A Vietnamese lady romance
By Roland (from Vietnam)
Dating a Vietnamese lady is complicated; nobody expects
relationships to be simple of course, far from it, but when dating so
far from home you have to be prepared to face some extra challenges.
Culture clash - the differences are usually obvious when one arrives in a
While most expats would tell you that
adjusting to it all doesn’t take very long, that’s not entirely true.
Yes, you do get used to seeing whole chickens, head and all, on people’s
plates. You get used to the lawless traffic and the tiny chairs, but
for most travelers, the bulk of the cultural differences won’t ever
register. You could live here for years without noticing them, however,
all that begins to change when you date a Vietnamese lady…
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This is a lesson that my flat-mate Andrew has gradually been
learning. He’s lived in Vietnam for nearly three years now, the last two
of which he’s spent dating a young Vietnamese lady called Ngon. Over
the past two months I’ve lived with Andrew, Ngon has been a constant
feature. She’s here most nights, friendly, always smiling, and she often
volunteers to do the cooking and cleaning.
There was never
any kind of suggestion that their relationship was heading for the
rocks, they seemed perfectly happy. Then one morning I noticed that
Andrew hadn’t made it home the night before. I knew the two of them had
gone out for dinner, but I only saw Ngon return to the house.
The next day he sent me a message asking if she was home - they’d had a fight and he was avoiding her. Day three of his absence came and went and I still saw neither hide nor hair of him. Ngon, on the other hand, was there each night. Finally, I saw him the next day. I was standing in the street outside when Andrew pulled up on his motorbike. He told me again that he was avoiding his girlfriend, though this time he hurriedly amended this to ex-girlfriend.
Despite the odd comings and goings of the past few days, I was surprised. Doubly so when he let slip that he hadn’t actually told her the news yet. He left soon after, Ngon spending the night at the flat once more.
By the time he finally returned home again, after nearly a week spent sleeping at a hotel, the curiosity was eating me alive. I’m not normally one to pry, but I had to know the story. Andrew is an easy-going guy, and spoke unreservedly. Perhaps he just wanted someone to talk to. It turned out that their fight had been a long time coming. Unsurprisingly, Ngon was a very different kind of girl to those Andrew had dated before. The women in his native Newcastle were like him – independent, quick to speak their mind, and with no fondness for drama.
Successful Vietnamese lady dating – heed these words!
Vietnamese girls, as with much of Southeast Asia, are in many
ways the opposite of western women. People here are more
community-focused and tend not to speak very directly. It’s little
wonder then that to Andrew, Ngon seemed both clingy and very emotionally
dependent. Where he liked to have his space, she wanted to spend each
day together. She was prone to jealously, growing upset with him
whenever he chatted with a female friend. Andrew also told me that she
was very quick to express her feelings, telling him she loved him after
just a few weeks. The Englishman clearly wasn’t very comfortable with
Forestalling my next question, Andrew explained to
me that there were many things he really enjoyed about dating a
Vietnamese lady. Ngon was loyal and feminine, and she always had time
for him. She was a good cook and insisted on taking on all domestic
duties. I began to get an impression of Andrew’s ideal girl – a
stereotypical 50’s housewife. That kind of girl, traditional, submissive
and focused on her family, seems to be long extinct in the west but
here in Vietnam such women remain common. Perhaps one could even
consider them the norm.
Some Vietnamese girls playing traditional music.
The problem, it seemed, was that Andrew wasn’t really a good fit
for that kind of old-fashioned relationship. That is to say, he’s not
really a very family-orientated person. He wants to have fun. He wants
to travel. He’s not even sure he wants to start a family at all. I could
almost picture him trying to decide between having the cake and eating
it. Andrew wants the benefits of a relationship with a Vietnamese lady,
all the while behaving as if she were a western girl.
seems impossible that they could have made it this near to a two year
anniversary without matters really ever coming to a head. Then again,
perhaps not, because of her more indirect way of communicating, Ngon
never says anything outright. She leaves Andrew hints, becoming angry
when he doesn’t pick up on them.
Andrew on the other hand
expects her to be direct if she has any problems with him. All hints
seem to pass over his head, and he simply avoids her whenever she
becomes angry. Astoundingly, while they seem completely incompatible as a
couple, the nature of their incompatibility somehow kept them together.
went out each night after that. He boasted about how quickly he bounces
back, arranging a new date each night. Barely a week went by before
they got back together, he told me that they finally managed some direct
communication. They’re on the same page now so he says. As far as I’m
able to tell he insisted that she be more direct with him, and that he
wouldn’t put up with any more “bad moods”. He also told her that he’d
likely be leaving the country soon, which she’d just have to accept.
Ngon, true to her submissive nature, didn’t argue.
it’s all smiles and laughter once more. They’re the picture of a happy
couple. How long it will continue this time, I can only wonder. In a few
months Andrew will likely move on to a new country. He’s considered
trying to take her with him but, unless they marry, it would be very
difficult for her to gain a visa to most destinations. The Vietnamese
passport is weak outside the SEA region, and the non-refundable visa
application fees are a difficult pill to swallow in the case of a
rejection, and applications are rejected more often than not.
situation sounds bleak, but I believe there is hope for them yet.
Though they often don’t see eye to eye, it’s abundantly clear that their
feelings for each other are heartfelt. Some sacrifices may be required,
but if they’re honest with each other, and themselves, they’ll be just
fine.Their story has been illuminating for me. I’ve just
recently started a relationship with a Vietnamese lady myself, and
can’t help but wonder if she and I will have similar troubles one day. I
don’t mind though; trying to understand the fairer sex might require a
little more effort when dating a Vietnamese lady, but I reckon it’s
worth the effort.