Dear Miss Shiok! and your readers:
I had a nerve-wracking time reading your latest article about the Western moron who cheated on his Chinese wife and subsequently got himself pretty roughed up by her paid muscle. It brought back too many memories, and also some sympathy, since it was obvious the man in question was a complete novice when it comes to dealing with the delicate issues of cheating and/or leaving.
Generally speaking, it seems Chinese women don’t take well to being cheated on/broken up with/hurt in general. No woman should react lightly to these matters, but Chinese ladies are the least elegant in expressing their anger. I still have the scars and angry emails and text messages and two smashed windows to prove it — and I’ve only broken up with one woman (and been “dumped” by another) during my seven years here. You thought the number was higher, didn’t you?
The Western man you wrote about was in a stickier situation than I had ever been in, for the simple reason that he was married to his scorned lover, and they had children together. Being a footloose bachelor is one thing, but I don’t condone screwing around on your wife and mother of your kids. Just wanted to make that clear before you bash my head in — once you’ve legally and reproductively committed yourself to a woman, don’t even touch the secretary with a ten foot pole. Stand by your woman and offspring for the next eighteen years, at least. You owe them that.
But I am a bachelor, and sometimes in the course of frenetic Shanghai life and love and experience, there comes those moments when you realize the lovely almond-eyed non-missus you are with is not The One, after all, and you must get away.
But how do you do it? How do you break up? Do you talk face-to-face, like I did with my Swedish college girlfriend? Do you write a heartfelt letter, like I did to my American fiancee once I decided not to leave Shanghai? Those were amicable partings, with traces of hurt, but not hate. Those seemed like the best, most honest methods of leaving someone.
Well, they didn’t work in China.
My first Chinese girlfriend — I had to end it when she became worse than your Tiger girlfriend. When I tried the face-to-face talk, she changed the topic. When I persisted, she pretended not to understand what I was saying. When I switched to Chinese (I am Eurasian), she asked me who I was sleeping with, and threatened to “expose” me to my employers. I hadn’t cheated, yet. Actually, I never cheated, ever — I sincerely thought we were broken up; she disagreed, even though it’d been a month since I’d firmly told her we were through, and sent her an email as written proof. This was followed by a (fake) pregnancy scare, even though it came long after we’d last been together. She finally stopped sending me angry messages when she found somebody new, a Korean who looked like Rain. When she met him, she quickly disappeared from my life.
When my second Chinese girlfriend started telling her friends we would marry by the end of the year (without ever discussing it with me), then moved her clothes in and painted my entire apartment lavender when I was away, I knew it was time for a slow retreat. I’d learned my lesson: the answer to how to dump a Chinese girlfriend? You don’t. It is her job to dump you, you no-good laowai. I instigated my own dumping, using the following steps:
Be sloppy, unshowered, and unpresentable in public. This may cost you your social life; luckily, I work from home.
Lose your job, or appear to have taken a severe pay cut and be unable to afford anything except instant noodles.
Introduce her to new friends of yours, who are eligible bachelors — or at least showered and gainfully employed.
That’s it. No Chinese girl (or any girl, really) wants to be with a poor loser she has to support. I blamed my transformation from decent, well-paid chap to sloppy, penniless bum on depression and stress; she dumped me as soon as I started to smell, saying she deserved a better man (like my friend the accountant). I truly hope she’s found happiness. I don’t wish anyone ill.
The beating-up of the husband is a rare, extreme case, different from anything I’ve ever experienced, but a warning to tread carefully when it comes to matters of the human heart.
Happily Single Man