Love in Taiwanese culture


Hi everybody,

My name is Nolan. I’m a student documentary filmmaker from the Netherlands and last year I have been studying in Taipei for half a year and since then I also got to be lucky to get in a relationship with a Taiwanese girl. In Februari I’m going back to Taiwan to make a documentary for my graduation project.

For this documentary I want to use the subject of love to explore different topics, that tells a story of the current state of Taiwan and how it got there. The underlying context of the documentary is that Taiwan in such a short time has changed to a modern progressive society where traditional values are still really important. Love has a hard time finding its place in modern society.

My girlfriend and the internet has helped me a lot to draft the story but I’m still looking for interesting characters/events/groups/organizations to film and use to expose and strengthen the different parts of the story. Any help is much appreciated!

Below are the subjects I have so far, an explanation of what these subjects have to do with my story and which characters I was already thinking of interviewing. I’m looking for characters/events/groups/organizations on the following subjects:

Traditional values in modern society:
Since the lifting of martial law 30 years ago, the country experienced a fast modernisation and changed from a militarised dictatorship to a progressive modern democracy in which traditional values still play an important role.

  • Visit the Rabbits God temple in Taipei (a Taoist temple for homosexual)

Arranged marriage:
Not so long a go, love had a totally different meaning, love was much more an arrangement based on political or economic incentives.

  • Interview an old couple that experienced an arranged marriage

Family structure:
Family in Taiwan always had an important role. In Taiwan it’s very normal for children to live with their parents till they are married, and even then some families still live together.

  • Visit a Love Motel (because young people that are in love don’t have a private place where they can go to)

More independent women:
Woman nowadays have a higher social status and are much more represented in higher education. Lots of women nowadays are looking for a man that recognize their higher social status while some men are more traditional minded and want a woman to fulfill the traditional role as housewife. So a lot of women and men have different expectations from each other.

  • Interview with a feminist book club
  • visit a transnational marriage company (because men want a more traditional woman)

Work Culture and income:
In Taiwan lots of single people don’t have time to date or let alone raise children. Taiwan ranks number 4 in the world in average worked hours a year. At the same time raising a child is way to expensive. In Taiwan the annual average costs of raising a child covers 44% of the average annual disposable income. So for lots of Taiwanese having children is no option.

  • Street interviews (to talk about why they are single and why they don’t want children etc.)

Low birth rate:
Taiwan has the third lowest birthrate in the world. Some of the reasons are: housing prices, work culture, income and different expectations of man and women. The government is trying to solve this issue by giving a ‘baby bonus’, childcare allowance and organizes dating events.

  • Attend a speed dating event organized by the government
  • Visit a children’s daycare school


The big problem you’re going to encounter is finding people willing to talk. For example, my wife’s parents had an arranged marriage. They can’t stand each other, but they’ve remained married for 45 years. Try getting them to discuss their situation? No chance.


That’s kind of all over the place.

The biggest problem is that love is a very vague concept.

Christians once told me that the Greek New Testament had three different words for love, that had different connotations. Later I learned that they missed two. Ancient Greek has five words that all are translated as “love” because English hasn’t got precise words for them. At least one of them, cathexis, is actually kind of evil. It’s what motivates stalkers and overly controlling parents.

Whenever anyone talks about love, always demand clarification.

Chinese are even more confused about love than English speakers are.


A sure formula for a lasting marriage: don’t get divorced.

Now, a happy marriage? Damfino.


What is your question (if any)?


Maybe you should do a segment of people coming here and finding love and challenges of it. Lots of users here can give you a good perspective. You can do it from that perspective, probably easier for the audience to understand seeing it from the eyes of a foreigner.


Hi Nolan that’s pretty accurate given you only spent a short while in Taiwan.

I’m not sure if it’s more love you are talking about or how people find partners, form families and have children though ?

A lot of folks don’t have time to date or didn’t give themselves time to actively look for partners, this is true.

Also in Taiwan theres often still a clear differentiation betweeb ‘love’ and ‘marriage’. Many folks date but when it comes to marriage they may look for another partner who is a match with their family financially and socially.
Money still changes hands here !


You need to define your terms here and do some linguistic analysis. Here you mean marriage. You can’t study “love” until you define it, subjectively, objectively, culturally, historically etc.


My wife’s parents also had an arranged marriage (i.e. they were introduced through a matchmaker). I can put out feelers if you want.


I know love is a rather abstract concept. As I can read in your reply the perception on the meaning of love in different cultures is an interesting topic, but I don’t mean to use it in that sense. Meaning that I won’t talk about the concept of love with people during interviews. I want to use the subject of love to explore different topics. Marriage, having children, gay marriage, marriage equality all belong to the subject of love. As another reply also says I will use this feedback and define the use of the word love more clear. Thanks for your input!


Yeah true, thats going to be a challenge. But it doesnt necessarily have to be a couple that are still together and cant stand each other. It can also be a woman who has experienced it and got divorced, interview just one of the couple, someone who’s parents experienced it, or maybe there is even some organization to help woman get out of an arranged marriage. All these different characters could expose this part of the story. All though would probably be most interesting to interview a couple as you describe! Maybe one of them would be open for a talk :wink:


That would be so much appreciated!


As a result of the replies I got I know I sure need to clarify the using of the term ‘love’ more clear. Thanks for the feedback!


I dont know if that’s the way I really want to go, allthough there must be a lot to tell about that subject. Thanks for your input!


I will be in Taiwan for 6 weeks total. So I do have some time. It’s true that I dont intent to talk about the abstract concept of love, the use of the word love need more clarification.

It is indeed about finding partners, having children, family structure, marriage equality etc. in modern society.

So your saying that family/financial/social incentives still play an important role in finding a partner in modern society?


I’m looking for characters/events/groups/organizations on the subjects I describe. Maybe people can connect me, give me advice/feedback or have any other idea.


They’ve always been the most important and still are the most important factors in terms of marriage potential . Taiwan is very conservative still. Love doesn’t always equal marriage. Having babies in Taiwan almost always involves being married though.




I think it’s true that those factors are still really important but in modern Taiwanese society other factors are rising. For example, for some woman: factors such as finding a men that recognizes their higher social status. For some men: finding a women that full fills traditional role of housewife (reason of rise of immigrant brides from poor countries). These, together with the work culture (for example: to much working hours - no time to date) in Taiwan is causing singles cant find suitable partners. That, combined with financial factors (for example: high housing prices, costs of a child compared to annual disposable income) causes low birth rate in Taiwan.


One thing I have observed are there is far more couples here, in Taiwan (and in China). I don’t know, I just notice more couples being lovey dovey in general, here.
But at the same time my experience is girls are more likely to be secretive about their lesser half
so idk