want to learn and grow to be the best that I can be as a compassionate human being, freely capable of my desires. This is also how I realized that compromising and balancing with my parents is not a difficult task at all.
We are curious beings with our own minds. We think differently, act differently. Thus, we will do things differently. Changing how my parents view things is impossible. They are keen to believe what they want to believe. I don’t blame my parents. They have a fixed mindset on what they want to believe and I also have my own fixed mindset. I never tried to make sense of either of them. Having honored my parents’ intentions, I can see that I am quite an ignorant mess around girls. Does this simply define me as a failure? Nope. I am merely living my life through one perspective and one lifetime. How do I know what failure is if I never tried? If someone categorizes me as a nerdy, cowardly, quiet, gullible, and a shy Chinese virgin guy, he will not be wrong. And I should not feel ashamed of who I am. Truth is truth no matter what. If I desire the change, then accepting that I have flaws is a great place to start.
My parents never had full control over me. I limited myself, creating an illusion that my parents are at fault. Opportunities are always present even at this time or ten years into the future. I just need to apply myself. It is all about the cultivating the right mindset. Instead of belittling myself and feeling sorry about my current situation, I need to value each moment as a lesson learned. I am in a disadvantage, but I feel great. The harder it is, the more I love it because I know that if I attempt to change myself, I will grow stronger, better, and more conscious of my actions. The end results and the path are one and the same. If I improve my mentality, I will improve my outlook on relationships with not only girls, but also my parents and most importantly myself.
So I never kissed a girl before. So I never had sex with a girl before. So I don’t even know what to do with a girlfriend. So what? Not having any experience does not indicate a failure in relationship. If I hold too much attachment to the past, then I will hinder myself from growing and learning. I will learn the ability to let go. That is to say, I will hold no attachment to outcomes and welcome any results. I will recognize my parents’ views and express gratitude towards what they want best for me. I acknowledge their presence and respect their decisions. By understanding their views, I had eliminated a huge obstacle that is in my way. However, I will also respect my own choice in what I do. There is a limit to how much I can bear by living up to their expectations. Instead, I will make sense of their logic and apply it personally to my own decision making process. If I were to date a girl, I will respect my desires and fully express my thoughts. I will not hold back anymore, nor will I let my parents hold me back. However, I will prioritize my desires by looking at my goals. Relationship requires responsibility and financial stability. Needless to say, I must learn how to take care of my own well-being before I even consider jumping into any relationships. This leads me to another form of solution I want to achieve: developing unconditional love.
Attraction is not a choice. Love is blind. I don’t choose who I want to fall in love with nor do I have the power to stop certain love connections from occurring. I have been attracted to so many kinds of girls, physically and personality-wise. However, I feel that in order for me to live harmoniously with my parents’ wishes and my own, I need to develop the ability to love unconditionally. To love unconditionally is the idea that I can love anyone if I allow myself to. This principle is based on having an open mind, open heart, and an open approach to any relationships. Instead of focusing on limited love experiences, I will hold the attitude that love is possible regardless of the person. If my parents ever set me up with a date or recommend me a date with their friend’s daughter (which is highly likely, it happens to a lot in the Chinese family), then I will possibly meet the love of my life through this method. All I know is that anything is possible, and the possibilities are endless. I know what I want and it’s time to manifest my desires by listening to them.