Will my girlfriend's parents ever accept our relationship?

Hello Candyfloss,

Thanks for sharing your story with me. I hope everything works out for you and your boyfriend.


I realise my posts might make me sound like I am being judgemental and a bit self-centered. However, I can assure you that I am not this kind of person at all and I think I am just a bit frustrated and upset at the moment. I do respect my girlfriend’s family including her mother, but I just find her attitude hard to accept. I get along with my girlfriend’s younger brother very well and apparently he is also frustrated that his mother doesn’t accept our relationship. My girlfriend agrees with my criticisms of her mother and in fact she gets extremely frustrated with her mother when she makes general derogatory remarks about westerners. She says she wishes her mother would grow up and would actually go overseas and see the real world. She says her mother lives in her own little bubble in rural Taiwan and doesn’t really accept that their is another world outside. I find it annoying not just in my particular situation but in a number of cases where daughters and sons clearly display much more maturity than their parents. They understand the significance of love being the most important factor in a relationship and they are less likely to discriminate on the basis of race. Hopefully we can all look forward to a better world when our kids can feel comfortable about having relationships with people from other races and cultures without suffering persecution from their parents.

I guess I am just a stubborn self-centered person for being upset that not everyone else in this world is as open-minded as I am. If I have children I wouldn’t care if there partner is black, white, fat, skinny, ugly, beautiful, Asian, Aboriginal, Hispanic, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant or whatever. I really don’t care. I would just want them to be happy. If they are happy then I would be happy for them.

The classic Taiwan line.

Candyfloss & Eric - I wish you all much happiness.

Erick, you sound very genuine, and I probably would be just as frustrated as you are if not more if I were in the same situation.

At the same time, I happen to think that one of the greatest thing about being open minded is that we are willing to stay curious to what seems to be different from us.

Who is the most different from you in your story here?

Once I yelled at someone that triggered some upset for me: “YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN!” While my statement was usually “true” at the time in regards to what the other person “should” do, I was probably the loudest one at that moment. The moral? I find it ironic that I was yelling to tell someone else to calm down. I seriously had a good laugh at myself once I was done being upset. (Trust me; it took a while to work through that upset.)

Why do I bring that up? Mostly just a reaction to what you said:

[quote=“Erick Morillo”]
I guess I am just a stubborn self-centered person for being upset that not everyone else in this world is as open-minded as I am.[/quote]

What is your definition of being open-minded? Why would you need to be open-minded if everyone else in the world shares the same views as you? For someone who claims to be more open-minded then others in the world, you sure sound like you have quite a few expectations. I don’t know about you. I didn’t have to work hard to be open-minded to people whose world views were similar to mine, and I usually have to work hard to stay open minded when my expectations aren’t met the way I wanted them to.

For example, it’s a lot easier for me to be open minded with folks who are down with POCs, much more challenging to be open-minded with privileged Californian white boys who simply insist that racism is a thing of the past.

The reason? It f-king hurts too bad sometimes when I get around people like that: triggers too much wounding from the past. At the same time, it’s worth it to me to look at those wounds and decide how I want to heal and be in this world.

And guess what? The white boys hear me a lot better when I am willing to deal with my own woundings instead of projecting the feelings onto them, being all defensive and trying to change their views before I hear them out. Nobody likes to be stripped of the reality, no matter how fucked up of a reality we think it is. I don’t. I bet you don’t, either. I would even guess: not your girlfriend’s mom, either, although it’s probably very tempting to just go ahead and treat her less like a human being worthy of respect.

(Okay, I am talking about my dad here. I certainly have felt that way about him and had to work hard to bring it back to the middle.)

Maybe this is the typical Taiwanese soap opera. Something that makes their lives more interesting.

Well it can work out well. I got re-married and had a son to boot. The father in-law was already dead and the mother in law is great. We’ve had none of your issues but I had them all with the first missus.

They’ll accept you when you send them the wedding invites. I still get along fine with my ex’s parents. You could always just knock up your GF. Parents will ask you to get married then and a lot of your issues will dissapear. :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

I think there may be another explanation to the materialism being exhibited by many Taiwanese people. Keep in mind that there is not a great deal of social safety net in Taiwan. Even the national health care system is a relative new comer. People had died due to their inability to come up with downpayments on their medical bills BEFORE services rendered. There is no national pension/social security system. So, it is beyond “face” issues that the older folks are concerned about. They see it as their responsibility that their daughters will not suffer, and theri future grandchildren will be looked after.

I don’t see why anyone would get married and have kids unless they had a whole ton of money. Especially nowadays. It’s an irresponsilbe thing to have kids if you can’t provide for them in the present and help them out financially for the future.

Hi Erick,

I can totally relate to your situation, as I had a very similar problem with an ex-gf’s parents when I lived in Taiwan. Notice the use of the prefix - “ex”.

She and I dated for about 5 years - and were even engaged to be married for 2 of those years, in kind of an informal way. Informal in the sense that the engagement was never sanctioned by her family, we never gave out cookies, took photos, and started mailing out red-bombs. It was more of a promise to each other, pending a resolution of the stalemate with her folks.

Her dad was a “wai-sheng bei bei” - one of the original old KMT soldiers who fled the Mainland with Generalissimo CKS back in the day. He was a very conservative guy, very basic in world view, and stubborn as all hell. The mother was an illiterate Taiwanese woman from the countryside* who had no will to stand up to the husband’s wishes. His attitude was, No Daughter of mine will ever “jia gei wai gwo ren” (Marry a foreigner). Period. End of discussion. His attitude was mostly fueled by his not wanting to loose face with his friends - his daughters happiness, naturally, never did get factored into the equation.

  • Back when her parents married (she was much younger than him) there was still a very strong prejudice among Taiwanese, about marrying mainlanders


Nearly 4 years ago now I had the same sort of plan and was trying to work out things like Chinese communities in Australia, Chinese supermarkets and even checking out Chinese satellite TV etc in Australia. SO was quite happy about the idea of moving to Australia eventually and spending holiday time back in Taiwan.

Now, no.

She loves her family time in Taiwan. She likes Australia, she likes Western food. But, unless I could move the mum, dad and siblings and their families to Australia we have a problem. I have no current solution and don’t think about it too much.

Maybe you can work it out. I hope so. I suggest you talk to lots of people who have been through this. Satellite TV is an X Aussie. He moved to Australia with wife and child. Not a happy ending. You can search and find his story. It is on here.

Excellent post, mwalimu!

Thanks for sharing your story with us.

A bit of a sad ending. I wonder if she still thinks about you, or if she has resigned herself to her current fate?

Anyway, thank you again for sharing your personal story and adding a lot with it to this thread.

Sounds like Taiwanese are all but horrible, conservative, materialistic, superstious and racist people. You know by the same token I can say the same to Jewish since I had my share of experience with Jewish girls, don’t think they’re all that accepting if you ask me. Can you guys be a bit more sensative about choice of word in general, don’t just use “Taiwanese” with whatever you feel like to associate to. I always remember the 5% rule that someone told me once, you will see those asshole no matter where you go, and they’re only 5% out there, the rest are nice enough, so just please, be a bit more careful about the usage of words, okay.

I certainly think of her from time to time - relationships like that sort of resonate forever.

clee, you are quite right that we all have to be careful with the stereotyping. I’m certainly guilty as charged. And you are also correct, in your own way, that there are a lot of cultures in the world that share similar characteristics with Taiwanese culture.

I can totally understand how you might find some of the comments on this thread - and on Forumosa in general - offensive. My advice would be (not that you asked for it) to NOT take it personally. In other words, take it for what it is - don’t take it as an offense.

I think that the vast majority of people’s comments about Taiwan and the Taiwanese, here on Forumosa, including a lot of stereotyping (which is often used for expediency’s sake when you are typing in a forum - who has time to qualify everything they say), isn’t coming from a racist place. Making obesrvations about the host culture, including venting a bit of frustration, is a normal part of the expat experience. I’m sure that you overseas students in the states, do it too.

mwalimu, that was a very touching story you shared about your father and the ex-girlfriend. What a moment. So much all rolled into one. Thanks for sharing that. You are lucky to have each other, your dad and you. Blessings.

When I got to your reply to clee, that was when I reminded myself the importance of staying open-minded, because I was a little annoyed since what you said sounded like minimizing to me. It’s one thing to vent (which we all need); it’s also nice for the person venting to remember to own up to it at some point. I found clee’s reminder of langauge usage appropriate. He has a right to express his reactions just as you do. I didn’t sense clee’s reactions as “bent out of shape.” And speaking of “personal” (since you were telling clee not to take things personally), I really couldn’t quite tell where that came from. If anything, your stories were much more “personal” than his statements, which, in my opinion, really enriched the thread.

Hope your father is doing well…take gentle care.



Thank you for sharing your experiences with me.

You talked about your ex-girlfriend’s father not wanting to lose face in front of his neighbours, friends and extended family. I think this is very much the case with my girlfriend’s mother. My girlfriend says that her mother is more worried about what her friends and family will think about her daughter’s relationship with a foreigner. She is not strong enough to deal with the prejudice and just wants to fit in with the rest of the crowd. It’s really sad if this is really the reason that she is unwilling to accept our relationship. However, that may not be the real reason. She just may not like the idea of her daughter marrying a foreigner. It maybe a combination of the two, it is hard for me to work it out. Even my girlfriend says she doesn’t know exactly why her mother is like this. She just says she is very conservative and very protective of her daughter.

My girlfriend’s parents also tried to set her up with Taiwanese guys even when they knew we were together. She actually went out with this Taiwanese guy on a few dates just to keep her mother happy. Of course she told me about it before and hoped I would accept it. Her mother set her up with this guy and she didn’t want to go out with him but eventually she agreed. My girlfriend’s reason that she went out with this guy was to show her mother that she is serious about me and that she can’t like any other guy more than me. Her mother said to her that she should go out with other guys because she hasn’t had any other serious boyfriends before me and maybe she will like someone else more. How silly!!! Of course I wasn’t happy about my girlfriend going out with another guy but I agreed because I know my girlfriend would never do anything and I trust her as she trusts me. I think allowing my girlfriend to do that even though I was unhappy about it proves that I do have respect for her mother even though I don’t agree with her. You can’t imagine how bad I felt waiting for my girlfriend to get home from her date with another guy. That was really strange.


Which part of Australia were you planning to move to?? You mentioned looking for Chinese supermarkets. There are many here in Melbourne cos there is such a large Asian population in this city. I guess my girlfriend feels comfortable here because there are lot of Taiwanese and Chinese here so its easy for her to make new friends. You can also buy alot of the same foods you can buy in Taiwan because there are many Chinese, Japanese and Korean supermarkets all over the city. I don’t think you really have to like western food to live in Melbourne. You can buy so many types of Asian food here that you would never have to eat any western food for the rest of your life if you didn’t want to.

I don’t think my girlfriend wants to stay in Taiwan with her family like your girlfriend did. She is very keen to do more study and work in Australia. She has Taiwanese and Japanese friends here that she met while she was studying in Melbourne last time. She is very familiar with the place and she likes it here so I think that is a big plus. While I don’t think she wants to necessarily abandon her family she thinks visiting them once a year would be fine.

So I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out. We are both determined to get through this even though I think we have both had our doubts at times. In the end we both believe that if we can survive the long distance thing then we should be able to last forever. My girlfriend believes that it is best to try and take things slowly with her mother because she thinks eventually her mother will realise how serious she is about me and she will have to accept it. I am hoping that is the case but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Just a point… I don’t think being conservative is the reason your girl’s mother cannot accept you. My in-laws are very conservative, and they never had anything but the normal reservations about me. But, those were reservations that any parents’ would have and should have had.

I’ve had a similar situation but perhaps to a lesser degree.

I’ve been togther for 3 years now, 6 months engaged. I met her parents after a year. They were just normal folk. Mum’s been a housewife all her life, can’t read or write. Dad’s a builder, works hard to provide for his family. They live out north of Taipei in a small town.

When I visited them, Dad was all questions about my family, work, country, etc. I thought this was very positive. Then GF starts telling me how her mum doesn’t approve and wants her to get married to a nice Taiwanese lad. This pissed me off for a time - lack of understanding, judging me without knowing me - but now I understand.

Yes it is narrow-mindedness but in an innocent way. She’s her mother for for God’s sake. She wants the best for her daughter. She’s never known a foreigner personally only what’s on TV and that aint too pretty.
As for not wanting her daughter to be seen in public, same situation here. The mother’s thinking is the girl will never find a nice Taiwanese lad now everybody knows she’s been tainted by a foreigner.

The point is this is how the mother thinks. You can accept this and cause it to break up or seriously doubt your relationship or you can slowly and steadily break down the misconceptions that she has.

Prove to her that you are a good person.
Prove to her that you can provide a good life for her daughter.
Prove to her that you can give her daughter the kind of life that any mother would want for their daughter.

You don’t have to go out of your way or change your life for her but go and visit the parents on the holidays when you’re here in Taiwan, treat your girlfriend well, work hard, and keep them clued in on your plans and intentions.

It won’t happen over night, but gradually if your love is strong enough and if your girlfriend is up to it, little by little you’ll change her thinking and you’ll be accepted.

As for my girlfriend, we had a shorter long distance relationship when we first started going out. Tainan to Taipei. But we saw each other when possible and now live together. Her parents know but they pretend they don’t. Silly really but there you go.

Now when I visit the parents, we have a set routine. We arrive at midday, Mum cooks a meal, I buy the beer and we all sit and eat (minus Mum who never eats with us). Dad and me toast each other all through the meal. Finish eating, every body has a snooze, wake up around 5:30, finish off the leunch leftovers, then back to Taipei. All this is done with my piss poor Chinese. They accept me now but the mother is still not totally happy.

It’s taken 2 years to curb the “you can do better than a foriegner” crap, probably take another 2 years to cut it all out. I could get really pissed off with it but why bother? It doesn’t bother my girlfriend that much, she knows her Mum’s old fashioned and so does every one else her age. My girlfriend’s strong enough to withstand her mum’s protestations and that’s only one of the reasons I love her.

If you and your girlfriend really want to be with each other then it’ll work out because you two will make it work out. If you want it to cause big friction in your relationship then it will. You’ve been together long enough. You know whether you and your girlfriend are strong enough. Go with your feelings whatever they are and don’t look back.

Good luck and be strong.