Friendships dating in china

When Westerners come to Shanghai, their first impression is often that Chinese people are assholes. But there’s a deeper psychological reason: If you are my friend, I will empty my bank account for you; if you are a stranger, I will cut you in line.Passengers crowd around the subway doors to board first. Rudeness to strangers is the flipside of deep bonds with loved ones.

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But whether they’re a representative sample or not, I’ve learned a lot from them.

So what can a Westerner, especially a Northeastern American like me, learn from the Chinese about relationships?

In China, generosity is a reflex, like saying “please” or “thank you.” This covers obvious things, like picking up the tab at restaurants, but it covers subtler things too — handing your neighbor a napkin as soon as her old one gets dirty, or serving her the moment she lays eyes on a dish, before she asks.

It’s as if everyone is scanning each other for the tiniest inconvenience so that they can jump in and fix it.

When my father flew to Fuzhou to give a lecture, the host university assigned a graduate student named Lily to accompany him.

Once, she offered to carry his notebook for him, and he said “no, I’m fine.” Lily looked so dejected that he changed his mind and handed it to her anyway.

A related principle: one should always offer much, much more than is needed.

Once I took a weekend trip to Yixing (pronounced “ee-shing”), a small city in Jiangsu Province about two hours from Shanghai.

Joining me was my coworker Dandan, our boss Angela, and Angela’s son Ben.

Since Dandan’s mom is from Yixing, and Angela is Dandan’s boss, Dandan’s mom did the polite thing and booked us an Audi A6 (black, of course) and a driver for the trip.

Before the car even left Shanghai, Dandan, Angela, and the driver pulled out snacks.

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