Part of being in a new culture is to experience everything that the place can possibly teach me. One of my curiosities was Thai Men. When in Thailand, you hear frequent comments just how bad Thai men’s behavior is. Besides seeing congregate to drink whiskey together at 3pm in the afternoon, I wondered how bad of a species could they really be? Whenever I look, they are always smiling and excessively helpful.
So the curiosity of their never experienced character and their exoticism allured me to attempt to actually date them. Here in the middle of Issan, Surin to be exact, I was surrounded by flawless dark skinned friendly Thai men with a permanent gigantic smile stuck on their face. Nowhere in sight was a white man who was single. So I couldn’t help but be attract to them. But were they attracted to me?
I didn’t remember being ugly in America, in fact I consider myself visually appealing after I shower. After a few months, I realized its not in their Thai nature to visually check me out. Never do their eyes fall below your neck. Although it leads you to feel invisible, I sometimes slightly wish this was adopted by some Western Men.
Although you can never generalize men based on one experience from other stories I hear that this is how dating is usually approached. I am not referring to the Westernized Chinese-Thai Bangkok boy but rather the rural Isaan son of a father type. The one who is the least exposed to any form of Western dating, besides a few scenes from the latest American action movie dubbed in Thai.
The Thai way is very subtle. It starts off like a small rolling ball not in a hurry to get anywhere, sort of like a Thai buffalo. They want to court. It’s what they know. That is the polite thing to do. It is polite to turn you down when you invite them back to your room after a night of drinking. It’s almost sacred and very rare form of behavior in the west, but at the same time utterly frustrating to the point of feeling rejected. Their lack of aggressiveness I mistook for being uninterested.
When I met Go, I didn’s even realize that I met him. I would often see him when I went to fill up gas on my motorbike; he worked at the same place. It started off just as casual conversation. As my Thai started to improve, so did the length of our conversations. He was the first Thai guy that showed interest in me. Eventually after about two months of me frequenting the gas station, he asked me to go eat noodles with him. I knew that maybe this could mean something. After a few dates, a double date, and a meeting at the local pub as a group date, he still did not even hold my hand. I gave up, thinking maybe he is just not interested in me. Usually I was able to detect this, but at this time in this unfamiliar place, I was not certain what this type of behavior translated to. It drove me crazy for about a month. Beyond frustrated, I phoned an American male friend back at home for some insight. He asked me if I had ever seen “Hidden Tiger Crouching Dragon.” I said “No, why ?” My friend replies, “Well Sarah, the female is supposed to be the one to show interest in the man in Asian culture. You can’t be afraid to make a move.” My pride suddenly stood up and said NO this is not how I have ever done it. I am not the hunter, I am the prey pretending to run from you.
I swallowed my pride and decided to run after him like the tiger. I called him more and I questioned him similar to the style of some of the stalkish men that I have dated. After all, he was a really shy Thai guy and I was probably somewhat alien like to him. After 5 months total and one month of the not communicating, he finally held my hand, after I grabbed his, and then he finally came to my room, after turning me down several times before that. After consulting with a Thai female, she said it is a very ancient culture and this was his way to show his politeness and that he liked me. I had to revert back to a 7th grade dating mind frame and wow there is something so innocent about that.
Overall, Thai men are more polite. They will not make you carry anything and they will act like a man, and you will act like a female. The roles are very clear. He doesn’t like you wearing clothes that are too revealing. Sometimes he may drink and gamble with his friends but he will always laugh and make you laugh, conflict scares him. Although the language barriers and cultural differences can be vast, Thai men are worth exploring ladies if you are in no rush. Sit back, enjoy and observe the ancient style of dating still alive today.