I want you to want me,
I need you to need me,
I’d love you to love me . . .
Whodathunk the lyrics of a popular American song from the late ‘70s would so aptly sum up one of the integral aspects in Thai/Farang relationships? Then again, that the tune was sung by Cheap Trick may be telling in its own way. To those whose sole pursuit is a warm crotch, cash is always king when it comes to dealing with a Thai. To those who are looking for an experience beyond an orgasm, figuring out what makes Thai guys tick is a pursuit of its own. Each guy is, of course, different. What one Thai is looking for out of life, or out of his relationship with a farang, can and does differ greatly from what is important to the next guy. But there are some traits all Thai men share. You could easily say the same thing of any nationality, but it holds true more so with Thais thanks to their culture. Thailand is a collectivist society, where like with The Three Musketeers it is all for one and one for all.
Even if it is difficult for the western mind, having been raised in an individualist society, to grasp what that really means, ignoring it is fraught with peril. To the Thai way of thinking it isn’t about you and/or me. It’s about us. And that us often includes at least half the rest of country. That causes a lot of problems in Thai/Farang relationships. Because far too often the farang only sees his giving. And fails to see that the Thai gives just as much if not more. If you allow him to.
Every relationship in the world is based on needs. And on satisfying those needs. For some, in a relationship’s highest form, it’s about needing to be loved. For others it’s about needing to love. There are a lot of aspects of a relationship that determine if it will be successful or not, but when a balance, or match, between those two needs exists you’ve always got a winner. Not that either is necessarily one-sided. Within the heart of most men there is both the need to be loved and the need to love. I suppose the same holds true for women, but trying to figure out the female mind is always a lesson in futility. As is failing to account for the workings of the mind of a Thai.
The key, and where I think many farang blow it by being too wrapped up in their personal neuroses, is in empathizing with the mind-set of the Thai guy you are attempting to have a successful relationship with. Because I too can be dense in matters of the heart, it has been a slow road to comprehending how thoroughly Thai nature impacts my relationship with Noom, my bar boy friend and current love of my life. That has been largely due to, for a change, not being guilty of that often repeated Thai phrase of, “ You tink too much!” but rather having tinked too little. It has been the little things he has said or done over the years that have clued me into what it is as a Thai he needs out of our relationship. And while the naysayers will always claim that’s money, it’s not.
Recently a poster on SGT started a thread questioning what it is that Thai guys think is important to a relationship with a farang, and what it is that they find attractive after you remove money and means from the equation. It was a good question, and an honest attempt at trying to define just what a Thai’s needs are in a relationship. Of course the usual group of disgruntled and disenfranchised immediately chimed in that it is always about baht. Which, for them, I’m sure it is. The OP listed a variety of possible considerations, most of them physical. Which can play a role (it is difficult to love someone who has such a complete disregard of his own self-worth that he smells like a pig sty 24/7) but seldom are the end all.
Ceejay offered the opinion that the Thai ideal of ‘taking care’ was an integral part of a relationship with a Thai, and noted that the English translation of this phenomenon really doesn’t do it justice. His is a spot on call. And serves to provide a basis to understanding both what a Thai needs from a relationship and why that cultural oddity fits, and entices, so many farang into a relationship with a Thai. For both it is about a need deep within them. And – bless us all there is hope for the human race after all – that need transcends from the me to the you and to the we. Cheap Trick managed to get it right, even if their goal was nothing more than snagging a Top 40s hit.
Noom makes his livelihood from having sex with visitors to Thailand. And yet his #1 complaint about those customers is that all they want is sex. Or as he puts it, “Sex, sex, sex, all time sex, sex, sex.” Um, hello? I thought that was what it is all about. Silly farang. To him, sex is just part of his service, and not the most important part. It is the physical part of him taking care of a customer. It is the physical part of him addressing a customer’s needs. But he knows that is not all they need. And can’t understand why they too don’t realize that.
He once told me about a customer who took him to Singapore for a few days. His customer had business there and decided to add some pleasure to the trip by taking Noom along. Nice, I thought, that Noom got to see Singapore while his customer was busy working and attending meetings during the day. But he didn’t. The customer was concerned that Noom’s tats would be viewed as gang markings and trouble would ensue. So Noom spent his entire trip in their hotel room. I expected him to be pissed that all he got to see was the inside of a Marriott. Wrong again Grasshopper. He greatly enjoyed his holiday and thought quite highly of his customer. The highlight of his visit, the part that really stuck with me (and took a year or two before it made sense), was that every morning Noom got up early and ironed the dress shirt his customer planned on wearing that day. Noom is a manly man. I never thought emulating a happy homemaker from the ‘50s would be his personal path to happiness.
Though that act too was physical in nature, it allowed Noom to take care of his customer’s need. It wasn’t the act of ironing shirts that brought him pleasure, but rather being allowed to do his part in providing for yet another of his customer’s needs. Many farang mistakenly believe that in a relationship with a Thai guy they are the benefactor, the source from which all blessings flow. That guy doesn’t see it that way. To him there is balance – a win/win if you need to put it into a more familiar form of reference – where both parties take care of the needs of the other. And where what either side has to offer is of no more importance than the other. Opening yourself to being cared for, which for a western man raised to be the provider is not as easy as it sounds, is key in a relationship with a Thai. Whoever thought that being needy would be the trick to having a successful relationship?
Thai culture, and society, is socialist in nature, if you will. It is a culture where everyone contributes to the well-being of the group, where everyone does their part in taking care of everyone else. The group benefits, as does each person within that group. It’s not something they consciously think about, it is an integral part of their nature. It is the it takes a village-based nature of how they are raised. You can see it in how they interact with their friends, co-workers, and family. And in a relationship, it is what they respond to. Provided you allow them to. Even when it is a need that you don’t realize you have, they try to fill it. They need to be needed to feel whole. Even though that mind-set is not how we are raised, it is surprisingly that so many farang fail to recognize the Thai need to be needed. Because for many of us, that desire to love is the very need that draws us into a relationship with a Thai.
Noom likes to repeat often that before I met him I was a butterfly. I like to repeat often that his saying that has more to do with him reconfirming his place and importance in my life than it does with my nature as a gay man on the prowl. No matter how true it is. But the first time he made that announcement was on our first night together. Before we’d even discussed extending our relationship beyond that night. He recognized both a need within me that I had not yet acknowledged to myself, and my ability to open myself to what he could, and needed, to offer. He’s a pretty sharp cookie. I’d teach him that Cheap Trick song; he would immediately comprehend the meaning behind its words if not the words themselves. But singing in key is not one of his talents. And one of my needs is not an evening of having him screech the Thai version of an American tune in my ear. But he probably knows that too.
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