Dating in America: The Do’s and Don’ts as a Fresh-Off-Boat Asian Guy

The first day when I landed in Los Angeles, couple of girls in the back seat of another car were waving and smiling at me as my aunt was driving me to her house. I waved back and I could see one of the girls giggling. “This country is awesome, people are so friendly and it’s just like all the Hollywood movies! Or perhaps that one girl was giving me a pass?” I thought to my naive self. If only life were this easy.

Little did my fresh-off-boat self know there are a lot of cultural differences and norms that I needed to learn, especially when it comes to dating an American. As someone who’s foreign, we tend to generalize things including how American girls are like and the sort of things they like. Especially with all the Hollywood films, which may only portrait certain types of women and that could be totally misleading. In reality, the US is such a big country, and everyone is very different.

I certainly count myself lucky when it comes to dating in America, but it is not without a learning curve. When I first came, I didn’t have any friends so I joined a frat thinking it would give me an edge when it comes to girls. Wrong! I only joined for about a week before backing out. I then tried to put myself out there by joining different student organizations, going to events and concerts. One of my favorites was social dancing as I love salsa and swing dancing which is a great way of meeting people. I dated a few girls but for some reason I don’t click very well with dancers outside of the dance floor.

After going through a couple groups of friends, dates and short-lived relationships throughout the years, it sort of just happened when one of my best friends introduced me to her best friend. The funny thing is that I had just graduated and had accepted a job in other city. At the time I didn’t even know her that well but for some reason I decided to stay behind and declined that job. Maybe I was caught with a love bug at that moment, but she turned out to be amazing! She’s smart (triple-majored), sexy, funny, loves animals, traveling, and different cultures! We traveled all over the world, spent countless of silly times together, went through some long-distance relationship periods, and yet 5 years later, she’s still able to put up with me!


Mao and Then, Mao and Sara
Mao and his gorgeous girlfriend of 5 years.


I count myself lucky in every way possible, but somehow from my experience, I feel being in the Midwest is more Asian-friendly when it comes to dating or even making friends. I find people in the Midwest are more interested in learning about Asian people, maybe it’s because both coasts have way more Asians and the South is still quite conservative. Just food for thought.

Below are some of the dos and don’ts when it comes to dating an American for Asian guys from my own experience. Dating can be a rough road especially when you are foreign and knew nothing about the culture. But after some trial and error and putting yourself out there, I am sure you will do just fine.



Don’ts for an Asian Guy Dating in America

-Be shy. 

This is probably the number one reason Americans say why they don’t want to date Asian guys.

When my friend was giving me the “101 of talking to a girl”, the first thing he said was “just go up to the girl and say hi, and tell her that you are from Taiwan, and she will find it interesting.” I kind of just stood there like a stone, and as you could guess how that night went. (This is all before Tinder was a thing).

It’s simply not in our blood to go talk to strangers, let along trying to talk to women. Our culture is more like “can you invite your friend xyz to the barbecue and we could all hangout and get to know each other?” Granted that this the foul-proof traditional way, but our culture is just different.

In general, American girls like guys that are confident, not shy like the cutesy guys in Asia. It took me a while to get over this, perhaps alcohol helps, but you really just have to get out there and get comfortable.


-Be afraid to show your interest 

Back in the day in Asia, we used to write secret love letters to tell the girl that we like her, which is an indirect way of conveying the message. If she never writes back, yes we would feel sad, but at least it’s not a slap on the face in public. Maybe the love letters is a way of the past, but it gives you an idea of how indirect and shy our approach is.

It took me a while to get over the fact that it’s okay to get told no and it’s better to get my message across than thinking about the what ifs.


-Be too proper (boring)

When I asked one of my best friends if she would be interested in dating Asian guys, her reply was “of course! Except that they are all too proper!” We are not talking “proper” in the sense that the guy will say “Yes Ma’am, no Ma’am” but in the sense that the guy is kind of boring.

Asian guys are sometimes perceived as proper or boring may have something to do with our upbringings. The post I wrote about comparing the differences in education system between the west and the east, has a lot to do with this. When Asian kids are studying so hard all the time because their parents want them all to be doctors and lawyers, how much fun do you think we get to have? Myself included, was a victim under this kind of upbringing.

A good way to gauge is if you are trying to carry a conversation with a girl, and all she can reply is “oh cool” then you would need to try something else.

Try to live a little, and have some fun in your life or pursue some of your hobbies or passion. If all fails, go watch some Buzzfeed videos and I promise you the conversation at your dinner dates would go a lot smoother.


-Tense or Too Nervous 

Maybe this is more of a general dating tip, but it seemed to be worse for Asian guys. It’s not hard to understand why given the three don’ts above, that we may have a harder time getting loose.

I remember my first year of college (which is also my first year in the US), I met this girl through a mutual friend. We spent 2+ hours chatting on Facebook nonstop! We talked about everything from families, friends, gossips and all the other good stuff. At the end of the chat, she asked me if I would like to go to the Ludacris concert the following week, and of course I said yes. With it being one of my first official dates in the US, I was super nervous and I basically just stood in silence the entire time when everyone else around us was as high as the Empire State Building. It didn’t help either consider I wasn’t really a concert goer and didn’t really know what to expect. Needless to say that I totally blew it and that was the end.


-Play too much video games

I don’t play video games but it seemed like most of my Asian friends do, and a lot of them play video games 24/7. When you are playing video games too much to the point where you have nothing to talk about on dates but World of Warcraft, your chance could be quite slim when it comes to finding a girlfriend.

This is the number one advice my girlfriend gave my little brother who’s desperate for a girlfriend and yet he wouldn’t leave the comfort of his couch playing video games. You really have to get out of couch and put yourself out there to give it a shot.


Mao and Then Dating, Get out of your couch!
Try to get out more!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Photo credit: Eric



Do’s for an Asian Guy Dating in America

-Make her laugh

Being the proper and shy Asian gents, making her laugh is probably not our forte. However, if you are able to make the girl of your dreams laugh as much as possible, you will go very far. In fact, you know you’ve succeed if you’ve made her laugh to the point that she snorted.

The dating scene in Asia is quite different than the US. There’s a lot of mutual feelings and actions that determines whether he and she will be together or not. Sometimes the girls would even be the one taking the initiative and express their interest, especially in Japan. The culture in America is more of a traditional one where the guys would have to pursue and court the hearts of the ladies. Making the girl of your dreams laugh is one the ways to let her know that you like her and that you are paying attention on her which will lead you to more opportunities.


-Be a gentleman

Asian people are typically quite polite, but let’s take it one step further. In Asia we tend to just meet up at public places because we don’t usually have a car and use public transportation instead. But in the US, it’s always nice if the guy can go pick up the girl from her place. Make sure you open the car door, restaurant door for her and seat her down. These are some of the nuances that we don’t do in Asia, simply just because of different cultures.

Bring her flowers. I believe flowers are universal. My cousin once told me that always, always bring her flowers. No matter how much the girl may say that they don’t like flowers or it’s unnecessary, it would always bring a big smile on her face.


Mao and Then Dating, Always bring her flowers
Always bring her flowers



Appearance does matter especially when it comes to dating. Asian people are usually not obese due to our diet and body type, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have room for improvement.

Working out is such a big thing in the US and it is simply not as common in Asia. You do not have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger when it comes to working out, but a few trips to the gym while eating better and gaining some muscles could go a long way.


-Introduce her to your culture

America is a melting pot of so many cultures and people love learning about them. Be proud of where you came from and share your experiences. Chances are she’s never been to Asia and would find a lot of the stuff fascinating.

I remember when my girlfriend asked me if I had ever gone fishing and where. I said yes, we used to go finishing in this man-made fishing tank that’s the size of a tennis court. Merchants put fish in the tank and we pay a fee to sit by the tank and fish. My girlfriend burst out laughing and ended up in tears when she simply couldn’t believe what she heard. We simply don’t have the luxury of real fishing living in huge cities in Asia. By sharing my “fishing” experience, not only did my girlfriend got a laugh of her lifetime, she later took me on a real fishing trip in the deep woods of Midwest which was an experience I will never forget. I call that a win-win!



-Be Yourself

As much as I listed out many dos and don’ts when it comes to dating American girls for Asian guys, and perhaps you are going out of your way so that you can increase your chances, it’s still very important to be yourself. We are all very unique, and that’s what makes us special. At the end of the day, if she doesn’t like you, then she doesn’t like you. Don’t try too hard to be someone that you are not as you might end up hating yourself.


Now, get out there and go get the girl of your dreams. Remember, if you don’t ever swing, you will never hit. Good luck and comment below on what your experience is like.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *