I never expected to marry a Chinese man...!

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Chinese man with African woman

The idea of dating or marrying a Chinese man never really crossed my mind before until when they came to our area. That’s probably the last thing you expected to hear from a Kenyan woman, but it’s true.

I draw a blank on Chinese men, apart from one simple thing. I assumed they weren’t dating material for me, and I wasn’t alone.

It made sense to me. I had only ever forged friendships with foreign Asian men at the university, feeling romance was never a possibility and had yet to move past “Hello” with any of the Chinese men at work, who almost never noticed when I smiled or waved at them while passing by. I never saw black women dating Asian men on television or in the movies. It was as if the universe decreed that there was a racial and cultural line that I was never meant to cross if I wanted to find love.

But a little over a month after this Chinese company settled in my area, Yao came into my life, I remember that day he was dressed in a black leather jacket. When my heart raced after our first dinner together, I thought it was just another youthful crush, a mistaken flirtation. Yet as Yao and I spent more time together, I realized that I loved him deeply – and that he reciprocated my feelings.

My relationship with Yao didn’t last, but he ultimately opened my heart up to the possibility of marrying someone from China. It took me a couple of date nights to realize that my assumptions about dating a Chinese – about dating Asian men overall -- were a lie.

My relationship with Yao taught me that love can happen anywhere, as long as you let your heart entertain every possibility of happiness, even the happiness least expected.

Of course, dating and loving a Chinese is a different experience from Kenya. I’ve discovered that, when it comes to loving a Chinese man, actions matter much more than the typical ways that Kenyans show their love. Unlike in Kenya, where it’s common for couples to bond over swapping “war stories” of past relationships, my husband prefers not to discuss my past or his. I’ve found that meeting the parents, something that sometimes never happens in Kenya is a big deal in China and means you’re serious, which is why my husband waited over a half a year to take me home with him. These differences remind me that there’s not necessarily one right way to love someone, and they’ve opened me up to new perspectives on what it means to be in a relationship and a marriage.

By the time I met Jun in 2016, I had already imagined a Chinese husband in my future. After all, I had never felt more alive with anyone than a Chinese man or anywhere than in China, a country that ignited my passion for foreign languages and writing. I realized that a new reality made sense to me – calling someone from China my family. With the encouragement of a mutual friend, I found myself falling in love with Jun’s gentle personality, his handsome looks reminiscent of the famous Chinese diver Tian Liang, his interest in existential philosophy, his dreams of a future in service to humanity, and the way he made me laugh again and again. He was perfect for me and still is.

Sometimes, the best things in life come about when you’re willing to transcend your past and embrace a completely different future…or husband.

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