Having lived in Thailand for many years and running this blog for over a decade, I've been there and done it: read the book, worn the t-shirt and taken both the red and the blue pills, so to speak.
So I know a few things about Thai women and dating in Thailand. I've also seen many success stories, and watched others end in tears. And my inbox (Ooh er, Mrs!) has also witnessed the words of many an infuriated boyfriend/husband/lover.
So before you start your Thai dating quest, I think you might find this insight useful. It could save you time, money, and heartache.
I'd get a coffee. It's 3529 words.
1. Don't Rush In (Wise Men Say)
It's easy to get carried away: sun, sea, sand, parties, cheap food and drink and exotic women.
It is literally another world when you first arrive in Thailand.
You may find that you have far more interest from the opposite sex than you do back home. Newsflash: not all of this interest is because you have a pretty face.
So before you sell your house back home and declare your undying love for the maid in your apartment block, or the girl who gives you an extra ice cube in your beer at the local bar, take it easy…
I think the best piece of advice that anyone can give on dating in Thailand is to not do anything that you wouldn't do back home. That's easy to say when you haven't got the rose colored glasses on, but loosely it's a good rule to live by.
I have known guys who, within a couple of weeks of meeting a woman in Thailand, have moved them into an apartment, given them a monthly salary and begun plans to meet the family and get married.
I'm not looking to judge anyone here, and these things do work out for some, but would you do this back in your home country – even if you went on a few dates with a woman you really felt you had a future with?
This is not solely about protecting yourself; it's also about protecting the person you're getting involved with.
I've also known a number of men who have gone the whole hog and then suddenly backed out and disappeared, either into the ether of Southeast Asia or simply back home.
After a number of months they came to realize that the person they were involved with wasn't quite the person they thought, for one reason or another.
They came to realize that actually, relationships in Thailand aren't that different from any other country. There is no perfect rose garden.
So take it easy. Enjoy the dating process. Get to know someone properly before making commitments and uprooting your whole life.
I know it's tempting, because things back home are boring and routine and women are only interested in men with a lot of money… yada, yada, yada.
Again, you'll encounter this in Thailand too. It's not just Western women who like nice things.
Do as you would back home.
Find someone you have shared interests with, someone who makes you laugh, someone who isn't looking for a cash cow or a financial sponsor for their entire family.
A good goal is to find a partner who is independent, and would be fine whether you were in their life or not.
2. Don't Take Risks On Fleeting Encounters
Again, the same goes for your home country, but men in particular seem to lose their heads in Southeast Asia.
I'll never forget the guy I met at the Green Mango in Chaweng (Koh Samui) back in 2010 who bragged he had got 5 Thai women pregnant. Idiot.
The risk of sexually transmitted diseases is actually far higher in Thailand that it would be back home, in particular HIV and Hepatitis B.
No matter how attractive the person, how kind and caring they appear, you do not know their sexual history.
Don't take risks. And if you intend on being sexually active in Thailand, get a Hepatitis B vaccination before you travel.
3. Try Dating Sites Over Bars & Clubs
I remember when I first arrived in Thailand and we met up with a friend of the guy I was traveling with, who was a regular visitor to Thailand. He was also with a couple of expats who had lived here a while.
Of course, they were keen to show us this magical world of bars where ” hostesses” entertain anyone having a drink. We'd soon come to understand the culture of these bars and that the women were available to take home, so to speak.
On that first night, after going to a round of bars, we were taken to a local disco. Surprisingly, many of the women in the bars came to the disco once they'd finished work at the bar.
It didn't take long for it all to connect and make sense. These girls were always working.
So even when you go to a club, depending on the club, it could be difficult to know which women are working an angle and which women are genuinely having a night out.
Of course, over time you know the signs and the signals and in many instances it is very obvious because they are acting in a way that the average Thai woman wouldn't.
That being said, after a few drinks even the most reserved office girl can let her hair down, and why not.
I used to hang out with some folks from my friend's office in Thailand, and, as is the case back home, the most reserved office worker can certainly loosen up after a couple of shots.
The point I'm making is that bars and discos are not always the ideal place to meet women back home, let alone in Thailand where, particularly in the tourist areas, the line between women working the nightlife and those enjoying it on a recreational basis can be fairly blurred.
If you're not one for nightclubs and bars, or for approaching women to talk to in such environments, then that's where dating sites can be useful – because you can get an immediate insight into the person's life through their profile, and get to know them slowly through a neutral communication channel.
If you're living in Thailand, you can then arrange to meet up, or if you come in for a holiday, you can make plans in advance.
Dating sites offer a more diverse range of women. Bear in mind that the large majority of women in Thailand do not go to bars and clubs where foreign tourists are going to be hanging out.
There are women in provinces all over Thailand and in the major cities who are getting up for work at 5, 6, 7 o'clock in the morning and are home by 6 o'clock in the evening preparing for the next day, or hitting the gym / going out for a bite to eat with a friend before going home.
Many women are only dragged out to a club when it's someone's birthday, or an office do. So it can be difficult to access to the “normal” population of women.
Indeed, if you're a newbie foreigner on Thai soil, your first proper conversation with a Thai woman is more likely to be with a hooker than an office worker – which is crazy considering those working in the night-time industry are by far the minority.
But many of the “normal” women would like to meet a foreign guy, and dating sites provide a platform for them to do this. So they register a profile on a dating site such as Thai Cupid.
4. Do Expect a Chaperone
Now for some dating specifics.
One unexpected Thai dating occurrence, that might be considered a cultural difference, is that women in Thailand often bring a chaperone with them on a first date. This might also extend to the second and third date.
By chaperone, I mean a close friend (usually).
There are a few reasons for this. The first is that historically a woman wouldn't be seen with a man in a dating or intimate capacity if she wasn't intending to marry him.
This has its roots in the old culture that if a man and woman are seen out eating together, walking around together and doing things that couples do, then they would be considered a couple.
They would then be the gossip of the village. And no doubt their parents would find out and be concerned about their behaviour and the impact it is having on the “face” of the family.
With this in mind, consider that on a first, second or third date, you may not have reached the point where you are officially a couple, and therefore the woman would feel more comfortable if there was a friend there to make it look like a meeting of friends rather than lovers.
The second reason is that Thai women tend to be quite reserved when it comes to dating and intimate encounters. Culturally, it is not becoming of a woman to be forward in this arena, and therefore a woman is likely to be fairly shy and quiet on a first date.
Of course, for the sake of the explanation I am generalizing here and there are exceptions to this.
However, there is also the language barrier to consider, and despite a woman having a good grasp of English, it can still be quite difficult to understand accents from different countries and to follow a conversation in a busy environment such as a restaurant or a bar.
Moreover, your date may have very little experience with foreign men; most Thai women don't. Your date may never have visited Europe, or had a Western friend.
Bringing along a friend will make your date feel more comfortable and confident. There will be someone there to break the ice.
And then there's the safety issue. It is highly unlikely that your date has told any close family that she is going on a date, particularly a date to meet foreign man.
She doesn't know you properly, and for all she knows you could be a serial rapist or killer.
There are also some men who try to pressure women into intimacy after a date by persuading them to come to their home or go on somewhere for drinks. So having the chaperone there gives your date sense of security and an excuse to leave or go home to her home at the end of the night, should she need it.
While it may be somewhat annoying to have a chaperone on the first date or three, I don't think it is something to frown at. It's probably the most sensible thing to do.
5. Find a “Normal” Woman/Man
I know, I know… what is normal, right?
This is quite a difficult topic for me to approach because I don't want to be judgmental of anyone's choice of partner, or of any woman or man's profession.
However, over the many years of running this blog I have received many emails – mostly from men – regarding women that they've had a bad experience with.
Nearly every single one of these men met their partner in a bar or got involved with a woman who has no job but a number of financial commitments, leading one to ponder as to how this woman was supporting herself before her new boyfriend came into her life.
Often the email describes a very good beginning and a very bad end.
The story usually evolves gradually over time, uncovering evidence of other men in her life, of increasing demands for money to pay off debts – either hers or someone in her family – drug or alcohol abuse, emotional blackmail and violence, the list goes on.
The problem is that many of the women who end up working in bars or as prostitutes, either on the street or freelancing in clubs, or as escorts, have come from broken homes, broken relationships, and abusive backgrounds where alcohol and gambling usually play a part. Many have also experienced sexual abuse.
The other side of this problem is that they are still very much connected to these problems and have a commitment to members of their family who quite frankly they'd probably be better off without.
One of the ties to family is that most of these women have children and the children are living with grandparents or another member of family. They have to send money home their family to support their kids and support their aging parents.
I've written about this before in a somewhat now famous post that divided a lot of opinion.
Having done some work at a women's shelter in Bangkok I have heard first hand the problems that these women have encountered since a young age.
Having been in so many dysfunctional relationships, it makes it very difficult for them to be in normal relationships, let alone a relationship with a foreigner who has no idea of their background and present situation.
I can write an essay on this subject, but I think you get the gist of what I'm trying to say.
It can be tempting to be a white knight, but consider that this may not work out very well for you at all, and may end up negatively affecting your life in many ways.
I'm not saying that you need to go out with a rich woman or “high-class” woman, so to speak. But what I am saying is this:
If you can meet a woman who is reasonably well educated, or who at least finished high school and has some kind of diploma or profession; someone who gets up in the morning and goes to work every day; someone who is used to functional relationships within her family, with her friends and has had normal relationships with boyfriends; there will be a greater chance of success in the long term.
Moreover, it's ideal if you can find someone who is good with money and wants to be in a relationship where both people want to work hard to create a life together, rather than a person in a dire financial position who needs you to be their support mechanism, indefinitely.
No one comes with zero issues and we all have some baggage from the past. But I'm just trying to be as upfront and real as I can with you on this subject, because I have seen the Thailand dream end in tatters for so many men due to toxic relationships that were doomed to fail from the start.
Of course, let me caveat this by saying it isn't always down to the woman. Many a foreign man has been the architect of his relationship's demise, and oftentimes it is drink and promiscuity that causes the lady to flip her lid.
Anyway, amidst this word of warning it should be said that there are hundreds of thousands of wonderful, down to earth, hard-working, single Thai women who would make any man a proud partner.
6. Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep
To bring some balance to that last section, my advice to you, the man, is to be careful that you don't make promises you can't keep.
As noted early on in this post, it's easy to get carried away in the land of smiles. It is easy to tell a girl that you love her and that you're going to move to Thailand and give her the life she's always wanted.
The thing is, while some women will know it's the beer talking, others will buy into the fact that they've met their knight in shining armor – because undoubtedly they would have seen it happen to other women.
Rural villages are full of stories of young maidens who met men from Europe and now live like queens in Switzerland, Germany, UK, USA and elsewhere. Truth be told, most are miserable as sin :).
Again, there is the language barrier and the cultural barrier. Many Thai people only have movies as a reference for Westerners.
So you may be talking to a woman who is basing her expectations of Western men on the film Pretty Woman, in which case she is expecting to go from rags to riches overnight.
Nationalities and cultures aside, it isn't nice to lead anyone on and, assuming that the majority of people reading this article are over the age of 30, we should know better than to let teenage kicks control the words that come out of our mouths.
In the same way I have witnessed a number of men return home with their tail between their legs, I have also seen a number of good Thai women dumped by their foreign partners and left at the drop of a hat for a prettier or younger model, or abandoned because there are better prospects back home or elsewhere.
So don't make promises you can't keep, it will bode better for you both in the long run.
You also might find yourself in a spot of bother if you do it to the wrong woman.
I won't recount the whole story here, but a good friend of mine had a woman banging down his door at 3 o'clock in the morning, kicking and screaming to the point where he had to call the police. He'd been seen going home with another woman!
We've all heard stories of scorned Thai women cutting off the penis of their partner and feeding it to the ducks.
7. Pay Little Mind to Generalizations
I know, that's rich coming from me writing this post, in which I have made a number of generalizations. But please understand I had to do this to some degree to try and describe cultural tendencies in particular situations.
But the key is to not judge every book by its cover. You will hear men all over the internet trash talking Thai women: “All Thai women are after your money”, “There's no such thing as an honest Thai woman”, “Thai women are all prostitutes”.
Consider that 99.9% of men who are in successful relationships with Thai women do not go on the Internet and post about how wonderful their lives are; such people are too busy living their lives and getting on with their relationships.
What you will read about is bad dating experiences.
You will read about the guy who made a very bad judgement, or the guy who contributed heavily to messing up his own relationship and blames it all on his partner. These men take to forums to vent their anger.
One thing that always makes me laugh is when people say ” Oh, I've got a Thai wife/ girlfriend”. I mean, I know why they say it, and they are just relating to someone else who has a partner from Thailand.
But the reason it makes me laugh is because it sounds like Thai women are some special breed, like they are not inherently human, that they are alien in some way or some kind of special purchase or product.
But really, Thai women are just human beings.
Every Thai woman is an individual, with her own opinions, her own likes and dislikes and tendencies.
Every Thai woman has her own goals, her own hobbies, her own past experiences and future expectations; her own way of reacting to different situations and dealing with different circumstances.
I don't wake up in the morning and look at my wife and think “I'm married to a Thai woman”. And I don't look at my daughter and think “She's half Thai”. They are two individuals putting their own stamp on the world.
So while you should be cautious of getting into any relationship and heed the advice I have laid out in this article, you should also do your best to ignore the “All Thai women are…” generalizations.
I mean, just think of it like this: how many relationships have you had with women from your own country? And how many of these have been successful?
I'm sure you've had a few bad encounters, but do you go around generalizing about all the women in your country?
Probably not, because that would include your mother, your auntie's, your sister, your daughter, etc. It makes no sense.
Of course we can make generalizations regarding culture. I mean, I could generalize by saying that pretty much every Thai woman feels indebted to her parents and as such will do her best to take care of them throughout her life.
I could probably also generalize and say that the majority of Thai women like Mama noodles, just like I could say the majority of English people like Tea.
But when we start making sweeping generalizations about the way women of a particular nation behave in a relationship, I think we are treading on very thin water in terms of stripping people of their individualism, and therefore dehumanizing them.
This has been my opinion. Feel free to disagree.