Maybe it’s not just a cultural thing; maybe it’s also in their blood. The art of Chinese modesty can be very difficult to learn, much less master, even after many, many years of living amongst the self-effacing Chinese people. But learn just enough, and it will get you far in Chinese dating and increase your chances of marrying a Chinese woman tenfold!
Certainly, arrogance is rarely an effective approach to dating, regardless of one’s cultural background. Too much modesty, just the same, can also be perceived as dishonesty or just plain pathetic; and a Chinese lady will be equally turned off by both. So don’t lay it on too thick; it’s always safer to dole it out in moderate amounts, repeatedly if the situation calls for it, rather than make yourself appear totally worthless!
A very effective and easy trick is to lower people’s expectations from the get-go. If you have been in China long enough, then you would have already had your share of experiences with random Chinese approaching you to practice their English. More often than not, they will start off with a claim that their English is poor, and then they surprise you with their knowledge of some English slang and euphemisms! Well, two can play that game!
When you find a situation wherein you may have to demonstrate your Mandarin, Cantonese, or Pinyin skills, play the modest card first and claim that your Chinese is very poor. You can even start off haltingly, using only the most basic phrases. Of course, this is given that your Chinese is actually decent; if this is not the case, then there won’t be any harm done. You are just being honest! You can make the same claim about your cooking skills, especially if you’re cooking for your special Chinese lady!
may have also experienced having a compliment you gave dismissed repeatedly, when you are used to people in the west responding with a simple “Thank you.” This is just another form of self-effacement. So you have to be careful how you respond to a Chinese woman you’re dating saying that your Chinese and/or cooking skills are actually impressive. If you say “Thank you,” she may take this as arrogance. This time, you can play the bashful contradiction card by saying “Not at all,” or “I’m sure I could still use some more practice!”
When giving gifts, bragging is generally considered crass in most cultures. So play the humble card; say that it is only a small gift but you hope she (your Chinese dating prospect) will like it. When receiving gifts, on the other hand, you should refuse it two to three times first while saying that it is too generous, you don’t deserve it, she is/they are too kind, and/or you cannot accept it. After your second or third refusal, you can then humbly accept it, say thank you, and repeat your appreciation for their generosity.
Genuine and false modesty are both acceptable, and even considered polite, in Chinese culture. But, again, remember not to overdo it to avoid being viewed as insincere. You will also have to get used to responding to the people around when they demonstrate Chinese modesty. Most of the time, it’s a simple act of one person claiming or insisting on one thing, and the other claiming or insisting another. Once you get the hang of it, you can even have some fun with it – given of course that the person you’re interacting with is somebody you already have close relations with!
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