*This article was written with extensive input by a young and educated Taiwanese woman. Then edited for readability and to supplement the information.
Foreign men often find it challenging to date Taiwanese girls. Culture clashes are usually the main reason behind this. Somewhat different from mainland Chinese or Hong Kong girls, Taiwanese girls are a subtle mix of tradition and modernity.
What’s “normal” for one isn’t necessarily normal for the other. Put the following 7 tips to work and you’ll get much better results. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money, too.
1. Look for the meaning behind what they’re saying
In Taiwan, when a guy asks a girl, “where do you want to eat?,” the girl may simply reply “up to you.”
Yes, it’s “up to you,” but it’s also “up to you to pick a restaurant that I also like.”
Taiwanese girls can seem to be flexible based on what they’re saying, but there can be a different meaning behind it. In may seem illogical to you, but they can be upset if you basically can’t read their minds.
Even though Western girls may sometimes be this way as well, they usually show a bit more visible emotion and intonation.
Asian guys are a lot more used to this than Western guys. It’s true of Japanese girls, Korean girls, many/more Asian girls.
Taiwanese girls aren’t always straightforward and they may not tell the truth because they’re afraid of inconveniencing others.
They don’t want others to think that they’re too demanding. It’s even impolite to make a guest, such as a foreigner (who is a guest in Taiwan), feel like a burden’s being placed on them. This can obviously be frustrating for foreign guys because what’s being said doesn’t reflect the actual intent.
What to do
Try not to show any signs of being impatient. If you’re getting frustrated, they’ll feel like they are indeed inconveniencing you. They can become even vaguer or even hide the truth from you. It’s a vicious cycle.
When dating Taiwanese girls, you need to constantly observe what they like. Pay attention to the details of their daily life – What are they always looking for when they shop? What kind of food do they usually order? etc.
By constantly watching how they go about their daily life, you’ll discover a lot of clues and gradually get better at answering your own questions.
Then she won’t always have to tell you everything, and she won’t feel the pressure of possibly inconveniencing you.
As you’re further into the relationship with a Taiwanese girl, she’ll be less likely to worry about possibly inconveniencing you. She’ll become more upfront with you. It just takes time to build trust, as with any relationship.
In fact, if she’s not this way, it may mean she’s Westernized, has had foreign guys before, or there’s some reason she learned to be a bit different than most girls. Think about it.
2. Be patient while they’re taking photos
Taiwanese girls love to take photos of everything, especially food and themselves. When you eat out with a Taiwanese girl, the first thing she’ll do when the food arrives is take a photo of the food, take selfies, or both. Then, she’ll very likely post the photos on their Facebook or Instagram immediately and tag the restaurant.
Then, maybe, you can eat.
As a Western man, you’ve probably seen this in your own country, but when it happens it’s common to make fun of the girl the bit. Of course, you just want to eat while it’s hot.
For Taiwanese girls, it’s more important to get their friends envious about what they’re eating and where they are. Is it cool? Up to you. But it’s girls being girls.
What to do
Get used to it, and don’t hate. Look at it as charming. Check your own phone, hang out for a bit. Don’t make fun of her. Maybe even take a couple of shots for her and let her know which ones you like.
If you act like you’re getting tired of her being “silly” or “immature,” she may get tired of you pretty quick. No girl likes being judged.
3. Don’t flirt with other girls
Nothing new here, no matter where you’re from. But again, it can be more subtle and you might not get the physical feedback you’d get from an American girl, a Latina, or a Filipina.
When you’re interested in dating a Taiwanese girl and she seems potentially into you, just focus on her and don’t flirt with other girls.
Even when you simply want to socialize with other girls as a regular friend, Taiwanese girls may still see that as flirting. She may think you’re not giving her your full attention may feel like you’re not really interested in her.
Taiwanese girls are in constant competition and they know the competition is rough. This can eat away at their self-esteem. Your looking at other girls could tell her you’ll drop her and move on to the next one.
Some Taiwanese girls check their boyfriends’ or husbands’ phones because they worry they may be flirting with other girls or cheating on them. And some girls will get suspicious if you don’t let them check your phone.
In fact, many Taiwanese girls choose to date someone who has average or even below-average looking so that other girls won’t be trying to lure him away.
So, if you’re a tall Western man with above-average looks, that’s considered attractive (but also dangerous) by Taiwanese girls. It’s best to keep your socializing down when you’re with her. You’ve already attracted her, but you have to build up her trust in you.
What to do
We’ve already been over most of this, but a few things here about drawing lines. The dumb way of dealing with this is to tell her to mind her own business and that you’ll do what you want. That’s more likely to lead to her ghosting you.
Unlike with Western girls, she’s far less likely to call you out on it. She may just go quiet and never get in touch with you again.
A better tack is to give her your attention. Compliment her. If you tease, tease gently. Do little things for her. Many Chinese and Taiwanese guys turn into lap dogs and let their girls walk all over them, and check their phones. That’s fine if the guys are OK with it.
If you want to continue having a life and perhaps dating other girls until you find someone special, you should never have to “let” her see your texts. You’re still a man, after all. And you at least deserve respect for your space and interests.
If you’re taking care of her, you needn’t worry about this. If she’s insistently nosy and goes behind your back, think very hard about if you want to stay with her.
4. Be as reliable as you can in front of her parents
Most Taiwanese families have quite conservative and conventional ideas about dating. It’s definitely changing, though.
In a traditional Taiwanese family, when parents meet their prospective daughter- or son-in-law, it’s more than just “get to know them.” It’s more like “seeing if they approve.”
Traditional Taiwanese parents care a lot about the background of who their sons and daughters are dating, especially when it’s an only child.
They’re not big fans of letting their kids learn through trial and error, like in many Western families. Taiwanese girls, or even guys, in such traditional families often have to get their parents’ approval to formally date someone and certainly to marry someone. Society generally expects that the kids should obey their parents’ wishes.
If you’re a foreign guy trying to date a Taiwanese girl, it may be difficult for her to trust your story. They’re likely to be concerned about if you’re serious or just playing around. If you’re staying in Taiwan or taking her away. The latter isn’t always bad, depending on where you’re taking her.
What to do
A good strategy is to be as reliable as possible in front of Taiwanese parents.
Be someone who seems like he can take care of their daughter, even for the rest of her life. Start by dressing neatly, cleaning up your appearance and minding your manners. Share stories about your caring for other people, especially your parents, or about overcoming hardship.
Of course, if you’re a well-paid banker or doctor, that certainly doesn’t hurt. But most guys aren’t. It’s fine, you still have a shot. Make up for a lack of “status” with your good character.
Don’t go to her parents unprepared. Know that you’re in a job interview-like situation. If the parents don’t approve, she’s quite likely to side with them. And again, you’re ghosted.
5. Most prefer guys who are older than themselves
The median age of first marriage in Taiwan is about 31 years old for men and 29 for women (source). Historically, the age gap has been the same for a while. This means, (a) unlike some other Asian cultures, Taiwanese take a little time to be adults, work, and explore, and (b) Taiwanese women prefer their partners older, but only a bit older.
Being older can imply maturity. They want men who are mature enough to make good decisions and not men who can’t make up their minds at all.
Being older can also mean having more life experience. Taiwanese girls like men who’ve had enough experience in life to be able to take care of things, be a leader, teach them something.
When you’re a foreign man, that’s a similar plus because you have that worldly experience that many Taiwanese men don’t.
What to do
Be older, lol. That’s easy for you. But if you like your women a bit older, you’ll have no trouble, especially if you’re a decent looking guy.
Be honest about your age. You can assume she thinks age matters. But like many girls, if she likes you for more than your statistics, you can get over larger age gaps. Some Taiwanese girls do like people who are a lot older, so don’t lose hope, and don’t lie about your age.
If your Taiwanese girlfriend finds out that you’re not being honest about your age, she might be gone. As noted above, she’s got plenty of insecurities and if she can’t trust you about something this basic, what can she trust you about?
6. Treat her with the same respect as in the West
Patriarchal culture still exists in Taiwan, like almost all Asian countries, at least on the outside. Women in Taiwan are, on the whole, less respected and hold fewer positions of power than in Western countries. Behind the scenes may be a different story, and Taiwan has had some notable female leaders. It’s still not in the mold of Western “equality” though.
Taiwanese men typically leave the household duties and childcare for their girlfriend or wife to take care of. They expect women to do all of the home-related chores, even when the women are working regular jobs. Taiwanese men also typically expect their women to show obedience.
So you can see how the acts of carrying her bags and catering to her photo-taking whims are part of the deal. It’s not all one-way, and not all women necessarily mind or are opposed to being the domestic head. It’s just how it is. There are subtleties and changes. And it’s not our place to judge here.
Many Taiwanese women are willing to cater to their boyfriend or husband in the earlier stages. But as time goes on they may build resentment to his ways or feel underappreciated. They may also have impulses of their own.
As in many Asian countries, there is also a similar pattern of seeing the Western man as an escape from this. These days, too, it may not be limited to Western men. It may be an Indian man, an African man, or another Asian man, especially a Korean man.
Korean men can thank BTS and the legion of new-wave manly Asians.
It’s not the 1990s anymore, when a “foreigner” was synonymous with being an American.
What to do
So, if you’re a foreign man looking to date a Taiwanese girl, try to live up to her image of you as a gentleman. It doesn’t take a lot. Hold the door for her. Carry the heavy bags. Cook her a meal. If you shack up, do some cleaning.
Most Taiwanese girls have seen their mothers work very hard and get very little reward for it. They may or may not have a deep emotional bond, but they see that they don’t have to be as servile and obedient anymore. Nor do they want to be that way.
7. Taiwanese girls usually don’t watch sports
This is a lighter one after some heavy talk.
There are many things that you and your Taiwanese girlfriend can enjoy. Competitive sports is not one of them. Even more than in many other countries a Taiwanese girl who likes sports is a rare catch indeed.
Taiwanese women rarely watch sports because their female family and friends don’t either. A lot of girls do play sports recreationally in school, but they usually revert to the trend of being as skinny and light-skinned as possible.
Even compared with girls in countries like Japan and Korea, Taiwanese girls uphold some pretty rigorous and not necessarily healthy standards of appearance.
If you make Taiwanese girls watch sports or go to watch sports with you, they’re likely to get bored really quickly. They may try to salvage the day by taking selfies. More likely they’ll just bury themselves in their phone until it’s done.
You can try explaining the sports to them, but if they’re interested, it’s probably a much stronger indicator they’re interested in you and they’re just being agreeable.
What to do
Although most Taiwanese girls aren’t big fans of watching sports, many do like to do light workouts, yoga, hiking, that sort of thing. Not too strenuous and not enough to mess up their appearance, but enough to get the heart pumping a bit. And of course, many selfie opportunities.
If you’re an active foreign guy, you can take her for a hike on a mountain trail, a jog or brisk walk around a city park, or maybe the gym. Yes, the beach is an option, too. But don’t expect her to go in the water past her ankles. And lots of sunscreen will be involved.
Conclusion on dating Taiwanese girls
Generally, as long as you take efforts to understand Taiwanese culture and take some interest in it, you’re pretty much good to go.
Although Taiwanese girls have lots of pet peeves as explained above, they honestly won’t mind if it’s a foreigner’s first time dating one of them. It’s a journey of learning.