To enjoy more success with women, Asian men might want to consider these bits of friendly advice from one who knows.

by Kate Kaneshiro


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et me start by reassuring you that you are not reading the words of a woman stupid enough to write an article like this under her real name. Being the daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin and lover to over a dozen Asian American men -- collectively, that is -- most of whom I love and admire immoderately -- I would not want my advice to be construed as being inspired by or directed at them. Some will figure out who wrote this anyway, but that's the kind of danger braved by female journalists with a compulsion for candor toward males. There's been far too little of it in the history of civilization, in my humble opinion.

     Let's be clear -- most of the advice I am about to offer in a sisterly spirit would benefit the majority of men I have come across in my thirty-odd years on earth, regardless of race or nationality. I aim this piece at the Asian American variety only because they happen to be the ones in whom I have the greatest personal interest. As an Asian American woman I don't like to see so much masculine potential blighted by a few faults which, in most cases, can be corrected with a bit of will.

     My advice is based on my own direct observations and those of dozens of other women of many races and nationalities. As some men well know, under the right (or wrong) circumstances women are scary in the detail with which they report the foibles of their men and would-be men. Some of their observations may sting, but intelligent men will accept is as a small price for upgrading their acts. Take my word for it -- you won't get this much straight talk directly from the women in your life!
    No man is more interesting than one who knows how to share his feelings and experiences. The reluctance to communicate is probably among the two worst traits of Asian men. Undoubtedly it harkens back to the Asian cultural preference for men who are taciturn and reserved. I am not saying you should become a chatterbox. Few women past their teens -- and certainly not many Asian women -- would enjoy the company of a man who talks constantly. However, sharing observations, aspirations, feelings or anecdotes on a regular basis enhances a relationship's bandwidth, and what's more important than bandwidth? Men who use words as though they're sending an old-fashioned telegram are boring.

    Ironically, the men most reticent about sharing their own experiences are also the ones who have the least capacity to listen. They will sit for hours on end watching the news or reading without showing the slightest interest in their mate's day or frame of mind. Even worse, when a woman makes some effort at conversation, they will listen for a short time, then fade back into the ozone or the tube without bothering to respond with a comment to acknowledge that they heard. Again, it's a question of bandwidth. If the man has no capacity to listen, the emotional connection becomes tenuous, often to the point of breaking. It's in their capacity to listen well that non-Asian men have the real edge in winning and holding the interest of Asian women, many of whom are starved for a man willing to listen. Listening isn't a passive act, as most men imagine. It is an aggressive, high-energy activity with a very high emotional content. In fact, there's nothing sexier than a man engaged in the act of listening. Many Asian men would become twice as exciting by becoming dynamic listeners.


    Some Asian men, mostly those born overseas, harbor the bizarre notion that their masculinity and status is dependent on the degree to which they exact petty servitude from females. I don't mind making and serving coffee to my men or male members of my family. What I detest is the assumption (which my men don't share) that I should make and serve coffee simply because I am a woman and not because I want to bestow an act of affection and consideration.

         In this regard, Japanese and Corean men born overseas are among the worst though I understand even the men in those countries have begun to change. Men who show proficiency in the kitchen seem more independent and masculine, and therefore, more worthy of being catered to, in the opinion of virtually all of my women friends, most of whom range in age from their mid 20s to late 40s. If you really want to show your masculinity, make coffee and serve it to a woman. With toast. If you still don't get it, you may be beyond help.

    Everyone loves being appreciated. Women are no exception, though many have lost hope of hearing compliments from those who matter most. Asian men are among the less skilled at knowing how to compliment women. Noticing a new dress or hairdo is about the extent to which most have ventured into the art of verbal appreciation.

         Few men are truly skilled at compliments partly because to compliment well requires a level of sensitivity and cultural savvy not encouraged in the males of most societies. French and Italian men are the best at it because many are trained to notice and appreciate things like fine fabrics, designs, scents and little inspired touches. Nothing you can learn to do will produce a greater impact relative to the modest degree of effort. The greatest compliments aren't the routine, expected ones but spontaneous observations about, say, the luminous quality of her skin in the afternoon light, the fragrance of her hair after a bath, the perfect feel of her hand in yours, the subtle insight of her remark. A great compliment says that you're alive to the possibilities of the moment. What could be more exciting? Again, it goes to a relationship's bandwidth.

    Of all the dumb things men do to blow their chances of making romantic connections, none is more damaging than staring overtly at a woman for an extended period of time without making a move to approach her. This is a blunder that men of all races commit constantly, judging by the comments of my women friends. In the case of Asian men, however, the sin is especially egregious because of their reputation for being sexist. The reputation is unjustified, in my opinion, at least as it relates to Asian American men raised in the U.S., but it's a fact of life. Perhaps because of this stereotype, when an Asian man stares, it seems to produce a stronger adverse reaction, almost as though he were personally delivering a sexist insult. It's unfair but it's real.

         Obviously, there's nothing wrong with noticing and appreciating someone you find attractive. It's even acceptable to let your glances linger a bit to suggest interest. However, if the stares become too blatant and insistent, it becomes an assault on a woman's dignity and privacy. The only eye contact such an offense is likely to provoke is a hostile stare back. Say you are sitting in a sidewalk cafe and notice a woman you find attractive. Your best bet is to let your gazes linger a couple of times, then look elsewhere for a while to give her a chance to check you out in return. Then try for eye contact. If she meets your eyes, she's probably interested enough to be approached, either directly or through the waiter. If she avoids your eyes, she's probably not interested and continuing to stare will only produce hostility and possibly a request for a table change. My sampling of women acquaintences may be biased, but I believe that Asian men would do well by being bolder in approaching women they find attractive, regardless of race. Maybe a third of American women are actively prejudiced against Asian men, but I believe at least half are open-minded enough to consider you on your merits. Those aren't terrible odds. So if you like what you see, don't just sit and stare, dare to go for it!

“ It is an aggressive, high-energy activity with a very high emotional content. ”