The Despicable Retirees of Thailand
Thailand has an unfortunate, but self-inflicted, reputation in the world as a country where one can travel to for any amount or flavor of commercial, recreational sex.
It is a reputation that began, as far as aliens are concerned, with the Vietnam war of the 1960s and has since then developed and grown in to a massive industry, generating huge revenues.
I do not condone the prostitution involved because of the long-term damage that it does to the physical and mental well-being of those involved in all sides of the transaction, but those who do not have the same opinion have a point when they note that what occurs is between freely consenting adults who are well aware of what they are doing, can exit at any time if they have the mind to do so, and for the sex providers, earn a good income relative to that of their compatriots.
So the transactions are generally transparent, all parties know what is expected of them and for most of the time nobody gets fooled or tricked. For sure, there are sex providers who don’t live up to expectations and there are johns who try to cheat on the payments but the system has to be working pretty well while people keep coming back providing supply and demand.
The past 30 years of Thailand has seen the phenomenon of the two-week millionaire writ large as a large and lucrative sub-culture. Across the globe, guys have been saving up for that trip, marking off the days on the calendar to the big getaway. Two weeks of heaven, two weeks in paradise, and then back to the real world to repeat the cycle as when time and resources are available.
But the last 5 years or so have seen a change in the pattern of arrivals to the kingdom. After a life-time or less of multiple trips to the country, now those guys are retiring in country. Others are coming here because global communications allow them to use the country as a base to work from. Others, seeing the old western economies in decline chance their luck at a new beginning in the wild east. Yet whatever their circumstances it is the lure of the girls that still have a magnetic pull over the mindset of the average guy. Why stay in a cold, drab, friendless country when you can live among so many pretty women. And so we witness the huge condominium complexes being built in Pattaya and Jomtien, the real estate booms of places like Phuket and Samui, fuelled by western inbound money.
Thailand is certainly changing. It’s not just the foreign expats. Thai industry and exports have been doing really well; incomes are up across all sectors of the population. Major retailers are building big scale shopping complexes in traditionally poor regions such as Isaan. There’s a labour shortage with the balance being made up from neighbouring countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia. In my local market I hear the chatter of Vietnamese from among the porters and labourers.
And this economic activity, raising the levels of incomes among the poorest has a knock on effect on the expat. He may have arrived at a time when the country was cheaper and when his foreign currency bought a lot more baht than it did previously. That retiring at 40 was perhaps not such a good idea. He may have found that doing business here was not as easy as he thought it would be. And maintaining business contacts over long distances is not as easy as doing business face-to-face. The game has changed and now the expat is not as well-off as he once was. The trips to the bars are not as frequent as he wanted, the girls want much more money for their companionship, the service is not as good as it used to be during the good old days of being a two-week millionaire.
Now a friend of mine runs a Thai-based dating website. He employs a couple of local girls as moderators. They handle customer complaints, check pictures, profiles and have full access to everything that is written and uploaded. About two-thirds of the guys on this site are expat foreigners, based here in Thailand. What surprised me was that half the locally based guys were in their thirties and forties, already long-term residents and one can only guess at where their income is sourced. The second largest group are those fifty years and up. What are these guys up to on the dating website. Looking for wives and long-term partners? Looking at their profiles you might come to that conclusion, but looking at their messages and chat – which is all logged – it’s clear that the majority are looking for a short-term hookup.
It’s a similar story with those guys based outside Thailand. What they’re looking for is a holiday hookup. The number of guys looking for a long-term relationship or for a wife is very few indeed, I’d judge less than 10%. Why therefore are dating sites no longer about dating but a sex clearing house for the male participants? Well, I offer up the opinion that the established sex scene has become too expensive for many, particularly the long-term expat. These guys are now moving into the mainstream culture in search of a short-term sex partner and the methods they are using are pretty despicable.
There is a big disconnect between the women and men on the dating websites. Most of the women are looking for a long-term partner, admittedly for financial reasons, but in return the women are prepared to make a long-term commitment. Guys on the other hand are looking for a beddable companion and likely to move on once the mission is accomplished. And they will lie, cheat and mis-represent their intentions in order to get what they want.
Basically this is scumbag behavior. Using all sorts of promises, emotional blackmail and grooming techniques, the average expat on a dating website is leaving a trail of mental and cultural damage in his wake as he preys upon the sociable and good-nature of the Thai women. This is not to say that there are no scheming women on these dating websites, out to separate a man from his money, nor is it to say there are no prostitutes using the cover of a website to ply their trade. Of course there are. But the ratio of men who are out for hookups and abuse the hospitality of Thai women is overwhelming.
As I said at the beginning, the sex trade is reasonably transparent, but on the dating websites the majority of the expat retirees are little more than scammers. And as the problem grows so will the ramifications. Recently in Chiang Mai there was the case of the American businessman who advertised on his dating profile that he was looking for a wife and dated several women on that basis when his intentions were to have sex and then move on to his next target. Unfortunately for him, his victim went to the press and now the issue sits in the mainstream consciousness of the nation that these expats are scumbags.
I don’t expect anybody reading this who trawls the dating websites looking for a hookup will pay any attention to what I have written. Nothing can happen to them, they will assume. Actually you are quite wrong. As I said, everything you upload, including the obscene pictures that don’t make it to publication (and there are many), to every conversation, your profile details and your email details are all stored. It is amazingly easy to find Facebook identities with the information provided. I can look at pictures of grandfathers bouncing their grandkids on his knee at a happy family gathering in Farangland and then see the same face in an obscene picture he’s taken in his Jomtien apartment.
Now it’s common knowledge that websites sell email identities to other websites and organizations. If you are on a dating website you probably get loads of spam from porn sites and offers of cheap Viagra from Canada or wherever. All it takes is for one webmaster being offered a sizeable sum of money for all those naughty chats to end up either in the hands of your friendly government or a gang of not-so-friendly Balkan blackmailers. So you play safe by not uploading any photos. Well that profiles you as someone with something to hide and in the nature of dating you won’t be anonymous forever. Be warned, your misdeeds will follow you everywhere!
Plenty of Western men resident in Thailand – particularly those who do not have regular employment – seem to have a strong sex drive and / or spend much of their time in naughty bars, or pursuing sex with women on dating sites.
I would suggest that plenty of these 30-something-year olds are in their 40s, and many 40-something-year olds are in their 50s. Lying about one's age in a dating site profile is the first sign of a deceitful character, be they male of female.
Western guys in Thailand who purport to be someone they are not and / or who make false promises to impressionable Thai females in the hope of getting sex is, I strongly agree with you, just plain wrong. Those who make themselves out to appear wealthy, sophisticated and who strongly hint at or even directly promise things that will happen in the future are every bit as bad as those women who make promises of being faithful but who sleep around when their "sponsor" is away.
Now with that said, there are no doubt plenty of women who also make false promises and who know what they are doing. Yes, women may feel cheated but some of these women are worldly enough that they really should know better and I do think they need to take some responsibility for their own behaviour.
Something ought to be done to educate Thai women using dating websites because these women have, as a group, gained an unenviable reputation for being easy. Case in point is an email sent by a friend earlier this week about a lady he had been in contact with on a local dating site. Upon meeting for the first time she had packed a bag and it was obvious that she intended to spend the night with him – a decision she had made before they had even met! These women have to take some responsibility for their actions, yet that does not mitigate the way some Western guys make themselves out to be a highly desirable guy knowing that many ladies will drop their knickers fast in the hope of securing the guy as her boyfriend.
There is one scenario which you didn't touch on, one which I think is worth mentioning. It's that of the guy and girl who meet where she is in to him and he is not really in to her. She pushes to go back to his place, they end up having sex and she complains when after the next day he isn't keen to see her again. He never lied to her nor made any false promise – yet she might claim, or somehow get it in her mind that he did.
It's that old proverb – women give sex for love and men give love for sex.
I think it ought to be pointed out that this is not necessarily a Thailand thing. It is happening worldwide. I've read various articles in respected newspapers about how when it comes to Internet dating there is an argument that things are slanted in the male's favour.
I've said before and I will say it again: many Thai women who end up with Western men do so because they had a bad experience with a Thai man and they feel they could not trust / do not want another Thai man. Western men are seldom a Thai woman's first choice. My observations are that the best chance such a woman has of a good, long-term relationship is with the first Western guy they get serious with. If that guy lies to or cheats them, she can become emotionally scarred and it can then be VERY difficult for her to make it work with another foreign man.
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