Stickman Readers' Submissions February 24th, 2005

A Theory For Understanding Thais (TUT)

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In my previous articles on this site (under several names) I have made various attempts to understand Thai behaviour – particularly Thai girl behaviour. These attempts to explain behaviour attacked the problem from different angles and had measuring levels of success. They could explain some behaviour but not all. There is no doubt that Thais are a result of their history, culture, religion and geography; but how can we understand the behaviour that we experience? Also how can we predict behaviour in future situations? Various other contributors have also toyed with theories – even suggesting that Thais lack a developed ego (a very interesting article). I approach things from a more everyday level – without going into too much psychological jargon.

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Well, I finally hit on the ultimate theory that explains ALL Thai behaviour.

The first rule to understanding Thai behaviour:

1) Interaction is only ever at a surface level.

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I call this rule Golden Rule Number One or GRNO.

What do I mean by interaction? This could mean almost any kind of connection between two people, but examples include relationships between two people or even business relationships. What do I mean by surface level? Simply that the appearance of the interaction, as opposed to its substance, is the most important thing to a Thai – appearance really is everything.

Let's pause for a moment and consider this. Let's take an example – the relationship between a Thai woman and a falang man. With westerners we tend to look at the deeper meaning in a relationship. This means assessing the levels present of things like truth, honesty, trust, commitment. However, the Thai will be looking at the relationship at the surface level (GRNO).

To the Thai the surface relationship IS the relationship – there is no other aspect to the relationship.

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This leads to some interesting side effects. How many guys have had problems communicating at a deeper level with their Thai g/fs? – come on hands up…more than a few right – and it isn't just their English is it? How many guys REALLY don't know their g/fs after a long term relationship (2 years in my case) any better than the first couple of weeks…come on hands up…more than a few again I would say (including mine).

Why is this? The reason is when you try to communicate with a Thai girl at a deeper level – you are trying to make a connection to a place that doesn't exist for the Thai girl. You are trying to burrow your way to somewhere that simply isn't there. It is doomed to failure. Because (GRNO again) – there is ONLY the surface relationship for a Thai girl – there is no deeper meaning – or at least the deeper meaning is irrelevant.

How many blokes out there have found their Thai g/f lied to them? OK, now the hands are really flying up into the air now right? Why is this? Yep you guessed it, it's that GRNO thing again…lying doesn't matter to a Thai girl…because truth, honesty and faithfulness and such things are often outside their sphere of relevance – because the over-riding and most important thing in the relationship (to the Thai) is the surface appearance.

As long as the appearance of a loving relationship is maintained…then…as far as the Thai girl is concerned…everything IS OK. So she will still say "I love you", still send you all those cute SMSs, still ring you at all hours, still massage your feet and still suck your cock, even when she's getting cored rigid by that bloke from Sales she fancies. This raises the question…does the Thai girl know she is lying? Does she know she is doing wrong? Yes! Of course she bloody well does! She knows as well as anyone that screwing around and lying is A Really Bad Thing (TM). It's just that if she is happy and the relationship appears to be OK then why the hell have YOU got a problem with it? She is doing her best to maintain the surface relationship – so she is the greatest lover in the world.

A common manifestation of this last behaviour is apparent when you point out to a Thai girl that she has been unfaithful or lied. You confront her. She denies it. You provide evidence to the contrary. Suddenly YOU are the bad guy. Why is this? Most westerners would be up in arms that their g/f is shagging around and they are suddenly Mr. Bad Guy. The reason is…do I really need to say it? OK, yep, all explained by GRNO. You ARE the Bad Guy because you have upset the surface relationship – which is the only relationship as far as the Thai girl is concerned. You are the Bad Guy because you are destroying the surface relationship – you are making the carefully crafted illusion fall down! But remember, to the Thai girl it is not an illusion it is THE relationship!

There is also something else you need to remember…Poisson Distribution (PD) what the heck is PD and can I drink it? PD is basically about averages. Statistics. Some Thai girl will interact at a level that is entirely surface. Others, for various reasons (genetic, social, religious) will go a little deeper and perhaps approach or even surpass the average western level of deeper interaction. But the majority of Thai girls will be interacting at a level that is "surface". Similarly westerners may be surface in nature or very deep, with the majority around some average level of "deepness".

So remember Golden Rule Number One (GRNO) and you will have fewer surprises in your dealings with Thais. It will help you keep your expectations within reasonable limits.

A rather horrible side effect of GRNO is that a successful marriage between a Thai woman and a falang man is likely to end in failure – allowing for PD there may be the odd success story. The thing is marriage has a way, especially when kids come along, of easily getting rocky unless the fundamentals are there…e.g. trust, honesty, faithfulness. How about marriages between Thais? I feel the probabilities would be SLIGHTLY higher, but not significantly, because all marriages require the fundamentals, the deeper aspects – and in a Thai-Thai relationship the relationship is entirely surface. However, the Thai-Thai relationship may prevail…because both partners are working to maintain the surface appearance of the relationship.

If you remember GRNO you will quickly see that Land Of Smiles is actually better named Land of Superficiality. No wonder people living there feel "strange" or to quote Stick "living in a big cartoon". Yes, you really are and I've felt that myself too!

So that brings us to Golden Rule Number Two (GRNT):

2) There is no Golden Rule Number Two!

There is only GRNO…so that was easy wasn't it?! 🙂

I would like to finish by quoting a very respectable sounding contributor to the Stick Weekly who after years of searching in Thailand for a Thai wife had this to say:

"Permanent relationships [with Thai women] are impossible to have. Just stay with them till you are tired of them and then get a new one. I am glad I finally realized this and can live with it."

I hate to say it but…… GOLDEN RULE NUMBER ONE!! Cheers!

Stickman's thoughts:

So the GRNO = face = image? Face is just about everything…and the bane of many farangs living in Thailand.

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