Things to Consider Before Dating in Taiwan

Things to Consider Before Dating in Taiwan

Things to Consider Before Dating in Taiwan

The most striking thing about expat culture in Taiwan is seen in relationships. You’ll see many relationships between Western men and Taiwanese women in contrast to the other way around – Western women with Taiwanese men. This dynamic isn’t unique to Taiwan but it’s a reality that’s hard to ignore on an island this small. So rare are sightings of Western female/Asian male couples in Taiwan that spotting one walking hand in hand is enough to make one’s head turn.

Numerous factors account for this, many of which I don’t fully understand myself. But, I suspect the perceived higher social status of Western women and the big, black omnipresent beast that is Chinese patriarchy both play a role. Although patriarchy creates real concerns for women dating in Taiwan (or anywhere on earth), my intention is not to discourage foreign women from dating Taiwanese men.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind before venturing into the little-chartered territory of multicultural dating in Taiwan.

In fact, Taiwan is one of the best countries in Asia for women’s equality, so that’s good news. Here are some considerations to keep in mind before venturing into the little-chartered territory of multicultural dating in Taiwan.

Things to Consider Before Dating in Taiwan

Things to Consider Before Dating in Taiwan

Family Matters

Women in Chinese societies occupy a lower social status than men. Unfortunately this is still evident in the way that families are structured in Taiwan. According to traditional Chinese customs, a married woman has to move from her parent’s house to that of her husband’s parents. Here, she is expected to perform a subservient role in her husband’s family.

A growing awareness of women’s rights in Taiwan has brought about the end to some harmful laws that enforced this traditional family structure. Examples include guaranteed child custody rights for the father in case of divorce. Yet, the expectation that a Taiwanese woman should move in with her husband’s family still remains.

While living with your Taiwanese boyfriend’s in-laws might not seem so bad, for others it’s horrific.

Sky-high property prices in Taiwan make it difficult for young couples to move out on their own. This often causes married couples to live with two or three generations of family members — in one apartment. Yes, one apartment. It’s almost unheard of for a man to move in with his wife’s family. So, the burden of living with in-laws more often than not falls on women. As you can imagine, it’s often not an easy experience.

While living with your Taiwanese boyfriend’s in-laws might not seem so bad, for others it’s horrific.  For some Taiwanese women the possibility of living with in-laws is so unpleasant that it prevents them from dating, let alone considering marriage. A Taiwanese friend told me she recently broke up with her boyfriend.

This happened after his father told her that she wouldn’t be allowed to see her friends during weekdays if she moved in with them. H explaing that this rule was because it would disrupt the family order.  As you can imagine, she was not happy.

Attitudes Toward Women

If marrying in Taiwan is too remote a possibility to consider, it might be more helpful to think about how Taiwanese casual dating norms. Every culture has a set of “desirable” feminine traits it prescribes for women. Taiwan is no different. Here, being feminine means being fragile, delicate, and child-like. And when I say child-like, I mean child-like to a point beyond what would be considered normal in the West.

Seemingly innocuous behavior like carrying your own backpack, asking a guy out on a date, or ordering for yourself at a bar could all be construed by Taiwanese as unfeminine.

Seemingly innocuous behavior like carrying your own backpack, asking a guy out on a date, or ordering for yourself at a bar could all be construed by Taiwanese as unfeminine. It may even be considered to be vulgar. Be prepared to be judged.

Granted, not all Taiwanese people will think so, and you probably wouldn’t be interested in dating those who do, but it might be worthwhile to consider what restrictive views about gender are perpetuated in Taiwan. You’ll want to think about what you can do to combat them, before dating here.

Work Life in Taiwan

Although it might not seem directly related to dating, the East Asian work ethic employed by many Taiwanese people might actually have a big impact on your life. The stereotype of Taiwanese people slaving over jobs they aren’t passionate about, unfortunately is often true. Working long overtime hours at the behest of their employers, or tackling what I would consider to be leisure activities with ruthless and robotic precision, are often part of reality here.

Because of this work ethic, Taiwanese people generally have less free time than their Western peers. That means less time for dating. Much less.

Be forewarned that he’s very likely to choose work over dating or spending time with family and friends. That’s simply normal in Taiwan.

Taiwanese people who do make time for dating still might approach it differently to Westerners. They often view traditional Western dating rites (like going to the movies or to a nice restaurant for dinner) as frivolous. While not all Taiwanese guys are opposed to romantic gestures, many are. Be forewarned that he’s very likely to choose work over dating or spending time with family and friends. That’s simply normal in Taiwan.

Now that you are aware of the cultural norms that exist when dating in Taiwan, I hope you’ll enjoy your dating life. Take in the information and decide what’s best for you. You’re now prepared to make informed decisions for yourself, and have fun in the process!

Things to Consider Before Dating in Taiwan

 


Related Reading

Top Reasons to Visit Taiwan
Throwing Out the Rule Book: Getting Lost in Taiwan
Understanding Taiwanese Identity: A Conversation with Dr. Pei-Ju Mona Wu
Taiwan vs. China: What’s the Difference?

Do you have experience dating in Taiwan? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.


About Lane Pybas

Lane PybasLane Pybas is a wanderlust who moved to Asia after studying literature at a small liberal arts college in Georgia. She worked as a high school English tutor in Hong Kong for one year before heading to Taipei, where she’s currently studying Chinese, wandering around Japanese stationary stores, and feeling overwhelmed.

6 thoughts on “Things to Consider Before Dating in Taiwan

  1. Avatar
    Tar
    November 7, 2018
    Reply

    Ha! I think this article is just a woman’s opinion, instead of a objective one. Because of this site’s property, you tend to mention how things is “unfavourable” to women in order to “remind them how to think”.
    Yes, if you were born in western culture, or some other places, culture shock is common when you go to a country of traditional Chinese culture.
    Like how genders are in Finland, I think the idea that some country think gender gap is unnecessary is not a universal value, but if you grew up in a western culture, you tend to think that way.
    In fact, Taiwan is not a very typical traditional Chinese culture. You will see that some couple don’t want to live with both side of their parents. Men in Taiwan “should” have some traits, too, such as if you’re not tender enough, you may be hated by a woman and her “sisters”, for no reason, but why a man must to act like that? to fit most of Taiwanese women’s taste?
    And yes, currently Taiwan has a female president, it is really not a very typical Chinese culture, but that IS why I don’t like this country. I think men always tend to have a “soft” girlfriend, instead of a women who always want to lead you or who want to live like an individual.

  2. Avatar
    Ryalle
    January 19, 2018
    Reply

    I wholeheartedly agree with the author. I grew up in the western world with as a Taiwanese and has always been known for being “very Asian” compared to other western raised Asian kids. Moving back to Taiwan made me feel extremely western and don’t fit in well, especially working in the entertainment industry. Female models often are told to pose like a delicate, fragile, sweet, sunny girls contrasting to the usual cool, mature, unsmiling western modeling look. There are rarely female roles written as independent, strong and intelligent characters, we’re always helpless, airheaded, cute, damsel in distresses who usually get lectured on life by men. Typical Taiwanese men have an egotistical need to lecture women, mind you not all, but it’s a common case to run into one. Often, they can’t accept women who have better financial abilities than them, women winning an argument, women who have a mind of their own, or the men staying at home to take care of kids/cook/clean while the wife works. It’s extra hard working in the arts when you can’t act too western, as your career depends on making everyone like you, both back and front of the camera. Gender inequality is a huge issue. Female cops aren’t allowed to be on the street, besides occasional traffic work, only in offices while men do all the fun action work. As far as I know, I wouldn’t marry a typical Taiwanese guy unless he has a partial western mind.

  3. Avatar
    taiwan friend
    November 17, 2016
    Reply

    most taiwanese guys tend to be shy while approaching foreign girls in Taiwan.

  4. Avatar
    P
    May 10, 2016
    Reply

    I am a western woman who has a Taiwanese boyfriend (of almost 5 years). It is rarer to see it this way round, but I have never been made to feel “unfeminine” in Taiwan by anybody, even though I am very independent. I found one of the hardest things to get used to initially was my partner’s apparent need to do everything for me, which seemed like me losing some of my independence (I didn’t like it). Eventually I made it clear that I wanted to make my own choices as much as possible (even though I needed help sometimes, being new to Taiwan and not speaking any Chinese). So, I think nobody judges you if you do like to do things yourself, but Taiwanese men feel a greater responsibility to look after their girlfriend compared to Western men…..oftentimes this is a good thing!!!

  5. Avatar
    Doris
    May 10, 2016
    Reply

    Numerous factors account for this, many of which I don’t fully understand myself……

    Here, being feminine means being fragile, delicate, and child-like to a point beyond what would be considered normal in the West

    First sentences says it all really. Being feminine here does not mean being fragile delicate or child like. The author is so out of touch. Taiwan just elected a woman president and many women were elected as well.

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