For Many Chinese Women, Mr. Right Is Bald, Fat & Faithful

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wendi deng rupert murdoch
Couples like Rupert and Wendi Murdoch make sense when you understand the Chinese approach to love.

Media Baron Rupert Murdoch's wife, Wendi Deng, made international headlines last month after fending off a pie-wielding attacker from coating her husband in shaving cream and embarrassment while he testified before Parliament about his company's phone hacking scandal.

Part of the reason Deng's "slap heard round the world" made such an impact was that it seemed to suggest "I love my husband," rather than "I love my husband's money"—the latter being the assumption many could make about a marriage with a 38-year age gap, especially when the older person is wealthy and powerful. In China, the reaction to that slap was no less surprised, but unlike in the West, this was not the first time the Chinese masses found reason to praise Deng's marriage to Murdoch and his business empire. The first came when she married Murdoch in the first place. Wendi Deng And Rupert Murdoch: A Relationship Timeline

Several years ago, I moved from New York to Beijing. Within a few months of my arrival, I started to notice the differences between Western- and Chinese-style dating. For one thing, men carried their girlfriends' purses—little fake-Chanel pocketbooks, black leather sling bags, enormous pleather numbers with ruffles and rhinestones and tassles. No matter how ridiculously girly it looked, it was always slung over a male shoulder, or dangling from his fingers; with the other, he held his girlfriend's hand. The funniest moments were always when you spotted a guy momentarily alone: maybe waiting for his girlfriend outside a shop, or the women's bathroom. Then what you'd see was a Chinese guy in unassuming clothing—t-shirt, button-down shirt, jeans—holding a frilly bright-pink purse. Then there was the conversation I had with Lu Bin, my first Chinese guy-friend in Beijing. He was a little older than me—in his early 30s—and my go-to source for any and every question I had about this crazy place I'd moved to.

"I definitely approach foreign women and Chinese women differently," he told me over Sichuan food one evening.

"How?"

"Well, if I ask for a foreigner's number, I don't call her until a week later. But if I'm trying to go after a more traditional Chinese girl, between getting her number and going on our first date one week later, I should have texted and called her at least ten times."

I nearly choked on my Kung Pao chicken. "Ten times in a week?" I sputtered. "Before you've even gone on a date? That's insane! I would think you were a total stalker if you called me ten times in a week!"

I'd had a serious boyfriend for four years in New York, and even at the height of our romance, I'm pretty sure we talked on the phone just under once a day.