The Meaning Of Love
Having read many, many submissions on this site, I came away with the feeling that the main problem in relationships between Thai women and western men (irrespective of what strata of society she is from) is a matter of concepts.
The concept of "love” in particular.
In our societies, we're thought from childhood, that love is a matter of heart over material things. Our pop culture, songs, fairy tales etc all indicate that love can overcome anything and it is an emotion which does not recognise class and financial differences. (Think about Cinderella.)
No wonder then, when a western man comes to Thailand, he already has a mindset as above and expects the same from the opposite sex. This is as unreasonable as signing a commercial contract, but not reading the small print.
Even though a lot of your readers come to Thailand thinking they're well prepared having read your column and the various advice and case studies in it, this is not a thing you can learn by rote and especially when you're in a foreign country and culture and feeling a bit lonely or under the influence of liquor or you have a romantic soul. The surprising thing is, that even those of your readers who are seasoned expats, living and working here, had numerous relationships; still don't get it.
So let me spell it out for you: for a Thai woman, love means how well can her husband / boyfriend, de facto / fiancée look after her. Full stop.
And it is not as bad as it sounds, although on first read, you might think it to be a mercenary attitude.
The Thai men don't think of it as such as they were brought up like that, they saw it in action in their families, when they were growing up.
In Thai society, it's the men who earn the money and the women who manage the house and the kids, it used to be like that in our societies too, 50-70 years ago.
I am not saying that Thai women can not love their spouses, even passionately, you just have to see some news items about what can happen to a Thai husband if he is caught out straying (chopping it off , feeding it to the ducks,etc). However, it is because of jealousy about losing the husband and thereby loosing a provider.
The other thing that must be realised too, that a great majority of Thai people have not really grown up, a lot of their actions seem childlike to westerners. They are fun loving, live for the day, mai pen rai sort of folks. If they make a mistake, they'll do it again and again and don't seem to learn from it.
So, if you're childlike, you expect somebody to "look after you".
If you are a family man and you have children, you don't object to bringing them up, providing for them, schooling, clothing etc, do you? Well, when you have a Thai girl, you've just acquired another child.
On the other hand there is a great deal of pleasure to be had from children, if you understand their point of view.
I think of a relationship between a Thai woman and a western man, as one where you realize your role and accept it in return for those things which you require and she can fulfill.
It really is a give and take situation, and I don't mean that you just give and she just takes.
In order that you agree to become a provider, you must get some benefits too, and that can be as individual as we all are. Some people may want a subservient type of spouse, some want a terrific lover in bed, some want a good housekeeper, a good mother to their offspring, a good social mixer, etc. Maybe only some or all the aforementioned, but in any case if you provide, you must receive too.
However, you should accept the provider role, otherwise you may end up with a clone of a western woman, which presumably you did not want in the first place.
All of you who had written about trying to buck the system of dowry, expecting to go out on a date and go "Dutch”, sharing living and traveling expenses etc, are not suitable long term partners with Thai women. It's a bit like having your cake and eating it too. You can't have it both ways, if you want a Thai girlfriend / spouse, don't expect her to be like a liberated western woman, not yet anyway. When more Thai women get educated abroad and pick up on our culture, when more Thai men do the same and come back to reform their society, when there is an equality of the sexes in Thailand, then there may be women who have the qualities some men are looking for.
Unfortunately, when that happens, Thai women will lose their femininity, their alluring behavior and all the other traits that we're attracted to.
Notwithstanding all the above observations I made, it is of course a generalization of Thai women, which is subject to exceptions.
So, in conclusion, don't forget ,when a Thai woman tells you she loves you, she means she needs you to look after her. You should then turn around and say , I love you too, please do such and such for me! Everything will work out ok. Take it from me, I've been there, done that.
So so true. One problem though is that some men and some women seem to want the benefits, without providing their fair share in the relationship. Each partner has to bring something to the table…