International dating sites in Thailand offer Thai women an opportunity to discover the world outside Thailand and make contact with foreigners.
Latest figures show that one in ten Thai women is using an International Thai dating site online. 'As well as social networking and apps, many Thai women have individual dating or social network sites where they go to make friends with international friends' says Carla Boonkong a magazine journalist based in Bangkok.
Internet connection rates in Thailand
Thailand, like other Asian countries, is connecting rapidly to the internet. It is estimated that the connection rate for Thai people will now increase dramatically beyond a predicted figure of 35% in 2013. This is due to the phenomenal sales on tablet PCs in Thailand. 'In 2013 alone it is predicted that sales will exceed 6 million units. Instead of going to internet cafes, many young Thais particularly women are buying cheap tablets which can cost as little as 2,000 baht,' says M/s Boonkong. Research shows that, in Thailand, Thai women are leading drivers in internet use in the country. One of the reasons for this is the growing number of Thai women who have become interested in international dating. 'It's not just that some Thai women are looking for a ticket to a better life and want to meet rich foreigners, this is something far broader than that.'
Thai women living in a closed culture
Most westerners hear about Thailand's infamous reputation as a sex for sale centre and prostitution in Thailand. However what is not appreciated by most westerners is that Thailand has a very live, active but old fashioned culture which has, up to now, restricted the activities of Thai women. 'People talk about Thai culture and think they are just paying lip service bit it is a very real influence for the majority of Thai women. It is not something invented by intellectuals is what I am saying', sys M/s Boonkong. One of the results of this is that many marginalized women in Thailand either through societal influences or economic ones are turning to the internet for help. 'The internet is a window of opportunity for a growing number of Thai women and international Thai dating sites are a big part of this', says Ms Boonkong.
International dating sites in Thailand
Thai women have led the race in the use of the internet to find love online. Thai dating sites have emerged that offer Thai singles a range of communication tools such as chat, e-mail and matching to meet friends and develop relationships. The leading Thai dating sites are also international in character such has been the interest from western men in meeting Thai women. 'It's a very interesting and fascinating coincidence or phenomenon, you have two marginalized groups of people coming on the one hand from Thailand and predominantly women and on the other hand males from western countries who are looking for an opportunity to find love, it's quite wonderful if you think about it that way. In other ways it can be fraught with danger.'
Relationships on International Thai dating sites
The nature and scope of dating and social networking on international dating sites in Thailand as in other Asian countries is large. Ranging from pen pal relationships to online daily chat and friendship to long term relationships and marriage, it is very dynamic.
'There are now more men in western countries that enjoy a lifestyle which allows them to travel in spite of the downturn economically. Older men who have reached retirement and are living on decent pensions are joined on flights to Thailand by middle aged men working in occupations in the US that allow them to take time off and still maintain good incomes. Many choose to spend their time and spare cash in Thailand. It goes a lot further,' says James Morris an internet commentator on the subject in Bangkok.
The nature of relationships on international Thai dating sites includes:
- Pen pal relationships: believe it or not but they still exist. People on both sides of the world that now use e-mail and chat to explore each other's cultures.
- Friendship and online chat: Many retirees in the UK, USA and Europe enjoy exchanging stories and keeping up to date with Thai singles in Thailand. Sometimes this can include an annual visit to Thailand and in exceptional circumstances a return visit from Thailand to the foreign country.
- Short term relationships: foreigners staying in Thailand or cities such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Pattaya want to meet Thai singles for short romantic encounters or an evening out. Many expats living and working in Thailand find themselves away from family and friends at home. International Thai dating is a way to open up the social life.
- Long term relationships: many retirees to Thailand and increasingly middle aged foreigners come to Thailand seeking life partners either to live with in Thailand or abroad.
- Marriage: Recent figures show that up to 4% of available or single men in western countries have considered or are considering Thai dating as the route to go to find a marriage or relationship partner. The growing number of Thai foreigner marriages and their success rate testify to this. In addition to being a means to begin a search for a marriage, international Thai dating offers single men who are often offering suffering from the breakdown of a previous relationship, a way to socialize online and find friendship.
Key components of International Thai Dating
International Thai dating sites are dating and social networking sites that are specifically oriented towards Thai singles finding love and relationships partners. This also includes meeting friends and partners from foreign countries. 'It's curious that we have sites like Facebook and Skype that work with sites like ThaiLoveLines but international Thai dating is a specific requirement', says Carla Boonkong. 'I advice any Thai woman to sign up for the dating site and play it according to the rules.'
International dating sites have the following components depending on the dating site itself:
- Account registration and detailed profile creation
- Email centres
- Premium Dating levels
- Instant Chat or IM for one to one Chat
- Matching systems
- Photo galleries
- List systems such as favorites
- Flirts and standard messaging
- Profile search and presentation
ThaiLovelines - a mission to fight loneliness
ThaiLoveLines is Thailand's No.1 international dating site. Based in Muang Thong Thani just outside Bangkok, the site has over 250,000 members and offers an expanded range of innovative dating services to Thai singles and people searching for love and friendship all over the world. Launched by two Irish men in 2007 and operated by a Thai company (AtlanticThai Internet Co. Ltd), the site continues to grow and expand its services. It now employs 15 people in a range of functions. 'We see international Thai dating is constantly evolving as we respond to users,' says Pranom Inthakhenee PR Manager for ThaiLoveLines.com.
Premium Thai Dating and Security
A key concern that has emerged in relation to all international dating sites including those centred in Thailand is security. 'International dating sites are targeted by sophisticated scamming operations often originating in Africa but increasingly from other parts of the world. This has become a big criminal racket. Most online users of international Thai dating sites from western countries have become aware and therefore immune to the threat. However in Thailand, these operators are now targeting Thai women who through inexperience or because of their cultural upbringing, are often unaware of the dangers,' says James Holland from Bangkok.
There are two kinds of International dating sites in Thailand, paid for or Premium dating sites and Free dating sites. 'Our site is Thailand's No 1 dating site and we are a premium service,' says Pranom Inthakhenee from ThaiLoveLines. 'This offers many benefits to users in Thailand and from countries all over the world. One of these is enhanced security through better screening and of course more facilities and resources offering a more comprehensive service.'
New Security systems for Thailand's No. 1 Dating site
ThaiLoveLines has recently upgraded its security programme which already includes a Report Abuse button on online pages and a separate button on the dating site's new Thai Chat Lines system. As well as a live security officer at all times the site now has an e-mail detection system, regular online IP sweeps and a security agitation system which switches on one genuine profile at certain times and tracks responses and interactions. In addition to this, as a premium dating site, ThaiLoveLines is screening payments in order to identify suspect accounts. 'Our account rejection rate is has increased since 2006 from 7.5% to over 12% today,' says Pranom Inthakhenee. 'This does not mean we are rejecting genuine users although we will reject accounts that are incomplete and not serious in addition to accounts which are deemed suspect. While security is a big issue for our dating site, we like to let people know that if they know about the problem, there is nothing to worry about.'
Changing face of International Dating
As the internet develops it is constantly evolving. So too with international Thai dating. It is now estimated that 45% of online dating in Thailand is taking place on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. This has meant more one to one communication and more live communication online. 'Our dating process is very much a real time one now,' says Pranom Inthakhenee of ThaiLovelines. The result of this is not only more connectivity but also an opening up of Thai culture. 'It's personal one to one communication between users on international dating sites from all over the world. The result is that the Thai singles in Thailand in particular the Thai women are coming to know more now about things in western countries. This is has an impact on Thai society and not only for the growing numbers of Thai woman who find relationships in different parts of the world,' says Carla Boonkong.