Dear Q: Lost in Translation

Dear Q,

Fate landed me in front of a new guy recently. (Well, technically he walked into my viewfinder when I was out photographing the city). He’s handsome, gentlemanly, and engaging. We’re both foreigners in the city (he’s a new arrival), so our dates have mostly been walks around random neighborhoods. I’m perfectly charmed in our short time together, but one thing worries me. Our only common language is Chinese. My Mandarin is decent for getting around, but not good enough to carry a conversation beyond food and shopping. My guy is a real newbie – he can barely ask for directions. For now, I’m enjoying our slow paced, light hearted fun, but I worry where this is all going. Can he really be my soul mate if 70% of our conversations are conducted in hand gesturing? Aren’t we going to run out of places to walk to in Beijing and need to sit down to talk about something substantive soon?

Signed,

Lost in Translation

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Dear Lost in Translation,

What a charming story about how to meet a guy! (All you single ladies out there take note – it’s time to buy a Nikon…or a dog). While you have reason to worry about what happens when you start feeling the urge to discuss the global equity market rebound and pandemic flu strains with your guy, think about the refreshing possibilities that your situation presents! Imagine how little room is left for fighting and frustration if you neither of you can say, “What’s that supposed to mean?” to the other. Or cutting out the awkwardness of the “Where do you see us going with this” chat. With talk (and nagging, and lying, and misunderstanding) out of the way, what you’re left with could be a simple and pure way to get to know each other. In this “less talk, more action” relationship, you can just do what makes you happy, whether it’s a walk in the park or a kiss under the stars, instead of getting caught up in words and second-guessing them. In the end, love is stronger than language and if you’re really into each other, you’ll find ways around the communication barrier. I know a couple that met on a European gap year trip when they were eighteen and are still happily married twenty years later. On their first date, he was two hours late because they hadn’t talked through the meeting details properly. Now, both are multilingual, having been motivated by love to learn the other’s native tongue. Your new guy could just be the key to improving your Chinese, and vice versa! Oh, and Beijing is big enough for you to take a lot more walks before you run out of trails to explore.

Best,

Q

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