Some interesting thoughts on Bamboo Butterfly on Dating in Taiwan (Part I and Part II).
I wrote a piece on dating advice in Taiwan awhile back (edited not long ago), but of course, my thoughts in that area are to be taken with a grain of salt, seeing as I've never actually dated a Taiwanese guy. I was in a relationship with the man who is now my husband within months of first moving here.
I don't entirely agree with Bamboo Butterfly, but it's interesting and true enough that it is definitely worth a read.
Basically, my findings are this:
It's true that your average Taiwanese guy is generally more likely to prefer what you'd say is generally an average Taiwanese girl (note the very heavy use of "generally" and "average" here - I don't wish to stereotype): quieter than your average foreign woman (although not nearly always: I know plenty of very outgoing Taiwanese women and just as many very quiet American women), slender...I'd say "more modest" and "not as showy" but really, c'mon, with all the fake eyelashes and butt-shorts I see in this country I don't really buy that old cliche. It's true that your average Taiwanese guy is probably going to be just as judgmental about qualities he doesn't like in women in both personality and physical characteristics than your average American guy or wherever-guy.
But...you know what? I'm, err, curvy. And by curvy I mean overweight. I'm flamboyant. I'm loud. I have bright red highlights and my favorite color is eye-assaulting aqua or cobalt. I'm talkative. I'm aggressive. I'm tall - taller than many, but not nearly all, guys here. I am everything a "typical" Taiwanese guy is supposed to not like. And yet, I've had plenty of interest shown in me - I've been chatted up (in a totally not creepy way) on the MRT, had students who clearly had crushes on me, was once told it was too bad I had a boyfriend and had compliments on my looks (which aren't much of anything, really) and had guys who initially seemed interested later on show an interest in friendship (which I tend to brush off, it's a bit weird when you're married), indicating that it wasn't just an interest in a fling.
All this just proves that for all those guys who like what you'd expect, there are so many who like something else. I do think a lot of Taiwanese guys who like a foreign woman (or foreign women generally) are the ones who don't want what they see as "normal" in Taiwanese women (I have no doubt that plenty of these guys will go on to meet awesome, cool, outgoing, flamboyant Taiwanese women, in addition to foreign women, though). They're the ones who don't mind a little curviness, who don't want the quiet, sweet, highly manicured "presence" that Taiwanese women are encouraged to cultivate - please note, I don't think all Taiwanese women actually are those things, just that the culture here encourages them to be that way more than, say, American culture encourages women to do so. Who think a little bit of loud&crazy is not only fun, not only acceptable, but desireable. If those guys didn't exist, I wouldn't have any Taiwanese male friends, but I do.
I don't agree that men in Taiwan generally aren't into foreign women the way that women in Taiwan are into foreign guys: I've had more than one guy tell me that they'd actually love a foreign girlfriend, but don't know how to go about making it happen, or are too shy and know it. I think this perception that Taiwanese men don't like foreign women is a false assumption based on the fact that they don't show it as much when they do like someone, and they often won't show it at all when they like someone they know they can't have (or are too shy to go after). Not always - I had one student who had a pretty obvious crush on me and, while he said absolutely nothing inappropriate, it was just really obvious. You know what I mean - a lifetime of being outgoing but really a big dork at heart means I'm not the best at figuring these things out and even I could tell. He probably could have hidden it better - so no cultural observation is universally true.
I do think a lot of foreign women don't realize it when a Taiwanese guy does like them, because it is true (and I completely agree with Bamboo Butterfly on this) that he's not likely to be as forthcoming, not as likely to act on it, and not as likely to make the first move, or any move. It's been pretty well documented by my local social network here that what we see as "friendly" stuff that a guy friend might do with a girl-bro is seen as what we'd call "casual dating" in the West. By the time a local girl and guy go out on an actual date in Taiwan, they're far more "official" than we'd consider ourselves to be in Western culture. A few of my foreign female friends have noted this: dating just happens differently, and a Taiwanese guy could be thinking he is making a move by going out for coffee, hiking or whatever one-on-one where a Western girl might think he's just being friendly. He might not be aware that his intentions are not nearly as clear as they would be with a Taiwanese girl, and she may not be aware at all that he likes her.
I've seen it happen more than once! This is an extreme example, but it happened to a friend of mine who went hiking, jogging etc. with a local guy several times and thought of him as a friend. Then one day he started talking about how they'd have to compromise their cultural differences as a couple and she was all "wait, WHAT!?" Not the norm, I think, but it makes a point.
Final thoughts: laydeez, look for the cool, quirky Taiwanese guy who wants what you have to offer. Don't get discouraged thinking that they as a whole are not interested. Chances are, they are. Don't think you have to morph into some stereotype of a quiet sweetling (which doesn't even hold much water in Taiwan: it's a cliche for a reason) - there's probably a guy in Taiwan who likes you for who you are now. Be more alert: what you might think of as basic friend stuff might be, to that guy, more. So don't write him off because he isn't approaching the whole thing the way a Western guy might. Be on the lookout for cultural differences and attitudes: you don't want to end up with a guy who seemed great while you were dating but then ended up having some pretty sexist ideas about what sort of girlfriend (or wife) you should be. Guys who are happy to buck those notions do exist - find one of them instead.
And don't lose hope. There's probably a Taiwanese guy out there with a crush on you right now - you just don't know it because he's not showing it in the way you'd expect.