‘Hooking Up in China’ – Playing the field…

A sketch of yours truly, with Beijinger artist

Dating in China might often be more accurately called Hooking Up in China, and in late 2009/early 2010 that was the kind of thing I was looking for. With varying degrees of success, mostly that is not succeeding, I had a myriad of experiences and lived and learned and notches on the bedpost and so on.

At that stage, I was a bit frustrated. My brief romance was lovely but unfulfilling in one certain way. Meanwhile, all those other expat guys constantly bragged about getting laid. I shouldn’t complain, but I wondered why I wasn’t quite keeping up. Eh, perhaps those guys were exaggerating as us bros tend to do. Really, I rarely saw the guys with a new girl every week, nothing like that. Much would be said in passing, well after the fact. Or maybe they knew better than to take girls out in public? Who knows the truth, the truth is a quantum superposition with multiple perspectives. Men round up and women round down and all realities exist simultaneously.

I’m diverging. Whatever, still I yearned. I asked out girls. Went on abortive dates. The proverbial gold-diggers (who can’t get much out of me, I’m sure not their kind of guy). Bad Christmas parties. Friend-zoned. My schedule sure got complicated. Slowly but surely, I got slightly better at the picking up chicks thing.

And so I began my evolution/devolution into the asshole I am today, or so I’ve been accused.

Here are a few of my so-called successes. Annie. Sky. Lulu. Even friendly Hailey. With so many girls in this post, please let me reiterate that these are fake names…



Annie was a platonic friend, a short Chinese party girl who danced all night with the expats. We were in the same social group. She’s older than me, and has a kid. It was an open secret that she was in a sham of a relationship (which is long-over with today). But she was still taken.

The rumors… I still get disturbed when I learn that everyone in the social group has been secretly fucking each other. Never get used to that. Even when I’m in the middle of it.

One day, after interpreting some subtle encouragement from a mutual friend, I texted her, half-joking, suggesting we hook up. She was into it.

I WANT GO TO THE HOTEL, she messaged me.

Wow. Guess, as a healthy young heterosexual male, I should take up the opportunity or I’d be mad at myself later. That’s what I told myself in those days.

Got to it. It was a glorious hotel room. Too bad we didn’t have sparks. She’s attractive, but not my type. It was pretty much a complete mistake. Too weird, too sudden. Oh well, it happens.

It wasn’t even that awkward afterwards because she framed it so coolely, completely acting natural with no undercurrent of tension. As if trying to forget. I did want another chance, just to see if it could be better, but she wouldn’t have any talk of it. Fair enough. I struck it from my memory. I still see her around from time to time. Basically, it never happened.

Looking back, I’m not proud. One of the worser things I’ve ever done.

I met her partner, soon after. She had a little get-together at her place, I don’t know why she invited me. I had to shake hands with him and smile and surprised myself by how much I could lie. I felt empty more than guilty. It was a terrible thing.

She’s been officially single long since, and it was her choice to cheat. But I shouldn’t have been the one to help her do that.


Sidenote: Hotels are fun if not pricey but I usually prefer my own place. It’s just annoying to have roommates. You can have a girlfriend and roommates don’t have to be an issue, but with casual flings I’m not comfortable parading someone new around. I don’t know how other people do it, with their bachelor pads filled with people. I do better when I live alone, more confidence and better schematics.



What is the definition of a one-night stand? Does it merely mean you only have sex once, see each other afterwards and choose to never do it again? Or does it mean you have one passionate/passionless night and then coldly never see each other again? By the latter definition, I’ve never had a one-night stand. By the former definition, here’s another of those regrettable stories.

Sky was a Canadian rocker girl, kind of tattooed gutter-punk/post-hippie style. Husky battered voice, short hair, ex-junkie. Came to China to get away from the junk scene. Before that night, I thought she was a lesbian. Turns out only bi.

(On bisexuality: it often seems to be a factor for women who are just very sexual.  Women being more objectively aesthetic that men notwithstanding, it’s like this. A highly horny girl may be mainly into men for partnership, but she can so horny she folds in women as well to include as many as possible into her orientation. Sexually she’s into people not any specific gender. What I’ve observed, with some.)

One day I partied late with her and her roommate, more friends with the roommate actually, and we were on to their place to listen to music and have more drinks. She was drunk and loud at the front door, so our friend put our heads together so she would shut up and we kissed.

I went upstairs to, smoke, hang out, continue the night. They said I could crash there. She led me to her bedroom. Left the roommate alone. We laid down. She was extremely inebriated.  Again, I was conflicted and wanted more notches but she wasn’t my type at all. She kept calling me “dude.”

The plus side; she’s white. Not Chinese. Okay do I like Asian girls, but I don’t want to be the kind of expat fellow who can only get local girls. An opportunity to hook up with an expat, come on I should take it. So said the half of my brain that stayed.

If anything, she forced me. Taking articles of clothing off, getting everything into position, leading fingers to body parts. She initiated all. I went with it, barely, and then called it off and got out of there. Some things can only be forced so much.

We never ever spoke of it again.



Ah Lulu, finally a good story. Lulu was a professional artist from Beijing, incredibly talented, taking a sabbatical in Guangdong for a while, a good person truly worth knowing. A worldly woman who studied classical paining in Germany, we talked about art and drew nude pictures of each other and had a great time those weeks she was down south. She was also older than me. We met online.

Never having been one to pick up strangers at bars, and my mixed success with mutual friends, I took to the Internet. Come to think of it, this was the first time I’ve done that. (There would  be many more times since then.) Craigslist of all sites if you must know, which I wouldn’t recommend.

We chatted and she liked my cartoons and then met in person at the mall. I thought, okay. She’ll do.

We bumped into many people I knew (see, why don’t I bump into those other wannabe players on their dates).

She was staying in an apartment far off in the outskirts in a town called Qinchi, and agreed to sleep over at my place. “Do you always bring girls over like this?” she asked. Truthfully, she was the first in that bed.

My roommates were out for the weekend, and we had an amazing night and subsequent morning and I said goodbye at the train station and it looked like it might be a one-night stand thing. But I wanted to keep in touch, she was so great. The second time, I went out to her place. It was nice to get away from downtown, go to a slower-paced locale and enjoy nature. I stayed there for three days, we went biking at a mountain and it was just the two of us. Sketching nudes outdoors was lovely. And we had very good sex. Third time, she came to stay with me again for several but my roommates were home. Plus another guest. Taking her out in Shenzhen was all good, but being in a crowded apartment wasn’t. I always push my self to go out and be sociable, but ultimately I like it best when it’s just me and a girl and we are the only ones in the world. Lulu was an introvert as well, and not into a big group setting.

I wish I saw her again. I never did. She returned to her own life in Beijing, or maybe she’s in Germany now, I don’t know. She had her Cantonese adventure and it when was over she moved on and that’s how it goes.



One more story, an embarrassing one. Literally anticlimactic.

Hailey was adorable; I met her when she was only nineteen, a bubbly local Cantonese chick with an American accent. By local I mean her ancestral family is from Shenzhen, a rarity in this young Special Economic Zone town, which means local families have real estate money and don’t have to work.

This archetype of girl is interesting, an upper class who grew up on American television and just has the accent when she speaks English. Some people are simply naturals at language, some people just use America as the fallback international culture. People would always annoyingly ask her if she was born in the U.S.

She partied hard, into drinking and drugs and dying her hair crazy colors and dancing to electronic music. She was the center of the Shenzhen scene, Hong Kong too and we had a blast New Year’s Eve 2010 rolling in Lan Kwai Fong. My favorite holiday.

Nowadays she’s kinda dropped off the map, went to study in Europe, and seems a bit burnt out. She did too much too young. That’s why I’m content to be a latebloomer.

We were good friends for a while. I like having platonic female friends, someone to talk to and get a feminine perspective, and for a time she was my best female friend. We bickered too, the mark of true friendship. Some girls like to think of me as their gay best friend, I sort of fill that role at times.

There was a tinge of sexual tension, least from my end. I never acted on it. Well, except that one night…

Our Brit friend was staying over, sleeping on the floor. Hailey was sleeping on the sofa too. Big apartment with all the roommates, we often had multiple guests. No big deal. I was sleeping in my room when suddenly at like 3:00 a.m. there was a knock on the door.

“Ray are you awake?”


“Can I sleep in here?”

Whoa. Was this really happening? Kinda sudden. I like to be wined and dined and seduced first.

She crawled into bed with me. My heart was beating fast. What was I supposed to do? Is this an obvious invitation? Shouldn’t I take full advantage of it? What kind of a sexual loser would I be if I did nothing?

I embraced her. She pulled away. I rubbed my hand against her hips and belly, our feet touched.

“Are you even asleep?”



And I was hard and everything.

I didn’t get it. Was I supposed to step up my game and be a man or whatnot? Or would that be creepy? Isn’t she being a tease, should I be mad at her? What in the hell game was she playing with me?

I gave up. An extremely terrible night’s sleep commenced.

I think friends can sleep in the same bed, she later texted. Because I’m just a friend, that whole zone y’know.

She said that other guys let her sleep in the same bed and it’s no big deal. I can’t imagine guys like that. She said that if I escalated too much she would never talk to me.

What to do after that but carry on and laugh it off? We remained friends. And that’s all I could do.

Much later it made a more sense. I had drinks with Brit friend while in HK, the guy who was sleeping over that night, and told him the story. He laughed and said he would have done the exact same thing.

So, they were fuckbuddies all along. They had a fight that night, perhaps after fucking in my very living room, and she wanted to get away from him and went to my room. That’s all it was. In retrospect, I’m very much glad that nothing happened between us.

Later I learned she was fucking several other guys, and I no longer felt any sexual tension around her. Hope I’m not coming across as judgmental or sexist, she can do what she likes and it’s not my business. I just don’t think about her that way after learning too much. It’s a good thing really, we went back to being platonic friends and I never again thought of what could be.

I have another funny story about Hailey, it’s even better. Saving it for later.


. . .

I look back, with the passage of time I now realize something with all this. I was in between, these episodes were an intermission, a limbo.

And now that I got all those experiences out of my system, guess what I was ready for, guess what comes next.

At last. To be continued, in:

I get to be in an adult mature relationship, I get an official long-term GIRLFRIEND!

23 thoughts on “‘Hooking Up in China’ – Playing the field…

  1. Pingback: Dating in China – Mary | Ray H to the C

  2. We learn by failing. If we do nothing we can’t fail and if we don’t fail, we learn nothing. I’ve been learning for a long time and I’ve failed a number of times on that long journey. Made a lot of mistakes and learned from them.

    The boy girl thing gets much easier when you stop worrying and guessing how they will respond to what’s going on in your head and say how you feel about them and what you’re thinking and what you want.

    For instance, don’t ask if you can kiss her. Tell her you want to kiss her and then move in and see how she reacts. If she pushed you away, then shrug and say okay. No big deal.

    If the girl isn’t interested. Move on. If she is all judgmental about your thinking, then it’s better to discover that about her early because you’re probably better off without her in your life in an intimate way.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. To start off, I’ll say: personally I’m absolutely, 100% not-for sleeping around, having casual partners and am anti-swearing. Maybe that’s why I’m not very social and attractive to the opposite sex.

    Anyway, despite my personality preferences, I found this post a very fascinating read, wasn’t insulted or turned off at any point. I know that there are some outspoken Chinese girls out there but their aggressive advances as you’ve mentioned takes it to a whole new level. I don’t know why they like to sleep around, maybe as you’ve aluded, to run away from their personal relationships and problems. It sort of goes to show just how they fit the submissive Asian stereotype once again.

    Love how you write with such honesty. Hope to read more soon 🙂


    • Thanks for reading with an open mind! I’m glad I’m not offensive, last thing I want to do as a writer is shock value for its own sake. I’m grateful readers out there appreciate honesty.

      I don’t quite know your background, but here is my take based on what I’ve observed: In comparing Chinese people born in America with the new upper class in first-tier developed cities like Shenzhen and Shanghai, I think domestic Chinese people these days are far more liberal about sex and such. One might even say there’s a sexual revolution going on in China today. The Chinese diaspora elsewhere tend to be more conservative.

      Not necessarily a submissive thing in my opinion, seems to be cultural. Those who immigrate abroad try to stick to their culture. While those living in this new economically-booming mainland, from young girls partying in clubs to older men with mistresses, many here kinda have no culture and just do whatever they want (or American tv is their only culture). Maybe it’s unfortunate, maybe freedom is ultimately good, it just is what is.

      Back in my Intro post for these dating blog, I wrote I don’t want to generalize and stereotype too much. But there are certain patterns that emerge…


      • Very interesting to hear you say the non-domestic Chinese are not that outgoing. Majority of of those I know in Australia who are from China, Malaysia, Singapore (Asia) are conservative. Over time, I’ve seen a good number of them grow to love partying, drinking, getting inked and getting in bed often.

        “many here kinda have no culture”. I do think they have a culture – Chinese culture, Asian values. Perhaps that’s what the domestic Chinese have grown up with all their lives – with traditional parents and customs – and with a better education or learning through the media, want to explore who they are in this globalised age. They might be even embarrassed of their heritage and don’t want anything to do with it – and hence “have no culture”.

        Also, very nice to hear you say you are a writer. Not many people admit that with confidence.


    • “To start off, I’ll say: personally I’m absolutely, 100% not-for sleeping around, having casual partners and am anti-swearing.”

      With all due respect, may I suggest that perhaps that starting from this position is why you “don’t know why [some… outspoken Chinese girls” like to sleep around” and why your initial and only presented theory is that they “run away from their personal relationships and problems.”

      It is, to be very frank, extremely arrogant of you to suggest that the way to explain what you call “sleeping around, having casual partners” is to assume that individuals are running away. If you ever cared to actually ask these people, and attempt to understand their point of view, perhaps you wouldn’t be so quick to jump to such an insulting conclusion.


      • I don’t know man. I hope this doesn’t get too sexist, but here I go.

        There are true nymphos out there who are into casual flings because they love sex. Nothin right with that, you go empowered girl! But there really are a lot of “slutty” girls (for lack of a better term) who hook up due to lack of self-esteem, desperate for validation, or other issues. Maybe running away. Screwed-up people indeed act out sexually at times, surely you must have seen this phenomenon. There absolutely can be negatives to sleeping around too much.

        Not to mention sex education is not particularly well-implemented in China… It is literally physically dangerous when you have to explain to local wannabe party girls how condoms are kinda important…

        Sometimes it’s perfectly healthy to have all the mutual orgasms you want with whomever you want and we shouldn’t judge. Other times there are psychologically unhealthy aspects at play. Can we at least agree that it’s wrong to cheat, lie, manipulate?

        Don’t paint with broad brushstrokes and try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but still. While coming from the perspective of anti-swearing is a bit much, we are discussing online and it’s fun to psychoanalyze & generalize.

        So I’m going to generalize. Age demographic only, that’s all. Barring biological clocks, older women with experience tend to handle casual better and it’s no big deal. Younger ‘liberated’ women are more often than not quite emotionally fucked-up people and can cause some dramatic damage. Well, live and learn.

        Just practice safety everyone, cover that shit up!


      • I was simply suggesting “running away” as one possibility why some like to have casual partners or sleep around. Surely there must be other reasons too, and I do not hold it against them. Spending time with others this way is also a means to meet and get to know people, have fun, pass the time, satisfy emotional and physical needs and so on.

        Just because I don’t choose to participate in such hooking up activities doesn’t mean my opinion on this topic isn’t valid…I can’t see why it isn’t. Sorry for any misunderstanding.


      • This may help explain why some women may appear slutty and have relationship problems. Don’t judge them. Instead, seek and then understand the cause. There is a cause and effect for almost everything someone does. Yet is is far to easy to judge without knowing the cause.

        “Childhood sexual abuse has been correlated with higher levels of depression,
        guilt, shame, self-blame, eating disorders, somatic concerns, anxiety, dissociative
        patterns, repression, denial, sexual problems, and relationship problems.”


        Liked by 1 person

      • ”But there really are a lot of “slutty” girls (for lack of a better term) who hook up due to lack of self-esteem, desperate for validation, or other issues. Maybe running away. Screwed-up people indeed act out sexually at times“

        And there are people who become workaholics because that allows them to escape the rest of their lives. We do not instantly assume that hard workers who put in long hours are fucked in the head. Some people are screwed up and turn to drugs. I do not assume that you are fucked in the head. Some people use as a comfort/safety mechanism to escape from their lives. For the last few weeks I’ve consumed a 12″ pizza by myself at my friend’s house, and nobody (I think) has assumed I was fucked in the head because of that. So why the double standard? And why for that matter, are you so sure these so-called ‘”slutty” girls’ did what they did due to lack of self-esteem, or as a desperate plea for validation, or for any other reasons? And why are we limiting this conversation to girls, if not because of a societal double standard?

        “Not to mention sex education is not particularly well-implemented in China”

        This is an irrelevant point. Being poorly educated means one is ignorant (through no fault of their own), not that one has “issues.”

        “Can we at least agree that it’s wrong to cheat, lie, manipulate? ”

        No point of mine could be interpreted as an endorsement of cheating, lying, or manipulating others.

        “Don’t paint with broad brushstrokes and try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but still. ”

        But still what?

        “older women with experience tend to handle casual better and it’s no big deal. Younger ‘liberated’ women are more often than not quite emotionally fucked-up people and can cause some dramatic damage. ”

        Women that you have filed under the category of “younger” and “liberated” were regarded by you as being emotionally “fucked-up” who cause “dramatic damage”. You are relying on your own experiences, and you are arguing that a conclusion can be made based on anecdotal experience. If anecdotal experience is the proper way to come to conclusions, then based on my own anecdotal observations the earth stands still, and the sun rises from behind the eastern horizon and sets behind the western horizon. After all, that is what my individual, subjective experience is telling me.

        Empirical data, on the other hand, reports that actual promiscuity is correlated high “body esteem” (a form of acceptance and happiness with one’s body), hip-to-waist ratio, digit ratio, and higher scores on the Vandenburg Mental Rotation test, and monthly alcohol consumption. Not emotional issues.

        And if you really want to talk anecdotes, here’s mine. I’ve never experienced that kind of problem, or had experiences leading me to believe that “Younger ‘liberated’ women are more often than not quite emotionally fucked-up people” Maybe that’s just who you gravitate towards. Maybe you are interpreting things that way because that is what you expect, or because that interpretation shelters your ego. That’s a harsh thing to say, but the evidence is overwhelming that people interpret evidence as proof that they’re pre-conceptions are right, no matter what.


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  5. Pingback: Zoey – the beginning | Shenzhen Writers Circle

  6. Dude. Whoa, I’m not sure how to go about this conversation anymore.

    Yeah, I definitely think people who work too much are fucked up! I know I certainly take drugs because I’m fucked up in the head and all my junkie friends sure have. But still there’s something special about sexuality, it’s a powerful human thing, perhaps I overthink but it does matter in a special way. If nothing else, sex is an interesting conversation topic right.

    Well my anecdotal evidence is what I have to go on. Hey I do recall a recent study that made the news cycles about how women tend to be more sexually satisfied in longer-term relationships than one-night stands. Doesn’t mean goes for everyone, doesn’t mean that those who disagree are or aren’t a mess. There are plenty of scientific studies though to source though okay.

    But come on, people have conversations all day long saying “Americans are like this” and “Chinese are like this” so why not say “sexual girls are like that.”? I think I’m being mostly fair, talking about exceptions and admitting I’m generalizing. On men, I’m down for that whole other conversation. I do think men shouldn’t be sociopathic pigs, shouldn’t pressure women who are uncomfortable into sex, shouldn’t spread STDs, shouldn’t take advantage of high power imbalance gaps, et al!

    Good for you for never having a negative experience of the sort. I think we both know what I’m mainlyabout with young girl, but there is more to my anecdotes. In the story above, that girl with the fuckbuddy did cause stressful drama. Various times in the states such happened with friends I’ve observes, high school shit years back, etc. I’m surprised you think I’m so out of line. Where is this utopia of consequence-less free love and how come I never lived there?

    And I specifically told a story about cheating in the blog above. Did you read? That’s as much as what we’re talking about as anything. That comment you disagreed with so vehemently could very well have been what Mabel Kwong referred to, with running away and submissiveness and all that. If so, then when you disagreeing so harshly with her were you endorsing cheating or not? I think cheating is absolutely an example of negative sexuality, I think it’s worth wondering why people do that. Is this or isn’t this a part of what we’re discussing? Perhaps we should be clearer what we’re talking about avoid such confusion. A lot of topics in the air and perhaps we’re talking over each other.

    I like these conversations man, no need to be antagonistic please. I could add more. I really do think there are cultural problems out there. There’s that certain sort who seem to take American TV shows as their main culture, their main teaching of how to behave. Men who take porn too seriously as well, so on. They aren’t empowered, aren’t expressing sexuality in a healthy way, aren’t true to themselves and their desires. They’re just warped, just fucked up. Am I that judgmental to say it’s not a good thing?

    Point is, sex is complex. As it should be. It’s not about how great it is to get laid constantly and it’s not about how it’s a sin. Both are oversimplifications. It’s complex, and complex things are worth thinking about and trying to figure it all out and considering in the bad side as well as the good. Don’t be naively idealistic please.


  7. http://healthland.time.com/2013/11/11/no-satisfaction-woman-are-less-likely-to-orgasm-during-casual-sex/

    That’s the scientific study I was thinking of. Therefore I have my educated suspicions, as cited by the above, that many women engaging in casual sex aren’t doing it because they’re enjoying it but because of other issues (my personal definition of the difference between an empowered nympho and a damaged slut, someone who legitimately gets off vs. someone who is just emotionally vulnerable and always seems to have relationship problems… Although, really I should stop using such loaded terms)

    Empirical evidence, okay

    As both a red-blooded bro and someone very sympathetic to feminism, sorry if it sounds like I’m discouraging hooking up and encouraging slut-shaming. I’m not trying to go that far, just speculating from all sides~


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  11. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Very rarely do I find a man who is able to be really honest and open about the pitfalls of dating with such honesty about sex. It’s so refreshing. I guess introverts just don’t do that well in one night stands no matter how we think in our head it will be a good thing. I just always thought men loved them and it didn’t matter who it was. But you have reminded me even men need connection! Thank you so much!


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