Will my girlfriend's parents ever accept our relationship?

Hello everyone,

I was just wondering if you guys have any advice for me. I have been with my Taiwanese girlfriend for about 4 years and I met her parents only a few months ago. They were very nice to me when I met them and my girlfriend said they liked me. However, her parents have never been happy about their daughter having a western boyfriend. They are very conservative people and her mother keeps telling her that we should just be friends. Her father doesn’t seem to really mind but I think her mother is very serious and very determined that her daughter should not marry me, or any other westerner for that matter. She has told my girlfriend that she should marry a Taiwanese guy. Her parents even went to a fortune teller with my girlfriend and they asked about the future of our relationship. Apparently this fortune teller said our relationship will end in divorce which has only strengthened her mother’s resolve to keep us apart. Sometimes I wonder whether we can ever make this relationship work. It is difficult to have much respect for her parents when they rely on fortune tellers to make decisions for them. It is hard enough trying to keep a long-distance relationship alive without having to deal with her mother. I am studying in Australia while she is still working in Taiwan. We are catching up in January for a few weeks then hopefully she will come to Australia next June if she can escape from her parents. We are both very serious about each other but sometimes I wonder whether it is really worth it if I destroy her relationship with her family. Of course it really annoys me that her mother is so conservative and racist but what can I do about it. I just can’t really envisage us all getting all together as one big happy family. What do you guys think?? Should I give up or should I persist?? Has anyone else had any similar experiences and if so how did things turn out?

The reason for your girlfriends parents not to like you might not be you being a foreigner, but you two being in a long distance relationship.
If the daughter is approaching 30 or is over 30 years old already, she needs to get married asap and waiting for a boyfriend who is overseas is not what a mother wishes her offspring to do.
Who knows if your relationship will last? Have her waste her best years while waiting for a foreigner who might not be honest with her and willing to marry is not an option for Taiwanese parents.

For this reason my boyfriend only told his parents about our relationship once I moved to Taiwan and settled down. They are the most conservative people I’ve ever met, but they do like me and have nothing against our relationship as such.

There is hope… :wink:

Should you give up or persist? That depends on whether you want to marry the mother and father or the girl. If the girl then yes persist.

Look, it really isn’t that difficult. People encounter this problem outside Taiwan too. Rich folk don’t want daughter to marry a poor man. Educated folk don’t want a high school grad in the family. Black don’t want white. White don’t want black.

It’s all a pain in the ass, but the fact is none of us are constrained by our society except as we choose to be. That goes for your girlfriend too. She has to make her own mind up and live with the consequences. If the consequences are that her family disowns her, you know what? you have done her a big favor, because to stay with such people would just mean the slow crushing of her soul.

If you marry and her family is simply not thrilled, but accept it, well, you have joined a club that has a billion members aroudn the world.

Taiwan is a modern, or modernizing country. The old ways are dying out. In 10 or 20 years there won’t be a lot of parental pressure anymore. Your girlfriend is going to be pretty miserable if she marries a Taiwanese only to discover 10 years later that no one really cares anymore what decision she made. If she marries a Taiwanese and has children those children are going to grow up thinking their mother is some kidn of freak from the past. You can just imagine them crying out aghast, “You didn’t marry the man you loved? You married because nanna and pappa told you too? Don’t you have any self-esteem?”

Is this the fate you wish for your girlfriend? To be despised by the next generation, by her own children?

That said, you don’t need to alienate the parents. Try to see them more often and see that you are a decent person.


I really don’t think it is because we are in a long distance relationship that her parents are not happy about us being ‘together’. I met my girlfriend in Australia 4 years ago when she was studying here at university. I also lived in Taiwan for a year with her so it hasn’t always been a long distance relationship. Her parents have been against the relationship from the beginning. What I find surprising is that they happily send their daughter overseas to a western country to further her education but they don’t approve of their daughter having a western boyfriend.

Mucha Man,

I agree with most of what you have to say. I know I am certainly not alone with this problem but there is a difference between potential in-laws being unimpressed with a potential son-in-law compared to those who will just be unwilling to accept it. Her parents come from a small town and they didn’t want to meet me at their house or in their town because they were concerned or embarrased about what their friends would think of their daughter being with a foreigner. It is very hard for me to respect her parents when they have this kind of attitude. They seem so uneducated, narrow-minded and racist that I am really not sure I want to have them as parents in-law. In the past I have got along very well with some of my former girlfriend’s parents but I don’t think this is going to be possible in this case. I am trying to be positive but after 4 years of my girlfriend telling me how her mother keeps saying to her that we can only be friends and that she should marry a Taiwanese guy I am starting to lose faith and question whether I am making the right decision to persist at all costs. Both of my parents really like my girlfriend and even if they didn’t it wouldn’t matter anyway. If my parents didn’t like my girlfriend I think I would just tell them to get f…d. Parents should never be able to choose who their children marry. Why should they believe it is their right to make this decision for their children. My girlfriend is 26 years old and I think she is mature enough to make her own decisions. If I have kids one day I would want to above all other things for them to be happy. I would want them to marry for love and not for any other reason.

Of course, traditional Chinese are also sexist by definition, and, sad as it is from a western viewpoint, this is in your favor. If you marry, your new wife becomes part of your family, and you are the head of the house. Your new mother-in-law will grudgingly accept this. Based on your prospective in-laws reactions to meeting you, you probably won’t be living near them, so no loss of face there. Show your inlaws that you are a good person from a good family, and show face to them… it will be ok.

So the problem then is more that you aren’t sure that you want to marry into her family. You want to raise healthy modern children and lead your own life and you think these people will either hinder that or downright make it impossible. Perhaps you also worry that your gf is narrowminded or may become such in later life. You don’t want to be tied forever to a loser, or a drag. You don’t want to marry into Archie Bunker’s family, but at the same time, you trust and believe that your gf can do better. But does she do better? No disrespect meant of course, I am just trying to suggest thoughts that may be just below the surface of your mind.

In-laws. What can you do? They always complain about the outsider. If you both want to get married, get married. It’s not like you’re going to be hanging out with her parents all the time.

Mucha Man,

Yes, that’s right I am certainly apprehensive about the prospect of marrying into a family like this. While I believe my girlfriend is capable of making her own decisions it is also obvious and I guess quite normal that she doesn’t particularly enjoy upseting her mother. My girlfriend is not narrow-minded like her mother but naturally she is still influenced by her.

Another thing which really annoys me is that my girlfriend believes that if I was rich then her mother would probably be more accepting of our relationship. Her mother believes she should only marry a guy that already owns a house. This is what really gets to me. Not only is she narrow-minded and racist but she is also shamelessly materialistic. Not that being materialistic is an uncommon trait among Taiwanese but I don’t know if it would ever be possible to please her mother. I feel that my only hope to stay together with my girlfriend is to become accepted by her mother and I can’t see how this is going to possible.

You really need to assume that it’s not possible and work from there. Is your girlfriend going to be able to deal with it. Sounds like there are some doubts there. If you’re not getting clear signals that she and you are going to come first i would think very carefully.

On the other hand you can’t let stuff like that get to you. They are old folks and if they have got it in their heads that they don’t like you they won’t. if you aren’t able to take that with a grain of salt then it’s probably wise to back off as well.

Eric the tone of your post suggests that you are in the process of talking yourself out of this thing and are looking for someone to help you along. I doubt that anybody here will want to do that. This may just be a phase you are going through, or it may be that somewhere deep inside you know this thing is a no go. Some things a guy’s gotta figure out on his own.

Could be also that your girlfriend is trying to give you a signal. Maybe she’s not willing to get married and she’s telling you that the “Taiwanese” way. You know. Avoiding confrontation.

Not to spite you, but I can see why the mom doesn’t like you/a westerner for her daughter so much. If my boyfriend feels like he has a hard time respecting my parents because they believe in fortune tellers, I don’t think my dad would respond too well. If my boyfriend looks down my mom because she would like me to marry a husband with a house already, I don’t think she would like him too well, either. If my parents are pushing all these expectations onto my boyfriend and telling me to never marry him, I don’t think that would go over too well with my boyfriend, either. If I am receiving pressure from both ends on an ongoing basis, I am not going to like it too well…hell no.

So it’s just a case of nobody liking anybody, on the surface.

The merging of two cultures is never easy, not even when it’s just two “family cultures”. Throw in race, materialism, what have you, everyone’s got a good reason not to like the other. I bet everyone can go on and on and on about how valid their reasons are for not liking the person. Everyone is stuck in those reasons until they can start to put themselves in the shoes of another.

What’s your part in this whole thing? The innocent westerner caught up in Taiwanese bullshit re: racism, materialism…etc.? Trapped in ignorance of the family that you may never be able to shake off once you marry your girlfriend? Or could it be that there are lessons to be learned here that would enrich your life whether you end up with your girlfriend or not, such as tolerance, kindness, understanding, curiosity, and forgiveness?

Conduct a poll and find out how many of the mixed marriages really work out. I know some are wonderfull, but some are horrible as well.

Fortune tellers, Feng Shui, language, cultural barriers, family living in both countries. You want to be really sure to do this.

A former boxing champion had an interesting opinion on mixed race marriages. I’ll have to find his quote somewhere.

Since marrying my Taiwanese wife, I had to

chop off my infant son’s hair to make a brush
choose his Chinese name from the names given by a fortune teller
move my bed away from the wall due to bad feng shui
crawl under a table at my father in law’s funeral
eat god knows what because it helps my Qi
let countless meals get cold because the ghosts had to be fed first…

My wife doesn’t buy most of this but her Mom does. When you marry here, many times, you marry the family, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

But if you are doubtful about the relationship you have with your GF, go to her family’s home MORE. See how they interact together, because basically, not one damn thing will change.

If you can’t handle her jia ren, don’t do it.

I’m lucky, my brother in law is like my brother now and I’m an Uncle to four boys who don’t know the difference. I’m respected. I couldn’t be happier.

Try NOT to do the “I don’t care what they think” thing. Your GF does care. She was brought up to care. It can work out. Try harder.:slight_smile:


WRONG! Try every weekend for the rest of their lives.

Hi guys,

Thanks for your advice, I appreciate it. I don’t think I will have to worry about seeing her parents every weekend. My girlfriend and I are planning to live in Australia so it would be quite expensive for her parents to visit very often. I am not sure but maybe the prospect of her daughter living so far away from Taiwan is another reason why her mother is against our relationship. Apparently she hasn’t said anything about that to her daughter but I think she probably wants her daughter to stay in Taiwan.

I think the materialistic issue is an interesting one because I certainly think westerners are materialistic, but in a different way. It seems to me that generally they are less concerned with having to prove to their friends, family and the rest of society that they are special and important because they drive a Mercedes Benz have a Gucci bag and a Cartier watch. At least in Australia our society is much more egalitarian and there isn’t a defined class structure which promotes that materialistic attitude. Of course there are materialistic people everywhere but I don’t feel pressure in Australian society to have to prove to everyone how great I am because I have so many expensive goods. I realise that this is driven by their culture which revolves around the notion of ‘face’ but think they really take it a bit too far sometimes.

There’s your answer, then. That’s the way I would plan to do it, too. At the very least, live in another city. At best, a country far, far away (OK, Australia’s not too far).

I have had some “issues” with my gf’s mother, too. Her father quite likes me, but the mother is VERY VERY traditional, and, like you, I just can’t buy a lot of the stuff she says / does (although I do like her as a person very much).

On the other hand, if your gf is getting close to the 30 year-old sell-buy-date (in the minds of locals young and old), the parents may soon come around as they realize (horror of all horrors), their daughter will not be pumping out the grandkids within the next two years if she doesn’t grab whoever shows an interest.

My gf’s parents are now in the “when are you going to marry her” phase, as my gf’s 29, we’ve known each other for 5.5 years and have been dating for 2, although they weren’t very keen on me in the beginning.

Unfiltered thoughts and reactions:

Honestly, I don’t put up with crap that my family tends to shit all over the place at times: “does he have a house?” “how much does he make?” “is he going to marry you?” Blah blah blah. I gently re-direct them (sometimes not so gently if gently doesn’t quite work) back to what’s important to me: am I happy with my boyfriend, does he respect me, does he give me enough room to be who I am, blah blah blah. You are trapped in your survival issues; I get it. Now that shit is not going to fly with me if you want to stay in relationship with me. My family gets the message and know better than to mess with me or my beloved.

At the same time, I don’t put up with crap from my boyfriend (and actually is hasn’t happened with my current boyfriend but has happened with past partners): america is the right place to be; americans are so much less materialistic, american this, american that. Whatever. Dig deep enough you are going to find crap everywhere. I am not interested in being with someone who stays stuck in judging just because he is having a hard time. I can empathize with his having a hard time, and at some point he is going to own up to his stuff before I dump his ass. My partner certainly has the right to criticize and vent all he wants; I only need him to remember to own up to his own stuff at the end: I feel inadequate to meet these impossible expectations, I feel threatened to feel so judged by people I don’t know, I feel angry because I feel like I have no room to be valued as who I am…you get the idea. I don’t tolerate someone standing ten feet away from their own feelings and project those feelings onto the easy targets without looking into what’s going on with themselves. It’s all the other person’s fault, oh well, I am not interested in being with someone who is trapped in the victim stance on an ongoing basis. We all have those moments; I am counting on my partner to have a higher level of awareness than to live there.

From where I am looking, your girlfriend seems very tolerant to let you criticize her family without owning up to your own stuff. Then again, I don’t know you. Maybe you do own up to your own stuff (feelings, reactions, thoughts without “the other” the focus.) Maybe you demonstrate great restraint in throwing your judgements around in real life. More power to you. Judging from what I have read, she’s gotta be one special lady to put up with the stuff that comes out of your mouth so far. (Everything you said is valid; I am talking about the missing pieces of your own issues that get triggered by these events.) I wouldn’t trust someone who is not capable of including themselves in the judging game, if we have to judge, that is.

Best of luck,

(I am a little bit more direct than usual cause I am sick.)

:bravo: :bravo: :bravo:

I can understand your situation perfectly, Eric. By a moment, I thought I saw my BF posting our problem here!
I think your GF