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Vietnamese Courtship Customs - Courting an Asian
Courting is far more indirect in Vietnamese culture than in most Western societies. Vietnamese relationships pass in several stages, usually lasting for a long period of time. An engagement, for example, often lasts for several years and as far as marriage is concerned, it is viewed as a lifetime commitment.
The Friendly Beginning
Often the starting point of a relationship is a friendly date. The couple will go out together in public places as friends only and will be accompanied by other friends. During this stage of courting there will be no public displays of affection, the man has to be discreet and friendly or he will be accused of being too arrogant. It is too early for kissing or holding hands at this point.
Discreet Vietnamese Dating
That is the second stage of Vietnamese courtship and now couples may go out together without the company of their friends. Again, the keyword here is “discreetly”.
Vietnamese women cannot afford to be fast, they are expected to be pakipot (hard to get) because it is seen as an appropriate behavior when they are courted. A Vietnamese girl never shows her admirer that she is also in love with him immediately.
Playing hard to get is one way by which the Asian can measure the sincerity of the man interested in her. It also lets her show the man that he has to work hard to win her love. Some courtships may last for years before the woman accepts her admirer’s love and they become magkasintahan, a term for boyfriend-girlfriend.
Taking the Relationship Public
After some time the couple may decide to come out in the open about their romance. At this time they will inform their family and friends about their relationship. Every man who wants to be taken seriously by a Asian is obliged to visit her family and introduce himself formally to her parents. It is rather inappropriate to court a Vietnamese girl and formalize the relationship without informing the girl’s parents.
There is a tacit rule here that says: “When courting the Asian you are not courting just her, you are courting the entire family”. Following this rule will help you earn her respect by entrusting her family with high regard.
There are certain traditions that have to be observed when visiting the asian’s family. For example, if the man wants to be acceptable to the girl’s family, he has to give small gifts (pasalubong) every time he drops by her family's house. If you have any questions regarding which traditions you should observe, you may discuss them with the older siblings.
Engagement and Marriage
After being a couple with your Asian for quite a time and decide to get married, the first thing you should do is pamanhikan (ask the girl’s parents for her hand). More about this tradition and those following it you can find in our article “Vietnamese Wedding Customs”.
When courting a Vietnamese woman you will find that she is shy and reserved even when holding great feelings for you. This is a part of her culture and even for a Western man there is no way around that. You should treat your Asian with respect, lead the courtship with your heart and you may find a lifetime partner that will enrich your life as you have never imagined.