"How old are you?", "Are you married?", "What is your job?", "How much is your salary?", "How much do you weigh?", "Where do you live?", "Do you own a house/apartment?", "How much is your rent?" are all questions you’re likely to face when dating Chinese women. The lines between what's personal and what's not are very blurry in China. Chances are pretty high that you're going to be confronted by this blurriness frequently when you're meeting Chinese woman after Chinese woman in search of your Chinese love.
But don't be too fast to think that these women are just being nosy and/or rude. Most of the time, these questions underlie sincere concern and interest. Guan xin talk is the Chinese way of showing this.
Co-authors of the book, Communicating Effectively with the Chinese, GeGao and Stella Ting-Toomey define this practice as follows:
"guānxīn” or "to show concern" talk is a communicative genre that occupies a prominent position in Chinese relational communication. Guānxīn entails asking questions about a person's well-being and other personal matters... "To show concern" also evokes the use of cautionary remarks, such as, "You should not drink too much because it is not good for your health" or "You should put on some warm clothes because it is cold outside"... “Quànjiě” or “to caution and to advise" is widely employed to show concern for others in Chinese culture...".
A Chinese person's concern, indeed, is always accompanied by some well-intentioned, albeit unsolicited and sometimes seemingly crude, advice, caution, or criticism.
When they ask you about your age and marital status, it is often followed by something like, "You should find a good wife to take care of you. I think it is a woman's role to take care of her husband!"
When they ask what you do for a living and how much you earn, they may follow up with an advice about how you should start saving up for the future. When they ask about your weight, they will also tell you that you should either gain more or lose some weight, and how you can be healthier. When they inquire about your accommodations, they will tell you if they think you're being charged a decent rent.
If you're sick, they will advise you on the right clothes to wear, how many layers you should put on, what you shouldn't eat and do when it's cold/hot, and to try this or that traditional remedy.
Certainly, guan xin talk is easier to welcome if it comes from your Chinese lady, and even her family, than it is when it's your neighbor, the local street vendor near your place of work, the old lady you always buy vegetables from at the street market, a colleague, or somebody you just met at your girlfriend's cousin's daughter's wedding. In the latter cases you may have the urge to tell them it's none of their business and walk away.
But even from your Chinese love or her people, such direct prodding about matters that westerners often consider personal and the presumptuous, patronizing, or condescending way that the Chinese offer their advice, caution, or criticism can be easily taken by a laowai as offensive and even disrespectful - but only because they're reacting to a Chinese behavior with a western mindset.
Even if you're a laowai who has been around Chinese people for many years and with your Chinese lady for a considerable time, you will have some bad days when cross-cultural stresses are just too much and the last thing you need is some guan xin talk about your eating habits. But by now you probably know that it is coming from awell meaning heart and a position of caring, so you dig down deep and let it pass.
If you're fairly new to the genuine Chinese experience, just always remember that you're in a foreign land with foreign customs and attitudes and, while you still have a lot to understand about the people and their ways, your lack of understanding is not an excuse to be rude to the people of your host country and community.
Hopefully sooner rather than later, and with the help of your Chinese love once you have found her, you will develop a healthy attitude toward guan xin talk directed at you by herself and her loved ones, and ultimately learn how to appreciate their concern. Perhaps over time you'll even learn how to politely endure guan xin talk from Chinese people not so close to you as your Chinese love.
If you are looking for Chinese love you must visit ChinaLoveMatch.net. You will not only find beautiful Chinese women looking for men like you, but will also discover tons of great information about living in China, Chinese dating and relationships, and Chinese women on the blogs, magazine and forum of China Love Match (the home of trusted Chinese dating), where international men and Chinese women share their life experiences and bare their souls to give you the real goods on love, cross-cultural relationships, and all things Chinese.