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Research in the USA and UK on why western men seek Thai wives

Tuesday 17th February 2015 10:17pm

UK men seeking Thai women support UKIP

An online poll among UK men on TLL shows that more support UKIP than other UK parties as research in the UK and US underscores why western men seek love in Thailand.

Sociologists and researchers on both sides of the Atlantic have come up with more research showing why UK men and US men opt to find Thai women as marriage partners. 'It's really a story of economics,' says Alison Dewar, the post graduate researcher who in 2013 revealed a successful dynamic between self employed UK men including those with less secure financial prospects and Thai women. Alison's research showed that in many cases, the Thai women who had married the UK men, had higher levels of education than their UK husbands or partners.

TLL poll shows UK men seeking Thai women support UKIP

In 2015, as the UK faced into an election campaign, an online mini poll among UK men dating Thai women shows that that they are more likely to vote for the anti immigrant UKIP party than other political parties. The online survey targeted UK men on the Thai Dating site ThaiLoveLines and received 276 respondents from nearly 8,000 active UK users. UKIP, the controversial anti establishment party topped the poll with 29% with the Conservative Party at 25% and Labour at 20%. 'This was a simple poll with a small sample but I think the result is quite surprising given that many people would think that UK men seeking a Thai relationship would be pro immigration into the UK,' says James Morris, a commentator in Bangkok. 'I think the support for the tories as also rather odd.' The result is indeed highly ironic as one of the key problems facing UK men both in the UK and living abroad is the the anti immigration measures enacted by the Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition in the UK in response to anti immigrant sentiment which has been highlighted by the rapid rise of UKIP (UK Independence Party) in the United Kingdom.

New challenges facing UK men seeking Thai wives

'The women are so different in Thailand,' says George a London taxi driver whose Thai partner Nit has been living with him in London's capital for the last six months 'Couldn't be happier, he says of his new life with his Thai love. However it was not like this in the eighteen months it took George to clear the way for the arrival of his Thai girlfriend into the United Kingdom. George told us a little about of the difficult process he was forced to undergo in order to prove that he had the required income to support his new partner.

Under tough new visa laws introduced in 2012 UK men are required to show that they have the required income to support their spouses or love partners from Thailand.

George, as taxi driver, is essentially self employed and is responsible for his own finances and tax returns. He is part of a growing group of self employed men in the United Kingdom who are opting to find a Thai wife or love partner. But why did George choose to find a Thai woman? 'Well most of the women here are married to the system aren't they,' he says. He is referring to a large segment of women living in the United Kingdom who are supported by the country's comprehensive welfare system. George's comments are rooted in fact. Research in to the United Kingdom's declining marriage rate has shown that a large proportion of UK women opting out of marriage are dependent on social welfare while UK men who are unmarried are more likely to have less secure employment.

UK self employed drawn to Thai women

The 2013 qualitative research, conducted by a Newcastle based postgraduate student involving discussion groups and one to one interviews with Thai women and UK husbands, revealed an interesting fact. The majority were self employed or with less secure employment prospects. George confirms this finding. 'It's very hard for a bloke like me to find a good woman. First off, I have to work long hours to make a good living and then it's either women who are married to the state or women who want me to go on a self improvement course, if you get my drift,' he tells us.

UK taxi driver with Thai wife is a UKIP supporter

George is a fervent supporter of UKIP, the anti establishment party that is growing in popularity in the UK led by the skilled and colourful politician Nigel Farage. The political party headed the polls in the 2014 European elections in England and has emerged as a new force across the country challenging the Conservatives and Labour for more traditional voters including those of the working class.

'I am an Englishman and I feel like a stranger in my own country. I pay my taxes, I keep the law but my personal life is virtually cut off to me because it's government everywhere. My best shot was to find a good Thai woman and I did that,' George, the taxi driver, says stoutley.

Not the only UKIP supporter who has found a Thai wife

The confusing picture reveals that something new is happening in UK politics. This is highlighted by a 2014 political controversy which arose for one of UKIP's MEPs in the UK's Southeast. The female UKIP MEP made ill advised comments about a UKIP member and food seller in Ramsgate who was married to a Thai wife.

Vincent Munday and his Thai wife Fa Munday threatened to withdraw their UKIP membership after Janice Atkinson, their local MEP, referred to Mr Munday's Thai wife as a 'ting tong' from somewhere. While the UKIP MEP did later apologise and withdrew her comments, it resulted in the resignation of Munday from the party and a robust attack on the comments by himself and his Thai wife. 'I'm married to an Englishman and now I'm British - no-one has ever spoken about me like that before,' said Mrs. Munday. Her husband explained to the BBC that 'ting tong' in Thai denotes a mad person. The UK man and his Thai wife had been active members of UKIP before the MEP's outburst having met her at various rallies and events for the party. This does not phase Alison Dewar. 'Many UK men with Thai wives are self employed and anti establishment if you will, so this is not surprising at all,' she says.

UKIP is a political force in the UK against immigration

UKIP is a growing political force in the UK. The party is campaigning on what is developing into an anti establishment and anti immigration platform. However, while it has emerged that quite a few of its members are likely to have Thai wives, the politics of the of the party is thought to have resulted in a government initiative which has put strict regulations on UK men seeking Thai wives or love partners. 'While this may seem like a contradiction, really it is not. The Tory led government has introduced cynical measures designed to look tough on immigration but one of the inadvertent side effects is that they are having a very direct impact on established UK men living abroad and seeking partners from countries such as Thailand,' says Alison Dewar.

M/s Dewar amplifies the point: 'Many people who support UKIP are less likely to be dependent on the state. This is exactly the profile we found among men of disparate age groups who were married to Thai women. It is somewhat ironic that many traditional UK men have to look abroad to Thailand to find suitable partners in today's multi cultural Britain.'

Thai wives are politically incorrect

'The government in Britain is more interested in not offending ethnic minorities and pursuing a pipedream rather than taking care of hard working British men,' says Clive Goulding who has so far not been able to get permission for his Thai wife to come to live with him permanently in Britain. Clive lives in Bangkok and married his Thai wife and former girlfriend just six months ago in a civil marriage registration office Bangkok. Although he is the owner of a multi national business and has a six figure salary, his company is based in Thailand. His income cannot be counted as income under the strict criteria applied by the UK government in 2012. 'The upshot of this is that I cannot move home to live in England with my wife permanently and I have to move things about to live with my wife in my home country,' he complains.

UK man with Thai wife 'seething' with her treatment at airport

Clive tells us that he was left 'seething' at Heathrow Airport in London when his Thai wife had to wait in a long line while eastern european women and children just breezed through. Under the current regime, EU citizens from most countries have virtually the same travel and movement rights as British citizens while travelers from non European countries face stricter scrutiny. 'I am appalled by this. Personally it is hurtful and a hardship for my relationship but I know some other guys out in Bangkok who cannot return home without saying Goodbye to their Thai wives. They simply do not have the income and cannot move it to the UK. I can manage this but they are stuck. It's appalling when you think that refugees and people with absolutely no link with Britain get preferential treatment.' Clive is considering taking legal action and has already begun a petition online to have the law reviewed.

Thai women treated with disdain says UK husband

'Personally it's another PC move, the whole country is suffocating with political correctness. We have a house in London that is paid for. We both love living here but it galling to see the way things are working out.' He explains that he believes that Thai women are treated with disdain by UK authorities. Clive is not a UKIP supporter but he agrees that many of the party's programme would appeal to him. 'Every British man should have the right to give UK citizenship to his wife no matter where she comes from, from what I see UKIP isn't about racism it's just about giving traditional rights back to British people, it's just common sense.'

UK man whose Thai children cannot avail of the NHS

Clive's predicament is similar to Charlie Deakes who lives in Phuket in Thailand. Charlie runs a graphic design and printing business in Thailand. He emigrated there in 2001 and married a Thai woman in 2006. He travels to the UK at least once a year to visit his elderly mother and to provide a holiday for his wife and children.

'My wife Boom looks forward so much to visiting England every year and saves up warm clothes all year round. The Thais love England and she is very happy to be married to a English man,' he says.

However Charlie was shocked on his last visit when he brought his two young daughters to the local GP clinic in Cheshire. 'I thought I should have them registered, I have been thinking of moving back to the UK and I have been doing a bit of preparation but the woman in the clinic told me that my children were not eligible as they are not living permanently in the UK, I was a bit surprised. Everyone from anywhere in the world can get health cover from the NHS but my two children who are British citizens cannot.' Charlie was informed that he and his children must be resident in the UK. Charlie who is 49 years of age points out that before he left for Thailand he paid taxes in the UK for fifteen years often at the top rate of tax. 'The staff at the clinic were very nice to me and told me that if I was not English and came from the European Union, there'd be absolutely no problem. I am an Englishman with a Thai wife and my two children are British citizens. I was so saddened by it that I simply couldn't tell my wife who loves England. I couldn't get my head around it really. If I ever go back to the UK, I'll be voting UKIP because I think the country seems to have gone off its rocker. The ordinary people have no chance in England today,' he says.

Tory Immigration rules hit English living in Thailand

The new immigration rules introduced in 2012 have started to raise concern among many English men living in Thailand with families, often with a Thai wife who may be considering returning to live in England. 'It is unfortunate that these regulations are having side effects on UK men with Thai partners or wives. The global world now means that citizens of countries, particularly developed countries, often move about and find foreign partners, these regulations were designed primarily to stem the flow of immigrants from less developed countries to the UK but are causing real problems for genuine UK citizens, many who are self employed but also UK expats working with international companies who have found love abroad,' says James Morris, a commentator in Bangkok. 'Only 4% of women entering the UK as marriage partners are from Thailand and it is also clear that these regulations are not stemming the tide of immigrants from less developed countries who are using other means to find ways to enter the UK.'

Income rules on Thai wives in the UK could have been worse

But the situation could even have been worse. In a recent interview with the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom, a Liberal MP, Sarah Teather revealed that the Conservative party was in favour of even stiffer income requirements for UK citizens bringing spouses into the country. The current threshold is an income within the UK of 18,800 sterling but there are reports that the Conservatives wanted to have this set at 40,000 sterling. It has also been revealed that the committee formed to come up with the regulations was initially titled the 'Hostile Environment Working Group'. It was later renamed the Inter Ministerial Group on Migrants.

Who are the UK men seeking Thai woman?

While the trend for working class men with insecure work or jobs to opt for Thai women has been established, this is still only one representative segment of the men who seek Thai women online and Thailand. 'We have established three categories of western or foreign men seeking Thai women ranging from quite wealthy middle aged men to men facing economic challenges,' says James Morris, a commentator and newspaper reporter based in Bangkok.

Three groups who seek Thai Women as love partners

The profile of western men seeking Thai women is interested and a host of studies show an interesting picture. Two interesting qualities emerge:

  • Many are self employed working for themselves.
  • Many own property and are financially independent.

Men of substantial means looking for a 'new life': In research conducted by ThaiLoveLines (TLL from 2012 to 2014), it was found that 19% of western men seeking Thai women fit this profile. 'These are men, some divorced, other still single who vacation in Thailand or have made Thailand a base, while many of these are retired there are also quite a few with business interests internationally. 'It is surprising how many western men like this gravitate towards Thailand,' says James Morris.

Divorced men seeking a new start either in Thailand or in western countries: Research shows that 29% of western men seeking Thai women fit into this category. Many of the men in this group are 40-55 years of age who are considering retirement or planning. Many take holidays to Thailand or begin the search for a new relationship through this means. From this pool a staggering 33% were between employment or beginning a new life phase.

Single men seeking a life partner: 44% of men seeking Thai women have not been married before and are seeking a life partner. While many will have had relationships, this is the group facing economic challenges.

Professional seeking Thai women: 11% of the western men seeking thai women were professional often self employed including dentists and doctors.

Self employed business owners: A staggering 37% of those seeking a Thai love partner in Thailand were either self employed or working business owners. This does not include retired individuals which comprised 22%.

UK men seeking Thai women 'well off' but lack security

One of the key findings in a UK survey carried out by postgraduate student Alison Dewar from Newcastle University was that 53% of the UK men with Thai wives owned properties without debt. 'This was based on my study which may not be representative but it was a theme that came out through my research, many of the men were self employed or owner their own properties. This might make some sense as mortgages in the UK are more and more the preserve of those with good career prospects in secure employment,' says Alison who conducted the study in 2013.

Research in America shows US men and UK men similar

At a time in the UK, when, for the first time in living memory, more adults are living outside marriage and marriage rates are plummeting, it is becoming clear that marriage in normal local terms is becoming the preserve of the more affluent within the middle class. There has been a slight increase in cohabiting couples but this does not account for the sudden shift in patterns in the UK altogether. The reasons for this are not confronted honestly according to the author of the research into UK men marrying Thai women.

Alison Dewar believes that the UK men seeking Thai women as life partners are seeking to combat this trend: 'Nearly all the couples in my survey were married although the relationships were seen, even by their own account, as outside the norm. One of the qualities that my research identifies about these relationships was a 'them and us' feeling or a battling against the odds by those involved in UK Thai relationships. Hence why it was an emphasised theme among the interviews I conducted that the Anglo Thai couples faced a challenge together and kept a relatively low profile. Most of the men felt that that there was the difficulty or challenge in finding a long term relationship or marriage with British women. And I think it is even true to say that many of the UK men, even including the one or two professionals, felt that they were fighting against the prevailing culture'.

UK Marriage figures support research findings

Alison's research seems to be borne out by figures in the United Kingdom which show the marriage among adults has reached a low point declining to below 50% for the first time. Also figures are now showing that more UK children are born out of wedlock than within. Alison points out that among her sample group of Thai women with UK partners,nearly 90% were married and were looking for a traditional relationship.

'The prevailing culture in the UK is that marriage is still a desirable thing but it is now something for the better off only or the preserve of the established middle class. We are now entering an era when people's income and social status are prerequisites to a modern marriage,' says Alison. 'In the the 1960's the Beatles said 'all you need is Love' but it's not true in 2015 when it comes to marriage in the UK,' she states.

Alison's research suggests that many working class or self employed men, even those under 35 are opting for relationships with Thai women as there is a fear about the potential stability of a relationship with UK women as well the challenge in finding a suitable partner in the first place. 'There is a very real fear of being involved in a relationship that goes south among younger UK men and I spoke with a few young English men who were happy to find a relationship with a Thai woman as they felt that the relationship had a better chance of success,' she says. She also notes that many of the UK men were encouraged to find Thai women by their UK mothers.

UK research confirmed by relationships studies in America

Alison Dewar's research into UK men with Thai wives and the driving force behind such relationships is confirmed by research conducted the the United States by The University of Virginia and Harvard.

The research in the United states identified challenges faced by 'blue collar' workers with unstable incomes finding wives or relationships partners. In particular, these studies identified a fear among the US men of 'betrayal' in any relationship challenged by economic conditions.

Jennifer Silva of Harvard University found that there was a feeling of disillusionment among blue collar workers about the prospect of finding a stable relationship partner as they faced long term challenges in the workplace and economic uncertainty. In contrast, the research found that men and women with university educations and jobs with more secure incomes were better able to make the emotional commitment to a relationship that may involve rearing children. In particular, the research identified 'insurances' taken out by the middle class such as therapy, relationship education and regular date nights. The research concluded that relationships among working class men were more likely to result in divorce and faced greater challenges.

More UK and US men seeking a Thai wife relationship

The research comes at a time in America where low skilled jobs are being farmed out to developing countries and the reengineering of the economy since the collapse in 2008. This has resulted in more service sector employment which is lower paid and less secure. 'This is the same story as we see in the UK, so no surprise here. There are more younger UK men seeking Thai wives or marriage partners in Thailand while the US men seeking Thai women tend to be more middle aged or divorced. However since 2008, there are more younger American entrepreneurs seeking Thai women as marriage partners and also perhaps business partners from anecdotal evidence,' says James Morris, an expert commentator in Bangkok. 'We definitely see more younger men from the UK and European countries in full time employment seeking Thai wives as a conscious relationship option, this is the thing that is surprising many people.'

US research mirrors findings in England on marriage

In America Professor Sarah Corse from the University of Virginia is quite clear about her findings which show the working class men in America face less stable economic conditions with less ability to plan for the future. Therefore her findings are that they are less able to emotionally and materially provide for potential relationship partners. Marriage in America has now become distinctly middle class also. It is almost exactly what Alison Dewar unearthed in her research into UK men with Thai wives.

The research in the UK and the United States confirms that the increase in numbers of UK, American and western men seeking love in Thailand is part of a global economic and social revolution. It is part a growing new dynamic which has also seen the emergence of a new political landscape and political party in the United Kingdom. 'I don't know if I will return to live in the UK but I think, if I do, I will be a strong UKIP supporter.' says Charlie Deakes in Phuket.

It is very strange that party which is anti immigrant and harks back to the UK's roots should be supported by a UK man with an international relationship living as a global citizen. It also highlights the ironic,unpredictable and challenging nature of the modern world. 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.

UK and US studies help define men with Thai wives
Ironically many UK men with Thai wives support the anti immigrant UKIP party as studies in the America and the United Kingdom reveal that many wstern men seeking marriage with Thai women are either self employed or in less secure employment.
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