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Thursday, June 20, 2024


So, I’ve been struggling with my girlfriend’ parents and with Vietnamese culture in general. I’ll try to explain the situation as best as I can so bear with me.


My girlfriend left Vietnam around 5 years ago to work/study abroad as she didn’t like her life there (work culture, being pressured into marrying a Vietnamese man, etc). Of course, her parents didn’t like this decision and weren’t supportive so they were not in the best terms with her.

Now, jump to the present. We’re together living in Singapore and as I always wanted to travel to and it has been a while we both didn’t have some proper holidays so we decided to go to Vietnam for one month together.

As we would stay one week with her parents, we would meet most of her family. She explained to me that it was expected we brought gifts to everyone. We spent around $1300 in cosmetics, wine, sweets, etc. I told her I was really uncomfortable with this culture of having to gift a bottle of wine to even the most remote cousin she had because it’s tradition (when no one even bothered to ask news of her for the last 5 years) .

Looting from rich foreign boyfriend

I can afford such expenses but they seem outrageous to me (I paid a big part of it as my girlfriend’s income is lower than mine) as I myself don’t buy gifts for my family unless it’s direct family and generally it would be a book or something like that for a birthday. But I understand it’s a different mindset and went for it.


When we arrived there, most of our gifts were either confiscated by her parents because they thought they were not good enough, or simply looted by neighbours or family who just went through the suitcases to take as many things as possible.

It’s understandable I was mad with the situation but my Vietnamese is too bad for me to speak up properly and my girlfriend was just sad overall so we just let it slide.

Also, I was surprised by how much money and showing off matter to them. Most of my girlfriend family were proudly displaying full-on Gucci, Yves-Saint-Laurent, Channel etc outfits which were clearly fake as they are (most all of them) farmers who couldn’t afford the real thing.

Her uncle even rented a “fancy” car to come to pick up us and visit the town. Again, we privately laugh at it with my girlfriend and just roll with it and accept their comments on how poor we look because we only wear Adidas sports clothes (the weather is killing me, I have no intent to wear a suit)

Now, we’re about to leave the familial house and start our real holidays but we had a very surreal discussion with my girlfriend’s father: he stated I was too poor (joke on him) to be his son-in-law and because I have no intention to come to live in Vietnam to take care of them, her daughter should just date a Vietnamese.


Father in law think $50 very big

He then proceeded to give me SGD$50 in đồng so I can give her daughter some “proper” holidays. I laughed at it as I thought it was a joke but when I realized he was being for serious I just told him this was the last time he would see me with a smile on my face (with broken Vietnamese but he got the message).

We called a taxi, booked a hotel and just left. My girlfriend is clearly sad about this whole situation and I really don’t know how to confront it and her family. Is this a “normal” scenario.

Am I being a douche bag for not understanding their culture? Should I just cross them out of our future together?

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