How do you find a girlfriend or wife in Thailand?

Let’s be honest, millions of westerners have come to Thailand for that very reason. There are lots of websites promoting such relationships, and there are many dating sites where Thai women are actively searching for western men.

There are stories about Thai parents literally selling their daughter into prostitution or arranged marriages. Although such cases do exist, and not only in Thailand, they are a tiny percentage compared to the voluntary relationships which are the norm and which are the subject of this article.

It is not my intention to focus on some cases of abuse in Thailand or to launch a moral campain against prostitution or judge age differences between men and women in relationships.

Are Thai women being exploited by westerners?

I have often heard westerners, and mostly female ones, comment about how disgusted they are when they see older western men with young Thai women on their arm. The insinuation is that the men exploit the poor women. Let’s set this record straight.

The vast majority of all relationships between Thai women and western men are perfectly voluntary relationships. If there is any exploitation going on, it is more likely done by the Thai woman since this is an established industry in the tourist centers of Thailand.

What happened to the man’s brain and common sense?

Many western men come to Thailand all starry eyed, and it seems like they sometimes leave their brains in their home country when they get involved with Thai women.

They only see the attractive bodies, the great smiles and the sweet behavior, but they don’t understand their cultural background, their different way of thinking, their strong family ties, and their motivation.

Where do they find the women? That is the easy part. In the tourist areas the Thai women will approach the men. Just go near any bar and you run head-on into the rent-a-girlfriend scence.

You don’t have to find them, they will find you – that’s their business. Also in many massage shops the therapists are always on the look-out for potential partners. And in general it is very easy to strike up a conversation with Thai women.

Best and worst ways to find partners 

Bars

So finding a woman happens pretty much on autopilot, but the question is what kind of woman will it be? Bar girls are probably the easiest and the worst way to get into a real relationship. Talking about exploitation, the Thai bar girls are past masters of it.

One of the more creative tricks of Thai women, mostly from the bar scene, is to keep several western boyfriends and juggle their visits to Thailand while she receives regular money transfers from all of them. She might even have a Thai husband lurking in the background. If you are looking  for a serious relationship, stay away from bars.

Massage shops

In many massage shops the boundaries between professionalism, prostitution and legitimate relationships are often blurred. But I do know many cases of good relationships that began in a massage shop.

Let’s say it is a big step up from the bar scene, but you will most likely end up with a woman from a lower socio-economic background and with little education. Chances are she will see you more as a provider than a true partner.

Dating sites

With dating sites the challenge is that it is often very difficult to separate truth from fiction since misrepresentation is part of the game here. If you go that route, try to find a site that is set up very professionally, has lots of search options and ideally targets a more educated clientele.

Educational background and travel experience

The more educated the woman is, the better the chance that she speaks good English, has an understanding of other cultures, can communicate effectively, has a decent job or career and is not just interested in finding a walking ATM machine. Another thing to look for is a woman who has traveled outside of Thailand.

Events and programs

Other good ways to establish contact with Thai women is through cultural programs, university events, or volunteer programs. Don’t neglect a very simple approach: just ask people.

If you know a Thai woman, it is perfectly acceptable to ask her if she knows anyone who is looking for a relationship. Often they do know someone, and they will be quite happy to make the connection.

There is a way to happiness in relationships

Thailand is a beautiful country with friendly and welcoming people. Hundreds of thousands of cross-cultural relationships have been established here, and many have resulted in marriage, family life and happiness.

It is my intention to help deepen the understanding of cross-cultural relationships in Thailand and hopefully help some people to find satisfaction and joy in life. At the same time I hope I can prevent some heartache by pointing out some of the pitfalls in the Thai relationship scene.

Click Here to read the next article in the relationship series

You can find the previous articles in the relationship series here:
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
Relationships in Thailand Part 7

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 shama@shamakern.com