How to Introduce Your White Girlfriend to Your Asian Parents

by Jocelyn · 31 comments

Billy's father walking Amy down the aisle

Billy's father walking Amy down the aisle

When I first started dating John, my future Chinese husband, everything seemed as perfect as our first kiss by the lake.

We could have entire conversations with just a glance. Our chemistry was so good that, for weeks, I came to work every morning, beaming from bedroom bliss. And within weeks of getting together, we had taken two romantic dates together, and planned a third trip to Beijing.

So finally, after a little over a month together, John decided to go home and tell his Asian parents all about me. His report?

“My father said I can be friends with you, but not date you.”

Gulp. Not exactly what you’d call, uh, “perfect.”

So if you have a white girlfriend or fiancee, what do you do when your Asian family gets in the way of happily ever after?

Asian Parents Tip #1: Introduce Your Girlfriend, Please!

As long as your white girlfriend or fiancee exists only in their imagination, your Asian parents will fill in the blanks with the worst possible stereotypes about her. So it is vital that you introduce your girlfriend.

It’s no wonder my future Chinese father-in-law discouraged his son from dating me when he first heard about me. He thought I’d be another loose American woman, just like he’d seen in the movies (thank you, Hollywood stereotypes).

But after I met him during Chinese New Year, where we bonded over photos I brought of my own family, the tables turned and my guy never heard another discouraging word from his father again.

Sometimes, the ultimate way to get beyond “no” is to know — as in, having your Asian parents get to know your white girlfriend or fiancee, and discover that (surprise, surprise) she’s actually pretty nice.

Asian Parents Tip #2: Find Common Ground

Got something in common? The more your white girlfriend / fiancee shares with your Asian family, the harder it is to just write her off.

Let’s say your Asian family values a good education, and a good job. So if your woman graduated from Harvard, or works for NASA, don’t keep it to yourself!

That goes for anything your family might value (which, in the case of my Chinese mother-in-law, includes knowing that I, the vegan daughter-in-law, feed her son chicken, salmon and ribs every single week).

Speaking of my family, my Chinese mother-in-law loves when I ask her for more recipes and Chinese father-in-law gets a kick out of teaching me Chinese idioms.

Why? Because I’m interested in their culture.

So if your sweetheart has that kind interest in your Asian family’s culture — from studying Korean to taking Judo lessons — share it with them.

Asian Parents Tip #3: Show She’s One Filial Female

Chances are, your Asian family thinks your white girlfriend/fiancee is clueless on the most important Confucian value of all.

They’ve seen non-Asians on television sassing their parents, and putting them in nursing homes — and it’s the equivalent of an Asian parents’ horror movie playing over and over in their minds.

So why not replace that with a much nicer, more filial mental picture? Start by showing them photos of her with her family, especially with grandparents and older relatives.

Share comforting anecdotes, such as how she helped grandma put on diabetic socks, or made her dad his favorite scrambled eggs for breakfast. Just make sure they get the “she’s friendly to family” message loud and clear.

Asian Parents #4: Get Support In Your Corner

Even people can benefit from more rave reviews — and who else better than your Asian family members, the people your family trusts above all?

If your siblings, aunts/uncles or anyone else you’re related to adores your white girlfriend/fiancee, have them tell your Asian family members standing in the way. It definitely helped one white woman navigate some tough future Asian in-laws.

Asian Parents Tip #5: Rinse and Repeat

Your Asian parents may not open up at the first, second or even third meeting with your white girlfriend or fiancee. And sometimes, it can even take months or years to get them on your side. This is why persistence can be your best friend in times like these.

When his family dug in their heels, John refused to give up, instead staying by my side, and even bringing me home for Chinese New Year in order to introduce his girlfriend to his Asian parents.

Eventually, it worked — and I became his wife. Which turned out to be just perfect. 😉

——

Jocelyn: Guest writer for AMWW Magazine

Jocelyn: Guest writer for AMWW Magazine

Writer, Chinese translator and founder of Speaking of China, Jocelyn Eikenburg wonders if you can say “filial female” five times fast.

  • It always seems like a one way street! Someone needs to do a piece on how you would introduce your Asian boyfriend to your white parents…prejudice and suspicion runs both ways!

    http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/article/20110319/LIFESTYLE/103190305

    • @Susan, thanks for the comment! Interesting thought, that it might actually be harder nowadays.

      @ChellG, thanks for the comment — and suggesting an article on the flip side of this. Good point. I’d be open to exploring this in a future article.

  • Susan Blumberg-Kason

    Thanks for this great post! I was in the situation years ago and it certainly helped to meet my future in-laws in person. The thing about Hollywood stereotypes is so true! I had to constantly prove I wasn’t Sharon Stone or Madonna (this was the mid-90s, after all). My future in-laws were quite accepting after we met in person, though. It can’t be easier now, what with the internet and a greater access to US television and film.

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  • spiral43

    I’m sorry but this post is absolutely crazy. A advice post about a woman telling a man how to introduce her to his parents which she never met. Am I the only one ? I mean, come on. It’s like a man writing a post about how his girlfriend should tell her parents in minute-by-minute detail that they had a dirty ravaging sexual encounter all night in without a condom.
    I mean it’s not really her place to tell him how to behave towards his own parents. Obviously, he knows his own parents the best. And it should be his call how, when and if to make an introduction. It’s not really a good idea to poke a female opinion on this subject, or you’re going to blow it.(that’s right. breakup)

    Basically, this post should of been summed up very simply.

    Stop nagging, let your man do his magic on his own parents(because it is the right thing to do), and worry about your own parents. The end.

    • Well since she has a Chinese husband, I’m sure she is consulting him when she writes articles.  Also, some men might actually not know how to approach his parents.  Some men (we all have to admit can be pretty clueless with social interactions) go about it with the wrong idea or with actions that might seem like a good idea but make the situation bad.  

  • Robert Coffey

    These are really helpful tips! Thank you! This is really important because this is about first impression. And first impression lasts. This really helps…

  • Robert Coffey

    These are really helpful tips! Thank you! This is really important because this is about first impression. And first impression lasts. This really helps…

  • Really? My dad would be like “OMG you actually got a WHITE woman to DATE you??? That’s amazing son.”

    • Alley_alleycat

      My boyfriends family said the same thing 🙂 Although there are time they tell my boyfriend about an asian girl he could have married.

  • spiral43

    Please stop posting. You are making it harder for asian men to date outside of their race than it already is by writing this post. You are ruining the cause.

  • Lol, I remember when my Chinese ex introduced me to her parents.
    Yea, that was a raging disaster. To the point, they threatened to cut off her tuition, car insurance, basically cut her off from any support she got from them if we didn’t break up. I TOLD her to break up with me, as her education would take her farther than perhaps being with me.
    It was an absolute misery of a time for us both, and I have not dated another asian girl since, and likely will never again. Some lessons sear the heart shut, and it’s one I keep close about me.
    Miss Heather should be happy. Caucasians generally are at least respected by many asian families. Other ethnicities are unacceptable out of the gate.

  • Jeebler

    If my parents found out that I was dating a Caucasian female, they would be like “What?!! What did she see in you, you ugleh as heck?!!”

  • I met my boyfriends parents a week ago.  They were nice enough to go against tradition to let me stay over a weekend since it is a long distance relationship and it saved me a ton in hotel fees.  

    When I met his dad I said, “很高兴认识你”. (Very happy to meet you) He chuckled at me.  I took that as a good sign that he appreciated the effort to speak his language. 

  • Most Asian parents don’t have a problem with them meeting the white girl. Usually it’s a problem with the other way around – the white girl introducing the Asian boy to their parents that gives us trouble. I had to break up with my 2nd girlfriend because they wouldn’t accept me. =(

    • Brandon20808

       why? because they’re racist and brainwashed?

    • Jessica

      this is the first I’ve heard of this (your first statement). It gives me some encouragement!

  • Mrs. Duong

    Well, I’m married to a Chinese man and when his parents first found out about me, it was a nightmare. His father and sisters were convinced I had STDs and that I was loose, without ever having met me! They finally treat me with more respect, but it was a long road to get there.

  • Renae

    I’m a 48 yo WW. My HS boyfriend was (and still is) Asian. He was hot, sweet and an inch shorter than me! His Japanese mom and Chinese/Korean dad were kind to me. His dad was happy that my boyfriend could date a white girl with no hassles. In Hawaii, where the dad was from, that wasn’t common.
    My ex-hubby is ABC. His parents are from China and Vietnam. We had to sneak around. His 3 sisters were very snotty to me, even though they had white boyfriends. Unfortunately he kowtowed to his grandpa, parents and sisters and I came in
    dead last. Lots of verbal abuse, gambling and finally, infidelity. I finally divorced him after 21 years of marriage and 4 hapa kids.  But his issues haven’t dissuaded from AM at all! 
    Less than a month after my divorce, I met a hot Frat boy and guess what? Yep, he’s an AM! However, in this case due to the age difference, I don’t see myself meeting his parents!

  • Lindsay

    I didn’t exactly get a proper introduction to my boyfriend’s dad and step-mom (real mom lives in MN). In fact I was downright terrified of them at first. I became even more terrified when he told me one day when we were in the beginning of our relationship that I shouldn’t sleep over as often as I was. Apparently when his father went to go butcher a cow at a farm with his friend (who happened to be my boyfriend’s best friend’s dad) he confided in him that I was sleeping over too much and it wasn’t proper and we should be married if we’re going to do that (he’s no fool as to what was going on haha). My boyfriend’s friend happened to be with them that day and heard everything and told us. So after that I was kind of embarrassed and tried to not come in contact with his parents at all even though I guess his step-mom didn’t really care.

    Eventually they began asking him more and more questions about me. Is she your girlfriend? What does she do? Did she graduate high school? Did/does she go to college? Those are just a few I know about. It got brought up that I am a licensed cosmetologist which intrigued his step-mom. “Can she do my hair for cheap?” she had asked and he asked me and I said yes but I was very nervous. It ended up being a very nice meeting. I did her hair, she fed me some homemade food and gave me a little cash. I was about to leave when she asked if I would like to stay for a little bit and chit chat. She ended up showing me pictures from the last time she went to visit Laos which was really cool to see. His step-mom and I actually got kind of close and that was nice. She told me she didn’t have many friends and enjoyed my company. She also said I came in handy because I could read English better than her which helped when she found out his dad was cheating on her and she wanted me to go through the cellphone call records. She eventually left him and moved back by her children in Michigan. As far as his dad goes we are on good terms but I rarely ever see him. I’m not scared of him anymore either lol. He’s nice to me and very polite.

    His real mom I have only met once. She speaks little/no English but she is a very sweet lady. She made us a ton of food and was always smiling. The last time we were in MN we stayed with his brother and we didn’t get to see her because she was busy and we were busy. She did come to his brother’s house early in the morning one day and came downstairs where we were sleeping and told us she made a huge container of fried rice and then left.

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  • Anonymous

    Here’s the thing:  If he really likes you, then he’d defy his parents.   Let him go the extra mile.  Why women have to bend over for guys is beyond me.  As for his parents, they’ll come around because, they have no choice 🙂

  • I don’t know but my boyfriend’s parents liked me no problem. 

  • Confused

    My boyfriend and father-of-my-child is asian (laotian) and I am white. My parents don’t care that he is asian and my mom loves having an interracial granddaughter! However, his family doesn’t want anything to do with me or the baby… any suggestions?

  • Confused

    I was reading some of the other comments about how the family members were convinced the white girlfriends were slutty. This is my story. My boyfriend’s sister told everyone I was a slut and that the baby wasn’t his, and this couldn’t be far from the truth. The parents who are in another state think so badly of me and don’t really care about the baby.

  • Jin

    my dad would be so happy with it…my mom and sister would probably think I dislike my own kind

    • Bianka

      Stay open minded Jin 🙂 we (white women) would like a chance too

  • Hunter

    What about your culture?

  • Monkey1

    Any tips got an older white woman dating a younger chinese guy? He’s 12 years younger, we’ve been together for 7 months and he’s effectively moved from his home town and in with me. But no one knows about me. I understand culturally the age could be a huge problem. Has anyone come across this scenario ? I’m white British. He’s bbc and the oldest son.

  • International Observer

    This is all hypotheticals because in the real world AM/WF couples are so rare that the vast majority of Asian men will never ever need to actually use the advice in this blog. Most Asian guys want to date a White woman but very few scan and even fewer ever will.

  • Itchipod

    I really don’t agree with Interracial.