Why are Thai men generally not interested in relationships with foreign women? And why don’t western women care much about Thai men?
After all Thailand is known for cross-cultural relationships and men come here by the tens of thousands to find female Thai partners. Why is this largely a one way street? Why do you rarely see Thai men with western women?
Who follows whom in the relationship?
Thais are shy people compared to most westerners. Culturally it is not acceptable to show strong emotion, get angry, yell at people, confront someone head-on, or have an intense argument.
On top of that in many Asian cultures the woman traditionally follows the man much more compared to the total equality concept that is prevalent in the west. And here we have a major sticking point.
Western women have no intention of merely following a Thai man, they have no qualms about speaking their mind, and they mostly insist on a good deal of independence, free thinking and freedom of choices.
All this is so much opposed to the Thai relationship model, and it would make most Thai men feel uncomfortable or even threatened.
No cheating allowed – period!
Thai men often have second wives and/or regular affairs with sexual partners. Although Thai women do not like that, they often put up with it. Western women would never tolerate such behavior. Many Thai men would feel that their lifestyle is too much restricted by a relationship with a western woman.
Who is the prettiest of them all?
A third reason is that generally Thai men do not find western women as attractive as Thai women. It is not common that Thai men stare at western women or pursue them or harass them in any way.
There are exceptions, like in major tourist or beach areas where foreign women easily come into contact with the Thais. But in general western women are rarely harassed or pursued or even sought out by Thai men.
This is not the case everywhere in Asia. In India for example women often experience unwelcome advances, and in Bali you typically see relationships between Balinese men and western women which are very actively initiated by Balinese men.
Kid in candy shop or relationship desert
There are Thai man/western woman relationships, but they are a tiny percentage compared to western man/Thai woman relationships. What all this means is that western men are like a kid in a candy shop in Thailand in the relationship arena.
Western women however are often limited to relationships with other westerners, so their available choices are much fewer than for their male western counterparts. Rather than being in a candy shop they often feel that they are in a relationship desert in Thailand.
Again there are exceptions to this scenario. For example in major tourist and beach areas young and attractive western women can be pursued by Thai men. However the motivation can often be that the Thai men regard women in beach attire as easily available.
The actual scenario
Let’s have a look at a fairly typical relationship between a western man and a Thai woman. The man has more money and supports his wife. Often he takes her to his home country and she has to adjust to a new culture.
Because of her dependence on him for financial support and her challenge to adjust to a new environment in the west she relies on him for advice, education, integration, and her new way of life. She is happy to follow him since he is her life support in a strange new environment.
Exchange the roles, and it breaks down
Now take that same story, but exchange the sexes. Reread that story but imagine that there is a western woman who has a Thai husband. It it blatantly obvious that this would never work. It totally flies in the face of male psychology and ego. The whole concept is just unthinkable from a Thai man’s point of view.
Feminine and sweet despite equality
Thai women legally have equal rights and enjoy more freedom than in many oriental cultures. There was never a women’s liberation movement in Thailand, and men generally do not feel challenged by women.
Despite their legal equality, Thai women have an amazing talent of being feminine, of retaining a female sweetness. They do not feel obligated to compete with men on their turf by wearing male looking business suits and ties and going head-to-head with their male co-workers. Rather than hiding their femininity, Thai women like to display it.
Because of those characteristics it feels natural for Thai women to adjust to their western partners and even sometimes follow them to another country. But the other way round this is not working at all.
A Thai man, who is generally more shy than western men, but who is nevertheless endowed with a typical male ego, in a relationship with a self confident and assertive, educated and financially independent western woman – it is mostly not a workable concept, and it rarely happens. This especially applies to Thai men from lower to middle class social environments.
If the Thai man is well educated, financially well off, and from a higher social environment, then a relationship with a western woman might have a better chance. However few Thai men with such characteristics are looking for western female relationships. They are also not generally found in major tourist and beach areas, mingling with the tourists.
Not all relationships in Thailand are made in heaven
The relationship scene in Thailand is definitely somewhat one-sided. This does not mean that women do not enjoy Thailand, but they are less likely to find a lover or husband here, and in most cases they would not want to.
There are countless thousands of men who come here to find a partner or wife, but I am fairly certain that there is not a single woman who comes here looking for relationship heaven. Thai men and western women are just a much more difficult combination than the other way around.
I am of course aware that there are exceptions to my statements above. However after living in Thailand for almost two decades, I am certain that my observations hold true for the majority.
Besides, these are not just my opinions. I have interviewed many Thais and westerners in order to get a good idea what they are thinking about this subject. Not everyone’s experience will fall into the general category which I described in this article, but it does hold true for the majority.
Previous articles in the relationship series:
Relationships in Thailand Part 1
Relationships in Thailand Part 2
Relationships in Thailand Part 3
Relationships in Thailand Part 4
Relationships in Thailand Part 5
Relationships in Thailand Part 6
The 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 firstname.lastname@example.org