Stickman Readers' Submissions February 1st, 2013

Online Dating – Relationship Armageddon?

This is something I can’t write under my usual user-name, hence it is being published with some degree of anonymity.

I have wanted to write a piece on the Thai on-line dating scene for a while but it has been difficult to do so, because I am married and therefore should not be “fooling around” on-line. The crazy thing is that I have a gorgeous Thai wife, who has a fantastic professional job in a Western country, makes good money, is totally devoted to me, has a hot body, etc etc. However, notwithstanding the attention I get from her, I still feel a compulsion to go on to certain Thai dating sites and flirt with the girls on there. Yes, I know, I am an evil man. So be it.

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On-line Armageddon

I have been following other submissions on Stick’s site relating to the on-line dating game. Caveman’s experiences in particular have presented some very useful lessons and have been very interesting. I have a long history with on-line dating, having used numerous sites and programs, ranging from: using more recent Western sites, such as Ashley Madison (which specializes in affairs); to the mid 1990s web based chat pages (click refresh to see if a new message has been received!); and many things in-between, such as in the late 1990s and early 2000s (ICQ); and the early to mid 2000s (MSN etc), and onwards (myspace, facebook, whatsapp, stickam, all the dating sites, etc etc etc).

Back when I was at my dating peak, working as a single, young professional, ICQ was an excellent resource for setting up dates for Friday and Saturday nights. My work colleagues didn’t know what to make of it at the time, because on the one hand, I was a bit of a geek because I was meeting women that I had found on the internet (back when it was still a geek’s domain) but at the same time, I was also the guy that was always hooking up with a different woman each weekend. I sometimes would even bring these women back to my office late at night, and make good use of the city views from my floor-to-ceiling windows!

Anyway (cough cough), to get back to the point I was trying to make, I have had quite a lot of experience with dating via the on-line world.

Unfortunately, even after getting married (my wife I did not meet on-line, funny enough) I still have a really hard time divorcing myself from all the girls I can chat to on-line. Actually, it is much worse now than ever because the selection is better than it has ever been. See, this was always the key with on-line dating. The bigger the selection, then the better chance you have of finding someone that has better compatibility. In choosing a date (including a girlfriend, wife etc), I have never been the romantic, and therefore do not believe there is one perfect person out there for me. Instead, I am more realistic and recognize it is all about degrees of compatibility. When searching on-line, I am looking for people that are more likely to hold my interests… an ability to hold good conversation, fairly good looking (especially a pretty face), energetic, reasonably fit, not fit, has actual hobbies (not just shopping and eating), has at least some tertiary education, etc. It is much easier to do this on-line than by going to a club. Further, going to a club generally results in a pretty narrow cross-section of available girls anyhow. This big benefit of the on-line world for dating selection has obviously been recognized because the number of dating sites and the number of people subscribed to them is at an all-time high. Even just looking at the main Thai dating sites,
it is kind of over-whelming, just how big the selection is, and there are tons of new people signing up every day on each of the sites.

However, this over-whelming selection is where I think we are now starting to get into trouble. What happens when a person gets overloaded with information? Well, the human mind can only process about 7 bits of information (+ or – 2 bits) at a time. When you start to go beyond that, dysfunctional decision-making comes into play, resulting in decision heuristics, where the person starts “cutting corners” or simplifying the process, in order to make the decision, or alternatively, the person just does not make a decision at all. Either way, their satisfaction level will drop off. In other words, if they make a decision when overloaded by information, they will not be entirely happy with it, which in turn usually means, at least in the dating game, that they will start to think they could have made a better selection, so they will return back to the dating sites, and continue searching! No matter how compatible two people are that find themselves on a dating site, because of the sheer number of alternatives, both parties will suspect that there are better alternatives out there that they have not yet considered, and therefore will be tempted to continue searching.

I have experienced this over and over. If I was genuinely single and actually trying to find someone that was “wife” material on-line, I think this issue would drive me insane. It would certainly get on my nerves and cause me to feel some degree of unhappiness with the candidates I was communicating with. What do I mean? Okay, let's say after chatting to 20 different girls, I find one that I recognize as a very good candidate. Someone that is definite marriage potential. We really hit things off and she sees me as a highly compatible candidate too. We spend a lot of time talking to each other via Skype and during the work-day we both get very little work done on some days because we spend whole days texting each other off and on. The conversations are good, flirty, we admit we have attractions to each other etc. One would hope that at this stage, we would both then start spending less time returning to any dating sites and instead start working on fostering a relationship (yeah, I know what you are thinking… ignore the bit about me being married for the time being so that I can get to the point I am making). Unfortunately, as you all have no doubt experienced, that is not what happens. The girl continues going back to the dating site, daily, and keeping her other candidates on reserve, as well as searching for new candidates. She is obviously keeping her options open in case this one falls through, but at the same time, because there is such a sheer selection, she is still always going to be on the lookout for someone even better than the person she has currently found. I have noticed this over and over. Only occasionally have I found a candidate that actually stopped her searching by, e.g., disabling her account (given my true status, I have usually then encouraged them to keep looking on the basis I am just looking for friendship at the moment… hey, I am not all bad).

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If this is to be the mentality from here-on in, then I think relationships in the future may be doomed to failure, or relationship Armageddon as I called it in my title. I am equally guilty of this, so don’t think I am trying to criticize someone’s actions and ignoring my own evils. This is not a criticism, but instead an observation of a trend that is of concern. I remember in the 1990s, there would occasionally be a story about someone (usually an American female) who had met someone on-line, and abandoned her family to be with her new on-line paramour. I suspect this trend has now become very common. The problem is people will now continue searching, even after their second, third etc marriage. I don’t know if there will necessarily be an end to it. People will find someone they believe is better, and move on. Then if they find someone better again, they will do the same again. I know this happens outside the on-line world too. I forget the exact details or the name of the author, but I recall reading one submission about a Thai lady in Australia who actually told her original husband that she will only upgrade her partners (but in that submission she actually received her just desserts). However, I believe the ease of meeting people and the sheer selection on-line compounds this problem.

I am sure people are by now looking at me over their reading glasses and saying, “Well my boy, aren’t people like you the cause of the problem?” Well, yes, I admit to that. In my case, I find it quite addictive and without the occasional on-line attention, I feel a bit of a hole in my life. However, I also ask all the other readers, how many of you have been (or are) married or in a relationship, but still created an on-line profile and chatted to women, posing as a single man (or woman)? Even my wife admitted that she has done so… “once, out of curiosity”, but she claims she deleted the account because the men on the site were disgusting and sexually too full on right away. I doubt that was the only time she had dallied on-line, but at least she has never disappeared in the real world for any unexplained rendezvous with potential on-line matches (or at least that I know of).

So what is the solution to all this? I don’t think there really is one. This is a worrying trend that is probably only going to get worse, and there is nothing we can do about it. I mean we can try and exercise self-discipline ourselves by staying away from any sort of on-line dating site. We can encourage our other halves to do the same (but policing that is a bit too hard). That at least removes the initial temptation. Not thinking too much about whether something better might be out there means there is a better likelihood of being satisfied with what we have.

I am sure by now that some of you are maybe looking at me and thinking… “Well, perhaps there is something missing in your own relationship?” I have asked myself that same question occasionally, and there really isn’t. I am happy with my wife and do not feel any need to “upgrade” given I know all her negatives, while an upgrade presents too many unknowns. Maybe it's just the stimulation to my ego in having so many cute girls paying attention to me, or maybe it's to fulfill my fantasy of a mass orgy with a heap of girls, or maybe I am just a spoiled kid in a candy store that wants everything in the store… more likely the latter.

General Experiences with On-line Dating

On a slightly different topic, I may as well share some of my experiences with on-line dating in Thailand. A lot of things that I have come across seem to mirror what others have experienced, but I am sure I have some useful pointers too.

1. Language Translators

I tend to go for girls who have reasonable to excellent English skills. I am on these sites more because I want to chat to the girls than anything else, so being able to communicate is important. I can’t write in Thai, and writing transliterated Thai words becomes very amusing sometimes, like when I am trying to talk about horse riding and the girl can’t understand why I would want to ride a dog. Therefore English is my preferred communication medium.

Sadly, the majority of girls on-line have pretty crappy English skills. Sure, I can have wonderful conversations about what province she is from, what mobile phones are good etc, but it is much harder trying to discuss the political influences of Carabao’s music or the like, when the girl on the other end is plugging everything I say into a translator and everything she types goes back out from that translator as well. The fact is that Google’s translator does a pretty crappy job of converting Thai to English. You get some really hilarious translations, even for basic statements. The give-away that a translator is being used is when you see some rather large, but unusual words being used in the wrong context. “Illuminate” is not used often by Thais speaking English, but it came up several times in conversations I have had. “Boyfriend” is translated to “fans”, which kind of changes the message a bit… e.g. “I am honest woman who are looking for good fans”. I’ve got some other great examples I could quote, but I don’t want to log in right now as I am currently hiding from a psycho who is trying to talk me into buying her an Iphone.

If the girl’s profile looks like it was plugged into a translator, I tend to avoid it, because it means she speaks poor English, so communication will be difficult. If you are looking for a wife, perhaps that is not such a bad thing, as I am sure a lot of other guys on-line will give her the old heave-ho as well once they realize that communication is frustrating. Maybe call her up on Skype and have a go with sign language and/or draw pictures. I know some people like a challenge.

2. Very Good English Skills

I have met a few girls that write/speak excellent English. In some cases, I am talking textbook perfect, in other cases, they have all the native speaker expressions. Very impressive. Some admit to having lived overseas and having been married to a Westerner, or had a Western boyfriend. However, every time I come across one of these girls, my spider sense starts tingling. It tingles big-time when the girl claims that she has never had a farang boyfriend and never lived overseas (only been on holiday), and did not attend one of the main international schools. Really?… “but you speak such perfect English?” The answer sometimes is “Oh yes, I learn from my boss at work” or “I have farang friends in Bangkok”. Yep, must be lots and lots of farang friends… maybe at the Biergarten or downstairs at the Novotel?

However, please don’t be too skeptical about the girl’s good English skills. I do know some girls who did not go to international schools, but have spent quite a lot of years working for MNCs who have picked up pretty good English from their work environment (and having Western bosses). It takes many years in this kind of work environment though to pick up half decent English, but keep in mind that it is possible. Also keep in mind that if the girl has good English and didn’t pick it up from work, it doesn’t automatically mean she picked it up as a result of working as a freelancer. She may have had a Western boyfriend/husband and doesn’t want to admit to it, or she still is in a relationship and is simply considering an upgrade.

3. Photographs

I am pretty sure that most of the photos I have seen of the girls are genuinely of them. However, there are times when the photos are very misleading. For girls in the 30+ range, I think in a lot of cases, the photos are a few years old. There are occasional give-aways such as a Happy New Year 2007 or similar evidence in the background. Most Thais age pretty good anyways, but in their early to mid 20s, they are at their most cute and they know this, which is why they have a propensity to sometimes use these old photos in order to look their best.

In most other cases, Photoshop has a lot to answer for. It is amazing what a bit of software manipulation can do. Don’t think it is the girls themselves that are doing all the photo editing either. Usually it gets done when they have photos printed. If the shots are taken in a studio, then be extra dubious as these tend to be heavily edited and the girl in the photo has had her entire face painted with make-up. The girl underneath often looks nothing like the girl in the photo and make-up.

Still, I do start with the photo. I am looking for genuinely pretty girls. Some of the more white skinned girls are often surprised that a Westerner shows an interest… “Farang like dark skin, no?” I am often asked. I am probably a bit more Thai in my preferences here and I actually prefer whiter skin. Whiter skin also tends to mean (but only as a generalization) that she is less likely to be from a poor village somewhere. Nothing wrong with the village girls, but I prefer the middle-class city girls.

The photo issue is pretty simple to solve. If you find someone that does look pretty, start by carefully examining the photos. If there is just one, be suspicious. If there are a few, but seem to be part of a series… ditto. Look for watermarks to see if they may have been ripped off another site (I really haven’t had this issue of fake photos with Thais yet). Then start carefully examining the face and body. People who have been in Thailand for a while start to recognize (just as we do with Western girls) the usual hallmarks of things we find unattractive. There are certain facial and nose attributes, rabbit nose etc that I dislike that looks worse with age. Look at arms and stomach to see if she is getting a bit chubby. Look at adams apple and the jaw to see that she isn’t a he. Once you go through all that and you are still happy with what you see, get to chatting and eventually, move the chat towards Skype or whatsapp or similar (phone based or laptop based) and either go onto a video chat or every now and then get them to send through an instant photo of what they are currently doing. In addition to being able to confirm they are still cute, it also livens up the conversation a bit.

4. Demographics

I like light skinned girls partly because I find white skin beautiful and partly because skin colour is a very rough indicator of social demographics. Farm girls from the North East and South tend to be darker skinned, city girls and those with money tend to be lighter skinned. I prefer city girls, because I myself am a city boy. I have a lot more in common with them. I don’t know much about rice farming or how to communicate with water buffalo, so I never have much to chat about with the rural girls. I also find that rural girls tend to be more in need and have mouths to feed. They are therefore on-line more because they are seeking to secure an income. Love is a secondary consideration. Many city girls are on-line because they are hoping to find “their one true love”. For all those idiots that believe Thai girls are all mercenary and don’t believe in love, but see relationships as purely transaction based… maybe that holds true with a lot of rural girls because of where they fit into Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy, but that is less likely to be the case with the middle class. My wife is upper middle class. A lot of her relatives are upper class (her mother married into the middle class and thus down-graded). Her family never asks for a cent and they are always taking us out for meals, taking us to resorts etc. I have found many other middle class girls seem to have the same attitude. Some of them even say it in their profiles, eg “Don’t offer me money, I don’t need your money, I make enough money for myself, my parents don’t need money etc etc etc”. For those of you looking for a wife, I would have thought this would be a serious consideration.

However, there are some big downsides to middle class Thai girls. They are a lot more like their Western sisters. They are quite Westernised and have picked up a lot of bad habits. Many are also very spoiled, and can be real princesses. Some are an absolute nightmare in terms of emotional immaturity and instability. They have simply been pampered for too long and expect to always get their way. Some have become incredibly selfish and do not know how to be considerate of others. I must admit I do like playing little games with those that are little princesses… they get so furious and it's good fun, as long as they don’t know where I live!

It is therefore very hard weeding through the middle class girls, trying to find those that are more grounded, less spoiled, more worldly, and of course, not gold diggers. I sometimes think that the middle class provincial girls tend to be the better bet here. Those from other main cities like Khorat or Chiang Mai, or even some of the larger towns seem to be less spoiled and behave better. There are still plenty of good ones in Bangkok too, but I would guess from a ratio basis, that a bigger ratio of the Bangkok middle class are spoiled princesses than the Khorat middle class girls.

Another downside to middle class girls is many don’t have much of a hobby or any tangible interests. Maybe this is just a Bangkok thing, I don’t know, given most of my ex-pat friends don’t have many hobbies either. If they are too shopping oriented, and put too much value in luxury brands, then I would be more willing to give them a miss… that often spells low self-esteem and a need to define themselves by brand. These are the girls who will spend everything they earn on big name brands, and will still not feel self-fulfilled. I find a lot of the PAs and secretaries tend to fall into this category. However, I am surprised at the number of doctors, pharmacists, engineers, etc that worship brands too… then again, I see this in the West also. If, on the other hand, I see a girl that likes to travel, takes landscape shots (not just photos concentrating on herself), she participates in adventure sports etc, then my interest is piqued. Many middle class Thai girls don’t really notice much of what goes on around them. They will notice Gucci having a sale, but a whole bus could plunge into the khlong in front of them and they wouldn’t notice. Every now and then I find a Thai girl that does pay attention to everything that goes on around them, and I think this is a real find. The more adventurous, sporty girls tend to fit into this category. Look for the true activity shots (not just the poser shots).

5. Length of Time on the Site

I see some girls that are fresh to the site, and others that have been on for 3 years. Both of those would concern me. The recent profiles cause my spider sense to tingle because she may have closed a previous account and now created a new one. If so, what is she hiding from? Very old accounts, where the girl is still very much an active participant is also very suspicious. It doesn’t generally take three years of active looking to find a life partner, so why is she still looking? There are numerous reasons, but most are not good. She may be ultra choosing and will never be satisfied (as per the first part of my submission); she may have found someone and it didn’t work out; she may have found someone, but she is keeping her toe in the water just in case a better catch comes along; she is farang crazy and just wants to have lots of farang friends; she is a nympho; she wants farang to take her out on shopping trips or to pay for entertainment for her and her friends; or she is using the dating site to find customers.

There are plenty of girls who have been on-line for about a year. This seems to be a bit of a median figure from what I have casually noticed. That still seems like quite a while and I think it reinforces what I was saying earlier. From my own perspective, this is not too much of a concern, as I am looking for chat partners, not a new future life partner. However, if I was looking for a new life partner, I would be asking why they had been on for such a long time… “you too picky nah?”

6. On-line Etiquette

Some of you are probably laughing at me for writing about etiquette… I guess it's kind of like insisting on table manners at a banquet in hell. However, following some simple rules on etiquette will get you a better response from Thai girls on-line. Most of you probably already know this, but it still amazes me the number of times girls have complained of guys that are incredibly rude to them, from the first introduction onwards. Unfortunately, there seem to be plenty of guys who treat the girls like prostitutes, offer them money for sex, ask them to strip on camera, ask them to act as an escort for them during their holiday, use very coarse language, call them by derogatory terms, etc etc. The success rate for this type of conduct has got to be incredibly low, as I see girls constantly complaining about this type of behaviour. A large number of the girls on-line are there looking for a serious, loving relationship. They therefore aren’t interested in someone looking for free sex, looking for extra-marital fun, looking for a holiday fling, etc. If you give the impression you are after anything other than a serious relationship, then most will just ignore you. Very few will respond to any posts that are rude (and I imagine the girls that do respond probably wouldn’t be relationship material anyway). The simple lesson in etiquette therefore is be polite and treat the girls with respect. It is that simple.

Interestingly, most girls on these dating sites do not seem to respond to guys who openly admit they are looking for a mistress or mia noi (even if it comes with a pay-check). I set up one account with that type of profile and I was a bit surprised to be honest that there were very few takers. I suspect that many of the Thai girls on the Western oriented sites are looking for a farang boyfriend because they have already had a bad experience with Thai guys. Various girls have confirmed this with comments about why they broke up with Thai boyfriends, e.g. he kept sleeping with other girls, he kept getting drunk and sleeping with massage girls, etc. Sometimes these are just excuses and bullshit (to hide the girl’s own instability), but I hear it enough times that there must be some truth to it too… a lot of Thai guys do have difficulty with monogamy. These girls are therefore hoping that Mr Farang will be more monogamous than the stereotypical Thai guy. Therefore any hint in your profile that you are a playboy or butterfly, and your popularity declines.

7. Best Sites

I have tried a few sites for dating, both the Thai based ones, and also searching for Thai girls on non-Thai sites. Each offers a different demographic. For example, the Thai based ones are not that great for finding Thai girls living overseas. They are on there, but the choice isn’t that great. If looking for, for example, Thai students studying in Sydney, Australia, I really haven’t found any one place that offers a good selection. For Thai girls in Thailand, the standard Thai sites (Thai Love Links, Thai Love Lines, Thai Friendly) are all good. I will not tell you which is the best, but if you are looking for more genuine girls, there is definitely one that is better than the others (but having said that, I am finding that more and more working girls are starting to trickle on to there too). You will need to try the sites out yourself (but actually give each a real go) and then decide for yourself.

If you are serious about finding someone, I do think the paid subscription is worth it. For instance, on one of the Thai sites, you have a delay between sending messages, with the result that it takes ages to contact numerous girls. With a paid account, you can quickly snap off messages to say 10 or 100 candidates and then have quick conversations with the ones that respond to determine suitability. It is much easier to weed through a bigger selection of girls and narrow down your choice. Whether or not you have a paid account on a particular site does therefore impact on the usefulness of the site. Some sites work better if you just want a free site and some sites are only useful if you are willing to pay money. That being said, be very cautious about which sites you do agree to pay your hard-earned to. I had a friend that was playing on the Chinese sites, and one in particular had profiles of amazingly hot girls. However the site was transaction based. Each message cost money. Even worse, many ladies required the services of a translator, and the translations cost money. Ditto for any video facility discussions, and interestingly, on video, the women no longer looked so attractive.

Anyway, I think I have waffled on for long enough. There’s plenty more I wouldn’t mind saying, but my fingers grow tired and I have better things to do. Best of luck to those that are making the most of on-line dating. However, I really do think that ultimately, it will be a major contributing factor to the ruination of so many relationships. I don’t think the sanctity of marriage today is as it once was, and the ease of meeting new people on-line puts even more of a strain on that holy union.

Stickman's thoughts:

I agree that online dating is going to present many challenges to serious relationships and destroy marriages. With hug numbers on dating sites, the pool to choose from is so big and the desire to find someone who may be better can be stronger than the willingness to settle down with someone who is just about right. A buffet of attractive sex partners is a lure some cannot turn their back on.

I am curious as to why you're so specific in looking for good-looking ladies yet you claim to only want conversation! Is there a chance that you're fooling yourself and that you could be tempted to meet with someone special should you come across her?

For sure, if your wife or partner has accounts on any dating sites, that's a concern and something which ought to be talked about. The real danger that I see is that meeting new people online is getting more popular on Facebook – and you can hardly

tell your partner to kill her Facebook account. Thai women with accounts on Facebook get hit on a lot! Of course, if you tell her to stay off those sites, so should you!

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