The Thai dating scene has received a great deal of bad-press in recent years and it always saddens me when I read or hear about a failed relationship between a westerner and a Thai. I have to say that such failures, traditionally at least, have not been an uncommon thing. But the times are changing fast. If you are getting back into the dating game, then there are some convincing reasons to give this tropical option a serious look. Before looking into those reasons it might be best if we have a quick look at why it is that Thai girls have got something of a bad rap.
Thai Dating in the Past
The majority of the romantic relationships that have blossomed in previous years have come about via the tourism industry, i.e. from middle-aged western men visiting places such as Pattaya, places that are home to thousands of red-light workers. They arrive intending to have some no-strings-attached fun for a couple of weeks, but then they end up finding themselves emotionally attached to the ladies that they meet there.
I don’t want to spend too much time talking about the insanity of getting romantically involved with these ladies, as it isn’t the point of my article, but I should offer an olive branch to those men that have made this mistake. These girls aren’t the hardened professionals that you might think they are; they are often working as they do because it is the only way to make enough money to provide for elderly parents, infants, and so on. The compassion that these ladies can stir in the unsuspecting tourist is often enough to turn an otherwise sensible person into a man determined to “save” his poor sweetheart. Sadly for him, it is almost always a scam and the relationship almost always ends in tears – and serious financial loss.
If the majority of Thai girls that have been available to western men have been unrepresentative of the larger body of regular Thai girls, it is probably just as true that the western men that have entered into romantic relationships with them have been equally unrepresentative. Many of them belong more to the hard-drinking, recently divorced, or socially awkward genre that have sometimes struggled to maintain lasting relationships with the ladies back home. There are others of course, there are lots of genuinely decent men that just got taken for a ride, but the body of Westerners as a whole has been a bit below average in terms of quality husband material.
The upshot of all this is just as you would expect, lots of failed relationships, and it has done nothing to help create a positive perception of Thai women in the mind of your typical Westerner.
Thai Dating in the Present and Future
Mainstream Thai attitudes towards westerners have improved a great deal with recent economic development in the country. The last three decades have brought massive inflows of western investment into Thailand and, alongside it, many professional or business expats from the West – and it’s a trend that is set to continue.
At one time a regular Thai lady would have been reluctant to get involved with a foreign man due to the stigma that it brought with it (i.e. the assumption that she must be a working-girl involved with a sex-tourist). These days that stigma is much diminished due to the inflow of more respectable western business visitors, and Thai ladies are increasingly interested in meeting those visitors.
The rapid growth of Thai dating sites that cater primarily for local women who are interested in meeting western men has played a big role in providing an opportunity to meet these men, but the success of these sites is also a testimony to the increased interest from regular Thai ladies – typically there are over five female registered profiles for every western male profile on these sites.
What most westerners don’t realize about Thai girls is that, outside of the tourist areas, they are a very conservative bunch with very traditional values. You read that right, I’m talking seriously traditional family values, the sort of thing you think of when you imagine the world that your grandparents grew up in. I won’t go into a discussion of female emancipation and economic independence in western society, or the confusion that it has led to between the modern roles of the two genders, I simply point out that in Thailand the traditional model of femininity remains very much the mainstream paradigm.
The good news is that this makes modern Thai dating a very good option if you are looking for a lasting relationship. If you are finding yourself increasingly frustrated by the demands of romantic relationships back home, as I think a sizable number of us ROK readers are, then it might be time to consider Thai dating as an option to be explored. Don’t be deterred by the horror stories from the past that you may have heard, just take your time and don’t get involved with a girl who works at a bar in Pattaya.
Cultural Differences; the biggest hurdle
Now for the downside; if you were to get involved with a Thai lady you will find that the cultural differences that you will need to get a handle on are not insignificant – they are huge! For many people these differences are not just huge, but they are often insurmountable. If you are tempted by the prospect of Thai dating then I can’t urge you strongly enough to do all that you can to learn about the differences in dating culture, my website will help with this. You might have thought that the language barrier is the biggest obstacle to success, but I’d say that it is even more important to understand the cultural differences.
You do need to be able to communicate effectively, but a common mistake us westerners make is to think that communication is just about language, it’s not. If you want to communicate well with a Thai lady then you’re going to need to understand her emotions and her feelings; you need to be able to understand the things that aren’t spoken. You may think that members of the opposite sex are difficult to understand in the west when it comes to dating, but compared to Thai dating I think that the famous Churchill quote applies very well: “it’s a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside a puzzle…”
It isn’t particularly difficult to grasp what the cultural differences are, but it can be very difficult to really embrace them and accept them as though they are your own. It’s natural, once you are dating a Thai girl, to think that once you have grown close to each other you can just revert to your own cultural instincts and that all will be fine. It isn’t going to work that way; even if you could “westernize” your new girlfriend, you certainly won’t westernize her family, and her family will always be an enormous influence on your relationship. In any case, if you want western culture then it’s probably best to date a western lady. If, on the other hand, you are ready for a very different way of life, Thai dating has much to offer.
I quite enjoy answering questions on this topic; so please do ask away in the comments below if there is anything you are unsure of.