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Angela was looking for a place to sit and I offered my table because the place was busy. She had her pastry and her coffee and sat down diagonally from me. At first we each kept to ourselves but at some point I said something I cannot recall which jumpstarted the conversation.

She is in her thirties, from China and works as a business analyst. She's been in Canada for seven years, is single and looking. Her traditional parents are already getting nervous that she is too picky and taking her sweet time about it.

We talked about each other's views on this topic because it interested her. She wanted to know my experience and opinion as a woman of Eurepean extraction who's been here most of her life. What I told her bristled against some of her pragmatism surrounding marriage which to me sounded a lot like a business transaction between two people. Her metric for knowing that someone loved you is that they paid for everything.

"What about when the woman makes more?" I offered. But Angela always managed to find a way to bring things back to it being a man's responsibility to be the main breadwinner. She talked less about love and trust than the physicality of showing devotion through providing things.

We didn't agree but I think I made her reflect during our discussion and opined that she might want to look outside the sphere of Chinese tradition in a multicultural city such as ours. She would be surprised how other cultural norms vary from hers.

We both came away educated about how different the concept of a union between two people can be in another culture. The hard part is being on the same page and sharing a perspective which is how her less than happy parents are still together; they both bought into a model which had to work no matter what.


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