Monday, June 3, 2013

Fact and Fiction: on the love lives of Western women in Taiwan


Not long ago, this ended up on my Facebook page. It was an amusing use of the Batman-slapping-Robin meme, and it was definitely channeling general sentiment (and general assumption) about what it's like to be a foreign woman in Taiwan.

(By the way, the font change to the reviled Arial is because I have tons of quotes below from other Western women in Taiwan, and the formatting looked weird with Georgia, so I switched for this one post. There are also some good links at the end).

But it also got me thinking - how true is it really? I suppose that could be easily answered with "of course it's true, everyone says it's true, articles and blog posts focus on it, women themselves will tell you it's true", and case closed.

I thought about my female friends, though (focusing on unmarried ones, because obviously the married ones have their own little setup), who live or have lived in Taiwan, and my conclusions were that it's...actually...not true. In fact, I could think of very few who suffered or were suffering from a dead dating and sex life.

Just thinking through that group, what I came up with was:

- unmarried but with long-term foreign partner whom she later married
- came here attached, broke up, quickly dated one Taiwanese guy, when that ended, dated another more seriously (and both of those guys pursued her, among others)
- had a local friend who thought he was dating her
- dated one Taiwanese guy for a month, broke up, dated another for several months, currently single
- came here married, divorced, didn't date again
- came here married, divorced, DID date again - a local - and quite successfully, gets lots of attention
- came here attached, broke up, went out with several Taiwanese and foreign guys, got hit on constantly, currently attached
- single, older than the bar-hopping kiddies, feel they don't  have a lot of options but is not totally alone  and have had opportunities and encounters with local guys (two such women)
- came here single, now in a long-term relationship with a Taiwanese guy
- came here single, left, came back briefly, met a Taiwanese guy, is now married to him with kids
- came here single, got together with another expat, married him (woohoo!), still gets hit on despite not being very attractive (that's me)

...and more, but these were the ones that immediately came to mind. If you look in the expat community you'll also find a bevy of women married to Taiwanese men. Not as many as the other way around, but still, quite a few. I don't know how many met their guys here, and how many met them in their home countries and came here for that reason, though.

Contrast that with the three (3) women I know who came here single and are still single - and even they don't totally lack for opportunity, and the zero (0) women I know personally who say they are "not attracted to Asian men". That's not a lot in the face of all the women who have had some measure of success.

Of course, this is all really just anecdata, but there aren't a lot of foreign women in Taiwan (anyone know where I can go for info on that? Separating women by country of origin as well? I am a terrible researcher) - and while I am extroverted and sociable I'm not that active in the expat community, so if I can come up with a list like that, it has to count for something.

I wanted to explore this more from other perspectives, so I reached out to all of my unmarried friends (I figured married ones, like me,  wouldn't have as much to say as they're not - how can I say this? - in the market). I asked all of them for their input, and many responded.
What I found instead shows issues far more complex.

I've included responses from several women (rough ages included because, while it shouldn't matter, sadly, in Taiwan it does), and after a disastrous attempt at interspersing quotes from them with commentary from me (with so many women, doing that and trying to give a brief background of each woman while retaining anonymity, it just made no sense at all) after my own commentary.

First, that pretty much every woman has chances to date casually or to have a sex life. Of course, that would mean casual hook-ups, and not all women want that (I sure wouldn't if I were single). So in that way this picture is wrong: sex isn't the problem.

Dating - real relationships that last, especially - is the problem. Here, options are limited. We all know why so I won't delve too far into it: the classic "the male expats aren't men we're interested in, and anyway they aren't interested in Western women, they're here for Asian women which *can* in some cases be kinda racist/fetishist but isn't always", "Taiwanese men don't go after us", "I'm not interested in Asian men" and "Taiwanese men are a possibility but the culture differences in terms of how women are supposed to act and what they are expected to do in a relationship make it harder/impossible".

To quote A again: "I wouldn't ever feel like it's impossible for western women to find love and, yes, sex in Taiwan. But, I certainly believe that the creature, that is the Taiwanese male, is much more shy, hesitant, and reserved than what you might be accustomed to in the west. So, I believe if you want it, you'll have to go out and get it. That is, unless you happen to meet Mr. Yikes!"

The common refrain was "it's easy to find hookups. It's hard to find guys to date."

Of course, dating and pursuing real relationships is a problem all over the world. This is hardly unique to foreign women in Asia! It may be a little harder here, but it's certainly not very easy in our home countries, either. I see a degree of difference, but not an insurmountable one. And if someone like me, who is not conventionally pretty (I don't think I'm straight-up ugly, just not 'candybox pretty' - I have some good features) and not thin, can garner interest (and I do - it must be my sparkling personality!) most women can. Even in Taiwan. Even in Asia.

I found that experiences attracting interest varied wildly, from "it happens sometimes - it's not so unusual that it'd shock me" (me), to "I get hit on ALL THE TIME" to "it's rare, or I am just approached for hook-ups" to "I feel invisible". But then, isn't that true back home, as well?

I did also find that women who say the stereotypes about foreign women in Asia are true are ones who have had chances to date and who have attracted interest - maybe not as much as they would back home, but not none. So the stereotypes can't possibly, as I see it, be 100% true.

Even with these, though, women will say "a lot of Western women don't like Asian men", but while they all say that this is a "thing", it's all pegged on these "other women" who "don't like Asian guys" - - but I've truly yet to meet any such women (or hear of many - I've heard secondhand about one, that's it). Either women saying this are trying to disguise their own feelings, or it's an assumption that is not nearly as true as people think.

I also found that the vast majority, when they did date, stuck pretty much to Taiwanese guys. In fact, looking through my friends, I couldn't think of any who'd hooked up with or dated, let alone married, a fellow expat. Looking at all of Asia, I know of one for whom it happened in Korea (no idea what became of them, I met them once 7 years ago), and a friend in China - the only other foreign woman in town besides me and some snotty Dutchwoman - who married a British volunteer she met on my last day there (who had been dating the Dutchwoman - it didn't work out. She really did have a personality issue). None in Taiwan. I am sure they exist, though.

This might be where the stereotype comes from - a few women complain about decreased opportunities (true - but that doesn't mean no opportunities). Then foreign guys notice that they and all their buddies are dating local women, single expat women they meet aren't dating anyone they know, and they know this is an issue in other countries in Asia (you could argue it's far more true in Southeast Asia, Japan, China and Korea for various reasons I'll discuss below) and so the assumption that "foreign women can't get none, no sirree" is born. Without that many foreign women in Taiwan to refute it, and many of those married and uninterested or lacking experience in the world of single expats, it becomes canon.

As above, this really is a problem in other Asian countries. I can only give sketchy input as to why, and would really welcome comments on this. In Japan, ingrained sexism and the whole "we are Japanese, you are a foreigner" mentality makes it a problem. In China, my own experience was the sexism of the men (NOT acceptable to me), and I lived in the countryside: the guys there tended not to be very educated, could not speak English (at the time I could not speak Chinese well at all), and tended to not really be attractive due to different ideas about hygiene and fashion. In Korea, there's the whole testosterone-fueled sexist pride of Korean men. In Southeast Asia, there are cultural ideas about dating that make it hard to, you know, date - but obviously most foreign women aren't about to settle into an arranged marriage (and couldn't if they wanted to). India is its own special story.

Add to that the assumption by many expat men - and upheld by foreign women who (as discussed above) actually don't feel that way - that Taiwanese guys aren't desireable, or they're effeminate, or that Western women wouldn't want them ("Why would she want HIM? Women in my own country don't want me, and I'm a manly man unlike that guy!" goes the wrongheaded thinking) - when in fact foreign women *are* dating Taiwanese men, and it's easy to see why this idea is so firmly entrenched in the expat community.

Anyway, enough from me. I'm just a boring old married lady who's never actually dated a Taiwanese guy. Instead, listen to a sample of women who have. You'll start to notice a few patterns - you may even think I hand-picked these responses to fit with my theme. Not so - I asked pretty much every Western female friend I have in Taiwan (including Taiwanese/Chinese women born and raised overseas) and these are the responses of those who wanted to contribute. Other than the fact that obviously my friends will fall into the demographic of "older than early 20s" and "people I like and get along with", they're about as close to a random sample as you could ask for.


"I came to Taiwan married, and am still in Taiwan. As I believe from my first-hand experience that it's easy for western men to find sex here, I found my way to the door of divorce court. And as a newly single American woman in Taipei, I opened myself up to new possibilities.

Over the five years that I've been here, I have been approached several times by random Taiwanese men asking me if they could "be my friend." The first time I naively said yes to Mr. Yikes, thinking, I was married and friends are acceptable. I explained that I was married and living with my husband in Taiwan. This man said it was okay, he was just looking to be friends. Not so! Mr. Yikes proceeded to grow increasingly affectionate over MSN (at the time) and then he began to profess his love and longing for me. Needless to say, I was married, so I stopped using MSN all together! No more "friends" for me."

"After my separation and divorce, I ran into Mr. Handsome, the guy I'm now dating. He worked under my former company. In the beginning, I went back to his company to look for him, but he wasn't working those days. So, I chatted with his friend/boss. We became friends. He was cute and I thought there definitely could have been something more there. But, anyway, I was looking for Mr. Handsome.

Mr. Handsome was finally there one day after I had gone back several times looking for him. He, unlike Mr. Yikes, was much more shy, reserved, and tender. I was the first to make a move. He was busy acting cool or shy, not sure which is was, so I just told him directly that he was indeed Mr. Handsome! He replied in kind, and we hit it off. We exchanged numbers, went on dates, and quickly feel in love and into bed!"

I wouldn't ever feel like it's impossible for western women to find love and, yes, sex in Taiwan. But, I certainly believe that the  the Taiwanese male is much more shy, hesitant, and reserved than what you might be accustomed to in the west. So, I believe if you want it, you'll have to go out and get it. That is, unless you happen to meet Mr. Yikes!

- from a friend in her late 20s/early 30s, American. She, like most of us, realizes it's not necessarily as easy as back home to date, but that no, you're not totally bereft of possibility.

Dating in your late 40s and early 50s is challenging in most situations, but doing it in another culture, let alone another country, can be either down right hilarious or one of life's greatest disappointments. 

Take Chinese culture for example, Taiwan specifically, most men in this age group are quite set in their ways and lack the spontaneity and energy I require.  I’m not your mother, cook, maid, personal assistant or spiritual advisor.  

Was recently “spending time” with a guy in his mid-40s, divorced, a 13-year son, owned several properties.  In the beginning, it was a nice experience, easy and relaxing, but after a few months of movies and dinner, I wondered out loud why we didn’t eat near his house.  His response was that his son might see us and be upset. 

Well, you know how that went down, but wait, maybe you don’t. Turns out the kid is very jealous of the father’s time since the divorce of a few years ago.  Things cooled a bit after this discussion, but revved back up about 3 or 4 weeks later. 

Let’s call him Bryce - who suggested we might want to take a trip.  Yeah…this is pretty much the equivalent of a sex weekend and I don’t give free samples, but I do love creativity and imagination.  So I declined the weekend, but suggested phone sex instead.   Thought he was going to faint.  Out came this little, feeble, old man response of not doing that in his culture. What’s the difference? Really, I mean foreplay is foreplay, come on, get in the game. 

It’s not that I really intended to follow through with this, but just wanted to gauge his willingness.  I don’t need the fountain of youth, but I do need someone who can keep up with me on my 40 km bike rides and is willing to jump the culture divide for some fun and play. 

I’ll keep on looking around, but remain disappointed in how constrained the duality of women’s roles remain in many societies.  You can have a job, but you’ve got to come home, cook, do the laundry, take care of the kids, maintain the house and more.  Watch out world, women are making their own money, have their own apartments and with electricity and imagination, men may become obsolete.

- from a friend and coworker in her early 50s, American, who was previously married to a Chinese man. She'll admit that opportunities are scant, but you'll note that that doesn't mean opportunities don't exist.

I came to Taiwan solely for career reasons. I had lived in Thailand for a year when I was younger and dated a guy there so I certainly find men of all kinds attractive (lucky me! ). When I first got to Taiwan I lived in Hsinchu and ended up dating an international student there briefly who was from St. Lucia. Then, after I moved to Taipei, I dated another international student for a little while from Belize. I should note that, for career reasons, I only ever planned to stay in Taiwan a few years at most and that made me a little shy of getting involved with anyone, especially a Taiwanese guy (not that I saw many opportunities). Most of the time, the interactions I had with Taiwanese men were kind of bizarre and bordering on harassment, but that can be true of dating in any big city.
I had a good friend who was Japanese-Taiwanese who I was hanging out with who was interested in me before I met my boyfriend. I met my boyfriend through mutual Taiwanese friends and he was really well-traveled and highly educated which I think did contribute, to some extent, to his open mindset. I think we had some minimal conflicts related to culture, class, and language misunderstandings (Chinese and English) but mostly it was good. He was a wonderful person and very good to me and we had an enjoyable relationship until he went to Guatemala for the Taiwan military service and I came back to the U.S. I guess we just really were able to relate well and our personalities really fit. I do not think I fit American cultural norms and I don't think he fit Taiwanese cultural norms and our personalities were more similar than any of those differences.
I still think it was more difficult to date in Taiwan and maybe I had less of a selection, but that might be "my fault" too in that I felt way more self-conscious and less relaxed in Taiwan. I found, overall, that it was much more difficult to meet people and create friendships in general so, for me, dating was just an extension of that. I also worked in an office full of white men who were terribly misogynistic so that soured some of my day to day thinking about men, lol. Overall, it wasn't that there weren't any opportunities, just that I knew I didn't want to stay permanently. Back in the U.S., I feel much more relaxed and can meet people much easier. 
- from a friend in her 20s, American, who had an office job here for a few years and has recently moved back to the US. She's absolutely right that it's harder, you have to be more proactive, there isn't as much of a selection etc. but note that in the end she did have a Taiwanese boyfriend after dating a few international students. The pattern holds: it's harder, but not impossible, and "Western women don't like Taiwanese men" isn't nearly as true as people think it is.
My husband is quite unique and was not the norm at all. The stereotype (ed. - of Taiwanese men being too shy/too traditional for Western women) is very real and strong. I made a huge effort to win over my hubby at the time. There is also the fact that lots of Western women are not attracted to Asians. I was different because physically my husband is not typical in that he is broad and has body and facial hair that I find attracts me to a "guy". And, my husband's family is not traditional and does not influence him so him so he had freedom to date me.
Let's also not forget that it is easy to "hook up" and hard to seriously date. If Western women approached Taiwanese men aggressively there would be lots of success stories. All I can tell you is that if a girl is assertive and takes the lead the guys will follow. It is true that the Asian men are intimidated and probably won't make the first move.
- from a friend in her 30s, American, who came here to study, came back to visit, and on that visit met the Taiwanese guy she'd later marry. Absolutely right that it's easy to hook up but hard to seriously date, but that's true everywhere. She notes that a lot of Western women don't like Taiwanese men at all, but note that she's not one of them.

I have lots to say about this. My experience is pretty different from what I hear a lot of Western women talk about. Overall, I feel like I get hit on or have guys ask me out in Taiwan on par with or maybe even more than in the U.S.
Just last night, for example, I went to a small local bar I'd never heard of because a Taiwanese female former colleague invited me there to chat. Over the course of a few hours, the Taiwanese bartender started chatting me up, we played the dice game (I'm not sure what it's called but something akin to Bullshit), he asked me if I'm married multiple times, told me I'm beautiful and otherwise flirted with me, walked me out to a cab and stopped just short of trying to kiss me. Another guy, an ABC, who we had barely chatted with, came up and quite directly asked me if I wanted to go home with him. This kind of thing doesn't happen every time I go out, but it's not terribly unusual. This isn't just in bars - I've had students aggressively hit on me in the middle of class, dudes approach me in coffee shops and someone ask me out on the MRT.
I'm not sure what to attribute this to, but I have a few ideas. I think I generally have an attitude of not really giving a fuck, that is to say, I don't put out the vibe that I'm looking for someone. I think that this is pretty attractive to some people. I'm also fairly outgoing in a social situation and will be friendly and shoot the shit with strangers, which I think can put people at ease a bit. I tend to go to more local places, as opposed to places that cater mainly to foreigners, and a lot of people I have met seem really pleased about that and tell me I must be Taiwanese at heart.
One Taiwanese guy I dated told me that a main reason he was attracted to me initially was because I am "manly" (his words). He went on to explain that I don't act super "feminine," meaning that I don't seem obsessed with my appearance, am not submissive and very different from most Taiwanese girls. (These comments could generate another very lengthy discussion entirely).
I'm certainly not the bee's knees, either. I'm 34 (with no husband or kids!), which basically makes me useless to society. I think I'm pretty charming and brilliant, but I'm not a knockout that people would trip and fall gawking at on the street. I've dated 2 Taiwanese guys in the last year and I've had guys ranging from 20's to 50's ask me out and at least 3 local girls ask to make out with me.
- from a friend in her 30s, American, who has been here for a little over a year. Since she's been here she's dated two local guys and garnered interest from others. Her experience truly is a bit atypical in that she's had more luck than most Western women, but the pattern still holds: Western women do date Taiwanese men, they do like them more than is often assumed, and they do have opportunities. We're not all chaste nuns over here, jealous of Western men swaggering around with women hanging off their arms. In fact, we're not even dating those men for the most part. We're not interested.
I was warned before I came here, but did not take it seriously because I thought I would be an exception the rule. Maybe others experiences are different than mine, or maybe the warnings were just not specific enough and not in enough first person voices to convince me that they applied to me too.
it might not give people whose interests are at stake a realistic picture, so you should balance that with some numbers. If you can find reliable numbers, all the better. (Ed. - I can't find any numbers. Anyone who can is welcome to link to them). For instance, I have the impression that Western men outnumber Western women by a large margin. Off the top of my head I can think of 9 Western women I know personally here. Two are married to Westerners, one is in a relationship with a Taiwanese woman, and the rest appear to have been single a long time. Through others, I know of a couple Western women married to Taiwanese men, but not well enough to know their names. If you wanted to look at patterns, age is probably a factor in how things play out too.
Age matters. I have met impressive local men, but they were younger than me and in marriages with small children. There's a definite stigma against older women with younger men that some of the younger men who seemed interested in me could not stand up to. The other issue being the importance of having children to Asian men. So the large number of chronically single western women I know here tend to be in their late 30s and older.
There is a crop of men who become available in their 50s here, after their children have grown up. Some are divorced or some just permanently separated from wives. Many of the divorced guys are not educated, or don't have money. The separated guys I've met are sometimes quite wealthy, but are rather old school and sedate, with or have well established habits in terms of what they expect of a woman. One issue I find with retired men is that they are at a different stage of life from me.
I feel more of an affinity - and probably share more assumptions in common - with specific younger Taiwanese men than I do with older ones, men in their 20s and 30s, but I am nearing 50. "Lao niu chr qing cao," (老牛吃青草) one man in his 30s who flirted with me constantly said, indicating that he did not have the strength of character to stand up to the stigma. Moreover, he did not want to disappoint his mother, who expects grandchildren.

My advice to a young American woman who majored in Chinese and asked me if I am making my life here and what I think about her moving to Taiwan - my advice was to put a time limit on it. If you don't want to teach English and don't find a job doing something else within one or two years, then leave. (otherwise, you end up with work experience only in a field you don't want to be stuck in.) Also, same advice regarding men.
- This is from an American friend who is in her 40s (I believe - I've never asked) and hasn't had the same luck as my friend above, and is obviously not happy about it. She's right that age does matter. Sadly, it seems to matter around the world, just more so here - for example, were I here, single and in my 20s before I was with Brendan, I probably would have had tons of chances if I'd taught business English then. In my 30s, were I single, which I sincerely hope and intend never to be again, I'd have options, but not as many - - and a lot of the guys who would be suitable are already married, many with children. She asked that for other stories, that she'd talk, but would prefer I write (fine with me, this adds an extra layer of anonymity). 
She agrees with a lot of my other friends that there are men you can hook up with, and Western women are generally more interested in dating them than one might think, but it's a lot harder. She's invited male friends over to her apartment - as friends - and had them act really weird about it, or show up and be "nervous", until she realized that they just assumed it was all about sex. It hadn't occurred to them that she had friendship in mind. One, she said, would not cross the threshold from her patio to her apartment out of "respect", and one said he was surprised she'd invited him and he had to gather the courage to come over (indicating he thought more was intended by the invitation).
She's noticed that it's different from China, in that in China men were interested in sleeping with her - a.) because they assumed American women were "easy", and b.) out of sheer curiosity and intrigue - whereas here they're more just shy. This doesn't mean they're uninterested, just that they don't have quite as strong assumptions about American women and they don't act on their thoughts - pretty much every Taiwanese male friend I've had has admitted that the idea of a Western girlfriend intrigues him, but he's either already in a relationship or too shy to act on that interest. As she said above, the older men aren't on her wavelength or are already married (although some become available in their 50s following divorces) and the younger one too put off by the stigma of dating an older woman.
She also noted that there seems to be a cultural space for "pink friends" - friends of the opposite sex (or that you have some attraction to if you're bi) with whom there is some chemistry, and to whom the married of the pair of friends can pour out, as to a confidante, all his (usually his) marriage misery. Sometimes those relationships turn sexual, other times not. She's not interested in them, having been through it once. 
This friend has also had some opportunity, although generally speaking she feels it's been a negative experience. Like my friends above, she has the chance to hook up if she so desires, but that's not what she desires. I can certainly empathize with and relate to that. 
I've observed this from afar as someone who's been attached entire time living in Taiwan, HK and Indonesia. The general quality of guys who move to Asia compared to the standard of women they believe they can get is something of a contrast. But after five years in Asia I know a few happy expat couples who met here. Yes there are a lot of horrid little men who date Asian girls and believe they must also be a serious catch for Western women. But lets not fight over them, ladies. Quality guys are few and far between. But its also very difficult to identify quality single guys aged 30 to 40 in London.
I would emphasise that the western couples I know who met in Asia are very well matched. I generally also find, unfortunately, that the chaps who marry Asian ladies tend to be a bit throwback and, dare I say, misogynistic. I repeat, don't fight over them.
Taiwanese men are often lovely, aren't they? Must be the aboriginal mix? Tall and handsome often. Life is a bit harder for western women in HK.
- from a British friend in her 30s who has a partner, but has a lot of thoughts and observations about this. I will say that I do know plenty of cool, interesting, nice, not-misogynistic, probably-not-suffering-from-yellow-fever Western guys dating Asian women here in Taiwan, so the "horrid little men...who believe they must also be a serious catch for Western women...who tend to be a bit of a throwback...and misogynistic" is a trend, not a fact that applies to all Western men dating or married to Asian women. And she's absolutely right that even in our home countries, quality men are hard to find. 
It's not even that most men are terrible. Far from it. It's that there is still a sexist imbalance in gender expectations that remains an issue in the West, albeit less of one, that renders a lot of men who in another era would have been fine into guys we just don't want. Add to that the relatively few men that any given woman has in her age group, and the fact that of those men, relatively few will have even friendly chemistry with any given woman, and of those, even fewer will have romantic chemistry with that woman and be actually compatible on other levels.
That's what I mean when I say "there aren't many quality men", anyway. I don't mean "all men suck", I mean "thanks to gender role expectations and socialization, a lot of the relatively small percentage of men in my general age group whom I might have otherwise been compatible with, the number of men I'd actually want to date is lower than it should be."
I was one of the typical white girls who was 100% not attracted to Asian men when I first arrived in Taiwan. It took me a year to even glance in their direction (which was difficult since they are everywhere for obvious reasons), I firmly believe the reason I broke my non-existent attraction to them was because I was desperate. Desperate for any kind of, well, warm fuzzies and physical touch from the opposite sex (like I said, desperation). Desperation is usually seen as negative, but in this case it was positive because it led me to my current Taiwanese boyfriend, possibly future husband. He in fact, is the exception to the rule, he is more aggressive than most locals and pursued me hardcore, and I didn't have to lift a finger. The majority of locals are too timid to even look in a foreign girl's direction. 
But when I did go out drinking/clubbing with friends before I met my now boyfriend, I was approached by Taiwanese and foreign men plenty, including ABCs, probably more so than in the states.....these situations I believe are a case by case basis. I have some foreign female friends who have absolutely zero luck with men of all shapes and sizes while living in Taiwan, but it might be simply that they don't fit the appearance most local men are looking for? Lots of possibilities.
...and finally, from a friend in her early 30s who "got over" her lack of attraction to Asian men and is now dating a Taiwanese guy.

Finally, you may want to read about the experiences of Eileen (married to a Taiwanese man, former Taipei resident, now in Shanghai), Veronika (Czech journalist living in Taiwan who has had some bad experiences dating here), and Bamboo Butterfly (there's a Part II to this post as well), and my own post on dating tips for expat women in Taiwan.


When I started out on this post, I wasn't really sure what I'd hear from my various friends, or even if anyone would be willing to contribute. I have my own views but was willing to have the entire tenor of the post changed by the responses I got.

Interestingly, the responses I got, while not always 100% in line with my views, are close enough that I feel confident in my opinions. I do think it's valuable to have these experiences available online so that women looking for perspectives on such a thorny, debated and often-misunderstood issue (and also one full of really interesting, often absurd, assumptions, like "come on, no Western women like Asian guys! They're sissies" - WRONG) will see that there's a wealth of experience out there to learn from.
I'm not sure how else to summarize this long-running project - it took me awhile to compile responses and even longer to figure out how to present them (I took the easy route! Woo!) but the lesson is clear:
1.) There are plenty of Western women who do date Taiwanese (and other Asian) men
2.) Just because Western women aren't dating Western men in Asia doesn't mean they're not dating, so let's please get our heads out of our asses on that, thx
3.) It is harder for Western women to date than back home, but it's not impossible
4.) Unfortunately, age is a more important factor (as is hewing to a local standard of attractiveness) than back home, an while it wasn't mentioned here, Western women seem to have more of an issue with language barriers than Western men (and possibly Asian women - I should ask around before I state that as a firm opinion)
5.) It's also hard to date back home, so it's not like going home means relationships are suddenly Easy Street
6.) It's quite easy to hook up in Taiwan if you want to, the issue is that a lot of Western women don't want to, and there are a lot of cultural differences in how these things work
7.) Yes, sexism and gender-role expectations are a problem as you might have guessed
8.) If you want a relationship you'll probably have to be more proactive than you would at home
9.) Just 'cause things look dire is not a reason to "lower your standards" - Good Lord Jeebus don't do that. Don't for a second let yourself believe that you have to "be more competitive and appealing" to get one of these Western guys that are dating Asian women. Because hey. To quote somebody that I used to know, "Compete? For what prize?"
10.) 加油!


blobOfNeurons said...

This post prompted me to ponder what the dating scene is like for non-Westerners in Taiwan. What have all the Indonesian, Vietnamese, Philippine, Malaysian and Japanese people been up to?

Jenna Cody said...

I'm interested in that too - but I don't have anybody to ask so I am not qualified to write about it. I get the feeling many of them, being as there are more of them (and the men and women of those groups are interested in each other, which isn't much the case among Western expats I've found - and that goes both ways), date and marry among themselves...and a lot of Southeast Asian women marry Taiwanese men.

Life said...

A great article to see the situation from a different perspective.
I am a Taiwanese guy who has been living in NZ for 14 years since 1996 when I was 14.
I have never dated a western girl, but yes for being as friend.
There certainly are many differences in terms of life experiences, culture background. However, these do improve as more understanding from both side. From understood nothing to laugh out loud on western jokes. As long as both want it, you will get there. We are all not that much different once understood each other. =)