Dating and Romance Thai Style
Although this article is written mainly for the guys, the ladies will learn a lot of what and what not to do in public with your friends or mate of the opposite sex. The men will also learn the real way courtship works in Thailand and why.
The first thing to remember is that girls can touch the guys but the guys CANNOT touch the girls. So if you are walking down the street DO NOT hold hands. It is OK for the lady to put her arm and hand around the man's arm but that's about as far as it should go. There is a reason for this. If a girl lets a man touch, hold hands or put his arm around her the Thais believe the girl is easy, loose or maybe a prostitute. If you look at the way girls act in the bars it is easy to understand that any traditional, well educated Thai girl would not want to be seen as such a person. Thailand is a class society and the girls working in the bars are part of the lower class. Any well-educated and successful Thai man knows this also and would not think of marring a girl of this status. Girls that work in bars are for having fun in the short term and that is as far as it goes. Both Thai men and women know this but for some strange reason many male visitors to Thailand just don't get it. I will get back to this subject later.
Meeting Friends of the Opposite Sex
Many people who have met my wife and I ask where I found such a wonderful person, well it wasn't easy. First of all you have to have time and lots of it. The best place to meet someone is where she works (not a bar). There are plenty of well-educated, nice traditional Thai girls working in restaurants, shopping malls, as tour guides and hotels. This is excellent as they have a product to sell you and you want to buy. This breaks the ice so you can have a conversation about something you both have in common. Be polite and look sharp (no t-shirt and shorts). If she is working in a restaurant order your food, or in a shop make a purchase and hang around a little while. Don't ask any personal questions at this stage just small talk. If she is interested in you she will ask the questions for sure.
Now wait a day or so and then return. Tell her you were just passing by and wanted to stop and visit for a while. Engage in small talk again and answer her questions. Take your time and stick around a while. She now knows you are interested in her so the questions will start coming that are more personal. You can now ask a few small personal questions such as how many people in her family, where she is from, where she went to school etc, but not too may at this stage. When it is time to leave give her a nice big smile and look into her eyes as you walk away.
Return again in a day or two. Engage again in a little small talk then ask if she would like to enjoy a meal with you at her convenience and any place she chooses. She might say yes and she might say no. If she says no she wants to see if you will return again or just never come back. Don't worry she will say yes sooner or later so just be patient.
The First Date
When she does say yes she will most probably ask if she can bring some friends along or persons in her family. This is a Thai tradition when first dating and nothing else. Many westerners do not understand this and think she just wants a free meal for her and her friends or family, not so.
Your date wants her friends and family to check you out and will ask what they think about you later when they are alone. This is kind of like a job interview in front of board members. Don't ask her family or friends any questions just let them ask you. You are the one being interviewed here. Also if you talk too much to her friends or another female in the family everyone will think you are flirting with them, not a good idea. Keep focused on your date.
Another thing you will be tested in is how you spend your money. This starts from the first date. If you ask her where she wants to eat more than likely she will choose an expensive restaurant. You reply should be to suggest a restaurant that is nice but a little cheaper. A simple restaurant is a no-no just as much as an expensive one is. Thais love shopping malls so eating at a Pizza Hut for lunch or dinner is fine (not a Sizzler Steak House). Thais are very thrifty when it comes to spending money, they know how to get the most for the Thai Baht and she is looking to see if you are the same. Suggest Pizza Hut for the "all you can eat night" is a very good bargain and she will take notice of this.
After the First Date
Later on in dating you will probably want to purchase a gift for her. This will be another money test. One example when I was dating my wife before we got married I noticed she needed a good watch. We went to the mall and a reputable watch dealer. Now I could of bought a very expensive one but here is what I did. I ask her which one she liked and of course she picked out a very expensive one (remember this is just a test). I then asked the clerk to see a much cheaper one, which she showed me. I told my date that the cheap watches were not any good. We then looked at medium price watches and she found one she liked and made the purchase. Now here is the lesson in all this.
If a Thai girl convinces you to make an expensive purchase when it is not necessary she thinks you spend way too much money. If you make a cheap purchase she will think you are stingy. If you make the right purchase she will know you know how to spend your money wisely. She will never marry a man who throws money away or a man that has no money or is cheap.
Asking for Money
Here is one trap most western men fall into and again this is another test. My wife never did this but I was one step ahead of her so she didn't have to.
At some time in the courtship she will say something like "My parents need a new roof for their house as it leaks when it rains" or "We have no indoor plumbing in our house in the village can you help us" or maybe "My fathers motorbike broke down and he needs a new one". Lets think about this one carefully. Ok, she now knows you might love her or at least like her a lot or you wouldn't be spending this much time with her. Now she is performing the biggest test of all, seeing how stupid you are.
Most of the western men I know would give her the money because they want to help. This is the biggest mistake you can do. DO NOT give her any money for anything!!!
Your reply should be "Let's go to your parents house and see what they need and maybe I can help". This is not only wise but also what she wants to hear. She will have one of two replies. If her parents really don't need the money she will just laugh and probably give you a hug and change the subject, no more said for now. Don't bring up the subject again remember this is just a test. If they do need the money for the purposes she mentioned, she will say OK.
Now one of three things will happen. If she just wanted you for your money she will see you saw right through her objective and will avoid you. Another is she will take you to her parents house and you will see her parents don't need anything from you and that this was just a test. Third you will visit her village and parents and she what they need. Now this is very important and happens mainly with bar girls. If you just give her the money she asks for she will take it for sure. Not only that she will keep asking for more as long as you keep giving it to her. You are now her cash cow and remember she didn't take it from you. You were more than willing to give it to her. I here many stories from western men who say, "this girl stole my money". No you were stupid enough to give it to her without checking to see if she her stories were true. Remember, these are tests to see if you are wise, thrifty, kind, considerate or just plain stupid. A traditional Thai girl would not take the money but just smile or laugh as mentioned previously.
About the Third Date and Beyond
After she consults with her siblings and/or friends and they like you then she will go on to the next step. If they don't like you forget it. Thais won 't rely on their own feelings when it comes to getting serious with a potential mate. What their close personal relations say is most important when it comes to making decisions.
Again you are at a restaurant with her and probably a Thai restaurant but this time alone. You ask her to make the dinner choice of dishes for you and her. Once the plates arrive she will put the rice on your plate for you. Here is where you find out if she is serious about you and falling in love. She will take small portions from the serving plates and put it on your plate. She will fill up your water or beer glass when it gets low. She will keep doing this until the meal is over. She is trying to show that she wants to take care of you. Thai women are trained by their mother on how to take care of men and children. I don't know why but every time I just think I am thirsty a glass of water appears. My wife even knows when I am getting hungry. It's like she knows my every need just at the right time.
One thing to remember is a Thai girl will almost NEVER tell you she loves you. She shows her love by taking care of you. Don't for a moment think she doesn't love you because she doesn't say it. Actions are what counts here and words mean very little when it come to love and romance.
Thais also love to give and receive gifts. These gifts should be personal and something you or they truly need. If you want to give a gift shoes and handbags are their favorites.
Don't go out to purchase expensive gifts. Tell her you need to go shopping for something for yourself and take her with you. After you make your purchase (shirt etc.) than ask her if she would like a pair of shoes or handbag then walk her to a store. Again you can purchase a nice pair of shoes for her for a couple hundred Thai baht, most nice shoes are under 300 baht and handbags under 400 Thai baht. Thai girls love shoes and handbags in a lot of different colors so don't spend a lot of money on one item. She will need more in different colors in the future and a nice gift they all love.
Another gift men love to give which is not very important to Thai women except on special occasions are flowers. Many Thai girls feel this is not practical and a waste of money. If you do buy flowers make sure it is the right color. The wrong color can have a negative meaning. The two best colors are white and red. White means you miss or missed her, which is great to give when you haven't seen her in a while. Red is telling her you love her and is good for Valentines Day, birthday or New Years. Yellow is in mourning so don't give her those as yellow blooms are for funerals.
Now you are both in Love and you are ready for ask for her hand in marriage. Take her to a nice restaurant for a romantic dinner and just ask her, that's all there is to it. Don't purchase a ring or anything. If she says yes congratulations. Don't worry about her parents and what they might say or want, as they already know all about you. They know their daughter loves you and she has already consulted with them and they gave their approval. The next step is to take her to a gold shop and purchase a nice necklace for her. Nothing to big and flashy but just something she likes. Let her make the choice but you keep it, don't give it to her yet.
It is now time to go and ask her parents. You should take a well-respected Thai friend along (male) who can tell them about your good character. When you go take pictures of your family, your house and any other personal pictures that shows what your life is like back home. Then give the gold necklace to your future wife in front of them. Ask if you can marry her and say how much you love her and why. She will give the necklace to her mother who will have it blessed by a monk and return it to her. You are now engaged.
Now you can live together until the wedding. The wedding date will be set by first consulting a trusted Buddhist monk or church pastor. Then the wedding plans can begin. You will have little or no say on how many people, where it will be held, how much it will cost or who to invite. Of course your family and close friends will be allowed to participate and attend.
I hope this helps in understanding the Thai way of romance. Remember things are done much differently in their culture and they are not going to do it any other way, trust me.
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