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Phuket: The secrets to dating a Thai guy

PHUKET: For foreign girls, dating a Thai man can be an enchanting, fun, exciting part of your Thailand experience. This cheat sheet to successful cross-cultural romance is based on their experiences.

By Kaila Krayewski

Tuesday 19 March 2013, 02:31PM

The approach

Thai guys can be shy. One girl says, “You can chat with a Thai man all evening, swap phone numbers and still not be sure if you’re just friends.

They will be sweet and attentive and charming, and you still can’t figure out if it’s just social conventions that make them behave so considerately or if they want to take you for dinner. They’re slow and shy in their approach and they might not even make one.” But don’t necessarily mistake his lack of aggressiveness for disinterest. 

Make it clear that you like him, but don’t throw yourself at him. Smile at him a lot. Don’t flirt with other guys.

Learn a few cute Thai phrases, even if you don’t know how to speak Thai.

Though this is a common dating rule amongst most societies, it’s strongly recommended that if you want to keep a Thai guy, don’t sleep with him on the first date. Western girls are sometimes viewed as more promiscuous than Thai girls, so make him know that that’s not what you’re in it for (unless, of course, you are).

The dating dance

Pay half the bill on your first date – this will make clear to him that you want to be treated like an equal.

Many girls say that Thai men can be incredibly romantic and treat you like a queen at the start of the relationship. This may not always last, but hey, enjoy it while it does!

Be a bit mysterious. Don’t give away everything about yourself when you first start dating. Remain confident, and if he does something that in your culture would be unacceptable, make it known to him without getting angry – accept that there are cultural differences, but be sure to point them out rather than internalising them.

He may turn you down the first few times you invite him into your bedroom. This is part of Thai culture, and his way of showing respect for you. Embrace it – how cute is that!? He’ll come in eventually...

Many girls have experienced the hot-and-cold nature of the Thai man they’re dating. They may inexplicably not call, or ignore you for a while, and then turn up all lovey-dovey. On the other hand, they could become overzealous and call you five or more times a day. Be aware of it, and it’s up to you whether you can deal with it or not.

He may call you fat. This is an obvious no-no in the West, but in Thailand, calling someone fat is not seen as offensive. Most Thai women are around 40 kilograms, so compared to that, most Western women are quite a bit bigger. Try not to take too much offence, but let him know that you don’t like it when he says that.

Many Western women have told stories of their Thai boyfriends getting insanely jealous and possessive. Some even threatening rival men with bodily harm. Don’t provoke this jealousy or you could get someone seriously hurt.

If you really like him and want to keep him, show copious amounts of respect for his family – he respects them much more than he lets on. Says one girl: “If you get to meet his family (he will be eager for this to happen if he likes you), try to be as ‘Thai’ as you can without relinquishing your personality. Kiss up to his mum like a fiend.” Dress ultra-conservatively when meeting his family. His grandma will not appreciate your stellar cleavage.

Speaking of which, in general try not to wear clothes that are too revealing around him.
Learn some Thai – he’ll really appreciate it and it’ll allow you a much better connection with his friends and family. Plus, a foreign woman who can speak some Thai is a total turn-on for many Thai guys.

Incorporate the best parts of Thainess to your actions, without losing your personality. This means showing extra patience, femininity, and sweetness (do your best not to argue with him or yell at him), but also carrying your own handbag, and be able to hold and buy your own drinks.

Allow him his freedom – let him go out with his friends and don’t always drag him out with yours.

Thais tend to offer up the word “love” much quicker than might be expected in the West. Expect and know this, and judge for yourself on how serious you want to take it.
Be aware that infidelity is not necessarily frowned upon in Thailand. Many Thai men (and women as well) have more than one girlfriend. If you’re not cool with that, make it known from the beginning, and watch for signs without being overly paranoid.

Calling it quits

At the end of the day, the cultural differences may be too much. If it gets that way, but you’re not sure how to end it, here is one phrase suggested by a girl who’s lived in Thailand all her life: “I love you, but as much as I try, it’s not in the way that you deserve.”

Don’t expect it to be amicable. One girl dated a hi-so (high society) Thai guy, and she tells us: “Once you break up, they have a rule that they cannot be friends with their ex girlfriends and if they do, they will be really disrespectful to them.” 

However, that’s not always the case. Another girl tells us that her Thai exes have been far more respectful to her than her western exes. So it’s probably just down to the individual in the end.

Koh Phangan-based Kaila Krayewski is the Managing Director of BlondeTraveler.com, a travel support service for women travelling and living in Southeast Asia.

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