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Love and Romance in the East/West World

Glenn:    This month we're talking about love and romance in the East/West world.
Let's start off by taking on the philosophers and poets; how would each of you define love and romance?

Carrie - an American woman of Japanese/Polish descent who is absolutely in favor of East/West relationships!:
Love means being content and happy, feeling at home with the one I love no matter where we are, knowing that the feeling is mutual, and having complete trust in the other person.
To me, romance involves going out of your way to show love. Romance is love externalized.    

MRUTH - an American male who is living in Japan
Love is that funny little twinge inside that you feel when you're with someone or missing someone.....
Romance is the process of trying to achieve that funny little feeling...

Dave - a French male who is married to a Singaporean and living in the U.S.
I believe that love is more of an inner feeling, where romance is the expression of this feeling to the other person.

Mei - a  Singaporean woman who is married to a Frenchman and living in the U.S.
Love is when you care for a person's well-being and happiness, and do whatever you can to assist the person to grow into a better person.
Romance? I don't really know how to define it. I would say it a nice feeling that you have about the other person, the affectionate kind.

Vincent - a married Singaporean male who went to university in Britain
Love is a special type of feeling, developed right from your heart, for another person/beings. Because of love, you will be willing to take
care, show concern, contribute more then take, for the other party. They could be your parents, spouse, pet, brothers n sisters, etc…
In Buddhism, we have what we call compassionate love towards all beings…
Romance can only happen between couples. It's an effort put in to do something special for your loved ones.

Desmond - a Singaporean male who lived in America and says these are his 'Top 10 reasons why I'm still single...'
As Lloyd Weber would say, "Love is to see the face of God......."
Romance? Is to seek the face of God.

Kamikaze - a Japanese male who is married to a Chinese woman, and has lived in Singapore and the United States
Love is sacrifice. Romance is illusion.

Dan - a Japanese-American male, who was born in Hawaii, and has lived on the Mainland, and in Japan.
Hmmmmm... Wow! If I knew that one, I'd be married by now. I guess it's when you meet that special person that makes your priorities switch from "work and play" to "work and... ummm... whatever it is that married guys say."

Glenn:   Well, Dan, if there's still romance, it's "work and play with my spouse". Of course, in too many cases it's just "work and whatever play I can get away with"!! So, maybe romance is when you still want to play with your spouse?
But, then again, love and romance are western notions. As Tina Turner asked, "What's Love Got to Do with it?"
Is love or romance even necessary to a relationship? Or is compatibility, friendship, stability, etc. more important? Is it possible that love and romance could actually be a barrier to a mature relationship?

Vincent:    Love puts two persons into a relationship and romance keeps it going, so how can these two things be unnecessary?
Although other factors could be important, without love, there's no way for me to carry out a relationship that can last.
Some of my friends need to look for compatible partners even though they like/love the girl. But for me, what I need most is that both my partner and myself love each other.
Only love can create a home instead of a house when two persons get to live together.

Carrie:   I believe that love is necessary in a happy, fulfilling relationship, and that romance can help keep it that way by ensuring that the other person knows you still feel that way. I think that compatibility, friendship, and stability are a part of love.  Love and romance make a mature relationship better.
Sex and lust may be a barrier to a mature relationship, though.    

Dave:    I think that it is important to show the other that you care for her/him. What is the most important: to love or to be loved ? I think that it has to go both ways, you cannot receive without giving.

Kamikaze:    Love is necessary, but not romance in all cases. Men need to protect their partner. Females should not complain if there is no romance to their partner. In Asia, to be a man is hard! Don't Dream!

MRUTH:    Oh, this question has too many combinations and permutations to really answer...mainly because "relationship" can mean
so many different things and there are so many different phases that a"relationship" goes through, that at any given time the "requirements"
differ.
In general, I would say romance precedes love, and love (should) grow into something that includes friendship, stability, etc.
Romance and the desire to (be) love(d) can really muddy the waters and be distracting to achieving a mature relationship. BUT.....that's all part of the fun!!!

Desmond:    Ideally all of the above... but more often than not, a compromise is made.. some of this, some of that...
I'm seeking for all of the above.. hence, "..why I'm still single..".

Dan:    I guess romance isn't necessary to all relationships, but it helps sometimes. The best relationships usually blossom from good friendships and, now that I think about it, vice versa - but you'd have be extra lucky in the latter.
Western culture, and maybe others, put a pretty big emphasis on romance in relationships; which may actually cause difficulties in an otherwise ok relationship.

Mei:    Definitely those things are necessary. I think in order for a relationship to grow and last, there needs to be present a lot of elements. Not just love and romance or friendship or stability....
I can't say exactly what it is because I'm still learning about it myself. Can you define a mature relationship?

Glenn:    Umm, I'm sure my wife would tell you that I'm the last person who should define a mature relationship!
In regards to romance, what is the most romantic thing you've ever done or had done for you?

Desmond:    I have ever done? I've done the usual candlelight, flowers, etc..etc.. but for the most romantic thing, I'll plead the 5th .. even though I'm in Singapore now.

Kamikazi:    I don't remember such things any more. Too sad, but true.

Mei:    I can't remember any past experience in particular, but when I first met David accidentally in a mall, we ended up going for a drink, then a walk in the park, followed by dinner and a movie. I think that's the most romantic thing we've done since we knew each other.

Vincent:    Without her knowledge (my present wife), I flew all the way from the UK back to Singapore, to celebrate her birthday with her. She was very touched at that moment.

Carrie:    The night my fiancÚ asked me to marry him - he met me at the airport when I returned from an overseas business trip, drove me home to where he had completely decorated my house for Christmas, then took me to Christmas in the Park in downtown San Jose and popped the question with a beautiful diamond ring.    

Dave:    Getting married - Isn't it romantic to decide to spend the rest of your life with the same person?

Dan:    Wow! It's been too darn long... ; p

MRUTH:    that's confidential....

Glenn:    I know, I know. You could tell us, but then you'd have to kill us. Right?
Okay, how about the most romantic place you've ever been to?

MRUTH:    My Japanese onsen-style bathtub, with incense, candles and wine.

Carrie:    San Francisco - North Beach, Chinatown, the Mark Hopkins, Nob Hill, the St. Francis, the Fairmont, Fisherman's Wharf, Market St., I love all of it!    

Dave:     I don't have the memory of a particular place - I believe it is more a question of mood rather than the place itself. Paris is usually
referred to as one of the most romantic cities in the world. Personally, I think that it is polluted and overcrowded. Not being able to walk a few yards without stepping in a dog poo is not my idea of romance.

Desmond:    Hmm......... Niagara Falls during a cold winter night.

Mei:    I never really feel that 'romantic' has to do with the places you go. It's more like what you feel. Some times, Dave and myself want a quiet evening, so we just stay at home and read. We sit on the sofa and read, but never talk.
But when he holds my hands once in a while, I have this good feeling in me.

Vincent:    A simple beach in Malaysia, called Pengerang.  At New Years time, playing fire-cracker with the other party and followed by a long stroll along the beach...

Dan:    Lago di Como on the Italian/Swiss border. There's a rustic town, in a valley of the Alps, along the shores of the lake called Bellagio. I spent some time there with a girl I met in Italy. Most beautiful.
Bellagio was ok looking too. Ha, ha, ha. Joke. ; )

Kamikaze:    There is no such place for me. Sucky place becomes romantic place, if you go there with a lover.

Glenn:    There are a lot of cities and cultures with romantic reputations, but it doesn't always pan out, I guess.
Most of you have traveled quite a bit. Do you think there is a culture that is the most romantic or least romantic?

Mei:    Don't know...

Carrie:    I'm pretty convinced that the Italians win for being the most romantic, but I don't know about the least romantic.

Dave:    I should be ashamed, but to my wife's despair, as a Frenchman, I don't think that I am much of a romantic. Another one of those stereotypes.

Dan:    Most of the countries that I've been to have been similar romantically, with differing levels of exhibited closeness in public.
People say that the French are pretty romantic or that the language is the most romantic in the world. If that's so, Quebec must be the most romantic place in the universe.

Vincent:    At this moment, no idea yet…

Kamikaze:    Most Romantic - American culture. No romance is no relationship.
Least Romantic - Japanese Culture.

Desmond:    I thought the most romantic were the French.... but found it not to be true... Next, I thought it would be the Italians..
but again .. found it not to be true either...
Hence, I decided not to stereotype.... Goes down to the individual again.

Glenn:    I'm not sure if any Frenchman could live up to the reputation of France. I guess I'd rather come from a country with an unromantic reputation. So if it's down to the individual, then what are the most important qualities you look for in a partner?

Kamikaze:    Good Faith (honest to me). Not fat! Not talkative!

Desmond:    Trust.

Carrie:    Compatibility - we each had a mental list of superficial qualities in our heads before we met each other, but what really makes our relationship work is the way we constantly come up with the same ideas, same conclusions, same perceptions. It's almost kind of weird.   

MRUTH:    An independent mind, and a willingness to try new things and go to new places.

Dan:    Trust, caring, no NRA or Lorena Bobbit fan club memberships or homicidal tendencies, and a whoooooooooooooole lot of common sense. ; )

Dave:     Someone with character, who has opinions. I could not bear with a devoted wife who would just agree with everything I say.

Vincent:    She should be filial, caring, understanding, semi-independent, etc..

Mei:    Understanding, not jealousy, so that I can tell him whatever things I think of, without fear of him being upset. A liking to learn and expand his knowledge, moderate risk-taking. I can't stand people who stay unchanged for years.

Glenn:    Have you ever had an interracial, intercultural, or 'east/west'  relationship?

Kamikaze:    You know that Westerners are not interested in me. So I don't care. I married with Chinese. It is fine for me (though my forefather may be angry!).

MRUTH:    Yes.

Mei:    Yep.

Vincent:    An interracial/intercultural relationship with a Chinese speaking Indian girl. And East/West relationships with a British and a German girl (I would be more open, if I was not attached at that moment..)

Desmond:    Yes, I have been in one :-)

Dave:     You bet.

Dan:    I've had some. On the whole, they're very interesting. There was one thing I couldn't get over though. I had dated a girl in Milano,
Italy. She was very beautiful with a very nice figure. One day she took me home to meet her parents. They were the nicest people in the
world. The thing that bothered me was seeing her Mother. She was about four times the size of her daughter (in width) and really haggard
looking. ; p
The future... ummm... consequences of the relationship really scared me a lot. Ha, ha, ha. Joke.  

Carrie:    Nothing serious.

Glenn:    Would you be open to one?

Carrie:    That's a difficult question, but yes, if the other circumstances/qualities were right.

Glenn:    Other than fears about future girth, what are the hurdles and rewards with east/west relationships?

Dan:    I couldn't speak much Italian and she couldn't speak much English.
Other than that, we communicated rather well with sign language, scribbling, and the looking in dictionario. The language barrier was a
minor problem. We could still communicate, saw each other quite a bit, and enjoyed the time together very much.

Carrie:    The compatibility issue can be difficult. It's hard to relate closely when backgrounds are so different. Language differences
can make east/west relationships even more difficult.   

Dave:     I think it is hard to get over the stereotypes at the beginning. All the "I thought that Caucasians/Asians do this ...".

Mei:    That I couldn't speak in my language with him. On the other hand, he is more open and easier to be with than any other guys that I've been with.

Vincent:    It should be good if I am not attached… it's never difficult to have an east/west relationship..

Desmond:    It's basically your run of the mill relationship.. not much different.. But then again, I didn't have the pressure of family
back when I had those relationships.

Kamikaze:    Good stuff - I can enjoy different food, manners, and culture. I can learn (and feel) the different sense of values.
Bad stuff - I am Japanese. Therefore, I often feel that my wife is behind my life quality level. This kind of thing makes me sad sometimes. She might not like my best food.

MRUTH: Whenever you add another variable to a relationship it adds complexity. The mixing of east/west cultures is probably one of
the most powerful and potentially volatile forces in the world.
The fact that each person was engrained with certain behaviors and expectations very unique to the other can make these relationships hard, but not necessarily bad.
The diversity and trying to understand what makes your partner "tick" (or other), can be very rewarding.

Glenn:    Did you learn anything special from the relationship?

MRUTH:    Communication is REALLY important -- even if the sex is great!

Dave:    I've discovered that despite the cultural differences, human nature is the same all over the world.

Kamikaze:    Understanding the different values. Respecting their culture, even the sucky stuff.....

Vincent:    With love between a relationship, forgive n forget will be very much easier.. and the relationship could even work better..

Desmond:    Hmmm, I guess more insights on what makes the opposite sex tick... or get ticked off....

Dan:    The biggest thing I learned from the relationship, as with anything in life, is that the outcome of any endeavor (for lack of a better word) depends on the amount of effort you are willing to invest. If you're not serious about doing something, you're almost always inevitably destined to fail.
Don't jump into anything unless you're willing to invest your best.

Glenn:    I think I'll avoid the obvious jokes about that last comment!
Do the differences make for a better relationship or a worse relationship?

Carrie:    Worse.   

Kamikaze:    I don't really know yet, but in most of the case, better.

Dave:     It makes it richer, as there are more discussions and discoveries. This is for the better.

Dan:    It's hard to say. It really depends on the people themselves whether they find the differences endearing or irritating as hell. For
the most part, I'd say that differences add depth to the relationship.
Both people need to have somewhat of an open mind.

Mei:    I don't think there's any difference in a relationship with both of the same race or different races. It's just the nature/character of
the persons that makes a difference.

Vincent:    Better in a way, that there are more things to share and exchange..

Desmond:    Different views on life, relationships, family, friends... more insight to another culture.... I would say it'll have to
depend on the individuals involved.

Glenn:    What are the differences that you've seen between cultures when it comes to love and romance?

Kamikaze:    Sex habits.

Desmond:    Hmmmm... family... views of life... yada, yada, yada..

Mei:    I have observed some of my Chinese friends - married couples.
The way they expressed their love is to do everything for the other person, to the extent that they feel stressed out.
When it comes to westerners, they want their spouse to make their own decisions, or handle their own things.
I think that they believe that loving a person means supporting whatever each other is doing, but not necessarily doing it for them.
Sometimes this drives me crazy, because Dave wouldn't want to interfere in my decision, at all.
Differences in romance, I can't tell for now. But I think there shouldn't be much different.

Carrie:    The eastern cultures are definitely more reserved when it comes to expressing love and romance in public.

Dan:    Chinese, Japanese, Italians, Americans... it's all relatively the same inside. The differences usually come with cultural suppression of public affection, "common morality," and the like.
One thing I've noticed for sure. "Girl talk" topics are the same in every country.
Just the language differs. : )

Vincent:    Different ways for expressing their love for their love ones.

Dave:    I haven't felt any difference.

Glenn:    And the differences between cultures when it comes to sex?

Vincent:    How conservative they (Asians) are toward sex (especially Chinese parents, will not answer any sex related question to their children) and the way that sex is performed. Some cultures will never support oral sex at all.
I had a conversation on sex with my British girlfriend before. Oral sex is normal to them, they could even enjoy it at times. But in Asian
(especially Chinese) cultures, they will despise oral sex.

Carrie:    I have no idea!   

MRUTH:    In the US, sex is all over the media -- you'd think the US was sexually progressive from what you see in movies, magazines,
etc....couldn't be further from the truth!
Case in point -- the uproar about our President having a (couple) little tryst....
In Japan/Asia, sex in the media is more controlled -- you'd think Asia was sexually conservative...couldn't be further from the
truth! In Asia, sex and one's sexuality is a natural thing...there is greater openness/tolerance to sexual encounters and extramarital affairs
(not necessarily a good thing)...

Dan:    I'm not sure, but I hear those Germans and Japanese are pretty freaky when it comes to rubber suits, whips, rope, handcuffs, and hot candle wax. Yeeesh! Not my speed. ; p

Dave:     I think that in private there is no difference. The difference is on the taboos and how sex is handled publicly. Occidentals are
usually more open.

Desmond:    Haba haba.. er.... I mean.....Ahem.... Plead the 5th....

Kamikaze:    If I act like West people, people here call me 'Hentai' (strange).

Mei:    Maybe there's a difference. I can't really say for sure.
I think some Asian guys are more geared towards satisfying themselves, but some other (cultures) are more concerned about the partner.

Glenn:    Would you recommend a intercultural relationship to a friend?

MRUTH:    For some friends, yes; for some friends, no.
I think it takes a certain flexibility, willingness to experiment, and freedom from societies stereotypes. I think of my college friend who commented, when I told her I was moving to Japan for 2-3 years: "WHY do you want to go there? You're only moving farther and farther from us. Don't you like the US?"
Probably not a good candidate.

Dave:     Definitely, this is the richest and most interesting as long as you are open minded.

Kamikaze:    I don't wanna recommend to someone. It's up to them.

Mei:    Why not?

Vincent:    Yes, why not? There's nothing wrong at all.
Most important is that both of them must be loving. I had a girlfriend who fell in love with an Indian guy, and I have always encouraged her about this relationship.

Desmond:    I tend to stay away from recommending how someone else finds 'love'.

Carrie:    Completely depends on the people involved and those around them.   

Dan:    I wouldn't recommend any relationship to a friend. There's two things you should try to avoid selling to a friend. One is a used car
and the other thing is a relationship. ; )

Glenn:    Do interracial relationships contribute to a better world, or no?

Dan:    Not necessarily. However, if every person in an interracial relationship drove an alternative fuel vehicle or recycled... who knows?

MRUTH:    Yes, it shows everyone that with some tolerance we can all live together.

Dave:     Like I said before, I think that human nature is the same. Everywhere there are people who are envious and who destroy. I don't see how interracial relationship can help.

Mei:    I don't know.

Kamikaze:    I think so, but I am afraid that we will lose our 'Real Japanese Girls'.

Carrie:    I would absolutely have to say they contribute to a better world because, for one thing, I'm the product of one!!
I believe that they bring the world closer together, and encourage tolerance.

Desmond:    Again... it depends on the individuals involved.

Vincent:    No strong comment on this point. Only noticed that they made better looking babies…
My personal opinion is that interracial relationships should contribute to a better world…

Glenn:    Better looking babies? Hey, better looking babies grow up to be better looking adults!! I'm all for that!
I want to thank everyone for joining again. Any closing comments or philosophies about love and romance in the east/west world?

Dan:    Pre-nuptial agreements baby!!! ; ) Joke.
Look before you leap.

Kamikaze:    I was educated by my father this way -
Don't chase female (female should follow man).
Don't cry in front of female (even if the female says goodbye to you).
Don't expect female money.