On Searching For a Thai Wife and the Calculus of the Nightlife Industry
I am making this submission both to give the perspective of a Western man seeking a Thai wife through on-line dating circa 2014 and to present a perspective on how prostitution in Thailand, or any other country for that matter, reinforces my libertarian view that one should not condemn the industry except where there is coercion or deception inducing women into it.
Having a wife walk out on a 16-year marriage to pursue a life of travel and adventure and then having a disastrous relationship with a friend I had no business being romantic with, which had the saving grace of producing a wonderful son, emotionally I am sometimes tempted at the thought of entering Thailand’s nightlife as a consumer. But oddly enough Thailand also offers the prospect of pursuing the relationship that I truly desire, with a beautiful young woman 15-20 years my junior who can smother me with love and affection while I invest in her and help her build a life she could never achieve in a nation with as little social mobility and economic opportunity as Thailand seems to offer.
And so, being firmly ensconced in my own country with a great job, incredibly high standards for a partner, and a great deal of hope I signed up for ThaiLoveLinks, which based upon my research has the largest membership and is therefore the most logical choice in a medium which is in essence a numbers game. My 3-month experience has been amusing and enlightening, exhibiting many of the idiosyncracies of Thai culture and the Thai female character. Before noting my successes, I will discuss a few: a) the scams; b) the incredible shallowness of a large percentage of the Thai population; c) and the difficulty of finding a woman with drive and ambition. The last two problems may of course be exacerbated by self selection bias.
ThaiLoveLinks is filled with women who seek to emotionally blackmail Western men into sending them money. The ones who you chat with for 5 minutes before they tell you, “if you love me, you will send me money” are at least refreshing because they induce no emotional investment and are nakedly transparent. But most of the financial huntresses on ThaiLoveLinks are far more sophisticated. Often many hours of conversation and a healthy effort at establishing an emotional connection occur before a demand for one’s hard earned are made. The most popular stories, each which I encountered multiple times, were the need for medical services for the girl and / or her family and the university student with a year left who will have to drop out because she cannot afford her last year of tuition. Of course a healthy dose of skepticism and a bit of intellectual jousting will usually cause such stories to unravel, as with the girl who claimed to have an ovarian cyst (and whose parents both needed surgery) yet knew nothing of the risks or treatment options available to her or the Masters student of Thai history who when pressed could not answer basic questions about Thai politics post 1972. I think a wise default rule for Western men using ThaiLoveLinks is that if a girl explicitly or implicitly requests money through sharing her stories of financial woe, you should seek other pastures.
As a Western man with a healthy salary, I was inundated with messages from women of all ages, even though my profile indicated 30 as a cutoff point. I received several sharp rebukes from ladies who I pointed this out to, but as I explained I am looking for someone who I can transplant to the US, put them through a year or so of language school and help them pursue careers in the fields they chose to pursue in Thailand before the option became available to forge a new life though Khun Farang. What I was not prepared for was the number of women who made declarations of love and were speaking of marriage within an hour of speaking. This transcended age and economic status, from the government official of 35 who was ready to pack her bags and bring her child to the New World to the Isaan village girl of 17 (yes, a significant portion of the girls who list themselves as 18 are underage) who said she wanted to marry because her parents where telling her that is what she should do. As soon as I attempted to engage such women about whether they were intellectually or emotionally compatible with, I was met with angry retorts such as “I not cute enough for you?” or “you think I bar lady?”
Filtering out smokers, those not willing to relocate to another country, those without university degrees or working towards one, and those not wanting children, I wrote generously to women aged 18 to 30 whom I found attractive or who said something interesting in their profiles. As opposed to sites like Match.com where my response rate was 15% or less, my TLL response rate was approximately 75%. Trying to carry on meaningful conversations with a few dozen women willing to talk and get to know you is a daunting task with high single digits on my Skype notifications icon for many weeks. The optimal culling mechanism for such nascent relationships turned out to be inquiring what such women viewed their potential Western life to encompass. The largest subset of responses were “you take care,” even when it was clear that having children immediately was not in the offing. The next largest was those who had not even thought about what they would do if they left Thailand and seemed perplexed by the question as if there were something more to life than simply being a romantic partner. The most interesting were the wild fantasies of young ladies who could not imagine life in the West did not entail the obligatory showering of Gucci, Cartier, Rolex and Luis Vuitton. Because I want a partner who will actually take advantage of the economic and social mobility opportunities of the West, this general lack of ambition eliminated almost everyone I spoke with.
All my effort and hard work paid off, however, and I did find three women, all current university students, who met my criteria in a potential spouse. Ranging from 18 (yes I had her send me a copy of her ID card) and 22, they were willing and able to engage in many hours of deep conversation about themselves, what they want in a partner and what they want out of their lives apart from just being a wife and mother. As a side note, all those women who were unwilling to speak about their past and/or were estranged from their families revealed themselves to be pretty bad apples. It does leave me in the uncomfortable position of having each woman believe (or pretend to believe) they are in an exclusive relationship with me, but as I have hidden my TLL profile and none of them have, I have no doubt we are playing the same game until the piper must be paid and I pull the trigger on visiting Thailand (for the first time) where I will choose one to visit and spend two weeks with while putting the other relationships in abeyance.
For those men looking for a bride in Thailand or any other foreign country I would recommend at the outset giving yourselves several months to talk with women before you visit and signaling that intention with young women you speak to. For you, this will actually allow you to get to know her and not do something impulsive or unwise no matter how much she enthralls you. For her, it demonstrates your willingness to make a major investment of time in the relationship before sex is in the offing and that you are interested in pursuing a committed relationship. My experience has been that after talking for a month or more, young ladies will let it be known that certain treats will be made available to you if you come to visit them in Thailand.
In sum, if you put a lot of effort into the project, using ThaiLoveLinks for find a potential Thai partner is a very fruitful endeavor for a Western man and hopefully I will end up marrying one of these fantastic young ladies I meet after I have given them the opportunity to come live with me and perfect their English, and in the case of the youngest and most promising lass, putting her through university.
This brings me to the intersection between my search and Thailand’s nightlife industry. Reading Stick’s 1/24/2010 column I saw some cracks in what I perceive to be his generally libertarian outlook. As an ardent libertarian, while I may acknowledge and bemoan the damage done to women who choose to enter this lifestyle freely, I respect that choice and the demand which is created by such supply. Stick’s biggest criticism is that there is the market failure of imperfect information, both on the part of men who make no effort to understand the forces driving women into the industry or young women who have no concept of how emotionally or physically taxing sex work is and how it will change them. But with each encounter either side has the freedom to exit from the market. The 70 year old man looking up at the young 20 year old straddling him after an hour or less of conversation would have to be a savant in self-deception to think that she really wants to be there. And the bargirl or dancer who looks down upon him and returns the next day to work with many other young women with a dizzying array or problems and pathologies on full display must understand that she is not exactly in a healthy environment. The wise and the brave will choose to leave once their ignorance based illusions are shattered and they experience first-hand the costs as well of the benefits of industry participation.
As Stick once noted prostitution is the one segment of male-female interaction where the terms are known. What is often ignored in discussions of prostitution, or pornography for that matter, is that there are externalities which arise outside of the consumer-producer population (hence my reference in the title to calculus where you are often studying phenomenon within defined constraints and not globally). And in this sense I think prostitution can benefit much of the female population having nothing to do with it, particularly in a population that is so heavily targeted by foreign men as Thai women have become. It gives men who have no interest in anything but low cost sexual fulfillment and/or with a lack of dedication to building a relationship an outlet where they will do damage, but damage to a limited segment of the population which has freely chosen to expose themselves to the consequences of transactional sex. Far more profound and widespread is the damage done to innocent women who are seduced for sex by men who have no intention whatsoever of pursuing a serious relationship and lie outrageously to do so. Even applying the personal filter of not sleeping with any woman who I was not interested in pursuing a relationship with and not maintaining simultaneous partners, I was amazed once I entered the on-line dating scene how easy it was to find sex. But equally ubiquitous were women scarred by men, sometimes multiple men, who had no sense of commitment or who were simply hunting for notches on their belt. I do believe that male sexual demand is largely fungible. Making prostitution available, and at low cost, will channel such men into the nightlife industry and save much heartache among truly innocent victims of deceit, rather than among those whose deception of both themselves and the men they serve is what has deprived them of their innocence.
Having spent much time online dating in the past, to include the website you used, I'd have to agree with most of the points you make. I do, however, disagree with a few points and would like to make some comments:
– It is not uncommon for Thais studying towards a degree to be unable to answer even the most basic questions about what it is they are studying. This is because Thais tend to study expressly for the purpose of passing an exam….and once the exam has been sat it is almost like they expunge everything they learned from their mind!
– I find it peculiar that someone well-educated and successful is so confident they can bond with a woman aged 18 – 22, especially a Thai woman of that age. Thai university graduates often have the maturity of Western teenagers and an 18-year old Thai girl who is interested in a man twice her age, well….
– I wonder about the idea of spending several months talking to a Thai woman online before meeting her. My experience with online dating in Thailand is that if you feel any sort of connection then you should try and meet the lady straight away – and this is why I believe that online dating works best if you are in Thailand. My first piece of advice to anyone doing online dating – apart from always being polite and never talking about the bedroom Olympics – is "Now, now, now!" Arrange to meet them ASAP. There will always be other men contacting them; these women get HUNDREDS of guys contacting them. Waiting so long to meet a lady keeps the opportunity for other guys open, and no doubt amongst the other guys will be some who are better looking, wealthier, funnier, who speak her language, more chivalrous, more charming – and many of whom wish to meet her now! Do you really think she is going to wait for a guy who has never been to Thailand who is saying he will visit in 6 months time? I know Thai women and they will not turn down another opportunity in a situation like this! After all, they don't owe you anything. Besides, there is only so much you can tell about a woman via online chat / Skype etc. It is when you meet them that you will really get to know the real them.