Should I end our relationship or should I keep trying?

Hello everyone,

It has been ages since I have posted on this forum cos I left Taiwan quite a while ago. Anyway I am faced with a bit of a dilemma so I am seeking some ‘useful’ advice from you guys. Just so you can understand my situation a bit more I will give you some background information. I first met my Taiwanese girlfriend at university here in Melbourne, Australia when she was studying here as an international student. We met about six years ago and since then she has lived in Australia for about 18 months and I also lived in Taichung for about 16 months. There was also a significant amount of time that we were separated meaning she was living in Taichung while I was living in Melbourne yet we were still able to keep a long distance relationship going. It cost me alot of money in flights to Taiwan going back and forth several times but I thought it would be worth it if we stayed together. We never spent more than six months without seeing each other for at least a few weeks at a time. For the past six months my girlfriend has been living here in Melbourne with me and things have been really good for the most part. However, about 3 months ago she told me that her mother has been feeling very depressed and her situatioin has progressively worsened. Apparently she has been taking anti-depressants for quite a while but she is still not very well. Anyway my girlfriend went back to Taichung last week to spend Chinese New Year with her family and originally she was planning to return to Melbourne in early March. However, her parents have now pleaded with her to stay in Taiwan and to not return to Melbourne. My girlfriend really wants to come back to Australia but she feels guilty and worries about her mother’s condition and that her parents may betray her if she refuses to stay. Of course I want her to come back and we were planning to get married later this year but I’m really not sure whether I want to ruin my girlfriend’s relationship with her parents. I worry that if I really pressure her to come back and she does then her mother will become even more depressed. I know my girlfriend is quite close to her mother and I think it is hard for her mother to accept not seeing her daughter very often. I don’t think our relationship is the cause of her mother’s depression but I don’t think the separation from her daughter is really helping the situation. My girlfriend’s parents have since the very beginning had a hard time accepting our relationship. They are from small town Taiwan and having a daughter who has a western boyfriend is seen as publicly shameful to them. Anyway I think I have said enough but I just wanna see what you guys think. Should I just let her go or should I try harder to keep us together?? Me living in Taiwan is not a viable option for two reasons. Firstly, I was unjustly blacklisted back in 2005 for not giving enough notice to my former employer after I resigned. Secondly, I returned to Australia and finished my postgraduate studies after I was blacklisted and have since found a great job and are establishing myself in a new career. So in hindsight the blacklisting has been a blessing in disguise as it forced me to take a new direction which I am now really happy with. So even if I wasn’t blacklisted I couldn’t really consider returning to Taiwan as it would a big step backwards career wise and I just couldn’t justify it. So it seems the only way we can stay together is for my girlfriend to return to Melbourne against her parents wishes. What should I do? Should I fight for her or should I just let her parents set her up with their ideal rich Taiwanese guy? Yes, that’s right they keep introducing her to wealthy Taiwanese guys even while we are still together.


It sounds like emotional blackmail of the worst kind. Are you sure you’re GF’s mother isn’t exagerating her depression, just to have her home and married off to a nice local boy? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Sounds like you’re settled back in OZ and she can’t leave TW, sorry to say it maybe time to call it a day.

Good luck with whatver you decide

As TomHill would perhaps be wont to say, Man Up! Only joking, Erick. Well, partly. You want her, you’re going to have to fight her parents. That’s just how it is. They don’t want their daughter to live overseas and they’re hicksville xenophobes to boot. You can’t live here. What does SHE want? I mean really really want? That’s what you need to find out. Take it from there.

Learn to break up your paragraphs, erh, and what Sandman said.


If you’re the right one, she’ll move. Talk to her; there may be other things she’s worried about (homesickness, culture shock) that she is blaming on her mother.

What kind of mother would rather her child lose a loved one than sacrifice seeing her? Depression is hard, but by making making herself dependent on her child at the child’s expense is not going to help her recover. Ideally, she would see that herself, but if not, your girlfriend needs to tell her. Or, a third party should talk to her, if possible.

Just go with your instinct. If she is worth fighting for? It sounds hard, but unless she handles the situation skilfully, she’s possibly going to have to choose between you or them, so you have to let her know whether you are worth it which means fighting.

(I may be wrong, just some thoughts. I am single, so any relationship advice should be taken with a pinch of salt…)

What Sandman said.
Pay for another flight–the prices eill go down after CNY–and come back and sit down with the “depressed” mom and tell her in no uncertain terms that you are going to marry and have a life with her daughter, regardless. Family ties are strong here. Even modern “western educated” people still get pulled into doing things they might not necessarily want, just to be filial. If your lady means that much to you, come back and get her. If not, wish her good luck.

In the short term, enjoy the freedom of being alone (i.e. you can drink more). Long-term, you’ve got to push your girlfriend to go against her selfish parents’ wishes. If she won’t, then - in my opinion - she isn’t worth your efforts.

What wookie said that HGC said that sandman said.

Fight for her.

MMA or freestyle?

I asked my girl, and now you’ve started an argument!!! Argh!! Bastard.

Seriously, I think you’re being a bit of a bastard.

[quote]Should I fight for her or should I just let her parents set her up with their ideal rich Taiwanese guy?[/quote]Where’s her agency and choice in this? Don’t bother trying to put yourself in her place; you can’t. But for god’s sake don’t waffle. You want her in your life, or not? Let her know. If you do, standby her and support her. Then it’s her choice what direction she takes her life.

Fight the good fight. If it is for the woman you love, then a good fight is worth it. Then, once you make your stand, it is her turn to make her move…but let her know that if she goes againts her parents wishes you are their for her 100%. I agree with a previous poster that said to make contact with the “depressed” mother. Come back here one last time to get your woman!

You were planning to get married later this year.

Was this a plan between your girlfriend and you, without the participation or consent of her parents, or did everyone know about it? If they know about it, then their continuing to introduce her to wealthy Taiwanese boys is a red flag to me. If the parents do not approve of the match, then you have to decide (actually, she has to decide) whether she will risk alienating her parents permanently. Does she have siblings? If so, are they older/younger/sisters/brothers? This will affect the mix as well.

Her parents may well be xenophobes of the first degree. But have you given them any notice that you are completely serious about this and are offering not only marriage but also a stable financial arrangement for their daughter? Do they know anything about your family? Is your family supporting this, or are you out there alone? These factors will all influence how the parents will look at this, even apart from their own basic inclinations. It may be that they simply believe (based on stereotypes and Hollywood films, perhaps) that you are just another one of those foreign guys who takes advantage of nice Asian women and then disappears. Maybe if you give them some serious reason to believe that their fears are mostly unfounded (I don’t think you’ll find any parents of a daugher in the world who won’t worry at least a little bit about the marriage their little girl is making) they will come around. Now is the time to come up with all your qualifications, your family background (hopefully good!), your virtues. If your gf has met your parents, bring that into the persuasion as well – your parents like her very much, are impressed with her education, her upbringing, etc. etc. whatever… your parents are of the older generation and although they are foreigners they are your parents, and mentioning their opinion will reassure her parents (maybe) that you are not one of those wild foreigners who just does anything he thinks of, but rather a careful, well-thought person who listens to the wisdom of his parents and elders in general.

It seems to me that you are in this to “get your way” – get her parents to go along with the marriage (becuase I don’t think they would be very enthusiastic about anything less, as she is losing the best years of her life in husband-seeking terms hanging around with you, if you’re not actually going to marry her) so you may have to “bend” a bit. Maybe you don’t ask dear old Dad about everything in your life, etc. etc., but making it seems like you wouldn’t mind doing that wouldn’t hurt (esp. if the inlaws are in Taiwan and not likely to go to Oz.)

You will have a hard time with your girl if she is close to her parents and they object. Your job is to smooooooth things over with everyone. This is why cross-cultural relationships are difficult in Taiwan – you’re not dealing just with your gf or bf, it’s the whole family on both sides. Good luck.

  1. Let your GF know in uncertain terms that you want a life-long relationship as married couple in Australia (or wherever your carreers will bring you in the future)
  2. Let her have her time with her parents during Chinese new year, but keep regular contact - and don’t forget to tell her how much you miss her.
  3. Come over to Taiwan for a visit to her parents.
  4. Invite the parents over to Australia, so they can see the quality of life with their own eyes, and maybe meet your family.
  5. Question: Do your GF have any acceptable carreer prospects in Australia?

Good luck with the battle for your future together.


If you love her, and you want to spend the rest of your life with her, fight for her.

Oh, and go to her parents’ house and formally ask them for their daughter’s hand. Formally. I know it sounds old-fashioned, but then so are her parents. Maybe they want to see some serious commitment from your side? Commitment as in getting married, perhaps?

My wife’s parents refused to come to our house when we lived tohether. They’re quite old-fashioned, too. After we got married they come over with food and drinks at least once a week! :s

Whatever happens, good luck to you! :slight_smile:

Look. You can’t force acceptance. Either they accept you or they don’t. If they do, then there is no problem here except for the logistics.

If they don’t, then you need to decide explicitly to ‘pay the piper’, as there will be some kind of price to pay. New marriages are not always easy and you will have to deal with the emotional issue of missing one half of the in-laws (out-laws?). That doesn’t mean don’t go ahead - it just means be ready and know what you’re getting into.

Do not make any ‘deals’ to get acceptance. Anything like that is superficial and temporary. Acceptance can be gained over time, but you can’t make deals for it.

Like many things in Taiwan, the formalities are just that, formalities. The decision has been made beforehand. If you don’t know with 99% accuracy what the answer is before formally asking her parents, then do not. Once a formal answer is given, it is just that much harder to get a change. No need to make your case directly, but you can signal intentions and communicate indirectly.
My future sisters-in-law were one of the biggest sources of help in dealing with my future parent-in-law. Plus I am short, dark haired and spoke Chinese and one better than the younger sisters potential son-in-law who was Japanese and couldn’t even speak Chinese!!!(emphasis is theirs)

Thanks for the advice everyone.

I totally agree with you Elegua, you can’t force acceptance and I feel that if her parents can’t accept our relationship after us being together for such a long time then there isn’t much hope in them ever accepting it. I just thought that maybe one day they would wake up and realise that there daughter was happy with me and that maybe they would eventually put their daughters wishes first and support her.

Someone asked before about my upbringing and what sort of family I come from. I think I have been quite lucky in my life and I certainly can’t complain about my upbringing. My family has not struggled for money and we are way better off than my girlfriend’s family. My father’s a successful lawyer and all of my immediate family is university educated with good careers. My girlfriend’s father is a truck driver and her mother is a housewife. I am not trying to boast or imply that I come from a ‘better’ family someone asked about how it may affect my relationship with her parents and made me think again how silly it is that her mother can somehow consider that I am not good enough for her daughter.

I don’t care at all what her parent’s do for a living. Seriously, even if her mother was a prostitute and her father cleaned toliets for a living I couldn’t care less. What really matters is that if two people really do care about each and want to stay together then they should receive the support of their parents unless their is something seriously wrong with their child’s partner. I think the hardest thing of all for me to accept is that her parents exert so much influence over her decisions. I don’t know what it is like for most of you but I would certainly never consider asking my parents whether they approved of my relationship with my girlfriend and whether they would support our marriage.

In my opinion it is solely our decision and really has nothing at all to do with our parents. My parents like my girlfriend and my mum gets along with her really well but even if they didn’t like her or told me they didn’t want me to get married to her I would never even consider doing what they wanted me to do. I think that is the one of the major differences between our cultures where westerners generally do what they feel is best for them individually whereas Taiwanese tend to consider how their actions will impact on their family and friends even if causes them misery.

Anyway I have gotta go out now but I will post another reply soon.


I don’t want to sound, well, “that way”, but judging from your last post, you are looking at this completely from the Western perspective.

There are Taiwanese people involved in this too. People who evidently are VERY Taiwanese (conservative, old-fashioned, maybe a low educational level and not much contact with the outside world, certainly not with foreigners.)
It’s fine and dandy to say things “should” be like this or like that, and that all the parents “should” support the childrens’ decision, but please remember that in traditional Chinese culture, the children “should” accept the parents’ decision without making a lot of noise about it.

Yes, times change. Yes, YOU are Western and you are entitled to think that way. But you will have a very difficult time married to a person of another culture – particularly Taiwanese – if you persist in always sticking 100% to your way of thinking. The talent to imagine that there are other points of view, even (especially) if they are not yours, is a crucial one in a cross-cultural relationship. Trust me on this one. My ex-husband was completely lacking in this department and it caused no end of problems. Everything was black or white, his way or the highway. Didn’t end up being very constructive in the long run.

Like it or not, if you choose to marry a Taiwanese girl from a conservative family, you are marrying that family to some extent. I’ve been in two marriages – one where the husband and in-laws were constantly at odds, and one where they were not. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which marriage is more solid, pleasant, supportive or fulfilling. Give serious thought to whether you are ready to take on the responsibility of keeping the peace, and whether you are willing to put your gf in a position where she is forced to either choose between the parties or constantly make excuses for one to the other. YOU might not think there’s any reason to make excuses for you, but believe me, SHE will. She has known her parents all her life, and she can be certain they have her best interests at heart (based on the way they view things, i.e., Taiwanese culture, which is what she is surrounded by in Taiwan and which seems to work pretty well for the majority of people she’s seen all her life.)

Saying “I’m going to take my woman and to hell with her parents’ opinion” is childish and will only cause long-range problems, which will get more and more complicated legally as your marriage progresses. If it can. And if it can’t, breaking those ties is extremely complicated when it has to do with two countries, two legal systems, two families. Not to mention children, if you have them. Invest some time now into winning the prospective in-laws over, at least to where they are cooperating with plans instead of producing new candidates for their daughter’s hand every few days. The time and money you spend now will save you endless grief and expenses in the future.

Superb advice by Ironlady, IMHO. :notworthy: Please put this in a Wiki or write a book or at least a booklet which all Taiwanese are to hand over to their prospective SOs at the beginning of a relationship. :wink:

Just like Erick wrote, it didn’t matter to me when my Mum expressed “some concerns” about my relationship with my Taiwanese girlfriend (before even getting to know her :unamused:). However, for my GF it would’ve been a very serious problem had her family been against the relationship. It’s not just a matter of possible outdated views on being a good daughter which just need to be overcome, no, it would’ve (psychologically) hurt her to be in disagreement with her parents. That’s a very bad basis for a happy relationship/marriage.

My advice: Find out what exactly her parents are worried about and then make absolutely sure you do whatever you can to win them over (in a way that’s culturally compatible* and actually works for them). Don’t think of them as evil, think of them as uninformed. Don’t do it for her parents, do it for the sake of your GF’s happiness (and therefore your own).

*: This means it probably won’t be very enjoyable. :wink: