‘I love you’. Just three words. But three words some typical Asians like those of Chinese heritage find hard to say out loud when it comes to dating and romantic relationships.
There’s this common stereotype: Asians are reserved about expressing romantic sentiments towards each other. In a progressive world where traditional and modern perspectives collide, sometimes this is still true, and sometimes not.
There are different degrees of love, physical and emotional. Different ways of expressing romantic love during different moments – depending on our personality, the ways we are actually comfortable expressing it and what we believe in. Personally, I’m reserved about my love life and won’t be sharing my serious relationships here; it isn’t the whole world’s business.
When it comes to fashion and clothing in Asian cultures, modest and conservative styles are more acceptable. Skimpy, figure-hugging, translucent and transparent clothing tends to be frowned upon, or at the very least not the go-to look for quite a few Asians.
Modest dressing is my kind of style pretty much every day. But that’s not to say I don’t wear something bordering on the ‘wild’ side. Occasionally I do, and have no regrets even though I come from a typical Chinese background.
In a nutshell, for many men and women alike, modesty is about dressing in a way where we avoid drawing attention to ourselves and avoid inspiring sexual attraction. It’s also about our attitude and character, about being humble and reserved in the way we live our lives.
For some of us stereotypical Asians, showing physical affection and love doesn’t come easy. For some of us stereotypical Asians, expressing one-on-one intimacy like holding hands, hugging and kissing someone who matters to us feels hard or doesn’t cross our minds often.
All throughout school in Malaysia and Singapore, my Chinese-Malaysian parents wagged the finger at dating and romantic escapades. Physical contact with any classmate whom I fancied was frowned upon. Part of me resented this, part of me didn’t.