One Of My Worst Dates With A Taiwanese Guy

English: Blue rose.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I first arrived to Taiwan I quickly learned there are three main ways to make new friends. Being a newcomer, my best option was to make friends via the Internet. So I put my feelers out on Couchsurfing, and started meeting up with people.

I moved to Taiwan to learn Chinese. So I was clear about that goal with the new friends I was making online and gravitated towards hanging out with Taiwanese people. I met a ton of great friends on that site, and a couple of duds.

One Taiwanese guy sent me a message and suggested we meet up for dinner. But what sounded like an invitation to meet up as friends turned into an awkward and annoying date!

At that time I had only been in Taiwan a couple of months, and was still trying to get my bearings on the basics of social interactions.

Aware of my American cultural filter, I was also trying to build a new frame of reference for Taiwanese social behaviors. I was curious and open to seeing things in a new way. But the only frame of reference I really had was my experience of living in the United States and Mexico. So it was only from that perspective that I could begin to compare and examine what began to unfold that evening.

This is the story:

The guy meets me at the MRT station and presents me with a single rose, dyed the most horrifying, unnatural royal blue, and covered in glitter. My inner-American takes this to be the first sign that the meet up could be a date. Flowers, especially roses, when given to a woman from a man for no occasion are unequivocally a romantic gesture.

I feel embarrassed to tote this hideous rose around, but of course I do, not wanting to appear ungrateful of this small and awkward gift. Because of the rose, I am now on high alert for other signs of his intentions.

We go to a vegetarian buffet at a shopping mall food court that he’s chosen. I am a little surprised when I get to the cashier and he makes no attempt to pay for my dinner. This, to my inner-American, is in conflict with the rose. Often on a first date, and especially if the guy gives you a rose, he will also pay for your dinner. I wonder if perhaps I had misinterpreted the rose. Maybe the rose doesn’t mean anything romantic in Taiwan? Maybe the rose was romantic, but Taiwanese routinely go Dutch? Maybe this guy is just a cheapskate? I have no way to know, lacking a cultural frame of reference.

During dinner, we talk about our lives and our hopes for the future. The conversation quickly turns into a battle as he argues with me about what I want in life. He tells me that I should be more practical, and that life is about sacrificing and making due with whatever situation you find yourself in. I am so hurt, angry and frustrated that I actually shed tears!

I think, “I just gave up my life in the United States to pursue learning Chinese, I am in this new country all alone, and I am getting verbally assaulted by this guy who isn’t even interested in understanding who I am or what matters to me in life. I have enough challenges and obstacles to deal with while trying to start a new life in a foreign country, I really don’t need friends who are combative and unwilling to encourage me.”

My inner-American starts to think this is definitely not a date. When a guy is interested in dating you, he shows interest in what you say. He doesn’t tear you down and oppose every idea, thought and wish that you confide. Certainly he isn’t showing that he wants to even be my friend or ally.

We go round and round and can’t seem to see eye to eye on anything.

We change topics and he discloses he only dates white women. To my inner-American this could mean one of two things. 1. He is indirectly expressing interest in me, since I fit into his dating preference category of white women (so unclassy!) Or, 2. He is disclosing this as just a friend, because obviously who would say that to their date?

I’m thinking it’s number 1 at this point, just based on a feeling I’m getting.

He tells me about his past girlfriends. He tells me “I will never date Taiwanese women again!” My inner-American recognizes that talking about past lovers on a first date is bad dating etiquette. So he either only wants to be friends, or he is failing miserably at dating, in the western sense of the word. I’m confused.

After dinner, we walk over to Eslite and browse around the bookshop. I am enjoying the opportunity to be completely surrounded by wall to wall Chinese books. Plus I love bookstores and libraries. So I am feeling a bit more relaxed after the confrontational dinner conversation.

Next thing I know, he is standing next to me, leaning in to kiss me! I step away and tell him “No!” and motion him away with my hand. Several minutes later he strikes with another attempt that I thwart. Now I’m getting angry. His intentions are made totally clear with this clumsy move that I interpret to be his misguided attempt at being direct, bold, and “western.”

At this point I decide to call it a night, and head back to the MRT, toss the rose in the trash and begin to reflect on what had transpired.

Needless to say, I never saw him again after that.

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  1. Really sorry to hear this bad experience, I feel upset with his very inappropriate behavior. I hope this would not leave you negative impression on all Taiwanese guys. I believe most of us are not like that – as you mentioned in the prior article Taiwanese guys tend to be like a friend first and show their affection in a subtle way (maybe too subtle in Amercan standard). Hope soon to see your future article sharing a successful dating experience!

    • Thanks! I definitely don’t think this guy’s behavior is typical or represents the behavior of most Taiwanese men. I actually found out later from two different Taiwanese women friends that he has a reputation in Taipei for pursuing foreign women and is considered a “player” by many.

  2. This is really horrible!! Thought that guy’s just nothing more than a strange person but it turned out to be quite disgusting!

    And Taiwanese generally go Dutch (usually guys only pay for girls whom they are in relationship with). And I think it’s generally ok to go with your American cultural reference in Taiwan ( you won’t be considered rude or inappropriate that way, but it also depends, it’s sometimes a very personal thing!)

    And I wonder why is it a bad etiquette to talk about past relationship on a first date. (It could be a poor topic to talk about but I don’t know why it is a bad etiquette)

    Anyway, thanks for sharing!! And hope you won’t bump into this kind of dud anymore!


    • It’s good to know that Taiwanese guys only pay dates when the woman is his girlfriend.

      In American culture, it’s not considered in good taste to talk about past lovers or past relationships on the first few dates. That is what I meant by bad etiquette.

      Thanks for your comment and your well wishes!

    • You’re honestly so full of yourself, you literally think you’re so entitled to somehow good experience over your poor choices.
      Maybe the rose doesn’t mean anything romantic in Taiwan? Maybe you’re just an idiot and you should really rethink on stuff you’ve said.

  3. Wow! So it’s the whole story about the guy trying to kiss you on the first date, while giving the person you date flower(s) seems quite rare in Taiwan as well! Since it’s ONE of your worst dates, would you like to share the stories about your others worst dates with us in the future? Maybe we Taiwanese guys could learn something from these!

  4. I feel bad for laughing. That sounds unpleasant. (I think that throwing a rose away at a train station pretty much sums up how someone feels about a situation, lol.) Dating is apparently rough all over.

    • Haha! I’m laughing too, so you don’t have to feel bad! It was comically bad and confusing. I couldn’t figure out if it was a date or not! Luckily most Taiwanese guys are not like this at all.

  5. It’s a very interesting story. I’m Asian and live in the bay area. Ironically, I was inviting an American girl who is from Capitola, CA the other day but she took it as a date! (and perhaps she thought that I was a stalker). I was curious about her and her efforts on learning Chinese. Apparently, she never appreciated my first “friend-making” gesture so we never even met.

    • OMG I grew up in Capitola! So funny! I really miss the Bay Area. I think if you are only interested in an American woman’s friendship, it’s a good idea to say something to let her know that when you invite her to spend time with you. Something as simple as “I’d like to hang out as friends” would probably be sufficient. But I wouldn’t trip about her (not that you are.) Who knows what’s going on in her life and the reasons she may be closed to making new friends or having new experiences with new people. It’s unlikely to be about you. Next time I’m in Santa Cruz we should try to connect! 🙂

  6. Really sorry for what you’ve been through. I know few Taiwanese gay friends back the time but didn’t feel that bad at all. Maybe I am a women, they are not interested in me at all. I only know that some of the culture in Taiwan still very conservative, such as gay marriage is illegal in Taiwan. They might not know the appropriate way to present themselves most of the time because it is not encourage to speak out your feeling in their education system in this country from what I know. People will think that you are weird or sth. I am not quite sure. I am original from this country but leave the country right after graduated I cannot even get used to the culture here still. I worked for couple months in Taiwan and really can’t stand the boss here.

    • I’ve heard similar comments from other Taiwanese people about the education system in Taiwan. It’s a topic that really interests me. It doesn’t seem like many people are openly gay in Taiwan, but there also doesn’t seem to be much homophobia either. It’s another topic that I think is important and interesting. Thanks for bringing it up. And thanks for sharing your own personal struggles with Taiwanese culture. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who has had difficulty adjusting!

  7. Hi! I’m definitely a girl who is from Taiwan. I would like to make friends with you. But I don’t have a Gravator account. Do you use Facebook?

  8. Oh gosh! I’m so glad you shared this story lol

    I have a couple of my own here in Spain. I do think it is in poor taste to talk about a prior relationship – especially with a negative tone – on the first date! It could be indicative of a lack of growth from the experience. And is kind of awkward.

    I have also had my fair share of (Spanish) men barking to me who I am supposed to be without knowing me. It is controlling, and just awful!

    My poor darling. I hope you ate a nice unhealthy treat, read a cheesy romance novel or watched a romantic scene of your choice to help you recharge and forget that one loser.

    Quelle horreur!

    • Haha! I guess there are guys like this in all corners of the world! The crazy part is that I didn’t even know it was a date. I thought we were meeting up as friends. If he had asked me on a date I would have said no straight away. It wasn’t hard to forget about the whole thing. Fortunately I’ve learned so much more about Taiwanese culture and dating customs since that “date.” Most guys are very nice here.

  9. Hi Amy,

    I came across your post on EngTalk and got here. It’s very nice to meet you. I also love learning languages and getting insights from other cultures thru that.

    The whole “date” sounded like a disaster and I am really surprised that you actually was able to stand this dude over dinner plus a visit to the bookstore!!
    What the guy did and said only showed that he’s overbearing, confidence-overloaded, and altogether rude. Most important of all, definitely untypical taiwanese! Taiwanese people, guys and girls alike, are normally reserved and try our every attempt to act in a socially correct way with persons we first meet.

    I usually hang around with easy-going and modest people but i’d also got the chance to know some weirdos like such. Not saying that one shouldn’t feel confident of oneself, but some people overdo it to an extent that it’s either hilarious or unbearable to watch the whole event. It would almost feel like they got brought up on an entirely differently planet.

    Anyway, I hope you’ll get some proper, romantic real date soon and share with us again then so girls from other culture wouldn’t got intimidated falsely by this single anecdote. XDD

  10. OMG…

    The reading was truly painful, and I’m also impressed how you actually remained polite and open-minded facing such kind of horrible behaviour.

    I guess it’s clear to say that the guy you date probably underwent a lot of emotional trauma himself before to feel inclined to undergo and appear as a “rude predator” to girls he meet. It’s actually very difficult to take this person seriously…

    His exclusive taste to “foreign” women is also suspicious. Either he’s a weird fetish dude or someone who buys into the concept of “foreign people are more open to sex”. Anyway, great read, it will also help guys understand better when to recognize a girl is not interested and stop the unnecessary harassment…

    • Thanks for your comment and analysis! I have definitely run into guys who believe “foreign people are more open to sex.” I tend to think American media (movies, tv, music, etc) is partly responsible for creating that stereotype. I also think Americans tend to be more openly affectionate in public than most Taiwanese people, in terms of kissing and touching. Anyway, you’ve given me some things to think about! Thanks!

  11. I think you just meet the wrong person. Most of taiwanese I knew wasn’t like that. Maybe cause your Caucasian appearance made taiwanese people felt some kinda of barrier. Based on my own experiences, I was born and grew up in Taiwan.

  12. OMG, this is not acceptable!! Sorry for your experience, but it’s also interesting to see there were all types of people on earth. I think this Taiwanese guy was very strange! I’ve some Taiwanese friends, and they don’t act like that at all.

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