Not all foreigners dating or seeking love with Thai women in Thailand are the same. This is the key to online dating success for any Thai woman dating foreign men.
Internet dating allows Thai women meet online partners. By dating online, Thai women can now find successful love relationships in Thailand and all over the world. The scale of international internet dating is now huge in Thailand. The numbers of Thai women seeking love online continues to swell. It has become the subject of close examination and scrutiny. This is not just in foreign countries, but now also in Thailand. James Morris, a news commentator in Bangkok, has produced a guide for Thai women dating foreigners online.
'If a Thai woman understands a bit about the background that foreign men are coming from, she can then understand who these foreign men are and who among them might make a genuine dating or relationship partner,' says James.
Unique Thai culture makes Thai women vulnerable
Thailand is a unique country in the world and so is its culture. Up to very recently, it has been pretty closed off from the international world. The strength of family and community bonds in Thailand is very strong. So too is Thai tradition. Many Thai women at the bottom of society are less informed about life in foreign countries. 'The strength of Thai society and the cohesive culture is, ironically, what is driving so many Thai women to seek a foreign love partner or a life abroad but it also means that they may be vulnerable and confused. This is particularly true when dealing with foreign men from different western countries online,' says Morris. 'There are more and more foreign men online. Finding the right one is the key point here.'
8 types of foreigners seeking Thai Love
Thai women should be aware that there are literally millions of men from foreign countries with different cultures and backgrounds who think of finding a Thai wife, life partner or girlfriend. Mr. Morris has identified 8 different types of foreign men interested in dating Thai women. These foreign men visit Thailand either searching for love, a long term relationship or for more casual relationships.
'The background to all of this is a growing breakdown of norms in the western world. Younger western men regularly now decamp to Thailand to let their hair down. At the same time, more middle aged men from broken relationships or no relationships at all, have heard that Thailand is the place to find an old fashioned girl, that's the story but behind it, there is the real cause.'
Foreigners: millions each year seek love in Thailand
One researcher estimates that 750,000 men arrive in Thailand each year from western countries privately seeking some sort of relationship with a Thai woman. Online through internet dating and social networking, the numbers dating Thai women is now in multiple millions.
'Thai women hear different stories about foreigners and marriage, some good but some bad also. In the last few years some questions have been raised on magazines and TV,' says Morris in Bangkok. 'I think the media in Thailand have developed a practical response to the phenomenon which really can't be faulted. Like the Thai government, they are focusing on Thai women who may be vulnerable or have already been exploited. You could say that the trend continues to grow but now it is being examined.'
In Thailand, Thai women think of dating foreigners
Thai women themselves hear conflicting reports about foreigners and online dating. Nim (38) is hairdresser in Bangkok who has lived in the UK with her teacher husband James.
She says that there has been a change: 'I hear many stories now about Thai women living foreign and some farang take care well no good,' she says. 'My husband has decided soon we will move to live in England, I stay there for six months in 2009 and the weather is cold but now it can be difficult for farang in Thailand. I am happy I meet and marry my husband, sure but now everyday in my shop there are some Thai women who say some farang coming to Thailand are no good.'
Her advice to Thai women is that they have to be 'strong' to think about relationships with a foreigner and particularly living in a foreign country. Her view is echoed by another Thai woman. Lena (36) lives in Rotterdam with her husband who works as a mechanical fitter. Coincidentally she is also a hairdresser. They have one son. 'The bad thing to say about Holland is the weather. It can be so cold and the people more serious than Thai people. You work hard. I say that Thai woman must think long and know the right man. But it is good,' she adds optimistically.
'I think Thai women should be prepared and know everything already about this, this is a very big call or moment in life,' says Lena who is married to her Dutch husband Theo living in Rotterdam.
Foreigners more interested in meeting a Thai woman
Online surveys show there are growing numbers of men in western countries who express an interest in meeting a Thai woman or have said it is something they have considered in the previous 12 months. In Western countries this figure is a staggering 4.35% of single men. 'My own figures suggest that at any one time there are 10,000,000 western men out there who are looking at this. Of course a smaller number go online and take steps to meet a woman in Thailand but it appears the trend will continue. Online dating has now become a leisure activity in itself for Thai women and foreign men,' says names Morris.
These foreigners include men from all western countries in Europe, Scandinavia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. One must also include a significant number expats working all over the world. Many ex patriate men tend to be interested in meeting Thai women and dating Thai women online.
Mixed reports about dating foreigners in Thailand
As Thailand grasps the internet age and society in Thailand itself faces massive changes, there have emerged conflicting reports about finding love with foreigners or online dating with western men. On the one hand, there is the love story of the young Thai woman from northern Thailand who became the equivalent of a European Princess overnight by marrying Loel Guinness, the Guinness heir. Mrs Guinness has been featured on Thai TV and magazines talking about her luxurious life in France. Such coverage contrasts sharply however with stories of Thai women being abandoned in foreign countries or the escapades of drunken western men in Thailand's sex resorts such as Phuket or Pattaya. 'Many Thai women are a little confused and there are some Thai women that have formed support groups to advice Thai women about online dating with foreigners.'
However the scale and extent of the phenomenon now means that many extended families or communities now know of relationships between foreigners and Thai women. Unlike in foreign countries, where negative reports of such relationships make the headlines as they do also in Thailand, most Thai people know the reality and success of such relationships. However it must be pointed out that Thai society still has an equivocal attitude towards foreigner Thai relationships. This has developed from an attitude of outright social stigma when the trend first commenced. This attitude was highlighted when a Thai MP recently urged, tongue in cheek, poorer Thai women to marry foreigners because they would have a better lifestyle.
Foreign men reacting to societal changes
It is becoming clear in western countries that certain groups of men are changing attitudes and abandoning traditional marriage routes. This has become sharply apparent in the last few years. Studies in foreign countries show younger men have shown a willingness to look at alternatives. The growth of foreign men arriving in Thailand seeking love, marriage or short term relationships is a direct result of a social revolution in Western countries. 'You can say it began first with a relaxation of traditional values but now it is being driven by social policy in western countries. Some but certainly not all admit that such changes has put men at a disadvantage. It's a social revolution and some foreign men are saying No, they don't want in to that or others are saying we want out.'
What is the social revolution in western Countries?
It is a social revolution that began in western countries in the 1960's and 1970's involving legalisation which has encouraged western women to be more active in the workplace and included extensive provisions which attempt to empower western women regarding working conditions, roles and ownership of family homes, rights to children. Such policies are now being extended into nearly every aspect of society. This is particularly true in Scandinavian countries. 'The role of men in western societies has been changed substantially and many men with traditional attitudes find themselves challenged, the change that is happening is as much a cultural thing as legal but it is very real and the changes in society are profound,' says James Morris.
'These laws in some respects are what make western men and western society so attractive to Thai women in the first place but the practical application of them has led to massive divorce rates and real hardship for western men involved in failed relationships. This has fostered reluctance among men with less secure incomes and livelihoods to marry or settle down.'
New social outlook in foreign countries
Media in western countries have become quite aggressive in selling the new social perspective which emphasises the rights of women. This has created a culture where divorce rates have spiked. Consequently many western men, particular those with less secure incomes and lower education levels, are opting out of traditional marriage and even long term relationships.
Pew Research in America has shown a doubling of the number of men who have never married over forty years. This has increased from 15% to 28% from 1960 to 2011. This comes in spite of the fact that the same research shows adults leaving High School all express an identical desire to find a marriage partner over the same period. 'It appears that this 14% who are taking a rain check on marriage are discouraged or put off, it is also interesting to see that these people come from sections of the populations that are less educated and with less secure occupations. Things have altered so much that many younger men are not even dating in the US anymore. They are dating Thai woman in Thailand online.'
It is clear from the emerging trends that significant numbers of younger western men are opting for dating foreign women and in particular Thai women as marriage partners. It would be wrong to think of these men as coming directly from the less educated and lower income pool identified by researcher as opting out of marriage. But this is one group. Foreigners just dating Thai women online are foreign men who are dealing with challenges in finding love or marriage at home. These men come from all sections of society and all levels of income. One researcher describes these men as 'independent minded'.
Internet spurring growth of Thai foreigner marriages
The arrival of the internet, the comparative wealth of western men and a growing number of international flight route and services has opened up prospects for western men seeking an alternative.
'Western men began looking at Thailand in the 1970's after the era of US Vietnam war brides began. This also coincided with the explosion of sex for sale to foreigners in Thailand. But it is the internet that has turned the trend into something phenomenal. It is something that is happening at both sides of the world, Thai women and western men simultaneously using the internet,' says Morris.
Social revolution driving Foreigners dating Thai women
Experts attribute the growth in western men seeking love or marriage in Thailand to this ongoing social revolution in western countries. It is certainly the case with men from broken relationships. This can be seen quite clearly. But what is really surprising commentators is the younger wave of men from advanced countries such as Sweden, Finland and Norway who are opting for Thai Brides. 'You can pretty well say that the more progressive, liberal or feminist the country is then the more we see men from that country arriving in Thailand.' But what are these foreigners looking for in Thailand or with Thai women? 'I think they feel that the relationship is more personal, although it is still subject to the same laws if they live in a western country, they value the traditional attitudes of Thai women,' says Morris.
Different types of Western men seek love in Thailand
The single most important thing for Thai women to understand about dating foreigners is that like all people, all foreigners are different. Firstly, each nationality has a different culture although it can be said that western societies have developed a particular social model which is why we have seen such large numbers of western men showing an interest in Thailand and meeting Thai women for love.
8 types of Farang or Western men.
Morris has put forward eight different types of western men or farang visiting Thailand seeking Thai women as love partners. 'This is pretty rudimentary and should be used in conjunction with research in to different countries but I think these categories cover 90% of foreign men seeking relationships in Thailand:
Wealthy men of means - retired/semi retired
Many of the wealthy foreign men in this group have had past relationships at home in their own country. It may also be the case that they have had relationships with Thai women or women from foreign countries before. Often they are seeking a long term girlfriend in Thailand.
However many of these men may be coming from failed relationships. Often the failed relationships are as a result of a personal emphasis on taking care of careers in their home country. It can also be the case that some men in this category are looking for their first relationship.
'Many of the men in this group can be the dream come true for a Thai woman but of course, successful men can often be very particular or demanding,' says James Morris. 'It is not always the case but many of the men in this category look for very attractive women who are somewhat younger.'
Young man with prospects seeking relationship
'Of all the categories, this is the most intriguing,' says Morris. Many men in this group are skilled, qualified and are looking for modern, equal relationships with equally qualified Thai women. 'I have seen many UK and Canadian men in this category as well as young men from Sweden and the Scandinavian countries.'
Morris points out that a Thai women's educational and family background are key attributes for this category of men. 'This is the group the mystifies the doubters and blows apart the stereotypes out there in western countries, simply put these are men, often business men in their own right who know a Thai woman is a pretty good bet as marriage partner.'
Middle aged divorced or relationships breakdown
Many foreigners dating in Thailand whether online or in person fit into this category. These foreigners are usually aged forty years or over. It is not uncommon for men in this group to opt to live in Thailand or 'make a clean break' after a failed relationship but many of the men in this category have property or savings.
'The key question for a Thai woman is why has this man's relationships failed? It could be that the man has some problem but it is often the case that changes in western society and social expectations have put him on the market. In many cases, men in this grouping have families already after lifelong relationships that have been overtaken by a changing society and attitudes among women even middle aged women.'
'I think many men in this category have more insecure incomes although it may be that they have savings.' Alternatively men in this group have wives or girlfriends in Thailand which becomes a second home to visit.
In Thailand they often meet divorced Thai women or women who have also had part relationships. In some cases these men have a livelihood that is less secure or some may even be small business people but this group also includes men working in secure jobs in foreign countries. 'Because of their background, men in this background can often be vulnerable or easily taken advantage of,' says Mr. Morris.
Low skill/Low earning worker
These are men working in trades, semi skilled and skilled who certainly have less job security and limited success at finding a marriage partner in western societies.
'Social legislation and new expectations among western women have made marriage or even now long term relationships a challenging proposition for some men and also of course there may be men with limited social skills or challenging working situations. For example a taxi driver. Some are younger with a careful plan to find a Thai life partner or Thai wife that will provide the basis for a good family life while others from this groups may be older with savings and self employed,' says Mr Morris.
Research under taken by Swedish universities in Sweden and a post graduate student identify relationships between men in this category and this category as very successful. As Alison Dewar a researcher in the UK puts it 'many of these younger couples keep low profile and there is us against the world mentality.'
Many of the Thai women that move to European and countries are linked to relationships with men in this category. It is thought that the old fashioned, traditional values of Thai women are key reasons for these men opting to marry Thai women.
'When you think of it, when they marry a Thai woman and bring her to a foreign country, she has just the same rights as any western women but it's the nature of the relationship and the values of Thai women that make the difference.'
Some commentator's point that Thai society is also changing along western lines and that Thai marriage rights and the divorce provisions which are not so different to Western countries. However it is thought that Thailand's patriarchal society is less developed along western lines. It still retains old fashioned values. 'Many of the young Thai women who meet men in this category come from similar although less privileged backgrounds in Thailand but my bet is that values in Thailand mirror western values in thirty years.'
Men seeking sex holidays in Thailand
Many younger foreigners visit Thailand each year for holidays in the sun and also frankly in pursuit of the infamous Thai sex trade. Many of these younger foreigners extend their activities by communicating with Thai women online from foreign countries.
This is true for middle aged and older men also. It should be pointed out that many men and women visit Thailand for its outstanding scenery, culture and fantastic tourist facilities including superb golf courses. However a large number of male holiday makers either directly or indirectly engage with the Thai sex industry in all its forms. This is impossible to deny.
Because sex and prostitution in Thailand is more casual, seen as open and because of the nature of Thai women working in it, many men commence casual but ongoing relationships with these Thai women often referred to as 'bar girls'.
Many of these relationships are successful, many also are not and some lead to horror stories both in Thailand and foreign countries involving fraud, emotional blackmail and even murder. It is these failed relationships and horror stories that have given doubt or pause for thought to men in foreign countries and also for Thai women from more respectable backgrounds who do not want to be associated with such activities. For instance it leads to a perception among certain classes of foreign/western men that Thai women are less moral or more likely to be prostitutes. This is not true at all. However it is not uncommon for some foreigners in this category to be less than respectful to Thai women even online.
Retired men on Limited means
The phenomenon that is internet dating, international flights and growing numbers of foreign men holidaying in Thailand has caused many older foreigners, who are retired, to consider a new life in Thailand itself or with a Thai woman. Many older foreigners begin to explore this idea online. Some extend it eventually to a holiday or stay in Thailand while others extend it to a relationship in Thailand or even a new life in Thailand.
Research in areas of North eastern Thailand show that divorce rates involving Thai women living with retired older men surged in 2010 and research from the UK shows that divorce or relationships breakdown is more likely in relationship involving older foreign men and Thai women. However the divorce rate for such relationships at 35% is still lower than the overall divorce rate in the UK at 50%.
It goes without saying that relationships that involve older men with comparatively younger Thai women face challenges linked to the scale of the age difference. It is also seen that such relationships may have communications problems. 'Older men can be vulnerable in such relationships but if the woman is a younger Thai woman from a poor northern background, then she may be vulnerable living in a foreign country,' says James Morris. 'The key thing is understanding and controlling of expectations on both sides. There are many wonderful stories of older men living in Thailand with younger Thai wives and also in foreign countries. There are even reports of older foreign men forming relationships with older Thai women.'
Expatriate western men seeking Thai Love
A survey in 2012 showed that quite a large segment of foreigners seeking love in Thailand were expats living in a third country. It is estimated that this group accounts for 4% of all men joining international Thai dating sites. Many are middle aged or elderly foreigners with well paid jobs. 'Thailand has become a country of choice for expats who don't have any ties to their native countries and who are working in professions such as engineering, shipping and oil.' It is thought that many opt to create a home base in Thailand while others use it as a holiday destination of choices during contract periods.
Scammers and security threats
International dating sites are targets for unscrupulous individuals who have a range of scams which are designed to lure Thai women into a position of trust with the aim of convincing them to send money.
'The proportion of online members on a dating site who may be suspicious is probably lower than 1% but one contact is enough for an unsuspecting member,' says Bill Mc Mahon of ThaiLoveLines security. It should be pointed that once a user is aware and educated about this threat, then it poses no danger.
'We now publish more and more information about the threat, once a user knows about this, then they can relax, the most damaging thing these people do as well as causing financial loss, is create a climate of suspicion or mistrust. Also one key thing, never ever, send money to anyone you have met online and do not consider any relationship as established until you have met and know that person in the real world. The purpose of dating sites is to meet people and create friendship; it is not for the conduct of relationships per se.'
Thai women take stock of dating foreigners
Nim (38) whose English husband James is a teacher in Bangkok is now considering a return to the United Kingdom to live with her husband. She says that even as more and more Thai women seek relationships with foreign men that there has been a change.
'Thai woman should know that it's not just dream come true and happy ever after like my husband because he is gentleman and has education, he wants me to try to get education when we live in England but this is difficult too. But I think a Thai woman is strong and just want to find better life, they will do.'