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Thai women in Thailand belong to a class conscious society

Tuesday 3rd July 2012 3:13pm

Different types of Thai women revealed as the key to successful dating in Thailand

All Thai women are not the same. One commentator now claims that there are five different categories and this might explain the conflict in dating reports from Western men who have had relationships with Thai women.

As more and more foreign men begin to date Thai women, the internet is full of conflicting stories from Thai girl friend horror tales to reports of marriage bliss and successful life partnerships? The key is to understand these five different categories of Thai women within Thai society.

Westerners tend to generalize when discussing Thai women, and many have bad dating experiences with Thai women without understanding why. On the other hand an overwhelming majority of the growing number of relationships between foreigners and Thai women are quietly successful. A survey by ThaiLoveLines in 2011 showed that 31% of foreign men seeking a relationship with a Thai woman had decided on join a Thai dating site after observing a successful relationship between a friend and a Thai woman.

It goes without saying that such a description could be made of women in any other society. We must always be cautious about stereotyping. Even in western countries, there are still important class distinctions although modern culture tends to downplay or ignore them. Perhaps this is one of the factors driving the decline in successful long term relationships in western countries and the decline in marriage. It also should be remembered that western men also have different social backgrounds. The five groups of Thai women are defined here in order to help explain the different sort of relationships that can develop, followed by a discussion of the Thai class system which few foreign men, who date Thai women, are aware of.

There is a tendency for westerners to generalise when discussing Thai women, and to regard them as being fundamentally similar over the entire country. This is a mistake. Just as women differ in their ethnic origins, religion and social standing in countries such as the USA, UK, Australia and Germany, they also do so in Thailand.

In reporting the dating experiences of western men with Thai women, it has been common to focus on the bad and disregard the good. Nobody can deny that most reporting is connected with the bargirls of Bangkok and Phuket, and of the way that some foreign men with Thai wives, Thai girlfriends or Thai Life partners find themselves vulnerable when relationships break down. Reporting focuses on preconceptions and bad news because they are more readable. We have seen a pattern in every foreign country in particular the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands where successful relationships between Thai women and foreign men are more likely to be kept below the radar because the couples feel their relationships are better kept private.

This is the other side of dating Thai women, the good side, which few report. Research consistently shows that marriages between foreign men and Thai women are more likely to be successful than normal marriages in western countries. In situations where relationships between Thai women and foreign men fail it is more likely that westerners simply made the mistake of choosing the wrong sort of woman, just as they may do in the seedier areas of Hamburg, Amsterdam and London. Again we must be careful about the typecasting of Thai women even bar girls. The proportion of bargirls and sex workers is relatively low in comparison to the general Thai female population. Yes, many are looking for western men to save them from poverty, but what's wrong with that?

Recently a Thai internet blogger revealed five different types of Thai women, and we must note that the success or otherwise of marriage depends both on the type of woman and the type of the man - there are two people involved in a life or marriage partnership, and Thai women can also make a bad choice.

Internet commentator defines five groups of Thai women

A well know Thai commentator has defined five different groups of Thai women to help an educated middle class man find the ideal Thai wife or life partner. It has to be stressed that dating Thai women is no different to dating women from any other country. Yes, they may conform to the particular social customs of their own country, but they are fundamentally seeking what any woman anywhere is seeking: a loving husband who will look after her and keep her safe.

The preconceptions that most westerners have of Thai women can make it difficult for these men to make the right decision when choosing a Thai wife, Thai girlfriend or life partner. Thai women have been classified into five distinct categories:

Category 1: Bargirl in the red light district

The average Thai bargirl stands way down on the social ladder, and while she might look very beautiful, the average Thai man would never consider marriage to her. Such Thai women are limited in conversation and there will be a huge cultural gap between her and the average western man. Many such Thai women will already have a boyfriend or partner, perhaps introduced as a 'brother' or 'cousin'.

It is unlikely that she will adapt well to western culture - if you married such a Thai woman it is more likely that you would pay to enable her family to improve their own standing in their village. Such relationships often end in tears, with the man generally well out of pocket. Once they have extracted as much cash as possible, they tend to return to their boyfriends and seek out the next easy touch.

There are exceptions, but keep in mind that such marriages are generally not easy, and while western men believe they are a knight in shining armor saving the Thai woman from a life of servitude, it is likely she that is in the driving seat, ready to leave when the time is right.

Category 2: The average low-paid Thai woman

These Thai women are further up the social ladder and might even have had some further education. Although not regarded with as much disdain as the bargirls, the average foreign man from a developed country might still be regard such a marriage as less than equal. Here is a personal challenge for many foreign men. A confident foreigner may have the maturity to either reject such inequality or may see beyond it to the character and the individual qualities of any Thai woman in this category. Other less mature foreigners may react with frustration at the not only the social differences but cultural values or may abuse the relationship. Relationships of the latter sort are the basis for many of the reports failed relationships. Also it should be remembered that many foreign men seeking Thai women as relationships partners come from a lower social background and are particularly sensitive to any idea of class consciousness in that they reject it. It is this attitude that many Thai women from this group may find particularly attractive and perhaps rightly so. Many relationships between Thai women and foreign men from this group are successful. Conversation might be limited due to language problems, and her knowledge of culture outside Thailand will likely be very small.

A proportion of Thai women from this category may find it difficult to adapt easily to western cultures, and they often fail to settle outside Thailand. Many Thai women in this group have settled in northern European countries or Australia. They are particularly vulnerable if attached to the wrong partner. In the past, the ideal for a Thai woman in this group would be leave her job after marriage, with her husband expected to support her and her family in Thailand - but this is changing particularly for Thai women living in foreign countries. However, this is not the traditional Thai way. In Thailand, a foreign man should be able to meet such women fairly easily, and should have no difficulty in finding a beautiful Thai wife. The majority of these marriages work out very well and increasingly so as more opportunities and supports for this category of Thai woman have now opened up both in Thailand and in foreign countries.

Category 3: The average poor rural Thai woman

Thai women in this group are generally uneducated in western ways, and are usually limited to primary and sometimes secondary education. Communications may be difficult if the man does not speak Thai, and the cultural differences are vast. These Thai women will have spent almost all their lifetime in a rural village, rarely meeting other than local men.

Her village family will love western men, seeing them as a good source of financial security, and they might often seek the husband out when they are in need of cash. However, unlike the bargirls in category 1, these Thai women will be genuine and honest and not out simply to fleece their prospective western husband. They may be traditional but many of these traditional values have merit.

Such foreigner Thai marriages tend to be successful, particularly when the couple decides to settle down in Thailand. There many married couples of this type living happily in Thailand, particularly in the 'Little Europe' villages of Isaan. Although often less educated than those of Group 2, women in this group are more genuine but less worldly wise and will usually find it difficult to integrate into a higher class of society.

Category 4: Average middle class Thai women

The average middle class woman in Thailand will have average fluency in English and be fairly well educated. She will have attended college and perhaps even university, though not necessary a professional. This is the first group of Thai women where her ambitions are not largely driven by finance, and she will be widely accepted in Thai and expatriate society.

Although more culturally aware of other societies, this type of Thai woman may still find it difficult to adapt to western life without support. However her enthusiasm for doing so may often be inspiring. She will normally be a better choice than the preceding three types if the couple is not settling down in Thailand.

She might be financially independent, although there are many middle class Thai women that continue to regard their husbands as being the provider in the family - although perhaps not her entire family. Those in this group that work might also have an eye for expensive goods, and they will often purchase what they need without looking at the price. Such marriages have an excellent chance of surviving, whether the couple remains in Thailand or moves to the husband's country.

Category 5: Educated middle or upper class Thai women

Such women tend to live in the cities, away from the rural village settings. They are generally well educated, often with university degrees. They are highly literate and multilingual, with a good knowledge of foreign cultures. Although Thai women of this group are good conversationalists, the higher middle and upper classes of Thailand are similar to those all around the world, they range from the highly intellectual to vapid airheads.

However, the cultural gap between her and western men will be narrower than with any other group, and she will be completely acceptable to society and to business associates. In fact, she can open a few doors for her foreign boyfriend, life partner or husband in Thailand that the previous type could not. Due to the Thai class system, however, she may be difficult to meet.

This type of woman tends to be financially independent, as does her family, and the marriage would be a true partnership. Such foreigner Thai marriages have as much chance of success as any other, given that nothing is certain in this world, and husband and wife will have a good chance of sharing their lives on an equal social and financial footing.

However, if you are seeking an exotic young Thai woman as a change from western women, the Thai women of this group may not fit that bill. If you are looking for a cosmopolitan, modern and feminine woman, this is the correct choice. Many of Thai women from this group also come from wonderful Thai families. While they are generally more sophisticated, educated and certainly very glamorous, they are not necessarily mysterious or offering a cross cultural experience. It should also be noted that Thai women in this group are very conscious of status and are very class conscious. Many foreign men even from wealthy or privileged backgrounds may find this a little off putting. Up to recently it was thought that Thai women in this category were very unlikely to be interested in marriage or a relationship with a foreign man.

However the trend for Thai women to seek foreign life partners has changed this and many younger and very eligible Thai women in this group are now particularly interested in finding a foreign marriage or life partner. This has even extended to middle aged Thai women in professional or even government positions who are unmarried. Marriages and relationships between Thai women from this group and foreign men have also posed difficulties for some foreign governments with restrictive visa and immigration policies as foreign governments often fail to appreciate that there are many educated Thai women with independent means entering into marriage with foreign men who will not accept easily some of the restrictions imposed by foreign authorities. One Bangkok woman with a media background, also a Thai wife with a UK partner, recently won a case against the UK border authorities after wrongfully being held at an airport in Glasgow as she attempted to enter the United Kingdom without her Scottish husband.

Foreign men should also be wary of interlopers or Thai women who present themselves as ?Hi So? but in reality are better categorized in group one (sex workers). Bangkok in particular is home to thousands of beautiful Thai women who are mistresses to businessmen, high priced escorts or short-term/long-term girlfriends. Some Thai women in this group may have university educations or be attending university. It has to be said that many are also genuine and captivating young ladies who go on to find successful careers and find successful foreign relationships but there are many horror stories also, usually involving substantial sums of money and property.

Conflicting Accounts of mixed Thai marriages

The press and the internet community have reported conflicting accounts of the success or otherwise of marriages involving Thai women. Recent years have seen a massive increase in marriages between Thai women and men from Australia, Europe and North America, and not all have been successful although the success rate is far higher than average.

Some men have reported shocking experiences, both before and after marriage, while others have married the woman of their dreams and lived happily ever after. The reason for this discrepancy was not understood, and attempts were made to explain them in terms of cultural differences. However, the reasons go deeper than that as this categorisation of Thai women attempts to demonstrate.

The success of a relationship depends to a great extent upon the expectations of each party to the marriage, the extent to which they are able to communicate and the way each is accepted by the other's culture and society. There are also many ingrained customs that each do not understand about the other, and it comes as no surprise that the further the Thai woman is up the social ladder the more successful the marriage is expected to be.

Not all Thai women are the same

A European or North American visiting Thailand to find a wife should make himself aware of the five categories of Thai women, and not fall into the trap of becoming a knight intent on 'saving' the bargirl from her 'terrible' fate. She is likely living a great life to her standards, and will allow herself to be 'saved' until she has all his money or a ticket to the USA!

There are exceptions of course, and many bargirls have married westerners and remain married. However, if the man finds it difficult to communicate with a woman that speaks no English except, perhaps, a little 'bar English', how is he to know what her dreams and aspirations are? How is he to understand her culture or what her family expects of him if he does not live in Thailand?

Just as in any other country in the world, not all Thai women are the same, and a categorization into five distinct groups will help men to understand what they should be looking for. It is by no means definitive, but it should offer a clue and an insight into how Thai women from diverse educational and social backgrounds in Thailand differ.

When using this, men should keep in mind that most Thai women will not fit snugly into any box, but that this should be use as a general guide. Foreign men can make their own minds up after meeting a living, breathing, thinking and beautiful young Thai woman. Each of them has her own hopes and wishes for the future, and each man must decide for himself if the Thai woman really wants to spend the rest of her life with him.

The Thai class system

There was a time when Thai women of higher social standing would have a desire only to meet rich Thai men. This is why most men visiting Thailand tended to associate more with bargirls or lower status Thai women. It appears from this article that Thai women may be materialistic when considering marriage partners, but are they any different to women the world over? Just like western women, Thai women seek companionship, romance, security (including financial security) and love.

Many Thai women can adapt to cross-cultural relationships, but equally, many cannot. Thai women actively seeking foreign relationship are not difficult to find on the internet through Thai dating sites, but not as easily on the ground even for those foreign men that live in Thailand. It is almost forgotten that foreign men visiting the country are likely to meet Thai women who, for the most part, had never given thought to marriage with a foreign man.

Nor do all Thai women want to marry - statistics show that in Bangkok, over 40% of women of marriageable age remain unmarried although it must be said that there are many minor wives in the lower classes and a lack of suitable marriage partners. It must also be said that it is notable that a significant number of Thai women are quite interested in meeting foreign men and any new visitor to Thailand will pick this up pretty quickly. This is why many foreign men from western countries are often taken aback by the experience.

It is also true that higher class women tend to be more discerning in their partners, so average men seeking wives in Thailand are likely to meet average women - who in Thailand are liable to be of a lower social class than in their own country. Have we mentioned yet that Thailand is a country very aware of social class! Although the lines are blurred, people tend not to circulate with those of a different class. A westerner wanting to meet an upper class Thai woman would need to be upper class himself - or rich!

A westerner is unlikely to come into contact with a Thai woman of a higher class to himself, and would only meet women of a lower class if he deliberately set out to do so. The different classes, and ethnic and family backgrounds, tend to move in their own circles and have their own codes of social conduct. It is largely due to a failure of westerners to appreciate this that has led to the negative stereotyping of many Thai women.

It is very easy to use the internet blogs and forums to denigrate Thai women due to the failure of a relationship, when it may well have been the foreign man at fault by not understanding the social structure and the standards of behavior expected in Thailand. While these definitions of the five categories of Thai women offer a guide, every woman and man is different and men should not be little women because they fail to conform to some preconception gained from the press or from the internet. The article only serves as a guide or pointer for foreign men seeking a Thai Life partner, Thai wife or girlfriend in Thailand. is Thailand’s biggest internet dating site with over 355,000 members and growing rapidly …Begin your search for a Thai girlfriend, wife or partner here.

Foreign men should be aware of five types of Thai women before dating in Thailand
Internet commentator identifies five different categories of Thai women to assist foreign men seeking marriage or life partners date Thai women successfully.
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