Female Foreign: Relationship fatality in Shanghai

‘Female Foreign’ is a series in which our very own ladyship gives us her perspective on normal life in Shanghai – if there is even such a thing …

So, I already mentioned how finding a lover is on the difficult side of things in Shanghai. But the thing is, even if you do find someone who is nice and normal in Shanghai, then there are still kind of ‘expat issues’ that you may not have experienced before.

Because you are not meeting someone in your hometown, where things are just ‘accepted’. You will know the same places, same areas, and probably the same friends, with a kind of presumption that you will stay in that same area for the future.

Not so in Expat Land. None of us are here permanently and we all have at least one eye on the horizon, thinking about the ‘next’ place which will tickle our wanderlust and fancy for foreign finds.

So in one way, it’s a pretty strange way to ‘be’ in a relationship, but many of us do it. You can even live with the person, go on your holidays with them, stick together and socialise with the same group of friends at all times … but if one wants to change to country B and the other person isn’t ready to leave China — or has country C in mind — what are people supposed to do?

It isn’t and can’t be right for one person to make sacrifices only for the relationship, because where is that going to take the couple apart from inevitable resentment?

And it’s not like people are going to — or can — stop themselves from entering relationships in the first place, just because ‘the future is unknown’!

So, it really just ends up in some kind of on-going churn of relationships, whereby people mingle on a revolving door of only living in the present.

Which is perhaps, the only way that we can look at it: philosophically. To enjoy tour partner now for the time that you are spending together, without the usual strings and expectations which actually cause the problems in so many relationships. Like when people stay together and get married because it ‘seems the thing to do’.

If we basically remain smartly cool about the whole thing then maybe we can just focus on the plus sides of what we are enjoying, and realise that we do not have to do any certain things just for the relationship.

Easy to say, huh?


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Categories: Expat Life


Foreigner in Shanghai


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One Comment on “Female Foreign: Relationship fatality in Shanghai”

  1. February 16, 2013 at 3:21 am #

    I used to think like this, until I met my current wife. We were dating while in grad school, and I was talking about whether I was going to stay for another degree or go somewhere else. I asked what she wanted. She said, “I’m not following you unless we’re married.” I realized that my relationship with her was most important–more important than wanderlust–and proposed in a couple months. It was the best decision ever! And I’ve even traveled a decent amount since then.

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