Question 1: I’ve heard how crazy Thai women can get when provoked; is it easy to judge when they are about to lose control, and is it likely to happen in public?
Starting with the second half of the question, it is more likely that a Thai girl would refrain from any sort of anger outburst if she is in public because that would cause her a loss of face in Thai eyes.
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Failure to control emotions is seen as being a bit childish by most Thais and in that regard we westerners are often looked down upon due to our relatively quick tempers. A more likely response to anger, from a Thai woman, is that she will go silent as she fights to control her emotions. The silent treatment is a common way of expressing discontent and its best to leave someone alone until they are ready to talk. Pushing a Thai woman to talk before she is ready is more likely to escalate an issue rather than resolve it.
As to the first half of the question, judging when a Thai girl is unhappy about something, and judging what sort of things are likely to cause her to be unhappy, is something that gets much easier with time once you get used to the culture. However, if you get involved with an ex bar girl or similar, then she may have extra trust issues to overcome and it is usually these girls that give rise to the crazy Thai women stories that you hear about.
Question 2: How do I handle a situation where I think my Thai girlfriend is about to get angry?
Don’t do the western thing and try to talk her through it. Give her plenty of space and let her cool down. Above all with crazy Thai women, don’t tackle her head on and confront her… even if she is being unreasonable. That doesn’t mean backing down; you can be firm whilst giving her space.
Proving that you are right and that she is being unreasonable might be possible if she were a western girl (in theory at least!) but most Thai women would be even more resentful of your persistence; she would probably even go as far as to believe that your crime of proving her unreasonableness, and thereby causing her to lose face, is far worse than her unreasonableness in the first place! This is another common sort of situation that gives rise to crazy Thai women stories.
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Most situations will resolve themselves if you adopt the back-off approach, and you will also gain her respect for not causing her any loss of face that might follow a confrontation. Of course, if you are the one being unreasonable, then you will probably be treated in the same way and given some space of your own.
Apologies from you, assuming that you were in the wrong, will not be expected and it would probably be better not to offer any since it would cause you a loss of face – many Thai women would feel uncomfortable with that. Thais place enormous emphasis on the whole ‘face’ thing and they go out of their way to avoid losing it; they also go out of their way to avoid causing anyone else to lose face. A better solution, rather than offering an apology, is to buy her a gift of some sort.
Words count for little anyway, but taking the time and effort to purchase a suitable gift will almost always settle things favourably.
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Another way of handling a volatile situation is to handle it (whatever ‘it’ is) indirectly e.g. suppose that you have noisy crazy Thai women as neighbours, and that you find it difficult to get any sleep until the noise stops in the early hours of the morning. The western approach to this problem might be to go banging on the neighbours’ door and insist that the noise stop immediately on threat of violence, or police involvement, or whatever.
That would be unlikely to yield the desired results in Thailand, a better approach might be to wait until the next day and then head off to the neighbour’s house with some drinks or some other ‘olive branch’ on the pretence of it being just a social call. Then, at the appropriate point, casually mention that it is a good thing that you and her don’t have any children as they would never get enough sleep before school in such a lively neighbourhood…
The idea is just to plant the seed of discontent without causing any sort of confrontation. A Thai neighbour would immediately recognise the nature of the remark and would likely keep the noise down from there on. Of course, we westerners tend to be a little less well tuned-in to these sorts of things and generally prefer a confrontation to iron out our differences! For some reason, that just isn’t the Thai way to behave.
Question 3: What happens if I misjudge a situation and provoke an angry Thai woman?
Time to run for cover! Crazy Thai women don’t often lose control but when they do it can be quite colourful to say the least. You shouldn’t worry too much about this though, as a westerner you will be given plenty of leeway. Most Thais know that we think and act a little differently and that we don’t usually mean to cause any offense deliberately.
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