Some Lessons Learned
Some of these are inspired by the Average Thai Girl's elucidations on dating Thai women.
Six weeks in to a relationship, one that got serious very fast, some lessons learned. Up until now I had never dated a Thai gal seriously, only working girls on a P4P basis.
This is HER country.
As long as you don't speak Thai, and even if you do, but don't look Thai, you are in her world. That means she has power over you. To a certain extent money offsets this but still, unless you have years of experience in country, connections, and speak the language, she is your guide and thus wields power over your experiences here.
Get her away from her family.
She will always be more loyal to parents, siblings, even cousins than to you. Personally, I can not abide by that. If I am going to sacrifice the freedoms of bachelorhood, I expect utmost loyalty to myself and the potential nuclear family we will create together. This is probably largely cultural, as the U.S. places more emphasis on the nuclear rather than the extended family.
But this also important to me for other reasons. I was an only child. Plus I was basically raised an orphan, got passed around a lot as a kid from a pretty crazy single mom, to a foster family, to my aunt and uncle. I even spent a year in boarding school. So for me it's not difficult to imagine being closer to a wife than to my parents. I recognize this will be different for other people. Yet for me it emphasizes that I will always expect utmost loyalty from a wife to my children and myself, above her parents but more especially above her siblings. Perhaps this damns me to bachelorhood for the rest of my life, only to repeat the mantra 'at least I got laid' on my deathbed.
The language barrier transcends any other wall ever created by humankind. The Great Wall, Berlin, whatever.
My exe-quasi-sort of girlfriend has exemplary English capabilities. Better than most Thais for sure. But she still started her education in her teens. She can not articulate well enough to sustain continual communication and express her feelings. But communication, planning, and discourse is imperative to a relationship. When silences begin, problems begin. Mis-communication will ruin a relationship.
I think if a bloke is serious about finding a wife, his odds are way better in the Philippines, Malaysia, or Indonesia where many if not most gals get started with English earlier than Thai women. In a sense we are slaves to language. Languages create us, rather than vice-versa. So intrinsic to who we are our native languages that I am convinced the language barrier is almost insurmountable.
Most especially living in Thailand rather than the West, a non-Thai speaking guy will do well married to or in a LTR with a Thai gal IF he accepts her authority. If he accepts her punishments and rewards and control. She will not use words but silences and denial of access to her body. Personally I find such tactics immature but who can blame the girl? Most of her English is 2 syllable words. She can't articulate, even when encouraged to do so.
If one values intellectual dialogue, he might have stepped off the plane in the wrong place. I've picked up enough Thai so far to know when a conversation is about food. And many, many of the conversations I overhear revolve around eating, buying something, bargaining, how to get someplace, etc. Logistics. Logistics take a practical sort of intelligence indeed, and part of what impressed me about this gal was how efficient she was at daily tasks. The small stuff. But sometimes I like to delve deeper into thought and discourse.
I once chatted with a Filipina online who was able to carry on a conversation about some topics that interest me such as film, storytelling, and philosophy. Sure, she was a teacher and especially educated, but something tells me I would have a more difficult time finding a gal to chat with in such a way here in Thailand.
Some more thoughts on family:
My girlfriend's family has done a lot for her. They all raised her communally, taught her things, brought her from Isaan to Bangkok at a young age so she can get better jobs as an adult.
But blessings become curses. Myself being fairly independent financially, a freelance worker, and hailing from my very unusual family background (no siblings, basically an orphan), I tend to view familial obligations, and co-dependency in general, as a form of slavery.
I look at it like this: I didn't ask to be born. My parents made that decision for me. Therefore they are obligated to look after me in childhood, but I am not obligated to look after them, clean their bed pans, pay their retirement bills, whatever as they grow elderly. If I could afford to, I would take it upon myself to make sure some basic amenities are covered, but I would never buy a house for my mom, unless I were a millionaire perhaps. Yet no way would I ever work a mind -numbing job I didn't enjoy only to see my paychecks go to help my parents. Never going to happen.
My ex is spending her adult life paying for a townhouse for her mom. Her siblings come to her for money all the time. She spends hours trying to teach her nephew, because her sister and her husband don't do it. It never ends. She is forever indebted to these people and I find the whole dynamic kind of sick and twisted. But I hail from the country that perfected (for better or worse) individualism above communal obligations. Our heroes back home, traditionally, are lone drifters in the West, not patriarchs and matriarchs.
I can see how the poor of the world, be they on welfare in the U.S. or picking rice in Isaan, keep each other poor by monopolizing one another's time. Sure, there are other obstacles. The system in every country is gamed to favor the rich and it always takes money to make money. But my ex is 30 and yet to finish college because she has to work three jobs, much of the proceeds going to help a family she didn't pick.
Just my perspective, as a lone outsider with very little cohesive family in my life.
These girls might not be capable of love, or being loved, in the sense that many people from the West will view it. Most especially people from the U.S. (and perhaps Aussies too, as Oz is a frontier), and most especially from the West of the U.S., where I hail from, a place where rugged individualism and the pioneer, settler, homesteading life has influenced cultural ideals of the nuclear family unit.
In popular Western culture, it's easy to see examples of this. Romance stories are 'us against the world' as in 'just the two of us'. Not 'you and I and your brothers and sisters and parents and nieces and nephews against the world'. Asian cultures form more entrenched societies, the most entrenched in the world arguably is China which has the longest intact history of any civilization. Contrast that with the West where we have lower population density, short histories, and more frontier mentality. Different indeed. Profoundly so.
Each has its strengths and weaknesses. There’s just not enough room in the world for everyone alive to be an individual who doesn’t sacrifice their own well-being somehow for the greater good. Thai and more so Chinese culture is so successful because it eschews the concept of the individual’s needs. But I am who I am, and I come from where I come from. And to me a relationship needs to be two, at its base.
I will always revel in stories such as that of Alberto Torroba, a sailor about who there is a surprising dearth of information on. Anyway, Torroba sailed across the Pacific from his home of Peru, in a homemade dugout canoe. He landed in the Philippines, where he married a local farm girl, who helped him build a newer, better boat. Then they continued their trip, circumnavigated all the way ‘round back to Peru, and started a life and a farm there. I view such an example as an ideal. The wife’s parents bid their daughter adieu. Torroba was entrusted to protect her from then on out, on the frontier of the oceans.
The person who spends less, has less needs, should control the finances. Since I am more 'low maintenance' than any woman I have dated, I feel that in a relationship I should control my own finances, if not all the finances. Spending is tough to control, and the default human condition trends towards a hoarding impulse. Just last week my ex bought NINE pairs of shoes in one transaction. They didn't cost a lot, but she didn't need them. I am especially gifted at living on little, with few possessions, and asking the tough question: 'do I really need to buy this?' The last thing I want is a cluttered environment. Controlling spending is a way to control hoarding. Indeed a family's future can depend on control of spending.
I told my girlfriend 'look at the Chinese. They make few frivolous purchases'. It's true. Many millionaire Chinese drive little cheap cars and dress in economical khakis. They don't look rich (thought this is changing with the new generation). The Chinese (and Thai Chinese) save save save, and invest. I like the thought of this because it ties into the familial obligations point. If a couple works hard enough, their children won't have to support them in their old age, which frees up children to complete their own educations and work on their careers with their future's in mind.
There's probably more, but I forgot. Anyway, back to the single life and the 'cold approaches' on the street, always with my eye out for that special diamond in the ruff. I do enjoy the thrill of the chase.
Thanks to Stick for providing this venue and the opportunity to be a published writer. I don’t typically keep a journal to organize my thoughts, and I would not get this writing practice if I didn't have the motivation of knowing it might get published online, regardless of how few may read it.