"He just used my toothbrush!" You'll handle certain surprises better, if you're prepared for
the differences between Asian and western cultures.
From here, continue on
to Gay dating in Thailand, 202
life and customs
Basic travel facts
The Thai language
Making yourself understood
Mai pen rai: a slogan and a philosophy
Gay Thailand tour
Complete site index
Western men who visit
gay bars or other gay venues in Thailand will readily meet Thais who
speak enough English to socialize. Moreover, these Thai men are eager
to meet you. Sooner than expected, you may find yourself socializing
with new friends, or even dating on a level that involves more than
a trip back to the hotel room.
Any Thai who speaks enough
English to carry on a conversation with you probably understands western
customs to some extent. But he'll still be more comfortable if you understand,
and respect, his* own culture and customs.
Some of the customs below
apply only to dating, others will be relevant in a variety of other
social situations as well.
the social superior. The notion of dating someone on
a non-equal basis is tough for most Americans to swallow, but in
Thailand, the concept of social superiority is too ingrained to
be ignored. (See the Social Hierarchy
page.) This doesn't mean you treat your partner shabbily. And in
bed, everything can change. But on a date, it's assumed that you'll
pay. (If a Thai invites you, and offers to pay, that's fine; but
don't expect it.)
initiate public demonstrations of affection. No kissing.
No holding hands. (Granted, straight male friends may hold hands
or walk arm-in-arm in Thailand! But everyone reads the situation
differently when it involves a western man and a Asian man.) Let
your friend set the pace for what's acceptable and comfortable.
often; never criticize. If you must make a comment that
might be construed as "constructive criticism" in the
U.S., do it subtly, and balance it with compliments. Far better
to just compliment.
compare your country favorably to Thailand. Such comments
would be rude in any country; they seem particularly boorish in
Thailand. In general, don't boast, brag, or act superior about anything.
well. Dress reflects status. Long pants, and clean, pressed
clothes, are expected of someone in your position.
generous. This, like dressing neatly, is expected of
someone of your status.
way for little differences. Your new boyfriend may use
your toothbrush, leave pools of water on the floor after a shower,
wear your clothes without asking, or leave footprints on the toilet
seat. None of these acts is unusual by Thai standards, and there's
no reason to object to them. (After that kiss, you think it's unsanitary
to share a toothbrush!?)
prepared to be sniffed! Sniffing someone's cheek shows
be surprised by unannounced visits. Thai people commonly
drop in on friends without notice. While they're more likely to
do this with other Thai friends than with a westerner in a hotel,
it could still happen. If so, do your best to at least make time
for a drink; then you can explain that "this isn't a good time
for a longer visit," should that be the case. Wouldn't it be
awkward if you're entertaining this week's boyfriend when last week's
date drops in? Yes, indeed. But sufficiently common that the Thais
have a term for this situation: It's called a train crash.
Respect each man's feelings and his need to "save face,"
and move along.
There will be occasions
when it's appropriate to make exceptions to many of these rules, but
let a Thai friend guide the way in determining those occasions.
*We use the male
pronoun because this page is compiled primarily from the experiences
of gay men, and we expect it to be largely read and used by gay men.
The advice is generally, but not entirely relevant for lesbians, and
we welcome comments from women travelers about their experiences meeting
and socializing with other women in Thailand.