COD­ING CROSSCULTURAL LOVE

Chi­nese en­trepreneur Yang Yanzhi helps peo­ple over­come be­liefs that pre­vent them from find­ing hap­pi­ness in their in­ter­cul­tural re­la­tion­ships

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - By Ka­trin Büchen­bacher

Like many young Chi­nese, Yang Yanzhi’s ca­reer path was cho­sen by her par­ents. In­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy seemed like a rapidly ex­pand­ing sec­tor with abun­dant job pos­si­bil­i­ties and high salaries. So,

Yang stud­ied com­puter sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, and af­ter grad­u­a­tion, she moved to Beijing where she steadily climbed the ladder of suc­cess from be­ing a pro­gram­mer to a man­ager. How­ever, af­ter 10 years, she’d had enough.

“I wasn’t a very ta­lented coder,” she said. “Other peo­ple were a lot faster than me.”

But her English lan­guage pro­fi­ciency proved to be her dis­tinc­tive ad­van­tage when deal­ing with in­ter­na­tional clients. It was also the skill that opened the door for her new ca­reer which, this time, was en­tirely her own choice.

It all started when she be­gan to date be­yond her back­yard and got to know men with di­verse cul­tural back­grounds. What sounds like an ad­ven­ture, soon turned out to be more com­pli­cated than she had thought.

“I found that it was easy to at­tract them, but hard to keep the guys that I ac­tu­ally wanted,” she said. “I asked my­self why I kept ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a sim­i­lar pat­tern with the guys I liked, why I be­haved the way I did, and why men do what they do.”

A sci­ence to every­thing

In­stead of giv­ing up, Yang started to do her home­work. She read every­thing she could about in­ter­cul­tural dat­ing, re­la­tion­ships, psy­chol­ogy, re­li­gion and spir­i­tu­al­ity. Af­ter­ward, she thought the skills and knowl­edge that had helped her could help oth­ers as well, so she hatched a plan. She cre­ated her own web­site Joy­ful­dat­ing.cn, named af­ter her English name Joy, and quit her day job to be­come a dat­ing and re­la­tion­ship coach that spe­cial­izes in cross-cul­tural love. In­stead of be­ing a con­tra­dic­tion, her tech back­ground comes in handy. Yang said she is es­sen­tially do­ing the same thing she used to do in her pre­vi­ous job, just on a dif­fer­ent sub­ject. Whereas she was fix­ing bugs in com­puter code be­fore, now she an­a­lyzes the “soft­ware” hu­mans run on.

“Peo­ple think feel­ings and emo­tions are il­log­i­cal, but ac­tu­ally, it’s also about a deeper un­der­stand­ing of hu­man be­ings. There is a sci­ence to every­thing. Some­times we feel ter­ri­ble be­cause our un­der­ly­ing be­liefs, thought pat­terns and rules re­gard­ing what we should or shouldn’t do don’t cor­re­spond with re­al­ity. As a re­sult, we de­velop a re­sis­tance to our­selves and our life.”

Yang helps her clients to re­build the be­liefs that are ben­e­fi­cial to them through con­ver­sa­tion. First, she helps peo­ple heal un­re­solved trauma and de­fine what they ex­pect from a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship. Then she helps them get what they want strate­gi­cally, un­leash­ing their full po­ten­tial in tak­ing ac­tion to find and keep a “qual­ity” part­ner.

Em­brac­ing dif­fer­ences

In un­der­stand­ing them­selves first, their mind can be­come more open and ac­cept­ing of other peo­ple, ex­plained Yang.

“Em­brac­ing our dif­fer­ences and ap­pre­ci­at­ing them will be es­pe­cially help­ful for in­ter­cul­tural cou­ples,” she said.

When two lovers from dif­fer­ent cul­tural back­grounds come to­gether, unique chal­lenges emerge. Chi­nese women tend to im­pose their own ex­pec­ta­tions and ideas on their part­ner, Yang said, draw­ing from her own ex­pe­ri­ence in past re­la­tion­ships.

On the other hand, many of her Chi­nese clients have re­ported feel­ing dis­re­spected when their for­eign part­ner speaks lowly of Chi­nese prod­ucts or cul­ture. Other is­sues are that for­eign men tend to avoid talk­ing about money or feel that the Chi­nese woman’s fam­ily in­vades too much into their life as a cou­ple, es­pe­cially when it comes to rais­ing chil­dren.

“Western men think that their child is theirs, but Chi­nese fam­i­lies see chil­dren as be­long­ing to the whole fam­ily,” Yang ex­plained.

She be­lieves that ac­cept­ing and em­brac­ing th­ese cul­tural dif­fer­ences and see­ing them as spe­cial and unique will lead to a feel­ing of grat­i­tude and ap­pre­ci­a­tion. In con­tribut­ing to happy and suc­cess­ful in­ter­cul­tural re­la­tion­ships, she hopes to have a greater im­pact on co­op­er­a­tion, un­der­stand­ing and peace be­tween dif­fer­ent na­tions and cul­tures. “I am proud of what I do,” she said. Ul­ti­mately, she sees her pur­pose as em­pow­er­ing women and help­ing them be­come ca­pa­ble, pow­er­ful and beau­ti­ful.

Still sin­gle

Oc­ca­sion­ally, Yang has male clients too. Franz, who wishes to con­ceal his Chi­nese name for pri­vacy rea­sons, con­tacted her to re­ceive dat­ing ad­vice. The young Chi­nese man speaks per­fect Ger­man and is keen on dat­ing a woman from an­other coun­try, but does not know how to go about it.

“I like tall and sporty girls,” he said. “But my prob­lem is, how do I get them in­ter­ested in me?”

Yang ad­vised him to show gen­uine in­ter­est in the per­son he likes first.

“Be your­self and find out what moves her, what she likes, what her dream is,” Yang said.

For some­one who knows so much about love and re­la­tion­ships, she has been tak­ing her time find­ing “the one” her­self.

That she is un­mar­ried and quit her sta­ble job to be­come an en­trepreneur has caused some dif­fer­ences be­tween Yang and her fa­ther, who she de­scribes as a very “re­spectable” man.

“For Chi­nese peo­ple, if you are suc­cess­ful, you are a win­ner. But if you are not suc­cess­ful, shut up and keep work­ing hard,” Yang said. “Once my fa­ther sees that

I am suc­cess­ful he will be proud of me.”

Dif­fer­ent views on money, fam­ily and child-rear­ing tech­niques can lead to chal­lenges in cross-cul­tural re­la­tion­ships, dat­ing and re­la­tion­ships, says ex­pert.

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