Visitors to Pattaya almost always comment on the large numbers of rather old men and rather young ladies they see about town. It probably does look rather…strange. Some feel it is disgusting, pathetic, and so forth. Others however, must think, “Gee, I wish that were me,” or “Go for it.” So, what is going on in Pattaya? How and why are all these…people…getting together? We can only speculate as no one, probably not even the people involved, knows for sure.
Poverty: the ladies involved almost always come from poor backgrounds. Most are from Thailand’s poor agricultural northeast, where the economy, even in the best of times, generates very few jobs, and the small farms they grew up on simply can’t support the people that live on the farm. They are unable to get the credentials necessary for jobs in larger places, and even if they could, they probably could not get hired! And marriage to Thai men is not such a good idea as the men have many of the same problems the ladies have. Furthermore, many ladies are pressured by their mothers and fathers to support them! Therefore, many Thai ladies are open to and anxious for marriage with someone other than Thai men.
Why marry foreign men?: over the years a myth, or rather a story, has developed about the riches foreign men can bestow on a Thai wife and her family. The stories have a basis in fact. There are many examples of Thai women who have married foreign men who have improved their lifestyles and been able to send money back to their parents and communities. It is not surprising, then, that many ladies want to marry foreign men. The ladies further justify the story by comparing the foreign men to Thai men, who are portrayed as being “no good.”
Why marry older foreign men? This is where the story begins to get interesting. There are several possible explanations or factors to consider. Among these are availability, the generosity factor, staying in Thailand and differing views of the old and the young.
Availability: a big reason younger ladies marry older men is simply that the older men are available whereas the younger men are not.. Older men move to Thailand with the intention of settling down. They get long term visas. Young men, on the other hand, can’t legally live in Thailand. Money in itself, no matter how much, does not qualify young men to live in Thailand. Young men who want to stay in Thailand generally must get jobs to qualify for long term visas, and there are very few jobs in Pattaya they are eligible to do. Most younger men end up in Bangkok, where many more job opportunities occur…or they are simply here today and gone tomorrow.
The Generosity Factor: a second big reason is that Thai women perceive (probably correctly) the older men as being much more generous and free spending than younger men. The old, by and large, are receiving pensions which were accrued in years when the economies of their home countries were very prosperous. They don’t worry if this income will be here today and gone tomorrow. Many also have nice savings. If this money was earned painfully – and much of it was earned in countries where the rights of workers were protected and enforced by the national governments – the memory of the pain is not so great. Thus, these men feel confident enough to spend freely… although there are always exceptions. The young, on the other hand, don’t have savings. They must worry a lot and plan for the future. And, if they work in the Thai economy, they are painfully aware of how hard it is to earn every baht. Therefore, they are not free with their money. They are much more likely to ask questions such as “Why do you need that?” In the eyes of ladies, this makes them “cheap charlies.” Where the young must, if they are honest, approach a woman and say “Let us work hard together and make a life,” the older man can say, “Come live in my condo, eat with me at Sizzler, drive my car, give money to your parents…”
Want to Stay in Thailand: it is surprising how many Thai ladies do not want to marry and go overseas ...They want to marry and remain in Thailand. Of course, when one ponders this choice, it does make sense…Why would someone want to move to a strange place where they have no friends and are totally at the mercy of the husband and his family? And yet, this is what many young men offer. Often, successful young men meet Thai ladies on vacation and want the lady to come with them…but the lady does not want to go…or maybe can’t go because of visa requirements. This set of problems is not a problem where the older men are concerned. They are specifically looking for companions who are happy to be in Thailand…to live in their condo, eat with them at Sizzler and so forth.
Perceptions of the Young and the Old: ladies perceive old men and young men differently, in part, of course because of the generosity factor. But more is involved than this. It is easy to view the young as sexually demanding, impatient, and violent; whereas the old are easily viewed as fatherly, kind and understanding. Maybe this is unfair, but there is probably some truth to it. Certainly, many ladies would rather be married to a fatherly figure than some demanding, sex crazy beast…even if the old guys are also maybe a little sex crazy!!!!
Why marry younger Thai women?? The answer to this question is probably clearer than the answer to “Why do young women marry older foreign men?” It seems very obvious. The most simple answer seems to be that these women are also available, they are generally attractive and they are very interested in the older men…and they are able to make the older men feel good. Something is also involved which might be called the “Asian Mystique,” which is an aura of sexuality, attractiveness and mysteriousness’ which Western men have come to believe is true of Asian women. On the other hand, however, some men are actually happy to assume the roll of father figure and take care of their little “baby.” So, the Thai ladies have a lot going for them…even if they have no money at all!! There is another factor involved which is often neglected but also important and that is that the women, with their ability to speak and read Thai, can – and the word can should be emphasized – help make the life of a foreigner in Thailand easier.