Emotional Expressiveness

By the Better Asian Man

I was once emotionally non-expressive. I was a master of what the Asian Playboy likes to call "the Asian Poker Face."


My life before the Transition Period

My mom raised me with very traditional Asian values-- values that she learned from her parents. These values stuck with her from her formative years (somewhere around 1965). Even though Taiwan has evolved far beyond the ways of that time period, my mom's values were still stuck in a time-warp; the die-hard conservatism from that time period remained in her, and was my model of behavior to follow for most of my life. The mid 60's was a complex time for people in Taiwan. There were lots of things going on at that time, and there was plenty of good reason to have lots and lots of conservatism in all areas of life-- academics, government, personal finance, individual thought, and of course, romance. The society that my mom came from placed an extremely high value on:

(1) Emotional non-expression.

I can recall one particular conversation I had with my mom (my parents were divorced when I was young, so I only ever really knew my mom) when I was 11. I was just at the point where I started becoming more and more interested in girls (prior to that point, all I cared about was playing baseball and football with my friends). I'm pretty sure that you could imagine what those raging hormones were doing to me at that time in terms of affecting my emotional state and the brand new emotions I was experiencing particularly in the area of my interest in girls. In this conversation I excitedly told my mother about some girl that I talked to in my class and how pretty she was. My excitement was nothing short of the kinetic energy generated by the full force of Niagra Falls. I can't remember exactly what I was doing, but I know I was pretty darned excited talking about this girl. After I had finished blurting out what I was saying, my mom sat there, paused for a moment, and replied with,

"Uh huh."

Immediately following that, I was scolded and yelled at by her for about 10 minutes on why I shouldn't smile so much and how I was moving my eyebrows up and down too much as I spoke.

"Why do you have to move your eyebrows up and down like that? Stop smiling so much.... no one will ever take you seriously."

I was devastated. I had no clue what the hell was going on. I was completely confused. I was so incredibly excited about this girl that I had just met (note: I probably talked to her for about 10 seconds about the social studies homework that was due that day), what we talked about, and I was so overwhelmed with all these new emotions (and hormones), that I just had to tell someone about it. I went out on a limb to tell my mom about it, and I got beaten down pretty badly for it.

My eyes are tearing now as I'm typing this and recalling this experience. How sad it was to have to go through that. No young boy should ever have to go through something like this.

So, from that point forward, I continued to beat down the emotions within me, to suppress the facial expressions that I naturally wanted to show the world, to suppress the emotional inflection in my voice that is so natural to everyone else in my life, and to fulfill one of the time-tested requirements of the society of 1965 Taiwan: emotional non-expressiveness.

Suffice it to say that this emotional non-expressiveness made it very difficult for me to romantically connect with women.


My life after the Transition Period

When I'm dating a girl, I want her to know who I am. I want to be sure that if she likes being with me, she's choosing me because of me. When I took the ABCs of Attraction bootcamp, I learned, for the first time in my life, that the primary means of doing this is by emotional expressiveness-- emotional expressiveness through facial gestures, through body language, through voice tonality, through voice pitch, through voice volume, and through eye contact. This key lesson, which was taught to me during our lectures and also practiced during our improv sessions during the bootcamp weekend, helped me dramatically increase my dating and romantic options. (In terms of the number of girls that I fully-romantically-connected with before being taught this lesson versus after, we're talking about a factor of about 6.5 times what I had before. Go back and read the ABOUT section on BetterAsianMan.com and do the math).

This one lesson that I learned from the ABCs of Attraction bootcamp weekend was in direct conflict with the traditional asian value that I was raised with in item (1) above. I finally realized that the ancient Eastern value of emotional non-expression, which was so highly prized in that society, caused disastrous results for an Asian American man living in the United States. The Western culture here places an extremely high value on:

(2) Emotional expression

Prior to that bootcamp weekend, no one had ever taught me to do this. I had a very successful career, and I interacted with all kinds of people-- my co-workers, my manager, executives who where two and three levels above my manager, support staff, and even clients of the firm. In fact, I was so good at interacting with all kinds of people that I became the only contractor in my division to be permitted to represent the firm to external clients for the purpose of negotiating project deliverables and timelines. I also had a very active community volunteer service record, with several years of volunteer work with various non-profit organizations (all geared towards serving the Asian American community in various ways), and I headed up teams of volunteers to execute enormously complex community projects. But with all of this experience in dealing with people in business, community service, leadership, and cooperation, not one single aspect of those dealings assisted me in figuring out how to give a woman one critically important thing she needs in order to romantically connect with me: Emotional Expressiveness.

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