Some Thoughts On Living Thai When In Thailand
“You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” – Jack Nicholson as the CO of GTMO in A Few Good Men. This great line speaks to the group of farang men who are infatuated with Thailand’s women. If you are interested
in a relationship with a Thai woman, you probably suspect already that there are some things about her nationality and her upbringing that will work against you. Or you have experienced enough by now to confirm this is so. But this is as far as
most of you get. Staring across a few barriers at the object of your desire, without the ability to enter a good life with her.
For many, the desire overcomes their better judgment, and they rush in as fools, unprepared, and have a go at it, depending entirely on being nice, good-hearted, and good in bed to cement the relationship. Everything else is supposed to be overcome with money, and patience. The result is almost never good.
If she was like the girls back home, your chances were just 50-50. Being a self-respecting man, you would not even try unless your home-girl was pretty, had her attitude under control, and showed a sense of fair play. But the relationship only succeeds if you keep meeting each others' expectations, and that involves sacrifice. And as well, you had to get over the courtship barriers, which can be very expensive in all Faranglands. And you had to do it without setting false expectations you cannot keep up with later. That one is the downfall for most guys in the west. You cannot get the courtship to be an affair purely of the heart, all about what it is like to be with you. Instead, it is a material thing, how much money you spend to win her. The point being: Women are attracted to money and status, and men can play those things to get women. But it is a slippery slope, and it leads downward. It does not lead upward again further on.
Women are attracted to other things, as well. Good looks, athletic prowess, confidence, thoughtfulness, and being wanted. If you base your courtship in some or all of these things, you can set expectations that you can keep fulfilling, as long as you maintain yourself. You can get by on good looks for a long time, if you have them. If you do not, you can still be athletic. If you do not want to be athletic, you do not offer much to compel her lust, so do not expect good sex to persist for very long, unless sex itself is your forte. But that still leaves confidence, thoughtfulness and making her feel wanted. And being very strong on those things will get the job done.
Bob’s your uncle. And your Dad. You may as well face some truth. If you cannot work a relationship back home, you will have trouble here in Thailand, as well. But you may not know it yet. A Thai girl who presents herself as a girlfriend: She may be giving so much attention and affection, that you figure everything is working out quite well indeed. You should just keep doing what you are doing apparently so well, and things will turn out great. And you will be wrong about that.
Thai girlfriends give you everything up front, and they think you are giving everything up front yourself. That girlfriend leap of faith is very Thai. The unconditional friendship and constant affection is Thai. Customary. Complimentary with your meal, as it were. Thai women do not understand farang men that well, either. They do not read your non-verbal tells, your gestures of affection, or your unspoken actions as clearly as you would hope. They mis-read some of it, and think you are demonstrating things you did not thoughtfully intend. Many girls, even bargirls, will likewise not have a clue about commitment barriers you think are still protecting you, even when you concede that you two are boyfriend-girlfriend. If you are having regular sex, you are way past “just friends" in her world. You two are in “take care forever” territory. They do not know courtship norms of the west.
You will notice that those who do understand farangs a bit, will move things very fast towards a point where you must fish or cut bait. They know that once they “go girlfriend on you”, you have not made an equivalent commitment yet, and they want it sorted out first, so you do not string them along, toy with their heart, and then leave them flat <Yep, agree with this 100% – I call it the "fast forward button" – Stick>. If a Thai man tried to find her, fxxk her and forget her, her family would send a machete squad around to collect his 30,000 THB apology or his winky. But farang do not know this is the Thai way, so they are held exempt by Thai women. You are forgiven a great deal, because she is fascinated with farang, and has high hopes that things will work out to her advantage. Advantage. She does not believe only that she is surely going to achieve a long-term true love with you. She is looking at the entire playing field, not just the love outcome goalposts. There are just so many ways she can win, financially, even if the love boat runs aground.
Some Thai women will present themselves as available, not as a girlfriend. They are sending signals for casual sex, sugar daddy, and will give you the no-strings–attached relationship you may be looking for. If you can handle it. No questions. She is not available every time you want her. There are other men in her life. There are things more important than you in her life. She may tire of you or get what she wanted and move on, but you were not done yet. If you think you will need more than that, you would be hoping for a girlfriend.
And that is as far as you got. To go further, you must know some things. Like how to make a Thai woman feel like a woman, and feel wanted. Like how to convey confidence and self-control, and not get into trouble doing it. Like how to read her desires and her needs from the little hints she is going to drop. Like what to do when she starts lying to try to make everything turn out alright, instead of confronting the problem.
Learn Thai. Learn how it is written, spoken and expressed. How it is expressed, the facial and body language component of Thai communication, is not straightforward. It is subtle, and there are many “tells” in this non-verbal communication that give Thais the ability to convey whose side they are taking without saying so in words, the ability to ask questions about what is really behind something as they make statements of agreement to some request they are complying with. There is an ability to communicate deepest feelings of love, respect, concern, warning, fear, hatred, and need, while speaking something or doing something quite ordinary. That is a Thai thing. If you need to understand what she is really saying, and what others are really saying to her, learn Thai. If you want to gain the ability to be completely understood and clearly felt, learn Thai well.
Learn the Thai male identity. What is expected of an ideal Thai man, from his physical appearance and public conduct, to his business acumen and his ability to read people and maneuver around problems. You will not agree with it. It is not anything like the farang ideals you were brought up under, but it goes hand-in-glove with the Thai society and culture your Thai girl grew up believing in. It set her expectations for you, and it is what she will naturally respond to. If you can interact with her family and friends in such a way that you establish a Thai male identity for yourself, you will not have respect problems, slights, or insults to contend with. Think of it as the Pen, the Smile, and the Handshake that completes the Suit. Making a Thai identity for yourself is as simple as knowing and observing the custom for everything. Act within the cultural lines, with your manners, gestures, and especially, setting your clear rules of what you will not tolerate.
A weapon the farang is usually without: Knowing when to stop putting up with a woman acting out. Thai men will address this before an actual outburst ever has to happen. It is dealt with much deeper down in the subtle play on what she wants, what the man agrees to, what she is bothered by, jealous of, afraid of, and what the man has to say about each of those things. Thai girls will not come right out and say some things to a Thai man. He is expected to read her subtle hints. They have to come out and verbalize these things to farang though, and once this starts it is hard to stop it. They will peck away at you until they get what they want. That may take place verbally, if you cannot participate non-verbally. It is a face issue, and if you do not get it set right, it dooms your relationship.
The Thai who has Beauty, Health, Harmony, Possessions, and Power, has everything. A farang will understand beauty and health without needing to learn much. Harmony will be mostly new to you, though. It is why they lie. It is why undeserving people are given so much. If you do not understand what is being striven for, you will miss your turn, and Thai people will not count on you, or include you as a serious player. Possessions and Power are full of tricks as well. Your working knowledge of those things in the west will not explain Thai values accurately. There are times when you cannot use your power here, in order to still have it. It is a face issue, again. Some possessions are to be regarded as shared, and if you do not share them freely, you have lost face. Other possessions are regarded as intensely personal, and must never be loaned or borrowed, even if doing so is thought convenient.
Face is a barter system, which we use in Farangland, and it gets things done by favors, and breeds cronyist loyalties. It is in our politics; and our public image depends on it, if we depend on our public image. To whatever extent you favor, there can be no such fronts put up between friends, family, or professional colleagues. Western ideology has dispensed with face as a virtue. It is merely posturing. Not substantive to one’s true worth. Thailand does not have a hard currency of human worth to trade in, so face is the only system of barter to transact in, and like money itself, it gets you everywhere. You may need to learn some more things about face to see that, but when you finally see it, it is profound. It means that your face in Thailand is the truth about you. Maybe not to you, but to everyone else it is. And that sends you back to learning the language, the identities, and the customs.
Most farangs do not invest themselves in learning Thailand, so they are always at a disadvantage in relationships here. They want it to work, but are not equipped with the necessary tools to get it done. There is no use complaining. You showed up to a football game with ice skates on, and you are going to have a hard day. You can take the girl back to Farangland with you. That solves the learning problem for you. That puts all the learning on her. Without critical thinking skills, she gets to take on your culture, and get along with your people. She will probably go, but once she has you nailed with a kid, she will probably not stay.
What is the truth? Can you handle the truth? Can you understand the truth being shown to you with Thai subtleties as Face is being made good with the spoken words? Do you know how good you are socially if you do not know what ideal identity you're being compared to? Do you really know how to make her happy without knowing her ideology and its definition of happiness? If you want to set some limits on what you will not tolerate, would it be at all helpful to know how to show this, when and where, and how to tell whether she accepts it, or if she is now plotting against you?
I have a good life here. My relationship with a Thai woman is in its fifth year, and we are soon to be married. She has learned a lot about the rest of the world, and she wants to learn more. We are keeping it reconciled with her Thai world. It takes work. I learn more about her world in every exchange of ideas. My Thai identity is accepted by her family. Her father has the least desire to accept me, but the most reasons to. His women own his ass, and they all love me. I have made merit with all of her friends. There is not a bad word said about me, so far as I know. If you measure my situation by how often I am expected to buy things, how much attention is paid to me by the women and the men in her family, and what kinds of things her friends discuss with me, you will not find the telltale usury and abuse that surround a farang who is being taken for a ride. Nor will you see my lady clinging to me, asking where I go, calling me constantly when I am away, or throwing a ying-thing to get her way.
I like to read her face, pick up hints she drops, delight her with knowing what she wanted, surprise her with knowing what her mother and siblings wanted, take good care of her when we are together, and even while we are apart. I enjoy Thai customs, and I love to laugh and make good times with Thai relatives and friends. Things are getting to the point where my Thai girl is having good times among my farang friends and my own family. The forced smiles are gone, and the jokes are a 2-way street now. I believe our harmony and good spirit are mainly because I have learned about her world and she about mine, and because I treat each person in her world with the respect they are accorded by their position. It goes without saying that she has done the same, doesn’t it? She’s Thai.
Some of the Thais I am respectful to are real lazy turds, and lousy with jealousy. I would not give them a glass of water if they were drowning, if I knew them back home. But here, for face, I treat them with respect, and I make it as genuine as I can, because it is an extension of my love and regard for my lady and her friends and family. It serves those I care for, not these lazy Scousers. Make no mistake – there is no pleasing some people. I am hit with demands for things I have no intention of ever satisfying. But I handle it according to Thai custom: I agree, acknowledge, and go along quite nicely with outrageous requests and demands, then I delay, and delay, and downgrade what I offer to do, and downgrade again, until I am happy with the arrangement. Which often as not, amounts to nothing at all, just kind words. Like any Thai business negotiation. And they know what I am doing, and why, and guess what: They respect me for it, and hate me for it, and treat me with kindness and respect all the same. Any surprised faces? So…
We give as good as we get, now. When in Rome. Just come and collect. I guess that is all I can offer, in English, on the matter. I do not know if you find it helpful, but there it is, all the same. Relationships everywhere take work, anyway. If you cannot get through the Thai – Farang language and cultural barriers, you are just adding to that workload one helluvalot more. I used to think I wanted a career. Turns out, I just wanted paychecks. Maybe you feel similar about love. Maybe its better to just rent it. As for me, I did all that learning to support my profession. I took years learning it, and did not make any of it look fun or easy. I made a mess of the language for four years, until somewhere it just began to click. More like singing lessons, really. I am still learning. To me it has been worthwhile. To you….well? Up to you, handsome man.
Excellent, really, really excellent. Serious thumbs up from me on this submission. The one thing I will add is that if you can find a Thai woman who is able to make the same effort with you and your culture, as you make with her culture, then you are well on the way to success.