The Cultural Guide to Western/Thai Relationships
There’s a lot of information online on where to meet Thai girls and what to say, but it only scratches the surface.
If you plan to take it further than just sex, you need to know more.
In this article I am going to talk about the theoretical and practicalities of dating women from another culture.
Target audience: anybody who plans to move to Thailand with the intention of finding a life partner.
When Thai people turn 18, very few are dreaming of working in an enclosed office space, or working at all for that matter.
Excluding Singapore and Malaysia, there is no rat race culture in South-East-Asia.
Businesses in Thailand don’t usually hire people over 30 because they think they are too old and need to pay them a higher wage.
The average salary for a person out of university with a degree is about $460 per month working 10 hour days.
Starting a career isn’t on anybody’s mind because the ladder is short and not prosperous.
Since there is no opportunity for a rewarding career, the primary focus of life for Thai men and women is to find a partner and start a family.
Thais get married at a much younger age than the west. It’s common to be married and have children at 19-24.
Children send money back to their parents when they are old enough to work, so having children at a young age in Asia has advantages such as you can retire sooner.
Even when a woman is married she will be expected to send money back to her family, and hence the stories you hear of guys sending monthly amounts to their girlfriend and family.
This isn’t to say Thai people don’t work, most do but they are not worried about being fired or getting a promotion.
The point I want to make is that Eastern societies put family first and their career on the back burner.
When we were 18-20 our main focus in life is to make money.
We either went to university or got a job at this age.
Unless you had a high-school sweetheart, you don’t even think about marriage or having a serious relationship at this age, well you don’t if you read my blog.
Our primary focus is to make money and have a good time.
We want money so bad we work 40 hours per week, and cut down on time spent with friends and family to earn it.
Any relationship we get into isn’t a big deal because building a career is more important.
Western societies put their career ahead of relationships and family.
Western and Thai culture differences
Western society is set up in a way where family and relationships are second to building a career and being financially free.
Eastern society is set up in a way where family comes first.
This subtle cultural difference alone is enough to make any Western/Thai relationship difficult.
You will be taking it slow because in western culture that’s what we do. Thai culture they take things faster. Everything from having sex, calling her your girlfriend to moving into together is done at a much faster rate here.
It’s not because they want your money or are trying to scam you, it’s because this is their number #1 priority.
Now let’s add the huge language barrier.
You speak two totally different languages and neither of you know the other well enough to speak at very deep or personal level.
I have a very strong accent and talk at the speed of Busta Rhymes.
Nobody in Asia could understand me for the first year, even native speaking Europeans had a hard time following me.
Over the years I learned to slow my voice and smooth my accent to a point where Thai people could understand my English.
A Thai can have an amazing education and English level, but if your accent is too strong they won’t be able to understand you well.
The average Thai has poor English, you can certainly find girls with great English but to tackle heavy topics will be hard due to the language barrier.
Being able to communicate on a deep and personal level takes a lot of practice, if you lack competent social skills it will be really hard. It took me well over a year to adjust my English and re-phase questions so Thais could understand me better.
Chances are you were educated to a very good standard for free.
In Thailand, the people who read my blog teach children. The subjects they learn are taught in a different way to how we were.
Your tastes and interests will differ.
You will like hip-hop and techno, she will like K-pop.
She won’t know Conor Mcgregor, Elon Musk or the keto diet.
You won’t know EXO, cat cafes or why she eats 3x slower than you.
None of these are necessarily bad things or should stop you from dating in Asia, these are just points to be aware of if seeking a serious relationship in Thailand.
You might only be a 12-hour flight away, but things you’ve both been exposed to all your life are so different.
It’s said the best relationships are where both people grew up in the same area and have the same life history.
I’ve seen dozens of Thai/Western couples that get on like a house on fire, and I’ve seen dozens more that don’t.
What it means when you call her your girlfriend
So you meet a nice Thai girl and you’re thinking about making her your girlfriend.
What does the boyfriend/girlfriend thing mean to Thai girls?
Well whatever it means to us, it means 10x more to them.
When we tell a girl we are her boyfriend, our hierarchy of needs looks something like this:
In western society a newly formed relationship (6 months or less) is anything but serious, it’s a whatever. As years go by, the girlfriend moves higher in the hierarchy of needs until we make the mistake of marrying her.
When you tell a Thai girl you’re her boyfriend, her hierarchy of needs looks something like this:
Make a Thai girl your girlfriend, and very quickly you’ll become the 2nd most important person in her life.
If you get into a relationship know that she is in it for the long-haul even if you’re not thinking that far ahead. Remember her goal in life is to get married and have kids and you’re the #1 candidate for that now.
This is when you’ll hear people say Thai girls are clingy, they never give you space, that’s because they are taking the relationship much more seriously than you’re. You may just want to have a girlfriend because you were tired of partying or got bored of living alone, she is qualifying you as a life partner.
Friendships in Thailand are quite fickle, it’s common to hear stories of friends scamming best friends and not to be seen again. In a short space of time you’ll be considered more important than her best friends who she has known for years.
You will never reach #1 because family is the most important thing in the world, even if they don’t like their family.
Moving in with a Thai girlfriend
Ah, when should you move in together?
I wrote a blog post a few years ago saying that anyone coming to Thailand should not get a girlfriend within the first 6 month.
It’s easy to get into a relationship and be living under 1 roof within 14 days in Thailand.
I’ve seen people do this all the time and it typically ends up in a mess. The sex gets boring, they realize they have nothing in common, her English is no good and he cannot get out of the relationship because she has moved in.
Wait 6 months at least to see if you both have a connection and are compatible to spend time with each other after the sex fizzles out.
Know that once she has moved in, it’s going to take a crane and a few years off your life to get her out.
A friend broke up with his Thai girlfriend after two years of dating, and she said to him:
“Why the hell did you date me for 2 years if you were just going to break up with me? You wasted my time”
Keep that in mind when asking a Thai girl to move in, if she accepts her intention is to go all the way. If you’re dating a crazy girl, this is the time where they break everything in your room or threaten you with crazy stuff.
Not all Thai girls are independent
This is personal opinion but I think the worst thing you can do when finding a Thai girlfriend is to date a girl who is not totally independent.
Thailand is still a third-world country, Thai girls don’t have a disposable income to take up yoga memberships, follow a particular health diet or learn new skills/hobbies because they work long hours and earn little. Many will share a room a small studio room with 3 people to save on costs and live off 7-Eleven noodles.
If you move in with your girlfriend and she is not fully independent, then your life is her life.
By fully independent I mean she has her own means of support (any salary over 15,000b), friends to meet on a regular basis, hobbies and passions.
These girls are harder to find and often you’ll need to have your own set of credentials to be able to meet them. If you’re earning a low salary, look like shit and are a deadbeat, it will be tougher for you to find such a girl.
There are so many western/Thai relationships right now where the girl just follows the guy everywhere because she has no job, money, or friends.
A common theme here is the guy tell their girlfriend to stop working because her salary is too low (13,000b) and the hours too great (10-12 hours 6 times per week).
I can see the rationale behind that, why would you want your girlfriend to work 10 hours for $15 when you make so much more and can cover her living costs easily?
But I don’t recommend anyone do that, she will be home all the time, become dependant on you and you’ll never have space.
At the very least get her to start some sort of Instagram business or learn a skill like English or marketing so she can make her own income and not be forced to work a shit job.
If you make her dependant on you from the start, as time goes by she will rely on you more and more. This weight will break your relationship.
Also if you breakup, for the last 5 years she has learned nothing and it’s going to be tough for her to support herself.
I’ve seen lots of cases where guys got into a relationship too fast, moved in, told the girl to quit her job and the next thing you know she spends all her time on her phone gets pocket money for anything she wants to do. This is not a healthy relationship.
Best relationships conditions in a Western/Thai relationship are when both parties are fully independent of each other. This is very hard to find but it will be worth it.
English is key
If your Thai girlfriend does not have a high level of English, as the relationship goes further and sex gets routine, things will fizzle out if you cannot communicate.
Most travel blogs focus on sex, but for the older readers (I seem to be getting more of them here recently) I believe many of you come here to find life-long companionship, if the girl does not have a high standard of English you’re not going to get that.
You’ll have nothing to talk about and will be eating meals in silence, taking holidays where you don’t talk to each other.
Thai girls are fine to go on a date with you even if their English level isn’t good, they’ll use their phone to translate words and are happy to just eat with minimal conversation. This is fine for a date but do you want that for 30 years?
What are guys meant to pay for?
When Thai girls go out with Thai guys (guy friends or boyfriends), the guy pays for everything.
In Thai culture, girls don’t pay for anything if with a guy.
If you’re moving in with a Thai girl I think it’s fine to let her pay the Internet bill and electricity ($60/month) but to go halves on rent or any big costs is absurd unless she is making good bank ($1,000 or more).
You just don’t do the 50/50 split in the East, don’t shoot the messenger – I didn’t make the rules!
Don’t come here with the western chip on your shoulder that you’ll only pay half of everything.
Thais earn next to nothing and many can’t afford to do western activities or eat at western restaurants. If you’re dating a girl and doing everything 50/50, you’ll be doing nothing but eating street food.
That’s not to say you should be paying 100% of everything – that is a bad idea and will make her dependant on you.
She should be working so she never needs to ask you for money for activities, and when you go out together you should be paying 70-80% of everything.
For example, if you go to a restaurant where the bill is 1,050b pay it and tell her the 180b desert is on her.
By only paying 70% and not giving them pocket money, you’ll deter gold diggers who will take all your money.
If you’re over 50+ and have a nice retirement pot, I think paying 100% of everything is fine.
Are Thai girls cheaters?
If you meet your girlfriend in a dodgy after hours, she doesn’t work but always has money to eat good food and party, then yes she will most likely cheat on you at some point.
If you meet your girlfriend at a normal venue and she doesn’t resemble the traits of a turbo slut, she will not cheat.
Western guys in Thailand drink in the worst locations to meet girls, this is why you hear so many negative stories about them beating cheaters or scammers. If you date a hoe then you’re a target, not a boyfriend.
A good Thai girl is not going to cheat on you because she is prospecting you to be her life partner.
Do Thai girls care if you cheat?
There’s a saying you’ll hear if you live here long enough which is Thai girls don’t really care if you cheat.
There are words in Thai for a second wife (mai noi) and fuck buddies (gik) to give you an idea of how frequent cheating is.
Thai girls do care if you cheat on them, they just happen to get over it faster than western women.
Some of them can also take it really really bad and chop your dick off in the middle of the night, this is common.
I know a friend who’s girlfriends puts condoms in his bag when he goes on holiday with his friends, saying its okay for him to sleep with others as long as he doesn’t keep in contact with them.
Thai girls have feelings and they care if you cheat on them, but since cheating is so common (Thailand ranked #1 in the world for cheating) it’s not as a big deal compared to the west. If you cheat in the west, the only option for some women is a divorce and half your money. That’s not the case in Thailand, you can work it out.
But what about the crazy Thai girls?
Thai girls are not crazy.
Girls are crazy.
Most of the horror stories you hear about Thai girls is because the guy found her at a sleazy bar. If you’re dating a bar girl, massage girl or any girl that has worked in the industry, of course things are going to end badly for you.
As a rule of thumb, any girl you meet out after 1 am you probably don’t want to meet more than once and should not be your girlfriend.
There are Thai girls who make a very good living by dating western several western men and getting money from them each month. This type of girl is easy to find (clubs) but must be avoided.
Are Thai girls feminists?
This is an odd question I get more and more.
Thai girls are feminine, not feminists.
As a whole they have traditional views, men dominate and the women will listen follow them as long as the guy keeps bringing home the bread.
Don’t have a girlfriend if you don’t live in Thailand
If you’re one of these guys who comes to Thailand a few times a month and has a girlfriend who you support – end it now.
It’s not going to work, there’s a high chance she is dating other guys because she fears that you’ll leave her one day and she needs a plan B in case plan A fails. She may not even like you but because you’re paying for her living costs while out the country, she just has you on a leash while dating others.
I’m 100% sure in the comments you’re going to get my readers saying they dated girls who have guys supporting them who they don’t respect.
I wrote this article for people who want a serious relationship with a Thai girl, long-distance relationships never work and you can tell me your girlfriend is different, but you’re only fooling yourself.
The 80/20 rule
20% of girls in Thailand fit the framework I’ve talked about above. They have good English, they are earning a good salary, are independent, not crazy and will be able to offer you companionship as a long-term partner. If truth be told it’s most likely less than 20%.
80% of Thai girls won’t have great English, will have a low paying or no job, no hobbies and will be totally dependant on you.
Both types of girls are fine to date and marry, but with the cultural issues and everything else that goes into making a relationship work, you’ll find the most success by dating a girl in the 20% group.
I would not advise anyone under the age of 35 to date a girl in the 80% group unless you have perfect Thai, and even if you do it will still be hard as she won’t have been exposed to western culture.
As a rule of thumb, the worse a girl’s English, the less exposure she has had to western culture.
Your thoughts? As always leave a comment below so I can get your feedback on this article and what you would like next.
Good stuff Harvie, I have a wonderful Thai girlfriend, she has the patience of a saint. Language is sometimes a barrier because I am her first foreign boyfriend but we always work out our differences. I would be a much better person if I had her understanding and patience.
One area that can be difficult is Humor…there is a huge difference in western humor vs Thai understanding of a joke. She will say something that you or I would take seriously whereas she is only joking, this has opened up needless conversation had she been clear about make a joke of an issue. It will take time as we are only 2 months into our relationship but we are slowly getting there and I believe worth time and occasional moment of frustration.