Don’t expect to find your ideal future wife in a bar. Bars are for bar girls. Bar girls make a living sleeping with anyone who has enough money to pay for them. Bar girls have been spoilt by countless men before you and their loyalty will be entirely to your wallet.
Almost without exception, these girls are financial opportunists with a big responsibility to support their dirt poor families back home. Most bar girls are from Isaan, a poor farming area of Northeast Thailand; their background is so different from yours that, despite their sophistication learnt in the bar, they relate little to anything in your life other than money and comfort.
They are also skilfully deceptive and can string you along with ‘white lies’ for months or years. To some it’s very obvious, however, many well-meaning men are ruthlessly extorted of money from bar girls, believing in their hearts they can ‘take the girl out the bar’. After you’ve gone home, no matter how much money you send her, she’ll still work the bar. There is no limit to the money they desire and no scruples either.
Nonetheless these girls are, after all, living on survival instinct and are just regular working class people trying to make a living. They can be sweet and well-meaning. Have fun with them and pay them money, but by all means be wary of ever imagining a happy, normal marriage with them. They are usually happiest in their bar environment.
Money, Money, Money:
Sad that it may seem, this is an extremely important element to all Thais because it significantly helps them raise their status, and here in Thailand status is everything. Traditionally a woman’s place in Thai society is one of house mother, while the man assumes the head of the family and is expected to bring in the dough.
In reality, it is the women who are more responsible and they form the backbone of the blue-collar workforce here. It is a sad reality that women here aren’t empowered with career independence, however, the trend in the big cities is rapidly changing. Although your new wife won’t be afraid of work, forgive her for imagining a life of leisure at home.
She will wash your clothes (even by hand if necessary), cook all your meals, dote on you, bring you a drink and tolerate you hanging out with the lads at the local bar as long as you take care of her needs (which may include sending money home to her family to retain her honour) and even go as far as empowering her as custodian of the family funds. If you pick the wrong kind of girl, she may see different priorities in spending the money, such as dripping fat gold chains around her neck to make her brown skin look ‘whiter’ (meaning light skin is more desirable as a symbol of wealth).
Fidelity and Responsibility:
Many ladies you meet will be single mothers – the child’s father having left the family shortly after the birth. Others will often complain that ‘Thai man like many women same Time’, and the harsh reality is that men are free to do as they please here and many keep ‘mia noi’ (minor wives) on the side. For this reason, many Thai ladies assume that a foreigner partner is the answer and you’ll do well not to follow the unfortunate male infidelity that is still tolerated in Thailand. Times are changing but traditions are well entrenched here.
Liar Liar Your Hotpants Are On Fire!
Thais are great fibbers. They do this naturally to save face. Many would rather bend the truth than face causing embarrassment to you or them. If you are too frank and honest with them they become bewildered. A girl with a poor or low status background may invent her past, and it usually changes with each occasion, no one says anything about, they just learn not to take everything on face value or simply ignore it. Of course, some of the girls you meet are rather unscrupulous and world champions at deception for financial gain. Mostly they are just being themselves without realising that in the West we score negative points to people who are dishonest. Things are different here. Of course we foreigners fall for the stories hook line and sinker and liberties are taken with our altruism. It’s really up to you where you draw the line and how you deal with the delicate issue of finding a compromise between not being taken advantage of while not being seen as ungenerous.
So often we hear of men coming out here on holiday and marrying the first sweetheart they meet. These women are equally foolish in their dash to solve a complex problem (usually because they are desperate and their options for meeting a farang are far less).
Back home you wouldn’t think of marrying someone you’ve known for a month; take the time to get to know your new friend and understand her background, cultural expectations of you, family (and all the financial support implications that involves) and, most importantly, whether you trust her. Historically, marriage in Thailand has been, for most, an economic solution. She may love you proportionately to the amount of money she has access to.
Age Versus Beauty:
Find someone your own age. Asian people appear immature compared to Western interpretations, and although this is a complex anthropological issue, the bottom line is you will find it difficult to relate to someone even 10 years your junior. Thais aren’t deep people; they prefer easy-going fun, light issues and a carefree approach to problems.
Younger girls, with youth on their side, are far less settled and reliable. The older generation are more gracious, retain better values and are more loyal and serving. Thailand has changed a lot in the past twenty years; the new generations have, in many ways, lost a lot of the innocence and charm of Thailand.
Be a Culture Vulture:
Learn Thai and understand Thai culture. There are plenty of books you can order online, such as Thai for Lovers (Poomsan-Becker), to help you learn some of your partner’s language. Despite the complex tones, Thai isn’t difficult to learn, as the grammar and sentence structure is far simpler than English. To truly cross cultural boundaries, you ought to respect your future wife by at least trying.
It’s astonishing how many men come out here hoping to pick an Asian bride off the shelf, like a new pet, and transplant her into their own Western world, without consideration for their partner’s world. Even more important is to read up on the many unusual Thai behaviour habits, for Thai culture is very distinct and undiluted by imperial colonisation, making it very opposite in many ways to European or Western culture.
We recommend the slightly dated Culture Shock: Thailand (Cooper and Cooper), but there are several others on sale here and they all go a long way to helping you understand how easily you can insult a Thai and never even know (because they are too polite to tell you).
Nonetheless, protocol and manners, particularly saving face and respect to those of higher status, are paramount to all Thais. Soon you’ll understand the importance of things you abjectly disagree with, such as paying a bridal dowry. Thais are only human; they are exceptionally good at some things and awful at others.
Don’t Shy Away from Shy Girls:
Because Thais are, traditionally, shy and conservative. A girl might bring her best friend along on the first couple of dates, this is quite normal. It could take you ages just to get a kiss from her. In fact a kiss on the lips is quite a new romantic action for Thais and a ‘sniff kiss’ would be considered as a very affectionate gesture. Holding hands in public is taboo; intimacy is something that comes much later in the relationship and you should expect much of your early dating to be ‘communal’.
In fact, a shy girl is a good girl, with decent values and manners. They are the types you ought to be looking out for. Again, be patient. Despite all the sexily clad young girls you see wandering about in Bangkok, don’t be deceived by Thailand’s reputation for sex. Many girls will imagine that once you start sharing a bed you future together is sealed. Try not to disappoint them.
Although we’ve tried to be as objective as we can, each person’s experiences are tempered by their own personality, background and age. For sure, some will not entirely agree with all of the above, but it is a general guideline to help you and your future partner find a good match in each other.
Importantly, we have given you an assessment of the type of people you are likely to meet. This is not a reflection of all Thais as a whole, for this country has a complex hierarchy of status and those whom you may be privileged to meet from the upper ranks certainly will not resemble the descriptions we have made above. The wealthy and emerging middle class (a prestigious and growing group) don’t mix much outside of their ‘clicky groups’ and would perhaps feel insulted to be considered in the above light.
Always remember, nothing is perfect in a relationship. Everything requires effort. Finding the lady (or man) of your dreams in Thailand makes you feel like the luckiest person alive, but the downside is you have to work harder than your friends back home to make the blend between East and West work.