Modern Life Q&A is a weekly advice column on the Global Rencai blog where Joy Chen answers readers’ questions about life, work and love.
Q: Which do you think is better for Chinese students after graduation, staying in the United States or going back to China?
A: Early in your career, your most important project is to develop yourself, and global experiences can be the quickest and most intensive way to do this. After graduation, it’s best for you to stay in the States for a while to further learn about American society.
A big caveat, however. I’ve noticed that some Chinese students spend all their time either holed up in the library or hanging out with other Chinese students, so that although they are physically in the States, they have little actual interaction with Americans. What a missed opportunity. So, I hope you look at this time as a grand adventure, and take advantage of your time here to broaden your perspectives and hone your communication skills. I give some tips on how to do this here.
What is an ideal marriage?
Q: Hello. Everybody is looking forward to love. However, it seems that there is less and less so-called love in modern life. People get into a relationship based on external conditions like whether the date is rich or whether the date’s family is powerful. What do you think is love? Does love have different definitions between men and women?
A: Indeed, it is a depressing reality in today’s society that people marry for many reasons other than love. I can’t imagine a life more lonely than being trapped in a loveless marriage.
To me, an ideal marriage is a symbiotic partnership. One person begins where the other ends. An ideal marriage is like a miracle in your life. It is that sacred, and you both make it sacred by dedicating yourself to each other every day. At first, you are two independent people with many options, and then each actively chooses to be with the other person. I’ve blogged about this here . I think that ultimately men and women want this ideal, though I think that men and women pursue love differently.
Should I marry for family connections or for love?
Q: I am 27 years old, and the former girlfriend had been almost 1 year, the main reason is because my parents not agree with, maybe my parents too each other family background is not very good and if married, may slow you down. Which leads to my final break up with her. To be honest, I really quite love her. Break up the moment, I cried, she cried.
After a time my uncle called and told me that he had a friend who is doing business, have their own factories, the family very rich. He also has a daughter, 25 years old today. There is no boyfriend, and an only child. The photos I’ve seen of her, and looks very ordinary, the kind of clothes a little rustic, extra baggage, Lueai, completely not my reckoning like the type, then wanted to refuse to recognize. But my parents said, feeling a need to develop, and other family background is so good, and filial piety, and the parents is business, people step wide, after your career will be of great help.
Joy, I know that I should choose the girl that I love to be my soulmate, but breaking up with that girl will make my family mad at me. They will say, “This girl is from a powerful family who can benefit you a lot in networking.” Sometimes I wonder if I will still consider that girl if she is not from a powerful family. If not, I will feel very guilty…
A: You already know my view on the subject of whether you should marry for love. As human beings, we all yearn for the lifelong connecting of our soul with another. In my life, I’ve experienced money and power and I can say there is nothing in the world sweeter than this kind of life partnership.
The peace and happiness that results will help you achieve more in your career. You obviously are a passionate guy and trying to do the right thing by everyone. In this one decision in your life, I hope that you will be true to yourself. Perhaps your family can find a way to do business with that other girl’s family which does not involve having to bind you forever to someone you do not love.
Should I have sex with a girl who I don’t want as a girlfriend?
Q: I have desire for a girl and want to have sexual relationship with her. I do not know whether it is appropriate. She has a boyfriend but she also like me. But I will not let her be my girlfriend. I do not want a girlfriend. Because I will attribute most my time to studying. Do you think having sex partner is appropriate and natural?
A: There is a concept in the United States called a ‘friend with benefits.’ The basic idea is: we’re all adults, and we all have ‘needs,’ so when the feeling strikes, why not have mutually consensual sex? From what I see, this works better in theory than in reality. Sex between friends almost always results in further complications, and even more so if one side wants more, as seems to be the case with your friend, even though she already has a boyfriend. If you do have sex with her, you’ll be getting more complications than you seem to want right now in your life. On the other hand, studies are not everything, and if you get out and meet some women for friendship and dating, you might enjoy yourself!
I welcome your comments, in Chinese or English, on the Chinese version of this blog post, which is here.