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In September 1999 -- my first month in China -- I had a huge crush on a guy.

My heart melted at that first sight of his big sesame-oil brown eyes.

One American participant in the study actually blamed Hollywood for projecting a poor image of Chinese men around the world, and I couldn't help but wonder if she was thinking of at the time.

Zhang's findings -- that Western women from around the world have consistently pejorative ideas about Chinese men -- remind me this isn't a problem confined to some insular expat circles in China.

In the still, he's locked in an awkward slow-dance embrace with a girl an entire head taller than him, but that's not even the worst of it.

The question haunted me as I pondered my crush on Tian.

But it wouldn't be the last time I would find myself up against these ideas.

As I continued to date the locals in China and eventually married a fellow from Hangzhou, I would come to realize that most expat women in China agreed with my Zhengzhou colleagues. A European woman I worked with in 2001 famously told me that, while she found all Chinese men completely repulsive, she considered Chinese children so adorable.

But some of my most fascinating and educative encounters with this idea of "Chinese men as undateable" happened online, when I came face-to-face with these opinions distilled into the cold, black-and-white reality of blog posts and expat forums.

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