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.

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.

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.

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.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.Petite and eager to please, these girls are so cute I don’t blame the guys for being attracted to them.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?His mother, although I adored her, was overbearing.