The story of Liza and Cho
Cho and I met in a cafe. He was hanging out with friends to celebrate the closure of an important school project and I went to that same cafe every Friday after my Kung Fu lessons. I saw him standing in the distance talking with his friends and he immediately caught my eye. There was just something about him that made my heart and stomach flutter. Even though it’s 10 years ago, I can still remember those feelings very clearly.
I walked a million times past him to go to the bathroom, with a piece of paper in my hands with my number on it and a bit of text saying ‘’I’d like to get to know you better, let’s hang out sometime’’. But I was too scared to give it to him because I looked like a mess after working out. Eventually, we did end up talking that night, drinking a beer together and exchanging numbers. We dated for a few months before making it official in a non-romantic way haha. We made it official over the telephone on New Year’s Eve. Then we started living together in Utrecht after half a year. We moved a few times and adopted our first cat about 6 years ago, bought our first house in Ridderkerk, Netherlands 2,5 years ago. Got a second cat only a few months ago and we’re still going strong and are about to celebrate our 10 year anniversary on the 1st of January 2018.
Questions to Her
On Our first date…
We went to a tapas restaurant called ‘’Amore’’ and we went to see a movie called ‘’Cloverfield’’. I know, not a very romantic movie. But it’s a good movie. I remember I was rather nervous because I never dated an Asian guy before. Also, he wasn’t the type of guy I dated before. I was a rock ‘’chick’’ you know. Dress all black, a lot of earrings ripped jeans, you get the idea. And he was the opposite. Cho was into rap and hip-hop. I was worried that we might have a lot of cultural differences and a different taste in general, but once we sat down at the restaurant and started talking, it didn’t matter anymore. He was just Cho. The guy I had been texting with those couple of weeks, the guy I saw in the cafe who made my heart stop with just one look. He was so kind and patient and he listened. The guys I dated before never really listened or always had this kind of Macho behavior. He was different and I felt comfortable with him almost immediately.
During the first months of dating my deal-breaker would be…
Cheating. I can be really short about it, but in the first few months of dating and someone cheats… I would be done.
Well, we almost broke up once over something very, very silly. I have been cheated on before. Before I met Cho, I have been with two guys. My first ex-boyfriend cheated on me multiple times which I found out about after we broke up. The other guy basically got a new girlfriend the moment he and I broke up.
So in the first few months Cho and I were together, he never really expressed how much he liked me. I was afraid I was just a girl for now…nothing serious. I was very insecure about myself and didn’t dare to ask him about it, why he didn’t express that kind of things. One day I just said, ‘’well this isn’t working anymore, you should go.’’ Since it came out of the blue, Cho was really shocked and didn’t know what to say. So he said bye to my parents and went.
Thank god we were at my parents’ house and my mom ran after Cho to ask what had happened. She demanded we talked and that’s when I found out that it isn’t really in his culture to express this kind of things vocally. But after a talk, we both felt so much better. I felt so stupid for not understanding that it might have been something culture related. I almost sabotaged my own relationship with the most amazing guy.
I learned He is right for me when…
Cho stood by me through the most difficult times. There have been a few, but he has always been supportive and patient. I have chronic migraines and it’s only been for a few years that they are under control with medication, but because of these migraines, I’ve been jobless more than once. I couldn’t finish art school and I wasn’t always at my best. I have been depressed or at least close to depressed because of this. He was always there for me taking care of me and being supportive in every single way, like going with me to the hospital if necessary, doing the household chores if I couldn’t do them. Just these simple things meant a lot to me and just staying with me even though I wasn’t at my best, made me realize he was the one.
Also, I can just be myself around him, I can just be my silly old me. I can be as nerdy as I can be about my collection of action figures. Stalk him all day with silly cat gifs or geek out over another video game (often together).
I had culture shock when He…
It was the school system in Hong Kong, kids at quite the young age (elementary school) get quite complicated assignments and are already introduced to the in-class rank system. It’s basically the better grades you get, the higher you rank in class. Some parents don’t mind the class rankings others believe it’s a great deal and feel so great about it. That puts quite some pressure on these kids. I’ve often dreamt of moving to Hong Kong and spending the rest of our lives there, but I would want my kids to be kids when they still have the time to be kids and not to be overloaded with pressure and homework from the beginning of their lives.
3 things I love about Him are…
His honesty, his caring nature, and his geekiness. Cho can be pretty straightforward, but that is something I need. Cho is a very caring and patient man, if I’m not feeling well or if I need advice, he’s always there for me to pick me up, not asking for anything in return.
We’re both geeky, I am a bit geekier than he is, but we can both geek out over video games, photography, cartoons, and movies. Or get philosophical about random things in life. I still have one of our very first emails with him asking me if I’d still love him if he was part Android.
A bonus thing I love about him is when he talks Cantonese… Haha, I think it’s so attractive.
The biggest misconception about His country and culture was…
I often read in other blogs how rude the people of Hong Kong are. That they are too straightforward, stare a lot and just point out the flaws, for example, if you have a bit of a tummy you’ll easily get a nickname like ‘’Buddha’’. Well, some of this might be true, it’s not really all that bad as some people might make seem. The people here in the Netherlands are really often straightforward too, or they talk behind your back and you’ll hear it from someone else later. And to be honest, I rather have someone be straightforward even though the truth might be a bit harsh sometimes. I never had someone be openly rude to me in Hong Kong.
The family of Cho is very kind and open, they speak their mind but never have been offending towards me. I have been a part of the family from the first day I met them.
The most beautiful thing He ever did for me was…
Taking me to Hong Kong and showing me his home country. He showed me Ping Shan, the village where he lived until he was 5 years old before moving to Netherlands. That was very special to me. Also, life isn’t always easy and of course there will always be bumps in the road, but I know I can count on Cho always being there for me.
During this relationship the most important thing I learned about myself was…
That I can truly be me when I’m with Cho and that it is very important to be yourself. If you can’t be yourself in a relationship, that person is not right for you. I wasn’t a 100% me when I was in a previous relationship. I was always trying my best to be liked, or look good, but always a little afraid to express what I really thought or felt. For example, if I disliked a song or movie the other like, I didn’t say and the other way around. I hid my geeky silliness quite a bit and hid my love for gaming or anything like that from them. I didn’t want to be labeled by them.
With Cho, I don’t have to, not only because we do share some of the same interests, but also because he loves me the way I am. He doesn’t put the pressure on me, to feel like I need to pretend to be someone else.
If there is a piece of advice I could give to my fellow Western girlfriends who are into the AMWF relationships that would be…
Of course, there always be cultural differences, sometimes these differences are hardly noticeable and sometimes they are a big block on the road of your relationship. If you ever find one of those blocks on the road, talk about it. More importantly, listen to each other and respect each other. If you can do that, you can work things out.
Like what Cho and I went through at the beginning of our relationship. He never really expressed how he felt about me and I never expressed I needed that, but it almost ended our relationship.
A cultural difference can be also attractive because that culture is a part of the person you fell in love with. Be open-minded towards each other and always talk when there is something bothering you.
When you’re going to meet family in his home country, try to learn a little about their etiquette beforehand. You’ll leave behind a good impression and you’ll be a bit more comfortable and confident during the trip and family gatherings. Try to learn a few words from the language your partner speaks. For example, learning to say ‘’Hello, how are you?’’ or ‘’Thank you’’ can mean a lot to people. It means you put some effort in, to get closer to them.
Questions to Him
Asking Her out for the first time was…
not anything spectacular as far as I can remember. She was the one that approached me first and I felt that despite the awkward conversation we were having we might get along really well. We kept contacting each other through MSN messenger and SMS and eventually I asked her out to dinner and she agreed.
I learned She is right for me when…
she stood by me and supported me for the umpteenth time without me asking for it. Knowing there is someone that is there for you regardless of the situation is very empowering and in return, I try to give her the same feeling by always being there for her as well.
I had culture shock when She….
Ate fruit with whipped cream for dessert. I remember having dinner with her family and after the main course, we would have dessert. Usually, in my own family, we would eat fruits such as watermelon or oranges. I think with her family we had strawberries, which is great because strawberries are my favorite. But when they started adding whipped cream and ice cream, I have to say that I was a bit grossed out. The shock has settled down since then though, but it still feels weird adding extra stuff to fruits.
Also, not long after dinner, there would sometimes be a platter of different cheeses and sausages. I didn’t understand it then and I don’t understand it now. Didn’t we literally just have dinner? Have I been dining the wrong way my whole life?
3 things I love about Her are…
Her Kindness, authenticity, and enthusiasm. She has such a good, gentle heart and makes me want to be more selfless. There is no better character trait than that in my opinion. Liza is always very pure in her feelings and she wears her heart on the sleeve. When she is passionate about something, she is 100% hype.
The biggest misconception about Her country and culture was…
probably that not everybody wears wooden clogs and smoke weed in a windmill with a prostitute. Actually, I have no idea. I came to the Netherlands when I was 5, so the Dutch culture has been an influence on me pretty much my whole life.
Within our own household we lived in our little Chinese bubble, but outside of that, I would consider myself Dutch.
The things that She likes to do for fun with me are…
I would dare say pretty much anything. We enjoy a lot of things together and we share a lot of hobbies. When we first met we both had interest in practicing art. She loved to draw and paint and I loved to write poetry. Later on, this would evolve into a mutual passion for photography. Nowadays we love to make small trips across the country or Europe and explore new places to photograph.
Another thing that we like to do together is to play video games. Nintendo has pretty much been my third parent as long as I can remember. In fact, one of my oldest memories is me playing Super Mario Bros. with one of my uncles. In the beginning of our relationship, I was usually the one playing games while she would either watch me play or make a drawing on the couch next to me. As time went on, she began showing more and more interest in video games. Now we both own gaming PC’s and bask in the glory of the master race.
She hates when I…
I am right. I grew up loving discussions and debates. She grew up quite the opposite way. When I know I can win a discussion, I will make sure you know that the discussion has been won. I’m horrible and I’m trying to improve myself, but I am very stubborn.
During this relationship the most important thing I learned about myself was…
That it’s okay to let my true self-be known. Growing up in a foreign country, I have always been self-aware that I looked different from my friends. I knew my family was different than their family, both in looks and customs. I wouldn’t say that I was bullied because of that because I really was not, but it has made me put on an armor of normality that made me not want to stand out from the crowd. I guess my reasoning was that they can have comments about my looks, but at the very least not about my behavior.
When I met Liza, I was already pretty comfortable with myself when I was by myself or surrounded by good friends. But rarely did I feel comfortable enough to really express myself when I was with people With her, however, the armor shredded pretty quickly because of her open-minded and compassionate personality. The longer I’ve been with her, the more authentic my personality has become and eventually that rubbed off on my interactions with people I’m less acquainted with.
If there is a piece of advice I could give to my fellow Asian friends who are into the AMWF relationships that would be…
To just be yourself and allow your partner to be herself as well. As far as I’m concerned, the only way to have a meaningful relationship is when you both are allowed to express yourself authentically. Sure there might be differences in your cultural background, but eventually, you’ll develop a set of rules and habits that you both can call your own.
Even when you encounter situations that pull you out of your comfort zone due to the cultural difference, it might pay off to be open-minded about it and just roll with it.