I have a good mate who is married to a non-Thai woman. Although separated by several continents she has many of the same values as a Thai woman. They were having dinner one night with a farang couple. My mate’s wife offhandedly mentioned that sometimes when her husband gets home from work she’ll pour a basin of water and wash his feet.
The farang woman was aghast. She, in her self-righteous zeal, berated the wife for being subservient. She told her she should more pride in herself and not allow herself to be treated like a slave.
The wife, biting her tongue as best she could, told the farang woman that she doesn’t do it because he expects her to. For her it is a way of showing appreciation. Her husband provides for her very well and they own several beautiful homes. She wants for nothing. She went on to tell the farang that her husband is a loving and caring man who attends to her emotionally as well as financially and that she loves him very much. She asked why it should seem so strange to do something for her husband that he finds relaxing and enjoying.
Like I said, she was biting her tongue as best she could but her feelings were eventually betrayed in her last sentence on the topic. "Perhaps if you Western women showed your husbands some respect and appreciation for being a good husband the divorce rate in your country wouldn’t be over 50%."
This interaction is a perfect illustration of why so many farang men fall in love with Thai women. It also serves to illustrate why so many farang women simply cannot grasp why farang men seem to prefer Thai women. The farang women think they know but they are as wrong as first timer to Thailand who can’t see past the Thai smile.
Farang women, generally, think that farang men are attracted to Thai women is because they are submissive. They think the men are attracted because they can get a girlfriend half their age. They think that the men are attracted to the tight little Asian bodies.
The farang woman is correct but only to a certain degree. Yes, men are attracted to those things but there’s more to it than just that. Farang men also want to feel appreciated and respected. Yet, as the story told above demonstrates your average farang woman would never lower themselves. Farang women cherish their equality too much to do something that seems to them to be so one-sided.
However there’s an inequality in most farang / farang relationships. By that I mean that when you weigh all of the tangible and intangible qualities each party brings to the relationship the man, generally, is bringing more to the table than the woman. For instance, in few farang / farang marriages does the husband earn less than the wife. Likewise, you’re far more likely to find an attractive man married to an average looking woman than to find an attractive woman married to an average looking man. There are no absolutes here but just going by the numbers this is more true than not.
So you have these inequalities in most relationships. I know that’s a hard pill for some people to swallow but one only need to look at the number of men who graduate with degrees in economics, mathematics, computer science, medicine, and the other hard sciences vs. the number of women. Men, just going by the numbers, are more likely to be the higher earner. So right from the starting blocks you have an income discrepancy between the two. In order for the relationship to equalize she needs to bring something of the same value to the relationship.
Unfortunately, Western women cherish the concept of equality too much. Tell a secretary making £30,000 a year that she needs to bring something extra to the table in order to marry a software engineer making £60,000 and, rightly or wrongly, she’ll accuse you of being a chauvinist. So men just tend to accept that as part of life. Tradition says that their job is to be the primary earner so they accept it unquestioningly.
But there’s a catch. Even though, traditionally, that means that the woman should shoulder more of the household chores and generally try to provide a good home life for her husband who has been fulfilling his traditional role, many farang women feel that that role is outdated and beneath them. Whether that is true or not is not for me to answer but in one way or the other the woman has to bring things back to balance or the relationship simply isn’t going to work. Perhaps she’s much more attractive than her husband. That might even things out. Maybe she’s a wildcat in the sack. That might balance things out. Maybe she knows just when and just how to stroke her husband’s ego. Maybe that’s what evens things out. I don’t know what it is as it will be different for different couples but without the balance the relationship is doomed.
I believe this is why you often see so much hostility directed at farang women by farang men who have been fortunate enough to have a relationship with a Thai woman. Even if they don’t fully realize it consciously, it dawns on them that they’ve been getting the short end of the stick in most relationships. And like finding out your girlfriend has been sleeping around on you behind your back the farang man feels humiliated for being taken for such a fool. His rage is often so out of proportion with the actual damage done that he dismisses all farang women as . . . . well, I could list several derogatory terms here but I’ll allow the reader to fill in his/her own.
Personally, I don’t hate farang women. I don’t date them very often nowadays but I don’t hate them. I do prefer to date Thai women. Not for the reasons that most farang women might think but because Thai women tend to try to balance out the relationship. Obviously you cannot talk about an entire sex and not have exceptions. There are Thai women who’s mind set is more like the farang women I’ve described and there are farang women who have an outlook more like the Thai women I describe. That’s why I try to steer clear of making sweeping statements and say things like "tend to" or "normally."
It’s funny because most farang men have brainwashed themselves into believing many of the same things as farang women. I guess it’s natural since we come from the same culture. I remember the first time it really struck me. She was Thai with a good job, had a post-graduate degree, and was certainly not the poor farmer’s daughter stereotype. We were having dinner and when the food arrived she served me and then herself. When my water glass was half empty (or half full depending on how you look at it) she would fill it.
I was a little uncomfortable with that so I indicated she didn’t need to serve me. She insisted gently saying "You relax. I take care of you." As I thought about it, it made sense. If she likes you then demonstrating that she can be a good girlfriend or wife is very important to her. It would be the same as a guy holding a door open or pulling the seat out for his date. This is her way of saying that she likes me and that this is one of the qualities she intends to bring to the relationship.
Perhaps farang women will think she was being subservient but I thought of it as part of the dance we call dating. I show my ability to provide by taking her to a nice place to eat and she reciprocates by demonstrating that she can be a caring girlfriend. If anything, instead of viewing it as an act of weakness, as being subservient would imply, I viewed it as a sign that she was not the type of woman who would only take from the relationship without giving back. Obviously, a respectable quality.
Now if one contrasts that with a normal farang / farang date you start to recognize how the whole relationship imbalance manifests itself. It’s very difficult for a woman to screw up on a date unless she doesn’t show up, passes out drunk, or belches at the table. It’s hard for her to screw up the date because she is not the one auditioning. The man is primarily the one who is auditioning. So on a normal farang / farang date the man is expected to demonstrate all of the qualities that he can bring into the relationship and the woman will either approve (agree to a second date) or disapprove (decline a second date) without ever revealing her hand.
On a farang / Thai date both the man and woman are auditioning equally. This is true equality and I find it refreshingly honest which is why I prefer to date Thai women. When I date a Thai woman I feel as if I actually have some control over the situation. It is as much up to her to impress me as it is for me to impress her. I don’t want to say it makes you feel as if you have more power than you do in a farang / farang relationship but it’s the difference between a job interview where the company has specifically recruited you because of your unique talents and a job interview after you’ve been laid off during a recession. In one you feel like you’re in a position of control. If the company wants you then they need to demonstrate that they can provide you with the working environment and compensation that you feel entitled to. In the other scenario you’re just happy to have gotten the interview. You know what you think you’re worth but the phone isn’t exactly ringing off the hook so you’ll probably take whatever they offer even if it’s not what you think is fair.
One needs to look no farther than romantic imagery in the media to see how imbalanced the relationship process is in farang / farang relationships. How does a man show he loves a woman? He buys her roses, chocolates, diamonds, gold, and other gifts. If he’s truly the romantic type he does something huge like fly her off to Paris for an amorous holiday. How does a woman show she loves her husband? Well if we are to believe the media representation of farang / farang relationships then a peck on the cheek might be ample reward for those chocolates. Giving him sex might be the payoff for a diamond ring or a Paris holiday.
The idea of a man constantly showing his wife with gifts and affection is seen as romantic. The idea of a woman who showers her husband with signs of affection is seen as weak and of low self-esteem. In fact, if we’re to believe the media then the best gift a wife can give her husband is to leave him alone. How is the husband rewarded for mowing the lawn and taking care of the manly household chores? He’s allowed to watch football on television. What is the husband’s reward for taking his wife out to go see a "chick flick" which bored him to tears? He gets to go hang out with his mates for a boys night out.
Better yet, can you imagine seeing on television a show where after taking his wife out for a very expensive and romantic dinner his wife offered to give him a foot massage? Not the rub your big toe and then try to have sex type of massage but a proper hour long foot massage? Yet it would seem normal if a woman comes home from an exhausting day at the office, kicks off her shoes, and her husband massages her feet as she explains everything she’s been through that day. We call that kind of man romantic. In fact, that is the message that Western media promotes. Men being subservient to women is romantic and women being subservient to men is chauvinistic.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to say that love with a farang woman can’t be found or that you can’t find a farang woman who won’t jump through hoops to make the relationship as equal as possible but it’s much rarer in the Western world than in Thailand. From a social point of view this change in how equality has only occurred over the last 50 or 60 years. Back then you had housewives who took pride in performing their traditional roles. Interestingly, according to the University of Maryland, between 1950 and 2000 the number of divorces per 1000 women married more than doubled. Also of note is that the highest rate of divorce was during the 1970’s when women’s activism was at it’s peak. That’s obviously not enough data to make any sort of direct correlation but this blog post isn’t a PhD thesis so allow me some latitude.
And just as I’m not saying that finding love with a farang woman is impossible, I’m also not saying that Thai women are a piece of cake either. In addition to things like language and cultural issues you also have people who just don’t possess the qualities you look for in a partner and/or possess personality defects. I’ve dated more than a few girls who I hope to never see again even as a friend.
The bottom line is that I don’t agree with the people who think all farang women are fat, whining, bitches nor do I agree with the people who say that any man who dates a Thai woman is doing so for the sex, subservient attitude, or because he’s too much of a loser to find women back in the West. There are some very valid reasons why guys like to date Thai women and there are some very valid reasons why they don’t want to date Western women. It’s all about what we hope to find in a relationship. For instance, I have a mate I’ve known for well over 20 years. I’ve seen him go through countless relationships. The only long-term relationships he seems to have are with women who are controlling and dominating. He likes to be a bad boy. When he’s with submissive women he runs right over them. When he runs into a woman who wants to control him and tame him that is when he is the most happy. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for me at all. I could never date the type of women he dates and he would never have a meaningful relationship with a Thai girl. We’re just wired differently.
That holds true for all men. There are some of us who aren’t satisfied with the type of women we meet in the West. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with those women. They just need to find someone who’s looking for that personality type. For us unsatisfied men, there are aspects of Thai culture that produce women who we’re more compatible with. Different strokes for different folks.