Thai women using Thailand's international internet dating site ThaiLoveLines.com have picked Canada as their second favorite country to find an international life partner.
Research conducted by the Thai dating site, showed Canada was the second choice below Switzerland. This research also showed that 59% of Thai women using Thailand's No.1 internet dating site were seeking an international life partner or friends from outside Thailand. There is now a trend among eligible Thai singles towards using Thai internet dating sites to seek local Thai partners as more educated and younger Thai singles embrace internet dating as a spin off from social networking.
However, the same research indicated that Thai women seeking international relationships were more likely to be successful over a fixed period. 69% of Thai women, who reported a successful outcome to their Thai internet dating site experience, were Thai women seeking an international relationship. Many sought friends and contacts in Canada. 17% of Thai women using internet dating sites sought life partners in Canada.
Relationships developed on Thai internet dating sites between dating site members from Canada and Thai women are more likely to be based on a 21st century footing: 'For example Thai women who marry men from Canada are more likely to be educated, they are regarded in Canada as exceptionally competent and hardworking. It is certainly not the case that they are subordinate though perhaps they are very gracious,' says the author of a report on the growing ties between Canada and Thailand. Commercial links between Thailand and Canada have also seen a rise in the number of Canadian ex-pats moving to Thailand.
Many singles from Canada use Thai internet dating sites seeking short-term dates, friendships as well as long-term relationships. Another trend is the number of Canadian men and women who now regularly visit Thailand on backpacking trips. These Canadians (including Canadian women) use internet dating sites to make Thai friends while in Canada. The later use the same Thai dating sites during their stay in Thailand.
The other significant grouping is men from Canada seeking to retire to Thailand. These Canadians often use Thai internet dating sites after they have relocated to Thailand. In Roi Et province near Khon Khaen in Thailand, there is what is called a 'Swiss Village' where more than 100 Thai women have married foreign men, many of them retired.
Canadian culture is reflected in the impression that most men from Canada who use internet dating sites are not interested in buying in to the old mail order bride syndrome or dating Thai women who are interested in a relationship out of economic necessity. Indeed Canadian advocates are at the forefront of efforts to highlight the plight of poorer Thai women. One Canadian film maker produced a movie in 2005 highlighting Thailand's notorious nightlife in 2005 called 'Bangkok Girl'.
The emergence of international Thai dating sites has meant that Thai women with education and from respectable backgrounds are enthusiastic about meeting foreign singles online. 'Thai women today want a marriage that is truly satisfactory,' says Chakhrit Poolpoon, who works with Thai women in Khon Khaen where many Thai women now use the internet for social and educational progress. 'Thai women see internet dating sites and social network sites as a means of not only making friends on the internet but also developing their grasp of foreign culture and languages,' she says.
Many Thai women do, however, emigrate to Canada and in addition to younger Thai professionals, account for a growing but still relatively small Thai community concentrated on Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. As in the United States, Thai women have been particularly recognized for their hardworking ethic and competence. Indeed many of the associations active in Canada today fostering Thai Canadian ties have been founded by such Thai women. In Canada, the Thai Buddhist identity has brought such communities together as Canada is a particularly favorable environment for diverse religious and ethnic cultures.
The Canadian government has a very strict immigration code which is designed to protect Thai women from exploitation :
- It is very difficult to get a tourist visa for a Thai girlfriend or partner visiting Thailand. Remarkably, it is reputed to be even more difficult to obtain such a visa for a Thai wife or spouse.
- A sponsorship/permanent residency visa is possible only if it can be shown that a valid relationship or marriage exists over a period supported by evidence such as family photographs and letters of support.
- There are also some strict requirements placed on Canadian men sponsoring such applications but this does not include an income requirement. It does require, however, that they are Canadians of good standing and character.
The picture that is emerging is that the relationships between Thais and Canadians are becoming more and more one of equals with many Canadians opting to live in Thailand. The internet and Thai dating and social networking sites have opened up the world to Thais and Canadians interested in international relationships.