Spirit of Thailand

Spirit of Thailand

Culture, Relationships,
Thai Massage, Traveling

Relationships in Thailand Part 1

Thailand travel is popular  for many reasons: the warm weather, beautiful beaches, friendly smiling people, good value for your money, interesting culture – and last but not least –  WOMEN!

Thai women have a reputation among foreign men of being beautiful and ‘easy to get’. How justified is this reputation?

Most men would  agree that many Thai women are attractive. They generally have soft facial features, slender bodies, and a graceful appearance combined with natural and beautiful smiles. You won’t find many men arguing with this statement.

Are they easy to connect with? There are several factors to consider. Thailand is a free country compared to some of its neighbors. Burma has recently come out of a military dictatorship with severely restricted personal freedom. Relationships with foreigners are still very difficult.

Laos has a communist regime and relationships with foreigners are restricted by law. Malaysia has a largely Muslim population and relationships with foreigners can be subject to religious rules.

In Thailand women are free to enter into any relationship they want with Thais or foreigners and the government does not interfere with restrictive laws, and neither does religion.

From this perspective Thai women are easier to connect with simply because they have freedom in this regard unlike the Asian women of some neighboring countries.

Let’s consider another angle. There are more women than men in Thailand. Many of the men are not available. There are three main reasons which reduce the availability of male partners:

1. Gays:  Thailand has a high percentage of gays. Homosexuality is not seen as immoral and is not stigmatized socially.

2. Ladyboys:  “Ladyboys” (The English term most commonly used in Thailand. The Thai word is “Khatoi”) are a very common phenomenon in Thailand. These are men who want to be women and who are undergoing a gradual process of operations and hormonal treatments until they look like women.

3. Monks:  It is a tradition that Thai men become monks for varying lengths of time. Many men remain monks for many years or for life. Thai monks are celibate.

Add all those factors together and you arrive at a serious deficit of available men in Thailand.  Here is another aspect. Thailand  is very open to the western world and especially America is often seen as a cultural idol, as the land of unlimited money and opportunity.

So in a sense the foreign man steps into a partial vacuum in a relatively free country where there is no governmental or religious interference with women’s rights to choose partners, and where the west is seen as a desirable destination.

The focus of this article is voluntary relationships, not outright prostitution which is of course available in all Asian countries and all over the world. In many cases it is not so easy to draw the line between relationships and prostitution in Thailand.

Anyone who has spent some time in Thailand has seen older Western men with Thai girls several decades younger on their arms. The question is if this is prostitution, if it is exploitation of poor women by men, if it is clever manipulation by cunning women, or if it is a mutually beneficial arrangement.

There are proponents of all those theories in various corners of the opinion spectrum. There is no one clear and easy answer. In the next part of this series we will go more into depth and address all those issues.

Click Here to read the next article in this series

image of the the author, Shama KernThe author, Shama Kern, has been living in Thailand for well over a decade. His wife is Thai and they have created a successful cross cultural relationship. You can reach Shama at [email protected]

8 thoughts on “Relationships in Thailand Part 1

  1. Shama, you are very straighforward… and this is an indicator that you feel confortable in Thailand. This is good. There is one aspect though which is disturbing and pertains to somet terminology u used with regard to ‘women’. Women are obviously not a commodity. So a terminology of “to get” or ‘are thai women easy to get” is depreciative of the premises you just elaborated on their attractiveness, kindness and so on. In all countries there are beautiful and less beautiful people, either men or women or third gender. It is important. It is important to keep good terminology simply also because you wish to focus on relationships and voluntary ones, besides the fact that women nor men are to get ot not…

    As a matter of clarification, please note that as per official worldwide population indicators there are more women than men in every country of the world except in 2 countries one being Chile and the other one I forgot, (sorry, i forgt my books). There are more boys than girls at birth but there are more neonatal death of boys than girls,worldwide, of course. The temporary lack of men due to monkhood, homosexuality and third gender are not the reasons for thai women be keen or not to engage with foreigners. The way you present it could lead to think that polygamy is based on shortage of men which it is not, rather on cultural or socio-economic patterns but this is another topic.

    A suggestion for you would be to base your presentation on cultural aspects of relationships and how the cross-cultural is mutually benefitial and/ or how to move beyond the common bottlenecks such as languages, understanding and many more. this is good to move beyond the traditional vision that Thailand is a land of smile for men where women are available. Which I think wold gain in aksing thai men how they perceive this label….

    Keep up the good intentions!

  2. Hi Isabella, I appreciate your comments. The term “easy to get” is not my perception but is meant to reflect the attitude of many men who come to Thailand in order to find a woman. And I agree with you, this attitude can be demeaning. That is what I am trying to convey with this term. But if you could suggest a better term that still reflects my idea, I can easily change it in the article.

    This first article is just the beginning of several about this topic. I am highlighting the monk-gay-ladyboy aspect because many Thai women have mentioned it to me. They complain about a lack of available men to choose from. Certainly there are different cultural aspects about the Thai-farang relationships and I will address those in my next post. My idea is to talk about this subject from a number of different angles. Thanks for taking the time to write thoughtful comments!

  3. Isabella, I thought about your comments some more, and I did replace the “easy to get” term in two out of three places. I kept the first one since I want to make a point as explained above. So two thirds modification should help not to cause any potential offense among female readers.

  4. wonderful! YOu know Shama I think about these topics all the time as i said having been in Thailand many times over a period of 25 years and now living here. I also think without much difficulty that living in Chieng Mai and living in Bkk generate a world of differences.. I see the BTS and MRT as a replication of New York’s or London’s tube with the difference that people are more relaxed… however, there isn’t a single look at each other…
    Chieng Mai the province of the North is maybe waht remains of real Thailand… the actualy ethnic origin of thai in addition to be a much smaller urban center.
    great topics you bring out.. we’ll meet soon as am coming to CM nxt month.
    Would be really great to have the opinion of Thai men on these topics too…

  5. I left a comment on a simmilar website i am back in the uk for a holday. I sell visas for farrang to take their spouces back to their homeland. To my surprise its not just men bringing their ladys back to the uk but in smaller numbers english older women with young thai men. But all i can say the system of thailands womens roles is in not all about the man. The man is the bread winner and has to have a house just like in the middle east. I think western countries should not scrutinise thailand or asia when they dont put their familys in old peoples homes and when you meet the thai elite they are modest and not people who think they are somthing they are not. Also i cant figure out why so many farrang are still getting ripped off by the bar girls Adam. oxford

  6. I find it interesting that gays and transexuals are as accepted in Thailand as they are. They are on TV, working in retail, and in large businesses. I think it’s great, and Thailand can serve as a model for other countries following in its footsteps.

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