Behavior between female friends

OK, I’m a western female, been here for 6 months and am developing a really nice gang of TW friends now.

Thing I just don’t get yet is how female friends behave with each other here. It seems that, contrary to my expectations, my female friends are much more comfortable with close personal space than I am. For example, I often find them patting my shoulder, putting an arm round my shoulder, or linking arms as we walk along, and so forth. I have even ended up holding hands.

I’m quite comfortable with it, even though it’s way different from how I behave with my female friends at home, but I just don’t understand it yet. Are they behaving with me as they would with their TW female friends, or am I a special case - do they just think I’m “cute”? Are they actually treating me a bit like a “pet”? A tame foreigner?

There’s one particular concern too: one of my teachers is way more touchy-feely than anyone else and, frankly, even though she’s a few years older than me and married I’m beginning to wonder whether she’s actually coming onto me? I get all of the above behavior from her, but unless I’m way off the mark here, there’s a definite “meaningful undertone” / tension to it all. There are glances that last a second too long, she on occasion brushes my hair out of my eyes, and she has even stood behind me and massaged my shoulders in class. In fact, one of my other TW female friends IS bisexual, and she is not even this physical with me (though of course she maybe doesn’t see me that way). All this is behavior I’d interpret as outright flirting at home, but over here, am I just reading it wrong?? I’m really not sure how to react…

Grateful for any insight!!
Thanks. AG xx

i thought the same - however my TW GF sid - that for older women it’s normal ot be that way towards younger women they like - in the platonic sense, that is.

Therefore, relax. If brushing hair out of somebody’s eyes counts as “meaningful” behavior, then my GF claims that she’s “approached” on a nearly hourly basis in the office.

I’d assume most of it is innocent. I too have been a little shocked at the lack of personal space given by my Taiwanese friends. Perhaps a bit rude, but I sometimes have to give someone a little shove since they decided to stand directly in my way when they see me coming. (And they know I have something I am rushing to do) They always seem to sit closer and closer during a conversation. I have actually said, “Do you want to sit on my lap?” when I felt them creeping up too close.
I think some of the touchy-feely stuff is normal friend to friend contact, but I sometimes notice people like to touch foreigners a bit more as well. I guess it is a matter of making sure you respect your own boundaries, even if they are a little offended.

I agree that you shouldn’t think too much of it.

When it crosses your zone of comfort though, just do what I do with Sandman when he starts “accidentally” massaging my thigh: “Hey cowboy! I’m not up for a gunfight tonight!”

Seriously, the worst thing you could do is call them on it out in the open, which would embarrass them greatly, and that is so not cool in Taiwan. I like the “Do you wanna sit on my lap?” approach. It’s funny, but meaningful. It’s like someone sitting next to me screaming in my ear…I’ll say, “Hey, I’m right here, not in Taichung. (You don’t have to yell.)”

Good luck, and really, avoid Sandman, and possibly Big Fluffy Mathew. :wink:

[quote=“anonymousgreen”]OK, I’m a western female, been here for 6 months and am developing a really nice gang of TW friends now.

Thing I just don’t get yet is how female friends behave with each other here. It seems that, contrary to my expectations, my female friends are much more comfortable with close personal space than I am. For example, I often find them patting my shoulder, putting an arm round my shoulder, or linking arms as we walk along, and so forth. I have even ended up holding hands.[/quote]

I also wondered if there was an abnormally large population of lesbians here when I first arrived. I asked my male Taiwanese friends about it and they said that it was quite normal; that is how women show they are friends.

I believe this is also true to a certain extent. Random people are always coming up to me and touching my hair (I’m black, BTW) without asking. They’re curious and I look like I won’t bite. :unamused: You’re different, a new, and highly prized, toy :wink:

[quote=“jdsmith”]I agree that you shouldn’t think too much of it. When it crosses your zone of comfort though, just do what I do with Sandman when he starts “accidentally” massaging my thigh: “Hey cowboy! I’m not up for a gunfight tonight!”
Good luck, and really, avoid Sandman, and possibly Big Fluffy Mathew. :wink:[/quote]
Ahh…yes…well I was wondering when I would be called into this thread…and there we have it.
Sorry Dear…sounds like your boundaries are being tested.
A bit of the old s;ap 'n tickle with a yyou know what sandwich waiting at the end of the buffet line.

If this is what you are looking for, then say no more!
The Sweet Yellow Love That Speaks in Silk is at your side.
White skin converts are a regarded prize some circles.
Massage my cares away and go where dreams are made and all that!

Best wishes and Clean towels!

When my wife and I first arrived in Taiwan, my Chinese co-teacher seemed fascinated with my wife. She even went so far as to reach out and gently squeeze my wife’s breast. My wife was shocked and kept her cool but made it clear that wasn’t ok. The co-teacher did again at another time, like she couldn’t keep her hands off. I certainly don’t think it was a lesbian thing, more like a “never seen any real breasts” thing. Compared to the locals (in a general sense), my wife is rather, um, substantial up front.

This must have been a very weird women then, I told my Taiwanese girlfriends and they all shake their heads. They would never do such a think…look, but no touching!

Cool. Thanks for the reassurance everyone!

SO: how do I respond? Unlike the early replies seemed to suggest, I’m not actually uncomfortable so I don’t actually feel the need to move away or comment on any of this behavior to them.

But do I just sit there and be “the subject” of this touching / patting / “petting” - or am I supposed to reciprocate??? I do really like these people, but I don’t want to either offend by not reciprocating or to reciprocate and get mis-interpreted…!

Thanks,

AG
xx

I’m not much for holding hands, so I don’t usually initiate that. But, if I’m comfortable with the person, I’ll link arms with her while we walk or put my arm around her shoulders while we’re sitting. And, if we’re really close, I’ll play with her hair a bit to comfort her if she’s feeling down or to get her attention if seems really distracted for some reason.

I don’t know if I’d do that with my boss though. :idunno:

I’m a really touchy feel kind of person, and envy the women who are able to exhibt those behaviours in public. I think that to get to that level with your girlfriends, without the sexual connotations, means that you two are on very trusting level of love. That there is a bond. It’s a rare thing in Western culture where we are so concerned about how we are perceieved in the outside world.

I disagree that it’s rare. I remember platonic GF’s playing with my hair or rubbing my shoulders frequently when I was in my teens or hugging or leaning on each other if tired. In fact, there was a phenomenon in the 1920 or 1930’s, if I remember right, called Boston marriages where women would have “crushes” on their upperclasswomen in college. There was no sexual hanky panky, but there was ardent admiration and “love” letters passed back and forth. So, American culture actually has history of females being quite demonstrative about their regard for their same sex friends.

I agree that it is NOT common to see 2 women walking down the street with their arms linked or holding hands, unless they are from an ethnic minority like an Asian or Latina. And, that’s too bad. It’s nice to have some physical contact with other human beings - platonic - and safe - and loving.

[quote][url=http://www.celebratefriendship.org/boston.htm]Boston marriage was a term used to describe nineteenth-century romantic friendships that included long-term cohabitation. These were emotionally intense and physically tender friendships between women who chose to live with each other instead of marrying. In modern times, there is much debate about whether Boston marriages were