Online Dating – A Final Word – Yes, FINAL…!
Well, I hope so anyway. My 20-part series about ‘Online Dating’ was written in one fell swoop this past summer while in my temporary eyrie overlooking the Mediterranean. I had a little business to conduct which was expected to take three or four days but I booked flights to give me three weeks, just in case, and to provide a ‘sanity-break’. As it turned out most of the work was done in the first day, and the last three… and, in between, the weather was awful and the sky and sea just merged without any visible horizon. Having just solved my ‘domestic problem’, I took a couple of days to read my diary of my amusing dating escapades for the previous four years and, with Readers’ Submissions thin on the ground, I put pen to paper… All twenty parts were submitted to Stick in one go and thus, as comments have come in during their publication, I’ve had no opportunity to amend or elucidate as we’ve gone along – I didn’t want to withdraw stuff and mess up Stick’s schedule and neither did I want to self-censor my work… So, you all got it as I wrote it, and I am aware that can leave one open to criticism.
Comedy is not easy and humour is as much in the eye of the beholder as beauty. I know some readers were amused, whereas a couple were irritated by my apparent grumpiness. As we none of us know each other we all have difficulty understanding the full nuance of the plain written word. Perhaps I have been less than clear at times, and have certainly omitted details, especially about myself.
I presented a disparate bunch of ladies (all whom I met – nobody was omitted) without being too detrimental about any individual – apart from the supermarket thief who was a bit of an eye-opener. It wasn’t intended to be about me and, although it is invariably easy to read between the lines, it always surprises me when people do this, form opinions of their own, and then offer these beliefs as incontrovertible facts – it doesn’t really work that way, although it does seem to on the internet.
In Part-3 I mentioned a problem from which many people around the world suffer, but failed to realise it might need explanation: the Micawber Principle which, updated, simply states: ‘Monthly earnings: 15,000 ฿; monthly expenditure: 15,500 = Misery. However, monthly expenditure: 14,500 ฿ = Happiness.’ 15,000 ฿/m. in Thailand is not a bad wage (IMO), certainly outside central Bangkok. I suspect half the Thai population would kill for this much – and sometimes do. What is also sad is that few Thais seem able to save even 500 ฿/m. for future unexpected expenses perhaps because so many of them are conditioned (by TV, advertising and society) to believe they have a right to more without actually having to work harder for it.
Throughout the world everybody wants more. That’s natural. Most are unable to achieve this innate desire, but not all put themselves in so much debt to save face. The lady I criticised for whining about her inordinate expenses had no apparent special talents and was working about 50hrs/wk., for 15,000 ฿, as a shop assistant. Other ladies I met, working in factories, were earning no more than 9,000 ฿/m. (and some were still down on the ‘old’ rate of 6,000/m.) for a mind-numbing and physically tiring 60+hrs/week – and yet none of them whined to me about their plight.
Stick diplomatically raised the possibility that I might not be sufficiently compatible with the average Thai woman, though the use of ‘average’ makes this a generalisation. However, maybe I’m not overtly compatible with any woman… I was brought up by my mother to have respect for women… at least until they demonstrated they didn’t deserve it, at which point I should never consider revenge (which will always be hollow) but should simply bow out. Her own saying was: ‘Once bitten, twice shy.’ I’ve been bitten twice, primarily because I followed my heart more than my head, and so am certainly inclined to be cautious now.
According to astrology (for what it’s worth) my ‘sign’ is inclined to be more successful with business partnerships than with personal relationships, and experience seems to bare this out… As a result I am at a stage in my life where I am no longer looking for, and certainly not expecting, a ‘mutually satisfying, loving relationship.’ However, I am not a hermit or recluse and, for several years, many friends have suggested I should just find a ‘live-in housekeeper’, and this is what I decided, five years ago, to investigate…
Farang (men and women) often assert many ladies are in the bars reluctantly and ought to jump at the sort of offer I was making – far less work, for more money. Perhaps sadly, I have not found this to be the case. I have never been turned down by a lady who was invited to spend a short time (i.e. a day or three…) at my home (and many returned again and again over the years) but none of them wanted to stay longer… because they all wanted (and had been led to expect) 20,000 – 30,000 ฿/m.
One lady, who became a good friend, and often visited me during the day when she was bored, finally felt obliged to give me the low-down… Standing in the kitchen doorway watching me prepare lunch for us, she smiled and said: “You know why no lady wants to take care of you…?” I smiled quizzically at her… inviting a few home truths, as she added: “Because you can do everything… and Thai lady have to do.”
She explained that Thai women are brought up (at least traditionally) to take care of the home… and everything in it, while the man goes out to get the money. As I’m retired I’m always at home. As I’m not a lazy person (despite what some readers have chosen to think), and will make work for myself if there is none, I do take care of myself. I enjoy cooking, and remain fit and healthy… I do my own laundry twice a week… and so on. My problem is weak lower limbs that prevent me climbing ladders to change light bulbs, and an increasing inability to deal effectively with my garden… I’m sorry this disability upset a couple of you.
On this latter point, note the potential dangers for anyone over 60 (and younger) being too physically active in the Thai climate. I find after just half an hour of pruning my shrubberies the perspiration is pouring off me but, when one feels weary enough to take a break, it is too late…! I have encountered two over-weight farang guys in Thailand, one who was hand-mowing his lawn (on which he liked to play badminton) and, after an hour and a half, with about ten minutes to completion, he kept going in order (allegedly) not to be beaten… and collapsed.
The other guy was removing a large tree that had out-stayed it’s welcome. He was apparently quoted 4,000 ฿ by a couple of local men, but decided he had nothing else to do and chose, ‘not to be lazy’ – sometimes mistaken by some to be a euphemism for, ‘miserly’…! Working in the upper branches he reduced the size of the tree by half, as other passing farang either called out to take care, or to get assistance. Coming down the ladder he apparently lost his grip. It was never established if the impact caused his heart to stop, or heart failure caused his fall… but the sad thing is, he effectively claimed his life wasn’t worth 4,000 ฿…!
My garden has an expanse of lawn, plus palm trees, bamboo, and assorted shrubs. For three years I kept the trees down to manageable proportions by using lumberjack techniques I learned from a movie in the late 50’s. Bamboo has pervasive roots that also take a bit of physical effort to remove. On the lawns I use a lightweight electric strimmer and for three years I was able to cut the lot, sweep up afterwards, clean the tools, re-coil the cable, put everything away, and shower, in about one hour. Now it takes nearer two hours, and I have to do it in stages, over two or three consecutive evenings.
As a result, for the past two or three years my gardens have not been as well kempt as originally, and this can only get worse.
Through much of my professional life I was known as ‘easy-going’, willing to compromise, and possessing the patience of Job. In later life perhaps I have changed. To some extent I do sometimes find myself wondering when it’s supposed to be my turn – for others to compromise to me, and to be more tolerant of my foibles… though I am aware things don’t work like this and, if I am to be rewarded for my supposed previous ‘niceness’, it will come after this life is over.
Stick reminds us, “Thais aren’t great at compromise and, perhaps, in their own country, should not have to, so much.” I accept this point although, with my ex-wife I was expected to change, not compromise, to her requirements, and any query on my part was greeted by the automatic retort: “It’s Thai custom…!” I subsequently tried to reverse this trend by requesting she adapt to Western ways when we were over there… but no… even in the West I was expected to change. I am more than happy to make the greater compromise, but they always tell us we can never be ‘Thai’ (which I don’t try to be – just try to respect) whilst at the same time expecting us to be just that. Not easy, is it…
In any ‘western-style’ relationship (business, familial, personal) it has long been acknowledged that both parties will have to make compromises, and even sacrifices… Is this concept totally alien in Asia…? I don’t think so… Like most things, it’s just different, and I have often witnessed Thai women trying to accommodate their ‘odd’ farang partners. It is very difficult for an outsider to ascertain the situation behind any relationship but I have met many farang/Thai couples in Hua Hin and find it is the women who do the most complaining – to me… Maybe the men wish to save face in front of other farang, and do their whining online… Nevertheless I have often found that, of what I superficially see of their relationships, the woman’s complaints seem to be justified.
And most common is not money but language – and cultural language at that. By this I mean that, whereas words can be translated, cultural language has to be interpreted, and the latter is much more difficult and, for perhaps most of us, often impossible, though rarely acknowledged as such. But even the former holds many pitfalls…
I had a Thai friend for several years, who I helped where I could, and was asked by her to ‘vet’ a potential suitor, who was half my age and, indeed, younger than the lady… We chatted in a restaurant and it was patently clear that he was looking for fun, excitement, adventure, and had no immediate intention of settling down – with anyone. I reported back: he seemed to be a decent guy and I couldn’t see anything obviously wrong with him but… he was not looking for marriage. However, so often Thai ladies (far too quickly) decide you are the right one for them… and then try to turn you into the right one for them… Whether they are even potentially the right one for you rarely seems to be considered by Thai ladies.
A couple of months later the guy was back, with the lady, and now living (and working…?) in Udon Thani. A couple of years later the lady (having left a second child with her mother) was back at work in Hua Hin, and the still-young guy returned to Europe. Now she has a Finnish chap in tow, who is about to retire, and seems keen to take care of her, and the child… but she’s not sure, because she understands little of what he says (in ‘English’), and almost nothing of what he writes (in ‘English’), partly because he has a rather harsh accent which is difficult even for me to understand, and his spelling is so poor she is unable to check most of his words in a dictionary – and his errors are not consistent so she can’t even try to learn ‘his’ English.
I tried chatting with him, but had to keep asking him to repeat himself, and he became irritated – never a good sign. I also tried very cautiously to suggest his English wasn’t easy for me (and therefore for his lady) to follow and he retorted that it didn’t matter because he was able to send emails… I didn’t let him know his lady had shown many of his emails to me, which were often unintelligible. I haven’t seen the two of them for a year or so, but bumped into the lady last month and she seemed quite happy – either she had effected a masterful compromise… or she was saving face.
Stick also commented that farang who speak little or no Thai are likely to have more difficulties with relationships which I think is quite true though such knowledge can sometimes equally create difficulties – as in, ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’. I think many farang learn a little from their girlfriends and mistakenly believe they know a lot…! and these sad sacks often then feel they know everything (they need to…), and are more than willing to offer advice to others… which can be dangerous. During years of travelling around the world I have always tried… I’m not a natural linguist but I’ve always made the effort and, in almost all countries, I have spoken about 80-90% in my host’s language… I don’t by any means suggest it has been any good but it seems to have got me by for several decades, including two in Thailand.
However, my Thai wife spent seven years deliberately preventing me from learning Thai, and even taught me ‘false’ Thai so that her friends and neighbours could never understand me… I would thus have to go through her, and she remained in control. For the past twelve years I have had numerous Thais (men as well) happily assist my learning and, throughout my ‘Five-Year Search’, 95% of my verbal negotiations have been in some form of Thai which was better than the English abilities of the ladies. I feel sure I have done better than I would have if I had tried to stick with English.
I had an email from a guy who found my writings very amusing and had been reminded of Jackie Gleason in an old American TV series, The Honeymooners… I had to use YouTube to remind me… I recommend it.
I had another email from a ‘fan’ who wanted to know if I felt there was a better method to find ‘help’ than ‘Online Dating’… If there is (and I doubt it – they’re all as good, or as bad, as each other) I can’t imagine what it might be… When I was living alone in Korat (“With the ‘REAL’ people” LOL), after my wife had obliged us all by returning to Bangkok, I had two instances where local ‘arrangers’ arrived with a young lady who, I was informed, was anxious to ‘oblige’ me. At that time I was keen to remain alone… and also I was in no immediate need of ‘gardening leave’… indeed, I managed to keep the farm going, single-handed, for six months… before letting the land to a local ‘headman’.
I don’t like to offer advice, because we’re all looking for something different, and will have a different reaction to what we find (and I usually find people who are keen to offer advice have no knowledge of the people to whom they are speaking) but I can only suggest persisting – you never know when success is just around the corner.
I always loved the myth of the late 19thC. drinks manufacturer who came up with an idea for a soft- drink which he felt was so superior, and thus a cut (one step) above all the others, he called it: ‘1- Up’… Sadly it was a flop and after playing with the recipe he produced: ‘2-Up’ This also failed, but the guy kept going, with a new recipe each year until his family’s fortune was gone, and he gave up, with ‘6-Up’…
He died penniless, and never knew how close he came…
Stick also suggested ‘concern’ at the way I treated some of the ladies I met, but omitted to elaborate, so I can’t respond, though he did mention my ‘expectations’… For many years I have been suggesting that the primary problem that farang and Thais have with each other (and just about everybody around the world, when problems arise) can be put down to ‘expectations’. It has fascinated me that nobody I have discussed this with (in Thailand and elsewhere) seemed able to even consider this concept…
. . . and yet presumably we all have expectations of some kind when forming partnerships. Whether we want a cute bird on the arm, or a successful guy to father our children, or want sex five times a day (I heard a guy specifying this to a waitress…), or our own apartment and accounts at major stores, or a nice woman to help create a stable and cosy family environment, or a decent guy to help look after the parents in their autumn years… or just someone to change light bulbs… the danger is when we are not honest, both to a prospective candidate and, especially, to ourselves…
Stick seems to imply (sorry if I’ve misunderstood this) that my expectations have been kept a little under wraps. Perhaps reading between the lines has caused this but one of the reasons why I wrote so much was because of a desire to be honest, and not to edit the material to present myself in a better light… What I ‘hoped’ to find (I actually don’t like the word, ‘expect’…!) is exactly what I stated in the articles… no more nor less… as well as on my online profile… and in all the messages and chats I had with the ladies – there was no dishonesty. Nevertheless, if I was subsequently able to form a worthwhile friendship/relationship as well, I would be happy, but would regard it as a ‘perk’ – it certainly wasn’t ‘expected’.
I have noticed increasing use recently of the expression: ‘She/he ticks all the boxes’… which also relates to ‘expectations’. The only boxes I possessed were: no smoking; limited drinking; no shouting; not glued to her mobie; pleasant personality; no dependence on skin-whitening products, no plastic surgery (The last two are no real concern of mine but they do have a bearing on the lady’s character…), and an ability to work for a living. I do not feel any of this was unreasonable and, if any of these were likely to cause problems there would likely be far worse issues just a short way down the road.
A guy called ‘Fester’ (amusing moniker) wrote a long article telling me how to sort myself out and solve my problem… He suggested he has limited experience of Thai women, but failed to realise he had even less understanding of what my series was about. He also made the huge mistake of believing his superficial analysis of my personality was correct, thus allowing him to tell me what to do rather than make suggestions. Thus, sadly, his advice was of little value. I don’t doubt it might have worked for him (and will for others, who are not looking for the same thing) but… there’s more than one way to skin a cat… LOL.
Subsequently a guy called ‘BAH’ (which made me think of Scrooge… Sorry bud…) wrote an article (Note to Hua Him Harry) that, as well as complimentary to me, outlined his experiences of inviting potential suitors to his home… in Australia… Crikey, Moses…! I thought I was being bold inviting them just to Hua Hin… That it didn’t work for him doesn’t surprise me, though I suspect it had little to do with him being farang and the lady being Thai – I feel sure this phenomenon is international.
I was especially amused that one of his visitors felt unable to wash up, because his sink was dirty… but she made no offer to clean it. I presume it was just an excuse. I would have shown her the cupboard under the sink… and the front door… Take your pick.
‘BAH’ also discovered that, no matter how much he had discussed and explained to the lady what he was ‘offering’, and ‘expected’, she had her own agenda – which she didn’t discuss, nor even mention, while also ignoring what ‘BAH’ was saying… I can certainly relate to this.
Just before the penultimate episode I had a strange (to me…) message from a guy… who offered to attend to all my domestic needs, in return for the use of my spare bedroom. I’m still not sure just how serious he was but, sadly perhaps, the writer failed to notice that the reason for the entire series was to share my less good experiences now that I had finally found a very suitable candidate.
Stick later tried to generate more submissions by suggesting someone might like to write a spoof of my series, as if from a Thai lady’s viewpoint. The ‘Professor’ was the first to try but, as spoofs go, it was very OTT – although I imagine a couple of my favorite detractors must have been wetting themselves… but… half way through, The Prof changed tack and introduced his ‘heroine’, Yingluck (possibly her real name…), and the piece became a clever spoof on Thailand’s political situation – very amusing, and even gave me a few sleepless nights, until the nightmares stopped.
And then… a week later the ‘Man from the Great White North’ slithered out of the woodwork, to declare he was not at all enamored by my writings (having seemingly misunderstood the meaning of, ‘spoof’), but seemed most enraged by my ‘Pip, Pip’ sign off… which makes it rather difficult to take anything else he wrote seriously, especially that he tells me to get a life, LOL. Certainly he was more upset by my writings than he asserted I am upset by Thai women… I am just amazed that, if someone doesn’t like what he’s reading he can’t just stop reading. But maybe this guy is related to FarangDave, and the vitriol is more personal – sorry, Dave… 😉
It always surprises me when people complain about something that is entirely their own fault… after all, if you don’t enjoy the first few episodes, why torture yourself by clicking on a live link, just because it’s there…? Pass on to the next one, why not…? Nothing to see here. Move along, please. I am also reminded of the definition about constantly repeating the same action while expecting a different result…
But no… MftGWN (aka FD?) decided to drone on as endlessly and unattractively as he asserted was wrong with my own writing – and the intellectual purpose of this defeats me… I imagine such ‘trolls’ sitting back after completing their latest missive, with a smug expression, certain they have managed to put someone in their place… without ever realising how idiotic they might appear to others… LOL. Meanwhile FarangDave, judged by his own recent articles, seems to have next to no experience or knowledge of Thailand and yet has the gall to offer advice to those about whom he knows even less… Ah well, god bless the internet, from which all mercies flow… One has to admit that FarangDave’s recent writings do have a certain naive charm…
I received somewhat patronising criticism about being surprised by one lady who spent almost all day (not just between meals) eating ka-nom… asserting all Thai ladies do this, and I should learn this… despite the lady herself telling me that all her Thai friends criticise her for this… and despite me not encountering such extreme behaviour in twenty years – which is why I mentioned this ‘unusual’ case.
Equally, I have never encountered a Thai person who slept virtually all day (as well as night), and not just nodded off occasionally, which is why I commented on the two ladies who came for the weekend and did just that… because it is not the norm…!
It is a mistake to assume that the one or two (dozen?) Thai people you know are automatically typical of all other Thai people… Think about it…
In this series I didn’t offer advice to others but simply reported what had happened to me… Some readers found it amusing, some informative, others have found it mirrored their own experiences… and yet some guys seem unable to comment on the internet without venomously advising others what they should do… the favourite one here often being, to get off our butt and out into the ‘REAL world’ – Buffalo pats…!
Others suggest ‘we’ need to ‘man up’ and stop being taken for granted… and yet, when I write that this is just what I’d been doing, and standing up to the nonsense that some women dish out, I am instead accused of being an unappealing miser that no woman, even one not in her right mind, would ever want to know. Such criticism invariably says more about the writer than his subject.
An update… In order to put all your minds at rest, Sai and I are still together, after eight months, and this lady is truly different… and I do not mean, in the sense of being ‘different to other bar-girls’, but different to every woman I have ever met anywhere in the world. I still try to have her return home once a month but (again, despite what all these ladies tend to assert) she usually declines, preferring to stay in Hua Hin, with me. I’m sure that little fact alone will upset some of my detractors… LOL.
Differences: Sai never sleeps during the day (unless we have a siesta), she never eats between meals, rarely has her phone in her hand, never takes it with her when we go out, hardly ever asks for anything (and never money), and refuses everything I offer her in the shops and markets… Sai eats three-squares a day, and we usually eat the same thing, and always together at the same time.
And… bear this in mind… Sai’s phone is always in Silent Mode, just the screen flashes… When we are eating, Sai always ignores her phone… When we are in the middle of a movie, Sai always ignores her phone… When we are just chatting, about Thai or farang matters, Sai always ignores her phone… She waits, before even checking who called. I regularly tell her I have no problem with her checking but, as she only seems to communicate with her parents, and three or four ex- university friends, she doesn’t consider any of these calls to be more important than what we are doing. Sai never cuts me off in order to talk to another Thai, and contrarily, will always interrupt her conversation on the phone if I need to ask something.
I mention these things perhaps for the same reason as above – because it is not the norm…! Maybe she’s not Thai. Maybe she’s a ‘dybbuk’…
We do everything together, side-by-side – in the garden (mostly her), in the kitchen (mostly me), I do the laundry, she mops the floors, Sai will change the light bulbs, but it hasn’t been necessary yet. I jokingly tell her she is here under false pretenses – she jokingly replies I can deduct 1,000 ฿ each month that no light bulb fails…
Not an hour goes by… even half an hour… when we are not laughing together about something. Often, when I pass a mirror, I check to see if I look like some weird feline from Alice’s Wonderland…
As I said above: Persevere, and, Never say die. I consider myself lucky. And so, it seems, does Sai.
That’s all folks… Pip, Pip.
Hua Hin Harry
the end . . . Really.