Dating in Taiwan: A Foreign Woman’s Perspective

Somewhere in the fictional version of New York City, Samantha Jones and Carrie Bradshaw are shedding tears for me. After 9 months of living in Taipei, I’ve just about given up on men in Asia.

I’m not converting to lesbianism by any means, but I suppose I’ve abandoned the idea that I will meet anyone worthwhile during my stint in Asia.

In case you haven’t already figured it out, foreign women get the short end of the dating stick over here. We are hands down, the least sexually satisfied demographic in Asia.

I did an unscientific poll and asked female foreigners living in Taipei, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul what their dating and sex life is like and almost all of them gave me the same answer- it’s non-existent. They all agree that celibacy and singledom is a begrudgingly accepted part of life.

I won’t bother getting into how easy it is for any male ex-pat to find a girlfriend and/or f&ck buddy. We’re all aware of this fact and have certainly seen mismatched couples consisting of bombshell local chicks with ‘bottom of the barrel-esque’ foreign guys.

If I sound bitter, I’m not.

I’ve had more than my fair share of mock-relationships with both locals and foreigners. Hell, I even had a short-term fling with a Taiwanese celebrity. Trust me, I’ve seen the broad spectrum of men Taipei has to offer.
But, if you want to know why female ex-pat’s have a tough time finding a boyfriend or decent fling the answer is simple: we are the unwanted demographic.


I don’t have a bloated sense of entitlement nor do I have unrealistic expectations when it comes to men. If I could find a Don Draper + Daniel Henney + Johnny Depp mix of a man I’d probably spontaneously combust from the endorphins alone but, I know that’s never going to happen. And in Taipei? Hell. F&cking. No.

The simple fact remains that both locals and foreign guys have no interest in dating us.

Let’s start with locals:

‘Unwanted-ness’ is a two-way street especially with this group. Here’s my justification for that statement:

1) Physical attraction to locals for me- dwindles at a very, very low percentage. Puffy hair, shiny marshmallow jackets, skinny jeans and flip flops in the winter don’t exactly get my panties soaking. Maybe local men are an acquired taste, like betelnut? I find both revolting but, that’s just me…

2) The language barrier is a huge strike, because in case you didn’t already know- women love talking. Decent communication can be shirked initially, however the minimal scope of topics can get old, real quick.

3) Local guys are very shy compared to foreigners. You can’t come on too strong nor can you wait around for them to make the first move. Rock and a hard place, anyone? Being shy was cute in high school. It isn’t anymore.

4) How many local guys do you know who would be open-minded about dating a foreigner? I wouldn’t imagine very many and if they exist, they must be hiding under a bridge somewhere.
Suffice to say, a foreign woman dating a local man probably won’t end up working out.

So now, let’s move onto the foreign men:

We aren’t considered desirable because for most guys it’s a ‘been there, done that’ type of attitude.
1) Male ex-pats come to Asia to experience the culture and more importantly to become acquainted with the local chicks. For many of them this is their first taste of Asian women. Why would they bother with a native speaker? They can go back home in a year or two and find plenty of girls like us over there.

2) The language barrier works in their favor. Most foreigners know they don’t have to ‘really’ be serious about this girl because it can’t go anywhere. It’s a fling and breaking up with a girl because of communication issues is one of the best and most legitimate excuses a guy can have in Asia. A foreign guy will want us is if he’s been in Asia for a while and MISSES having a decent, witty and smart conversation.

3) Local women will let foreign guys treat them like crap without consequence and stick around. Many foreign guys I’ve spoken to admit that they know they can get away with murder when it comes to locals. As much as the guys crave the ‘Asian’ experience in Taiwan, these women crave the ‘Western’ experience and will put up with Johnny American being a jerkoff, just because his blonde hair and blue eyes are just so darn cute. Foreign women have a lower tolerance when it comes to bullshit and guys are well aware of this. Sticking to the local demographic bodes well for the Western player.

4) A lot of male expats come to Asia because they can’t score with chicks back home. Physically inferior and socially inept in the West can equate to Brad Pitt-likeness in the eyes of a local. If we didn’t want you back home, we won’t want you over here.

As you can see, the odds are simply not in our favor. We have more things working against us than for us. Yes, I knew coming to Asia would mean a significant downturn in my dating life. I’m simply making generalizations related to the difficulties most foreign women face while living here.
If all I wanted were just a bang, it wouldn’t be very hard. But, it’s not about sex or a lack thereof. I just want someone whose company I can enjoy during my time here.

If it goes somewhere, great.

If it doesn’t, that’s fine too.

You might not agree with the points I made, but unless you’re a female in my situation then you really wouldn’t understand. I’m always hoping that I’ll meet a guy who will break the stereotypes I listed above. I refuse to remain jaded and cynical. I want to enjoy my time here in Taipei and share it with someone.
Maybe I just need to morph into a local. Do I slap on some fake lashes, rock a pair of shiny tights and carry a purse with sequins in order for a decent guy to want to take me out on a date?
Say it ain’t so cause, I really hate neon clothing.

About the Author

Bee is a Canadian expat 'banana' living in Taipei and working as an English teacher. Always on the search for the perfect slice of pizza, she enjoys getting out of the city and often writes in third person.

75 Responses to “ Dating in Taiwan: A Foreign Woman’s Perspective ”

  1. @ Ken: I should try banging a local chick? Thanks I’ll think about it.
    @ Franky: Thanks!
    @ Rhonda: Yes, I’m still living in Taiwan but, I’m moving back home to Canada in May.

  2. What’s chatting got to do with being single or not? Are you a Taiwanese girl in disguise? I knew it, no hot foreign ladies here. Case closed. :p

  3. Bee

    How about another article? It’s been nearly a year. Hope things are going well for you. Getting ready for the move back home eh?

  4. @Johnny Z- Yep. I’m leaving in early May for the great white North. Things are super hectic for me already but, I definitely have an article in mind. I wanted to write about the dilemma a lot of foreigners face regarding whether or not to move home or stay a bit longer. Iffff (big if) I find the time before I leave, I’ll send it your way. Otherwise I can always write it up in Canada 😀

  5. hey bee! I´m canadian too and the reason that I´m here its not that I´m unatractive it is my studies. I wanna know you i´ve had a bad time when it comes to dating here.
    how old are you?
    I´ve been told that Im too italian!! what the hell does that means?

  6. @ ken oct 4th/2010

    You have hit the nail right on the head.

    The stereotyping (even racism) that is going on about tw women in this thread is despicable.

    I never found them to be that much different from girls at home. Maybe a few cultural things … but not much.

    I’ve dated some foreign women here, but, as another poster said above, there is a serious shortage of them. And after years of not knowing any it gets increasingly difficult to interact … my English flirting skills have got rusty.

    If the local guys are not approaching you … why don’t you approach them. Likewise with the foreign guys. I think many of the foreign guys here are intimidated by foreign women because they always hear “a loser in his own country, but (acts like) a hero here.” Deny it or not these kinds of statements really smack of sour grapes.

    Another thing: one of the great things in tw is that the girls (and guys) are of comparable economic status to the average foreigner (often substantially wealthier in my experience). I read above of greencard hunters and the like but in my experience it has been anything but that.

    My own opinion why some girls choose to seek out foreigners (bear in mind that a majority would probably not even consider it, or would only consider it as a fling): because many have had bad experiences with jealousy and possessivenes. But this tendency – ring ing up 5 times a day is not limited to the local males. The girls do it to the guys too(as many a foreigner can attest) so foreign girls if you can find the local guy who wants a relationship but doesn’t want to feel like he has a leash on him, then you are in luck.

  7. lets date bee: straight-forwardly (i’m not in high school….but an english teacher) maybe I’ll change yer mind. my fb is dogmaeye al

  8. HI Guys, I’m gonna spend couple weeks in Taibei(01st June- ) and would like to hang out. Please drop a message to me:)
    I’m from Australia.

  9. I hear your pain but like Ozzy said, “You can’t change the world.” Many Western women go ga ga over European or Australian men for little differences like accents and such. People like what is different for them. The sad truth is that were western men given the preference, they would love to be with a western woman since most of us like features that many Taiwanese women lack (namely big breasts and beautiful hair and such). If western women gave North American guys the same time of day that they did to French, English, Spanish, Aussies etc etc maybe they wouldn’t be so inclined to run to Asia where they feel in demand.

  10. Bee, are you still in Taiwan? I’m relocating there in September. Would love to meet up and anyone on this discussion that’s still there…

  11. Never mind. Looks like you’re already gone. Anyone else still in Taiwan right now?

  12. Where were you looking for men?
    I take it you only hit up night spots or tended to stick to those places if you ended up having a fling with a celebrity, (correct me if I am wrong) I don’t have to go into why night spots are a bad place to meet long term relationships, you know them already, sounds like you let living stereotypes get in the way of your search because you went to the most common places that all the ‘fodder’ attended, why not look for interesting people in interesting places…

    Taiwan does have good men, they are not as culturally retarded as you have found them to be , but there does seem to be a generational gap between the generation that worked hard to provide for their children and the children that got everything because their parents worked hard for them to have that privilege at the cost of them not knowing how to live in the real world.

    I think you have more to say, because I only got the gripe part, and saying your not bitter when your focus is the gripe is funny.

    please write more I am interested in what you have to say 🙂

  13. i know this is two years late but all i gotta is that you’re chinese, girl

  14. Taiwan has plenty of good men. Rest assure that the quality ones are more than capable of knowing where, or more importantly, where not to find quality counterparts. Sharp ones also know how to screen potential partners quickly and efficiently.

  15. Hey Bee ,
    I am a decent foreigner guy , maybe we can meet up sometimes 🙂

  16. I have been here six months, also an English teacher. I see a great deal of androgynous dressing and behavior. Wouldn’t that confuse anybody? I have been accused of being macho, though I can’t change my body type can I? I am sensitive, smart and funny and yet I was having a hard time with dating, here, as well as in the states. I knew a conscious decision to find someone was the first step. A friend introduced me to someone nice. She has her quirks, but I do too, no? Hang in there, be hopeful and know that no one is perfect…
    PS I met my wife (ex) at a party right after breaking up with a girl in a three year relationship!

  17. Here’s my take on this: I am male and lived with a foreign girl for over a year here in the R.O.C.

    She went back to America to the “real world” and I wanted to stay here. I am running my own business and I love cycling every week through the mountains, etc. After that I was a bit “gun shy” with Western women. A lot of them just stay for a couple years then leave. This after having a nearly nonstop serial monogamy with Western women throughout college.

    I’m currently dating a Taiwanese woman and I’ve been seeing her for over two years. We were friends for six months and then we started “dating” and sleeping together.

    Once, we hung out with a Western couple and she later said, “He’s unhappy because she doesn’t pay any attention to him.” She seems to take pride in being my sister, my best friend, and my whore in the same way I take pride in being a sweet romantic who can make her come again and again and again. There’s none of this “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, is the man still to blame” crap lodged anywhere in her head. I like this.

    One of the things I think Taiwanese women do like about foreign men is that foreign men have a greater sense of egalitarianism than locals. The more traditional and “Tai-Ke” these guys are, the more likely they are to be visiting brothels and dirty KTVs a lot. I live in a small town in southern Taiwan and the Taiwanese “guys” are often trying to take me with them to the whorehouses… I think the majority of foreign men would also be less likely to smack a woman around. I don’t know how common domestic violence is in Taiwan, but am CERTAIN this is true in Korea and mainland China, probably Japan too.

    So, I get a woman that treats me better than most Western women ever treated me and she gets a man who treats her better than most local men would treat her. Win win, right?

    As for foreign boys being players. Well, I saw some of this. I saw some of this in the U.S.A. when I was in college. Sometimes a guy would learn some social skills, start the ball rolling meeting some beautiful women, and really get carried away for awhile. But I think it’s a matter of deprivation leading to glutting oneself. Western women, unless they’re absurdly ugly, have never experienced deprivation in this area, full stop. You always COULD have sex if you wanted to (and don’t give me any guys versus girls gender politics, I know a lot of women back home who like to “scratch an itch” with a hook up every now and again)

    If they’ve never had it, and the Taiwanese girls they meet at 99 or Carnegies are also looking for fun, then what’s the harm? Both parties know what they’re doing. If not, then they will learn a bit about the world and themselves (I’ve seen a lot of these guys get broken hearts in the process). I don’t think they are usually being cruel or disrespectful, they’re just getting their first chance to drink some water after walking across a desert. After living in Taiwan for awhile, maybe you understand better where they’re coming from.

  18. Dear Bee,

    Interesting point of view… study master degree, and i noticed also very much the same like your writing..

    it is very nice share..

    thank for sharing

  19. PS: I speak frankly and a little locker-room as I am assured of anonymity here. But this is more like an unedited conversation I’d have with a good buddy (male or female) over a bottle of wine. I feel that’s pretty honest and useful in this context. It seems the way you wanted to talk in your original post, so I have followed suit.

  20. Are there places to meet chicks other than night clubs?
    For example, r there any outdoorsy type of encounters?

    Where are the foreign chicks?I

  21. Well, you could try to contact them if you can speak Chinese, and just treat them like a normal guy, nothing is going to happen if you just sit over there. Plus many guys like local girls which is true, but I am sure you can find guys who like western women, like me I am a Taiwanese who only like western women, so why not give a try?

  22. revisited, love the conversation taking place in between, good to see people throwing buckets of cold water on the vindication going toward, Taiwan men women and the young westerner guy breaking his first ground overseas, yes they are all real, and hope you built upon your experience, you don’t need to call them out about it either.

    in the end its like a race that has a climbing wall, some people jump over it, some climb with difficulty and other just keep banging their head against it.

    same with the dating scene, good luck to anyone trying to get a date, stop vindicating people and be nice its the best policy

    on the flip side I still want to hear your gripes as well 😀

  23. I’m a Western girl who used to live in Taipei. I had a Japanese boyfriend who went to the same language school. Of course we noticed this phenomenon and talked about it, and my boyfriend it’s the same in Japan, too. He came up with this observation:

    In the West, the guys are expected to hit on girls much more than in Taiwan or Japan. We Western girls are very passive; when we’re interested in some guy, we sit and wait to be approached. We expect the men to notice that we’re interested in them by throwing looks at them for half a second or so.

    In the West, about 80% of approaching is done by the guys, whereas 20% is on our part. In Asia, it’s more like a 60:40 situation.

    So what happens when foreigners explore the Taiwanese dating scene? Western guys 80, Taiwanese girls 40; they’re more likely to end up together. Taiwanese guys 60, Western girls 20; much more unlikely.

    I don’t wholly agree with him; certainly you made some points too. But I think there is definitely some truth in this hypothesis.

  24. i think these days … the taiwanese guys are more brave towards foreign women in taiwan ~

  25. Wow, as a foreign male in Taiwan I am somewhat astounded. I have the same feeling that it is very difficult to meet women and have accepted celibacy. I have no trouble meeting women in the US or other countries I’ve lived ( including Japan) but people are very difficult to approach here because of the way they socialize. People tend to go in groups of friends and don’t talk to people they don’t come with. And the second I talk to a girl and she seems interested her friend pulls her away because she’s talking to a foreigner and that isn’t cool for them, or so I gather. I’ve been blocked like that so many times I basically gave up on talking to Taiwanese women. I have only had success with foreign girls here. Moreover, going to the clubs, it’s a terrible girl-to -guy ratio. Like 2 western guys and 3 Taiwanese guys jumping on every girl. Now, it’s not necessarily true that she will find any of them attractive, but hey. Ouch. I hate it. Otherwise, I like the country and it’s a very nice place to live, except that the night life and dating scene are terrible!. Oh, and once I brought a female western friend to a club and within 5 minutes 3 Taiwanese guys talked to her. It may be because I live in the South and not Taipei. . . But still. . .

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