Well, yes, but also having to open their eyes to the possibility of romance with expat men that under any normal circumstances they wouldn’t go near.Quite why I once agreed to a second date with a guy from Sweden who wore white socks that came up to his mid-calves and who rattled on endlessly about his Chinese ex-girlfriend, I can’t be sure.I also understand what really makes Chinese people tick.
Having a native boyfriend was like being given a key to China.
I learned so much more about the country, its people and their values during the three years we were together.
Living as I do in a city as vibrant and bizarre as Beijing has its good points – and its bad.
Although exciting and unpredictable, from its fascinating culture to its mind-bending language, it’s certainly not an ideal place to find long-term love, no matter how beautiful, smart, successful and hilarious you may be.
Give lots of gifts, pay for dinners and, oh yes, remember to acknowledge that the Chinese invented pretty much everything.
However, as in any relationship, small things – which at first made our relationship unique and extraordinary – started to become exasperating after a while.To me, it seemed like mothering had been taken to a whole new level, but it’s the kind of mollycoddling that’s common between mother and son in China.It has given rise to a cultural phenomenon dubbed the ‘Little Emperors’ – spoiled boys who expect to get everything they want, and whose parents break their backs trying to make their precious heirs happy.We Brits have been brought up to consider personal hygiene and table manners as second nature.So when you move to a country where talking with your mouth full of food, street-side nasal cleansing and communal squat toilets are a feature of everyday life, you have to develop higher tolerance levels along with a strong stomach.By my late teens, when my friends were chasing football players, I had developed a thing for men with long hair.This is a period that my friends tagged my ‘yeti’ phase.Although I admire the strong bond people here have with their parents, being with a man whose mother plays such a fundamental part of his life undermines any sense of a mature relationship.My Chinese girlfriends often moan about their exhausting mother-in-laws, who become jealous if their son pays his wife too much attention.Petite and eager to please, these girls are so cute I don’t blame the guys for being attracted to them.After all, when a Chinese girl pouts, a million hearts melt; when I pout, I resemble a fish. Gorging on crispy duck and splurging on pirated copies of Downton Abbey?