An Australian searching for a Thai Bride met the Thai woman of his dreams but could just as well have cancelled his internet dating account after 72 hours.
Alan Caulder from New South Wales now says he is 'shudders' when he thinks that might not have meant the women of his dreams in Thailand. 'I had mixed signals, some of my mates put me off it and when I initially went online, I met the wrong sort of women,' says.
It is a common story. Every day many men do give up on an internet dating project while other go on to find new relationships. 'Finding love in Thailand particularly through internet dating is a great option for many people as the growing numbers show but some people are not ready for the challenges involved,' says James Morris, an internet blogger who works in Thailand. Many of these challenges arise before finding love in Thailand while there are also just as many challenges after a relationship has been established.
The figures show a growing number of men from western countries meeting, forming relationships and marrying Thai women. Figures from 2012 indicate that the growth trend continues upward. A research project into Thai women entering Sweden as relationship partners or Thai brides shows not only growth in the levels of Swedish men seeking love in Thailand but a surge in the rate of growth!
This research showed that the rate of growth from 2004 to 2008 went from 17% to 37%. Some commentators, while expected the trend to taper off, have also noticed an interesting trend. 'The demand in western countries coming from men looking to find life partners or relationships in Thailand is growing and the average age is declining,' says Mr. Morris. 'I don't think this is limited to Thailand, I think younger people from all over the world are looking outward for relationship partners.'
In Thailand mean more women seek foreign love
It has also emerged that while Thailand is experiencing a period of economic growth and the economic opportunities for poorer Thai woman are growing, that societal changes mean that more educated and middle class Thai women are seeking foreign love partners. 'While Thailand's population is getting older and economic prospects have lifted dramatically, there has been an increase in the numbers of Thai women without marriage or love partners. What has happened is that these Thai women are a bit older, more educated and economically better off.' A recent survey by one of Thailand's leading banks predicts a surge in Thai women without love partners up 2020 but also highlights a surge in the economic prospects of Thai women who are the vanguard of economic progress in Thailand. The survey predicts that by 2020 there could be 5-6 million Thai women who may be interested in finding love from foreign countries. 'The interesting thing about the trends in Thailand is that more of these Thai women are educated and have their own economic means,' says Mr. Morris.
Despite these changes, the majority of Thai women seeking love abroad are from economically deprived areas such as Isaan in the North of Thailand but the proportion of women in this category is decreasing. 'Poverty in Thailand is declining and more Thai people are moving into the middle class. However the progress is slow and the growing acceptability of foreign relationships in Thailand means more Thai girls or Thai women are seeking foreign men.'
Thai Brides concept waning due to the internet
'They call them 'Thai Brides' based on the popular mythology of the Thai Bride or mail order brides. Today, in modern Thailand, while there are some old fashioned Thai Bride agencies, the internet and development of the country have allowed Thai women to find international partners online. The growth in the phenomenon has sparked growing media interest. Some media coverage has attempted to break free from the Thai Bride stereo type while others attempt to reinforce it. In some foreign countries there are strong communities of Thai women asserting themselves while in other countries, notably the UK, relationship partners steer a low profile path. The signals are confusing.
Good idea for a western man to seek a Thai Bride?
Alan first decided to explore a relationship in Thailand after meeting some friends who had been on a beer, sex and sunshine holiday to Pattaya. 'It was three months after my divorce and my friends were trying to cheer me up telling me about all the beautiful Thai girls, but when I discussed it with other friends they were more cautious. I was told that Thai girls always want to go home to their own country and are only interested in money but I was so lonely I said I'd give a go even if it only made a holiday to cheer me up. After this Alex joined an internet dating site and soon was chatting with Thai women with mixed success. 'I was excited at first but then I met women looking for money and also I began to feel guilty when I heard some of the stories, it was all a bit too much,' he says.
But Alan persevered, gradually finding his way through many chat partners and contacts until he found the right Thai woman. 'I kept saying to myself, it beats getting pissed and feeling sorry for myself and that was very true.' Alan is referring to a period of depression he experienced after the collapse of his relationship in Australia when he turned to drinking alcohol on a regular basis. 'I found myself going to a local venue just for company but also just to forget about the hurt I felt,' he says.
Alan's experience is common and this is why there are growing numbers of happy relationships all over the world between Thai women and foreign men including growing and maturing communities in countries as far afield as Australia or Sweden. However it is also true to say that there are negative stories indeed horror stories.
The growth of the phenomenon itself proves that there are more good than bad outcomes. However it is good advice for any western man before to setting off to find a Thai Bride, life partner or girlfriend to do some homework, examine his thoughts and be prepared for the pitfalls.
How Nightmares develop for foreign men
It would be a mistake for any western man to buy into the stereotype of the Thai Bride portrayed in western media and American TV shows. A mistake both for the foreign men or the Thai women involved. It is also a mistake to set off for Thailand without have knowledge of the pitfalls.
Thailand is renowned for its infamous sex industry which is portrayed in Western media as the biggest in the world (it is not). There is undoubtedly a massive Thai sex industry and many western visitors to Thailand encounter it on visits to the country. Prostitution in Thailand has a different ethos than it does in western countries. Although only a minority of Thai women are involved and it is stigmitised, it is seen by very poor Thai women was an acceptable way of providing for an extended family. The exotic atmosphere in Thailand and the beauty and openness of many Thai bar girls causes many foreign visitors to form relationships often developing into long term relationships or even marriage. It is from this pool that many but not all of the failed relationships between western men and Thai women emerge.
'It is not unknown for rich western men to set up bar girls in business or purchase houses or build on land owned by the family of the Thai bar girl,' says james Morris. There are many nightmare stories such as:
- The UK business men who built apartments in Pattaya on land owned in his Thai bride's name. He still lives in Thailand but is working in a rice field.
- The UK man whose Thai bride used his money to pay a hit man to murder him.
- The UK man who ended up divorced in court after assaulting his Thai bride because she had lost all confidence and excitement about the relationship.
- The Australian living in Pattaya who came home from golf one day to find the locks on his house change and his Thai bride told him to leave her house; she didn't want him there anymore.
In all these horror stories, the western man may well have been equally responsible for the breakdown of the relationship. But many involve Thai women who have married purely for economic motive and who have a background in the Thai sex industry.
While there are no specific data to show the success of relationships between Thai women and western men, a good indicator is the divorce rate on marriages involving foreigners registered in Bangkok's central district. It suggests that the divorce rate may be as low as 15% compared to western average of 50%.
This figure also compares well with the overall Thai divorce rate which has now approached 30%. However in some provinces in Thailand's Isaan region or north east of the country there is anecdotal evidence of a spike in divorces among Thai farang (foreign) relationships were the couple is residing in Thailand.
Thai Foreigner marriages more successful
We have discussed the horror stories. It is important not to buy into stereotypes but there are patterns that emerge in relationships between Thai women and western men. Here are some key tips for finding a Thai Bride:
- Meet the family of your prospective Thai bride or partner. Get to know them preferably over an extended period.
- Learn about Thai culture even some rudimentary aspects. Be aware that the economics and practicalities of a marriage in Thailand are very important. Try to put aside modern western culture and be open minded.
- Realise that there are different types and a classes of Thai women and try to understand this.
- Be honest about your dating profile. Be sure that you are ready to accept the responsibility of a relationship including the financial commitments and burdens required. Have a clear plan about how you would like to live with your future Thai bride including lifestyle, location and economic prospects.
- Spend time with your prospective Thai bride partner like dating any woman. Be sure that you are happy in her company. Try to understand her character and qualities. Don't be surprised that she may expect you to buy things for her or for you to show appreciation.
There are thousands of stories of successful and happy relationships between Thai women and western men including:
- The Thai bride in the USA who now has a large business and helps support her husband as she has become the owner of his business.
- The Australian professional who has travelled the world with his Thai bride who is also a professional.
- The Thai bride from Udon Thani who works in Germany and supports her invalided German husband.
Plan for finding a Thai Bride
Here is a quick guide on how you might successfully go about this:
- Mentally reject that Thai Bride stereotype and any idea that the woman, bride or life partner you are seeking will fit that stereotype. Otherwise you are in danger of a failed relationship. In order to assist with this also find time to research the phenomenon of Thai women seeking foreign partners. Try to establish the sort of Thai woman or Thai bride you ideally would like to meet.
- Join an Internet dating site. Find out how to use all aspects of the internet dating site. Use it for a period of 1 month to 6 months to meet as many Thai women as possible.
- Visit Thailand after 2 - 6 months for a period of not less than 20 days. You should be able to meet 5- 6 different prospective partners from the website at this point or perhaps you may only meet one.
- Find one Thai women and spend 5- 6 days with her or her family.
- Only if you are sure that there is a basis for a relationship should you revisit Thailand or extend the relationship. You may need to repeat the process another year or even over a number of years but many western men find a life partner or Thai bride within 2 years.
- Be prepared for the mental pressure of dating a prospective partner on the other side of the world and from a different culture. Part of the test of any new relationship is resolving this challenge together. This includes visa and lifestyle issues.
Three western guys who found love in Thailand online
Jack is from Cardiff in Wales.
'I spent two months on the site. Initially I was excited at all those beautiful women. After that I used it once or twice every week. This one night I was having a chat with this really genuine girl from a place named Phitsanulok. No idea at all where it was. A few nights chatting with her I found I had some new friends in Udon Thani, Korat and Bangkok. It was about February 2009. I took off for Thailand in June that year on my summer holidays. I did only meet three or four girls on my two weeks out there. This one' name was Nit from Nong Khai who just impressed me so much. I arrived back in August for another week and we got married in a Buddhist ceremony. Before Christmas that I year I was back again. I was very lucky to be able to get her a visa and now she's here with me in the UK. Nit has brought so many blessings into my life.'
Alan from Newcastle in New South Wales Australia
'I was divorced for two years when I decided test the internet site. At first I was a bit concerned as a few of the women I meet online seemed to be really more interested in how much money I had and what job I had. I came across a few time wasters, girls who were just in it for flirting and then I met some nice women but I didn't know the wood from the tress. It can be very confusing. I even found or felt that when I had many Thai women interested I me that it was upsetting. Why should they be interested so interested in me? I thought it wasn't fair, I felt guilty. I found it a bit hard to take and even thought about quitting. Then I read more about it and deciding to take control. I just wound up one night with this lovely lady who I met online every night. It was something I would laugh at if a friend told me. When I visited her in Thailand, she was even more wonderful. She was not demanding, had her own house and a grown family. I returned for a longer holiday and we were married. Now we live between Thailand and Australia but mostly in Australia. I often shudder when I think that I might have quit and not met Nida who is now my best friend in life. I have had relationships with two Australian women but this relationship is simply very happy. I think the difference in backgrounds makes it better, a richer experience. Now I have peace, didn't know what that was before.'
These two stories show come lessons:
- Don't be put off by people online who appear to be insincere, untruthful and oppressive. Take control of the internet dating exercise. Remember also that there are all sorts of personalities and people looking for different things.
- Don't prejudge anyone online and have faith in a positive outcome. However, always be sensible and careful online. Never accept abuse or offensive communications which should also be reported. Courtesy and security is a key requirement.
- Plan trips to Thailand and don't underestimate the time involved in meeting people.
Changing times for Thai women and foreign men
These are changing times in developed countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Australia where traditional society is breaking down but there are similarly movements in developing countries and particularly Thailand.
In Thailand the advent of the internet and economic development now offer more opportunities to Thai women from all backgrounds and there is an enthusiasm for western culture. Over 55% of places in Thai universities are now held by young Thai women and there are more people in Thailand living in nontraditional family households. 'It's as if there is a readiness in Thailand to embrace western culture with all its highs and lows,' says James Morris.
The result is the explosion in Thai foreigner relationships. Finding a Thai bride today is more about exploring new cultures and opening up to a world of new relationships and challenges. Perhaps this is why it is becoming more appealing to younger men from western countries.