By my late teens, when my friends were chasing football players, I had developed a thing for men with long hair.
This is a period that my friends tagged my ‘yeti’ phase.
To me, it seemed like mothering had been taken to a whole new level, but it’s the kind of mollycoddling that’s common between mother and son in China.
It has given rise to a cultural phenomenon dubbed the ‘Little Emperors’ – spoiled boys who expect to get everything they want, and whose parents break their backs trying to make their precious heirs happy.
So at the ripe age of 30, I have given up on trying to find my Mr Right. In Beijing, even the most average Western men are able to attract pretty Chinese girls, who seem to be under the impression that they have all the style and sophistication of Daniel Craig.
As a result, the streets of the city are filled with smug-looking Western guys holding hands with their pint-sized Chinese princesses.
But in the end the sight and sound of my beloved slurping his way through a dish of noodles, his face half an inch from the bowl as he sucked the meal into his mouth like a top-of-the-range Dyson, was enough to extinguish any flames of passion.
I am faced with two options: either scraping the bottom of a metaphorical barrel of Western men, or dating local guys, with all the challenges that entails.
However, as in any relationship, small things – which at first made our relationship unique and extraordinary – started to become exasperating after a while.
It was fascinating to be with someone from whom I learned something new every day.
Thanks to that relationship, I can speak colloquial Mandarin (including the kind of swear words that one should never, ever use) and prepare traditional Chinese dumplings with the speed and skill of Ken Hom.
Most Western women shy away from the prospect of having a Chinese boyfriend: they find them too traditional, overly effeminate (it doesn’t help that many carry handbags and adore boybands such as Westlife), and the cultural barrier too immense to overcome.
To me, though, these obstacles seemed like things that would make a relationship more interesting.