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Chinese bromance


geraldinho108

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I hosted a 23-year old Chinese guy from Shenyang for his Philippine trip. We traveled together in the Philippines for more than 10 days. The first time we met we're strangers, but as days passed I observed unusual male-friendship-behavior (at least for Filipino norms).

 

He is so touchy...he touches my back everytime we cross the street, and he likes to have a heavy pat-then-brush my lap whenever we're seated side be side. And this is the most surprising...when we were happily walking in the park, we're so close to each other and he went for my elbow then clasp my hand..so we were actually holding hands while walking! It lasted for less than a minute, though it happened three times!

 

Sometimes he will also stare at me and will be amaze and say "So handsome!". Or will suddenly touch the hair on my navel area whenever I'm just snoozing on the bed.

 

I asked him if he's gay, and he told me he's not. I know he likes girls because he has a girlfriend and has so many pictures of beautiful women in his phone.

 

So I searched about it and it seems that bromance in China, Korea, or Japan, can be more intimate than in other cultures. Is this the norm for Chinese men and their guy friends?

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The way you describe it, it almost sounds dirty.

No, that behavior is very normal. Not every make in Asia is that way of course but it falls in the norm for sure. I'm so used to it in fact that I have to remind myself to not act that way towards other foreigners.

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Sorry if it sounded like that, but I don't know how I will rephrase it.

Anyway, the experience was just totally unexpected. Didn't know that two guys holding hand while walking is normal. For people with different concept of masculinity, these things are very outside the line. I thought I have enough cultural exchanges but with this experience, I say I still need to learn more things.

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I didn't know there was this culture in China either, so I was quite surprised. One day in Beijing recently I couldn't help but notice that two soldiers who were walking down the street in front of me were - well, not exactly holding hands, but touching each other's hands lightly, almost like holding hands. I thought I must be imagining this, and funny scenes from the Simpsons or from George Michael videos appeared before my inner eye. But then I told myself it must be a cultural thing. I was particularly surprised because overall, Chinese seem to have such a reserved manner.

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Young men holding hands is pretty normal in China. It's going away in Beijing I think, I haven't seen it in years, but as mentioned soldiers strolling around used to hold hands sometimes. My theory is that exactly because there are no gays in China (there are, I know), therefore holding hands cannot be gay, therefore you can hold hands if you like and still be just as straight. The OP's guest seems rather touchy, but still within the realm of normal.

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That one is definitely the most on the edge of them all, however, I'm pretty hairy and get touched wherever that hair is exposed. So, I'm sure if someone saw hair on my chest/stomach, they might do it, so once again, I'm not 100% surprised.

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I've had the same experience as the OP with my Chinese male friends, especially those from Northern or North-eastern China. Why, just the other day I had one of my 东北 friends give me a massive slap on the arse as a kind of greeting, and he's about as straight as they come. But then again I have also experienced it with friends from Sichuan, Guangzhou, etc. so I suppose you could come across it with any male Chinese friend.

The main thing is not to get the wrong impression. 99% of the time that touchy Chinese guy is straight and just trying to show his concern and friendship for you. In China at least, a gay guy would rarely be that forward for fear of being "found out".

Although definitely not all Chinese men are affectionate to other men, it is pretty common and can be surprising for Westerners. I guess it all comes back to the notion in traditional Chinese society that it is indecent for men and women to show affection to each other in public, so instead the universal desire for human contact is expressed through same-sex affection and doing things like going to the bathroom together in big groups. Personally I think it's rather sweet that they don't have the hang-ups we have in the West, that if we see for example two women holding hands in public we automatically assume they must be lesbians. But, hang on, in many European countries same-sex affection is also considered socially acceptable right? So it may not necessarily be a West-versus-East thing.

Edit: A couple of you have mentioned that Chinese guys tend to touch hairy parts of your body when exposed. I can confirm that many of them have a fascination with body hair, and are not afraid to go in for the grope on occasion.

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Okay, I also had the same experience with him touching my chin as if he's on the act of kissing me. With wide eyes and goosbumps I just stood up and pretended to do something away. Now I feel that I was rude. But I never knew those behavior are normal for Chinese men. Thanks to this forum, with real people and experiences, I say bromance with Chinese can really be both awkward and funny experience.

 

I agree with @tooironic, at some point, it could be better because the divide between what is feminine or masculine is blurred, and could be somehow liberating (unless they have other standard).

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This does seem quite normal in China. I have experienced on a few occasions with male Chinese, though it does not make it any easier. 

 

On one long train journey I had the misfortune to sit next to some teenage Chinese guys, who all wanted to get close to me. After looking directly into my eyes for some time one boy (15) said "Your eyes are very beautiful, blue and deep like ocean. Your hair is gold like emperor. You are so handsome. You have girlfriend?". They where confused when I burst out laughing. I said "back home, men don't usually say that to other men".

 

But after multiple experiences like that it is usually a desire for closeness and a way of showing admiration, I don't think it is intended to unsettle people (It still does ). Based on my own experiences it seems reasonably common in other East Asian countries too. Once they have had a few drinks they show even less restraint. At least one Korean guy said "I'm not gay, but you are sooo handsome!". 

 

When I visited Africa (Kenya), this was also fairly common. Men would take your hand directly and lead to different places. Though would never call you handsome though...

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Hmm, holding hands, yes.  Touching hairy arms/legs, yes. Hands on thighs, hands around shoulders, slaps on bums, yes, yes and yes.  These are all relatively normal between platonic guy friends.

 

Reaching across and touching your navel hair while you are snoozing? ಠ_ಠ hmm,

Touching you on the chin as if he is about to kiss you, making you wide-eyed and covered in goosebumps... ಠ_ಠ hmm, not really so common.  Distinctly uncommon, even, one might say.

 

Also, just because someone has a girlfriend doesn't mean they are not gay.  See for instance all the men who break up with their girlfriends/wifes when they realise they are gay (and all the women who break up with the boyfriends/husbands when they realise they are lesbian).

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Okay, I also had the same experience with him touching my chin as if he's on the act of kissing me.

 

Sounds like a romantic overture to me and outside the usual range of casual male behavior.

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@muyongshi, you may be right.

 

I sometimes travel inside China with a girl who is a friend, and sometimes with a guy who is a friend. If the girl does those sorts of things to me in the privacy of our hotel room, I interpret them as romantic advances. If I'm attracted to her, I reciprocate and we escalate. It has happened. (Not as often as I would like; but it has happened.)

 

If the travel partner guy did those sorts of things to me, I would be confused and perturbed and would initiate a very frank discussion about the boundaries of our temporary relationship. If that were not successful, I'd get my own room for the night.

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