It was fascinating to be with someone from whom I learned something new every day.
After all, when a Chinese girl pouts, a million hearts melt; when I pout, I resemble a fish. Gorging on crispy duck and splurging on pirated copies of Downton Abbey?
Give lots of gifts, pay for dinners and, oh yes, remember to acknowledge that the Chinese invented pretty much everything.
However, as in any relationship, small things – which at first made our relationship unique and extraordinary – started to become exasperating after a while.
But it wasn’t the problem of my boyfriend’s mother that ultimately destroyed our dreams of a future together.
It was an accumulation of things I found increasingly hard to ignore, such as his criticism of Western women (who he would condemn for being overweight, aggressive and too easy) and my deteriorating patience with his personal habits (the stomach-churning sound he made as he spat in the bathroom sink – a daily habit of most locals – or his insistence on wearing the same unwashed clothes for several days in a row).
Having a native boyfriend was like being given a key to China.