Before I begin to explain the situation, let me tell you a little bit of my background. I’m a Taiwanese born in Taiwan, but went to study in the U.S. when I was 16 and spent six years there. I was such a “good student” in Taiwan (by local standard, at least, which means studying all day with little interaction with others = poor interpersonal skills) and only got better when I came to the States. Which means that most of the social interactions I’m used to are American ones, and that I know nothing about Taiwanese social interactions rules.
While at Taiwan, I work as an English/math/science tutor for rich families’ children who attend bilingual schools. I majored in math and physics in college and am planning to become a high school physics teacher. The tutoring experience in Taiwan is somewhat helpful, however I am getting frustrated at my student’s performance and beginning to doubt my ability to teach.
While working as an English tutor for a 4th grade girl, I became acquainted with the math tutor, Mr. Wu, who teaches the little girl’s brother the same time as I. We’ll occasionally exchange a word or two when we bump into each other before/after lessons. After getting very frustrated about my teaching in math, I decide to ask Mr. Wu advice by asking him out for lunch. I already have a boyfriend of three years that I plan to marry, and I have mentioned him a couple times in chatting with Mr. Wu. So I think both he and I are clear that the lunch meeting is just going to be a meeting between friends and nothing else.
Nevertheless, somethings that occurred over our lunch bothered me a bit and made me wonder if he has other intentions. First, when we were ordering at the counter, he was standing uncomfortably close to me, by American standard. Second, during lunch, he carefully cut off half of his chicken and put it on my plate. I didn’t anticipate that and had already started eating my pasta. I felt bad about it and gave him half of my pasta in return. Third, he suggests we meet next time when in my mind this is only a one time meeting to discuss about teaching.
Now I’ll admit that everytime I read about people’s questions this forum I always think they put too much emphasis on culture and overlook the fact that we are all human. But now I’m beginning to understand the difficulties. If all this had happened in the U.S. I would have known that this guy was probably interested in me. But this is Taiwan and I observe that people here keep a much (physical) smaller space between each other. When I first came to Taiwan, I was angry at how people constantly tried to cut in front of me in line. It’s not after a few months (yeah I’m slow) that I realized when you stand in line, you must stand so close to the person that your lips would touch the front person’s neck when you nod. As for food sharing, one time I went out with my adult students to the Lighthouse grills and it seems that sharing food is normal. They were all girls though.
So anyway, my question is: Do you think this guy is taking an interest in me? And if he is, any suggestions as to let him know that I’m “taken”? I’m terrible at saying no to people and hate to hurt others’ feelings (a common Taiwanese trait which so very often results in ambiguity and misunderstanding, I know). Thanks!