Thai/Western Cross-Cultural Relationships

Something always sits somewhat uncomfortably with me every time I read  the term Thai/Western or Thai/Farang relationships. First of all for those who maybe wondering what an earth a Farang is I will settle that first. A Farang is a term used by the Thais to describe a Westerner, European or Occidental. What sits uncomfortably with me has nothing to do with the relationship part, but more to do with the generalisation of the term Thai or Westerner. However you are probably thinking well how else can someone talking about relationships between Thai’s and Westerners phrase it and of course you have a point.

Having travelled around Thailand extensively and having met many Thai people from different regions you start to notice the subtle differences around the country,” the cultures within a country” as it were. The North, North-East, South and Central each region with variations from the others.

Culture and ways run deep in Thailand

Then you look at the word Westerner or Farang and know that even between just the Aussies, Americans, Canadians and the Brits exist massive differences although we all sort of speak the same language give or take a bit of slang, before even moving on to the rest of the Europeans. I myself am English or a Brit if you like from the South West of England meaning I have spent years just trying to get my head around some of the various regional accents and cultures of the regions in this country and how they think let alone anywhere else.

So when I read a letter from a Thai lady who is having trouble making her Western boyfriend or husband understand her way and say’s the Farang just does not understand, or a Westerner who writes in a general term that Thai’s do this and my Thai girl does that I tend to stop reading as biting on an iron bar is not good for me. Everyone seems to be classified under the term Western/Farang or Thai.

Generalising or stereo-typing is something we all do and yes there are traits noticeable of a people, but to form a truer picture you certainly have to get more information than my girlfriend is Thai or from a Thai perspective my boyfriend is a Farang. Just so I balance this up correctly it could of course be from a Western lady who has a Thai boyfriend or from a Thai man who has a Western girlfriend and the same applies.

A bit of British culture in Thailand. The pub with cottage pie on the menu.

Nationality and Region is only part of the package to sit along side an individual’s personality and character and then the rest of the ingredients must be added in to the equation.

So say you were a gentleman who was looking to settle down with a Thai lady and had met a few already, but had suddenly found one that you were very interested in and wanted to know more about her and perhaps take it to the next level, then the homework should begin.

  • What region is she from (learn about the history of the region and it’s people)
  • What is the City, town or village called (Learn about the history of the region and it’s people)
  • Where did you meet her?
  • Has she travelled outside of Thailand?
  • Has she travelled extensively in Thailand?
  • Education and occupation?
  • Her interests and personality?
  • Do you have much in common?
  • First of all from the list you know she is Thai and will have a massive affiliation to her family. Family in Thailand is top of the list, so you should learn as much as you can about the value of family to the Thais. The purpose of learning this is that sooner or later difficulties will crop up regarding this subject and many others so you might as well have a good understanding early on in the relationship or marriage and be better equip to deal with the situations together.

The list of course could be endless and the Thai can turn this around and do their homework on the Westerner in exactly the same way and should. However I won’t carry on with this list as I don’t want it to seem like an internet dating profile as this really is not the purpose of this post. The main purpose of this post is to point out the differences within a country of its people, which I have always found rather fascinating and to proceed with caution when making mass generalisations.

Homework done and she ticks all the boxes a lady from the North

My interest is more of a light-hearted look at relationships between Thais and Westerners and more specifically a look at Thai/British relationships, being that I am a British national. However I do massively enjoy blending in the  many cultures of the world having had the opportunity to travel a bit or really having created my own opportunities to travel. So future posts will on the relationship side of things be a light-hearted look with hopefully a meaningful message.

One generalisation which I think is safe to make is I suppose you could say that on the whole westerners are more of an individual based culture and the Thai more group oriented. Of course there are exceptions I know, but for the most part this appears to be true.

Being English I could think of nothing worse than a bunch of uninvited people descending upon me, I like my own space and for that I make no apologies. However my wife is Thai from the city of Nakhon Sawan and likes nothing more than a bunch of uninvited guests to turn up, usually it is a lot more Thais with a lot of food and this is how it has always been the own space finding individualist and the group orientated friend receiver.

In the beginning I did my best with the meeting and greeting scene , but it was not long before I found myself being pulled towards the solitary confinement of my study.

In any relationships there are trials and tribulations, but in a cross-cultural relationship the understanding of each others  culture and personality are incredibly important . I have always made big efforts to learn and understand Thai culture hence limiting the amount of cultural gaffe’s I might carry out accidentally in Thailand, but it is very difficult not to put your big western foot in it somewhere along the line.

Thais enjoying company more Group oriented.

However  my wife knew right from the start that I was not going to be moulded in to something I was not and let me stay comfortably  in my space. Hey and that works.

Now if your thinking he seems to have it his own way then please think again as there is no way in the world my wife would be anything but herself and in my book that is how it should be. Have you ever tried to make a Thai do something they do not want to, the picture I am forming in my mind right now is me trying to pull a stubborn mule that won’t budge.

So life in  a cross cultural relationship/marriage can swing from side-splitting laughter to hair pulling frustration or from hair pulling frustration to side-splitting laughter and that I know for sure is on both sides of the equation,but if you’re looking for an answer as to which side is worse, then my wife at this stage in life has a lot more hair than I do.

I look forward to a light-hearted look at some Thai/British relationships and delve in to some of the culture and characters on both sides.

For more articles and information on Thailand please visit  http://www.engagingthailand.com/ which is being continually updated

Book Recommendations:

If your looking for information on Thai -Western Relationships then make sure you get a copy of ”Thailand Fever’‘ by Chris Pirazzi and Vitida Vasant, it covers all the important issues from the basics, money and support, parents and family and much more and is written in both English and Thai so you both can read. Essential reading, so click on this link for more information.   http://www.amazon.com/dp/1887521488/?tag=www.engagingthailandtips.wordpress.com-20

For those looking to gain insights into the Thai courtship rituals and modern dating culture or with the fantastic language phrases given woo a lover in Thai then this is the book for you. Not only informative and educational it is also highly amusing in places. The book is called ‘‘Sex Talk” In Search of Love and Romance by Kaewmala. Fantastic resources for learning Thai language and  a gem of a book to give you the edge in and around the dating scene. Click on this link  for more information.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/9749478835/?tag=www.engagingthailandtips.wordpress.com-20

Finally  a clever book written by Christopher G. Moore called” Heart TalkSay What You Feel In Thai. Where the book is navigated by just one word jai or heart. It delves into the emotive side of Thai culture through language. There are nouns, verbs and adjectives where jai is used and when jai is used as part of compound words it means heart or mind. Christopher cleverly guides you through them all as you get a feeling for how much feeling is in the Thai language. You would not believe you could say so much with the navigation of just one word. Learn what to say in the good times, the hard times, romance, body talk and that only scratches the surface of sub titles.This is just one of many books written by the talented author Christopher G. Moore. Click on this link for more information.                                          http://www.amazon.com/dp/9749411897/?tag=www.engagingthailandtips.wordpress.com

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3 thoughts on “Thai/Western Cross-Cultural Relationships

  1. Very interesting! The expression&the tones of voices from a Thai Women,when they talks or getting angry,upsetting,it’s very difficult for The west or Farank to take it in..or understand it..like No mean Yes!! Keep up the good work mate..I loves reading about The Thai&Farank RTL..it’s strange as well as funny&interesting.

  2. Thank you Keown I will do my best to keep a fair and light-hearted view of Thai/Western cross cultural relationships. Always a lot easier to do with your kind support and comments. Thank you Keown.

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