In a previous article about Thai girls and their dating potential for us westerners, I set out why I believe that the ladies from the land of smiles are a viable option for a serious romance now that economic development in Thailand had introduced a more mainstream sort of visitor to the country for work and business purposes.

It occurs to me that I left my first article with a bit of a cliff-hanger ending. Having argued that regular Thai girls are showing interest in finding Western boyfriends these days, I then continued with the bad news that the culture-gap is so large between Thailand and the west that most of us are not particularly well suited to serious romantic attachment to a Thai lady at all.

Here are a few things you should know so that this generalization may not apply to you:

The Culture Gap

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The first thing to note about the culture gap is that life in Thailand feels much more conservative and traditional. It makes you think of a time before we all started locking our front-doors and shutting ourselves off from our neighborhoods and communities. There’s less pressure to fall inline with the daily grind of work, pay the mortgage, watch TV, sleep and repeat.

With regard to Thai girls, the first and last thought of the day for many of them is focused on “sanuk” i.e. having fun. This is an important point; life in Thailand is much more about enjoying the moment, there’s no concern for political correctness and not much thought given to the future consequences of actions taken today.

Another overriding divide between Thai culture and Western culture is the way in which Thais enjoy doing things as a group. With the exception of bedroom activities there’s not much in life that your average Thai doesn’t prefer to do in the company of friends and family.

The downside to this, from a Western point of view, is the loss of independence that you have to accept if you want to become a part of the group. Don’t underestimate how much you value your independence—most of us in the west have been weaned on it, and it isn’t an easy thing to give up.

Before continuing, I’d let to set your minds at ease with regard to an issue that cropped up in the comments after my previous article; you do NOT need to worry about mistakenly ending up dating a Thai ladyboy. The whole ladyboy issue is massively over-hyped; if you want to avoid the ladyboys then you will not struggle to do so.

Back to the culture gap… to give an idea of what it would be like for you in a relationship with a Thai girl, I’ll describe a few of the main components of daily life in Thailand.

Thai Girls And Cultural Norms

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Family Hierarchy

I already mentioned that life in Thailand is a bit like a bygone age in the west. One respect that fits with that assessment is the respect Thais have for their elders. If you want romance with Thai girls, you’re going to need to be very respectful towards her parents and you’re going to need to accept a great deal of involvement by them in everyday decision making.

Every family has a hierarchy and even if you are dating a girl that is significantly younger than you are, you are still going to need to fit in with your “in-laws” wishes about lots of things. If you have become too accustomed to going your own way then you are going to struggle with the deference that is required.

Saving Face

The big issue here relates to the way that Thai avoid confrontation with one another. If you feel like having a good debate on any given topic then you’re in trouble. The problem with debating something is that one side or another might win the debate and the losing party will “lose face” over being wrong. Losing face is a big deal in Thailand, much more so than in the west, and everyone avoids it.

Telling little white lies in order to help someone save face is also commonplace; in fact the length and breadth of situations where a little white lie is deemed acceptable is so extensive that you’ll sometimes wonder if you’ve ever heard the truth.

Public Behaviour

Any sort of public display of affection is going to be frowned upon in most areas of Thailand. One of the big concerns that Thai girls have about getting involved with Western men is the fear that we’ll be a little over-familiar. Even holding hands is looked down upon in some situations.

Ga Tan Yoo

This relates to an overwhelming feeling of debt and gratitude that Thais feel towards their parents. I already mentioned that Thai girls are deferential towards their parents, but the ga tan yoo concept goes much further than that.

Thai children are raised to understand all of the sacrifices that their parents have made for them throughout their lives. In Thai society the children assume the responsibility of taking care of the parents once the children are old enough to work. If you marry a Thai girl then you are going to assume a great deal of financial responsibility for the parents whilst still being deferential towards their views!

Nam Jai

This translates as “generous heart.” Anyone that fails to show nam jai is looked down upon in Thai society. When you read on Thai girls’ dating profiles that they are looking for a generous man, they mean a man that has nam jai. It is not just about handing out all your cash to all and sundry, and it’s also nothing to do with taking advantage of your good nature either, although there are opportunists out there.

In rural communities in particular, most people don’t have many worldly goods, but most people no matter how poor will happily share what they have with you as it is a way of expressing their nam jai. Since you are likely to have more money, you’ll be given lots of opportunities to spread the wealth. This might be exactly what a Thai person would want to do, but it might not be your idea of a good time!

In Summary

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Thai girls are an option, but being with one long-term does come with some serious life-changing customs. You can try to get your girl to drop those customs if you like, but I can more or less guarantee that you’ll end up with an unhappy lady on your hands. Better to understand the changes necessary and go into your relationship knowledgeable and prepared for compromise.

Read More: Is Modern Thai Dating Finally A Mainstream Option?