My First Day of Online Dating
Since I have never done a posting here before, a bit of background is in order. I have lived in Bangkok at the end of the fleshpot known as Soi 4 for around three and a half years (each summer I return to the U.S. for a couple of months to regain my sanity). Being just downstream from the plethora of bars and gogos in and around Nana Plaza, I’ve been a first-hand witness to the alarming decline in the quality of the “employees”. When I first arrived back in 2011 at the tender age of 54, it seemed every bar had at least one or two interesting and attractive ladies. Someone to share a few beers with, have some laughs playing Eight Ball, and maybe take home for even more fun. I now look back at that time with a sense of nostalgia. Nowadays when I pass the bars on my way to the grocery store, I often have to repress a shudder when I see what’s on display. A part of me wants to make the sign of the cross and sprinkle holy water on the entrances.
Given the deterioration of my once-fine neighborhood, and inspired by a few postings here, I recently decided to make my foray into the world of online dating. But the experience was plagued with problems from the very beginning. Initially I joined Thai Cupid. Or at least tried to. After I’d gotten done answering the barrage of questions and had performed a single search, I logged out in order to test my password logging back in (I’m a former IT professional and such perfectionist behavior is second nature). Imagine my surprise when I got a message saying my account had been closed with no hope of ever reactivating it. WTF? I quickly sent an email to their support group (the so-called “team” at Thai Cupid) and asked for help. But I never heard back.
Moving on, I then set up an account on Thai Friendly. This process went much more smoothly and within a half hour I was busy refining my search to see who was out there. My requirements were very straightforward and reflected in my profile: I wanted a female Thai friend to show me around Bangkok. Movies, restaurants, parks, temples, etc. Though I’ve been in this city awhile, there are always new places to explore and having a local companion along would add to the enjoyment. I also included a special caveat: they had to be at least thirty-five years old. This was both a personal preference and a desire to avoid come-ons from the youngsters.
It was like magic at first. As I was finding and bookmarking a number of tantalizing possibilities, it seemed someone was viewing my profile every couple of minutes. “Pings” from women interested in me along with a few messages began rolling in. Mentally, I kicked myself for having waited so long before joining such a delightful paradise. This turned out to be the high point of the day.
My first official contact, in the form of a phone call, was with a woman I’d stored as one of my “favorites”. She’d noticed my viewing of her profile and was very interested in a talk. As I dialed the number she’d given me, it felt like I was in high school again, trying to summon the courage to ask a girl out on a date. My hands were actually shaking at one point, something that had never happened with the streetwalkers I’d taken home.
Much of this nervousness had to do the questions that “Son” (not her real ID) was asking. As I look back, there was a sense that she was probing for red flags. Sure enough, one popped up when I told her where I lived. Soi 4, did you say? Do you go to the bars? Did you ever “stay with” a bar girl? Wanting to be honest, I confessed my sins and soon realized she’d lost all interest. Thanking her for the advice (she’d suggested I should just use bargirls to show me around), I said goodbye. A few minutes later she sent me a message saying some Thai women — such as her presumably — do not want farangs who have consorted with ladies in the entertainment industry. This was not a complete surprise — Stick for example has warned against taking ladies of the night to one's home due to the risk of having your Thai neighbors look down on you. I decided to reply with another thank you, saying I’d enjoyed talking with her. (Which wasn’t true of course; it was the phone call equivalent of a colonoscopy.)
My punctured euphoria was soon further deflated as I began reading the incoming emails from other women. While this is their country and I have no right to expect fluent English, sending me a two or three word communiqué (“Hello”, “How are you?”) and having an equally brief profile description — sometimes only in Thai — did not leave me hankering for an afternoon in the park with them. Worse, a couple took offense at my not replying. Clearly I had a lot to learn about this game!
My second “interaction” was with a woman whose ID was just five digits (e.g. 10110). No name or anything else. Maybe she’s a postal worker. In her initial message to me, after suggesting that we might be a good match, I was informed in no uncertain terms that she’s not a bargirl or prostitute. Nor beautiful or pretty, at least according to her (there was no picture in the profile). Instead, she’s simply a “normal” woman who merely wants a friend and has no interest in sex whatsoever.
Well, this email went into my delete bin so fast it might have greased. A few hours later, however, as the disappointments began to pile up (some of the ones contacting me were living nowhere near Bangkok), I had second thoughts. Since I was indeed not after a one-night stand, why not simply meet good old 10110 for dinner and see what happens? Her written English was very good, so perhaps she’d make an intriguing date. Swapping emails, we had started narrowing down where and which meal we’d do together when she again unleashed the “I’m-not-a-bar-girl-and-do-not-want-sex” diatribe. It was also important that I understood and acceded to these conditions, otherwise we were “wasting each other’s time”. It felt like I was having to check off one of those “I have read the terms and agree to them” boxes.
I spent a night pondering the requirements of our get together, then politely told her goodbye the next morning, thanking her for her honesty. It’s clear this woman is trying to protect herself from further bad farang experiences. However, it seemed she was employing some awfully heavy artillery for what should have been a casual, getting-to-know-you lunch. It was difficult to imagine how the event would have been any fun. (In her reply to my farewell message, I was accused of being a liar, of desiring more than just friendship. No regrets at passing on this one!)
In summary, I understand the viewpoints of both women I’ve been in touch with so far. It’s a consequence of Thai societal attitudes combined with a few hard knocks and Ms 10110 in particular has my sympathy. Having said that, it’s also worth noting that these are ladies on the far side of forty in a country overflowing with young beauty. If they truly desire a relationship with a farang, they cannot afford to be making snap judgements and issuing ultimatums the moment they meet one.
Think I’ll take a few days off before I venture back online.