Once you get involved with dating Thai women, you are going to have lots of fun dealing with all the cultural differences between Thailand and the West. The differences in culture within Western society e.g. between the U.S. and Germany, or between France and Italy and so on are nothing compared to the differences between Thailand and the West. Thailand has a culture unlike anything else in the world, but it certainly resembles other South East Asian cultures more than those of the West.
If you start dating a Thai girl without any knowledge of Thai customs, you might find that you have completely different ideas about what a happy, successful relationship looks like. In which case, before rushing to sign up with a dating site, give yourself a head-start by familiarizing yourself with some cultural differences first.
Whilst the cultural differences are the main topic of this section, you should also be aware of a host of other factors that will play their part in any romance with a Thai girlfriend. These are briefly presented below and they should be fairly self-explanatory. For the less obvious stuff regarding dating Thai women, scroll down the page and have a look at the links to pages about specific cultural aspects of interest.
Education - The general level of education in Thailand is, as you
would expect from a developing economy, of a much lower standard than
you'll find in the West. Knowledge about topical issues in the news
might get a different reception from your typical Thai girl than you might expect from your
average Westerner. Some things that you might expect everyone in the world to know about might be a complete mystery.
Ethnicity - Some parts of Thailand are still very under-developed and there are some communities where people rarely venture more than a few kilometers from their homes. Things are changing of course, but you can still find yourself feeling like a celebrity in some places due to your exotic appearance.
- Whilst there are at least some strong similarities in different western languages e.g. the alphabet, Thai language is completely
different. It is a tonal language whereby the same word can mean
different things depending how it is pronounced. It will be quite confusing to a Thai if you speak the right word but pronounce it incorrectly; he/she might not have a clue what you are talking about. You need to be careful what you say, AND how you
Religion - Buddhism has played an enormous part in developing Thai culture and it is a very different religion to the other main religions. Personally I like Buddhist teachings and find it is a very tolerant religion that is welcoming to the outsider. That said, there are some things that are quite unusual and you won't understand much of what is going on in this regard.
Economy - This is a big one that effects everyday life in Thailand. If you intend to live in Thailand, especially if you intend to live outside the main urban areas, you'll need to get used to the idea that many of the things that you take for granted in the West are either not as good or not available at all in Thailand. Road infrastructure, high-speed internet connection, modern healthcare and so on are all less well catered for... but things are rapidly improving in this regard.
If you would like to read some true stories related to the culture gap, click here.
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Here is an overview of the main cultural differences that you will need
to navigate when dating Thai women; for a closer look, just click on the
relevant link to go to a dedicated page:
Thai Etiquette - As a foreigner visiting the land of smiles you'll no doubt want to maintain friendly relations with the local people. This won't be at all difficult in such a tolerant country but if you really want to impress, or just avoid making yourself look a bit foolish, then some basic pointers about how to conduct yourself might be useful. Thai women are usually quite easily embarrassed, and you might inadvertently cause some minor offense if you don't know the basics, so this page will help with that.
Financial Obligations - The role of money is going to feature a lot when it comes to romance in Thailand; there simply is no such thing as free Thai dating. If there is one cultural difference that you really need to get to the bottom of it is this one. If you don't get to grips with it, you are going to feel like you are being taken advantage of. Once you do get a handle on it, you'll feel as though a shroud of mystery has been lifted, but then you might go too far and start thinking that you aren't being taken advantage of even when you are. It's a difficult one and it will take some practice to get a feel for it. You will, however, certainly need to do some compromising on your Western values with regard to finance if you want any success with dating Thai women.
Family Hierarchy and Ga Tan Yoo - This is another difficult one to get to grips with but it is one that
your girl will take extremely seriously. Where we in the West like to
see every individual as being equal, and defined more by their actions
than their birth, this simply is not how Thai people view society. Thai
society is very much hierarchical and status is important. The family
unit is not excused from this hierarchy and your girl will pay deference
to her parents. The question is... where do you fit into that
hierarchy, and can you live with it? If you are the independent sort,
you are going to need to make some tough decisions about how much and
how far you are willing to compromise when dating Thai women.
Nam Jai - This is an important concept and you, as the rich Westerner, will be delighted to know that it relates to generosity and how you will be expected to demonstrate it on a regular basis! It's easy to think you're being taken advantage of with this one but, if you have found a regular decent lady, you needn't worry. The idea behind the demonstration of generosity is related to status and by showing generosity you will gain status. This may not mean much to you, but if you were Thai it would mean a lot. Most Thai's will not understand western culture, so they'll treat you as though you are Thai and just assume that you want to be given opportunities to show how kind-hearted and generous you are.
Thai Sex Attitudes - you might be thinking that Thai women have very liberal attitudes towards intimacy, given the naughty nightlife antics that go on in some tourist focused areas, but step away from those places and you'll discover a very conservative country at heart. In many ways traditional Thai values in this area resemble the values that existed in the west during our grandparents lifetimes.
Public Behaviour and 'Saving Face' - If all you know of Thailand is the stuff you see on TV regarding the nightlife and all its shenanigans, you'll be absolutely startled to read that Thailand is actually a very conservative country with very traditional values. There are strict rules to follow regarding your romantic behaviour in public, and you need to be aware of them otherwise you can easily cause serious embarrassment for your girl if you overstep the line. You'll have more success with dating Thai women if you can comfort them with the idea that they won't lose face (status) by accompanying you, and that starts by being aware of social norms on how to behave in public.
Thai Marriages - Being a Buddhist country, it won't surprise you at all to know that there are some very different customs to observe if your relationship with your girl develops to the point at which you decide you would like to get married. I've included information about marriage as it is quite a common progression for many Western men once they've tried dating Thai women. Marriage in Thailand is every bit as significant as it is in the West, and despite the horror stories that you may have heard, divorce rates between Westerners and Thais are actually lower than they are between Western men and women. It is a big step, and you ought to know a few things about what to expect on the day of the ceremony and, more importantly, what permanent family commitments you'll be taking on.
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