True Love Between 60 year old Westerner & a 25 year old Thai
Why would a 60 year old westerner expect a 25 year old Thai to truly love him? Maybe the question should be, “Why should a 60 year old westerner expect a 25 year old Thai to truly love him?” Is there any chance of this concept ever occurring? One can imagine the discussion between the two parties in the late afternoon discussing what they should do that evening.
“Honey, what do you want to do tonight? I was thinking about either going to karaoke restaurant with other 60 – 70 year old foreigners and singing a few Elvis songs. If you do not want to go to karaoke, then maybe we can go to my local bar and we can drink with my friends. Maybe I could take you out to a nice dinner somewhere.”
“Papa, can we go to a disco with my friends so I can dance and have fun? I do not care about restaurants that cost lots of money because the food is not the same as Thai food from the local market or food cart. If you want to go to your bar, then up to you, I can take your Ipad and look at the Internet whilst you get drunk. I will take care of you when you want to go home.”
Why would a 60 year old westerner expect a 25 year old Thai to truly love him? Does a 60 year old westerner and a much younger Thai have anything in common? This westerner has lived a full life and experienced many different things. He has worked for many years in professional roles and likes to enjoy a quality meal in a quality setting.
He appreciates the finer things in life and wants to ensure that the love of his life can experience the same things under his direction and lead. He also prefers the comradeship of his foreign friends in Thailand and likes to social with them regularly.
A Young Thai Perspective
For the significantly younger Thai, life is quite different, and so are her aspirations and perceptions. She does not know what she does not know. What she does know however, that the other times they have dined in fancy and expensive restaurants the food has been horrible and she has struggled to find something edible.
She prefers the flavours of traditional Thai food and she knows that the best place to buy this food is from the local food carts or local Thai restaurants. All other food is terrible and she does not like to try new things. Questions start to appear in her thoughts? Why is he spending so much money on food when she could send this money home to her family to gain more Face and take care of her family’s needs.
She is young and if she wants to go out, she wants to spend time socialising with her friends. She wants to go to discos, dance, drink and have fun. She wants to stay out until she has had enough and then sleep for the whole of the next day; the same as her friends. This is what she is used too; this is what she has observed and experienced her whole young life.
The Elderly Western Perspective
Ultimately in most cases her elderly western partner will take her to his local bar and socialise with his friends. The foreigner’s ideas of socialising are different to that of Thais. She will have to endure him progressively getting more inebriated as the night continues until he can barely stand up. He will then want to go home and expect her to take care of him whilst he is not capable of caring for his own welfare.
For the elderly westerner, the idea of going to a disco is not fun at all. He will struggle to hear anything for the next few days post the disco event, and he knows that he will pay extremely overinflated prices for drinks whilst in the venue.
He fears she will invite her friends who will expect this ‘rich westerner’ to buy drinks for everybody for the duration of the night. He is well aware that all discos in the tourist areas charge higher prices for foreigners, and anyone in their company, including Thais. In some cases the Thais with foreigners will receive a cash kickback from the venue for bringing the foreigner into the venue in the first instance.
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How can an old Westerner and a Young Thai Compromise?
Regardless of where they go, and what activities they commit too, everything is a compromise. These compromises are significant and severely restrict one of the two individuals in the relationship. It is not difficult to understand why different mindsets and expectations exist.
One is elderly and has experienced everything previously; the other has yet to experience many things in life and is at an age where human nature dictates that one should enjoy themselves as much as possible. One has the benefit of life experience and the other is yet to experience life.
To any outside observer, it would appear that relationships with such a significant age differential are destined to fail. The foreigner is nearly two generations older than his Thai partner. Why can he not see the reality of the situation? What is preventing him from seeing the reality of this scenario? Is he blinded by love? Does he actually think that she loves him and is prepared to forgo a major part of her adult life because of her feelings towards this fatherly or grandfatherly figure.
More importantly, does he actually believe her constant reassurances that she cares for him; that she really loves him? She tells him she thinks he is sexually and physically attractive, and she does not like the much younger and fitter Thai males similar to her own age group. Does he actually believe this? The short answer is he does believe her; his actions prove this. The bigger question is, should he believe it, or is he deluding himself?
Even though any relationship with a much younger person in his own country would never be successful, he believes that in Thailand, it can be different. Why, because he observes other examples of this everywhere he goes in Thailand; but where has he been in Thailand? He has been to the main tourist areas where the sex industry thrives and therefore his perceptions of his limited experiences in Thailand become his reality. He believes what he observes, and accepts this as normal.
Who Is She Really?
Is his much younger Thai partner thinking the same? Does she have the same opinions about their relationship and accept that this foreigner really loves her for who she is? Firstly, who is she? Has she been totally honest with him, and told him the truth about herself. She has spent the majority of her life in rural areas in villages, and she is well aware that the tourist areas of Thailand do not represent real Thai culture or real Thai behaviour.
In her village she worked on the family farm and was expected to perform all roles. Regardless of gender, this young Thai was expected to contribute to all areas of the family farming business, whether that be working in the rice fields, harvesting the crop or loading the produce for the market. Has she told her western partner her whole life story, or has she mixed the truth with fiction to ensure that he has fallen for her and chooses to remain long term with her.
Does she have a child from a previous marriage or relationship with a Thai? How old is this child, and what interaction does she have with the child’s father and the father’s family? Has the child’s father completely removed himself from her life, or is this just a convenient story that has been told to many customers previously?
Has he been to the village to meet her family? If this Thai is in their twenties, then in most cases this Thai’s parents will be much younger than the new western partner. Did she ensure that her family showed him a level of respect that he is entitled too, or was that display of respect more aligned to the status of the family’s farm buffaloes?
Does The Age Gap Really Matter
She accepts that this westerner cares for her and loves her in his own foreign way, but what emphasis does she place on this? Most importantly does she feel the same feelings for him or is it more a case of exploiting him financially as much as possible. When they travel together outside of the tourist areas, does she feel embarrassed to be seen in public with this much older foreigner? She is well aware of the perceptions of Thai society, and especially when Thais that are observed with foreigners. The judgements of Thais will be much more severe if this foreigner is elderly and frail.
All those that see her with this elderly foreigner will instantly adopt the attitude that she is a sex worker with her customer. She can either accept this judgement by her social peers or attempt to portray something different to prove otherwise.
Facing Some Realities
There may be another problem for this young Thai to manage. All that know her in her village and surrounding areas may have been told that she departed the village some years earlier to work in the larger cities. This young Thai was never specific about where she worked and what job she employed in. She had always informed her family that she worked in a restaurant, and due to the large tipping nature of the tourist areas, she had been able to earn good salaries; sending reasonable sums home monthly.
This young Thai’s return to her village with a much older foreigner signifies that she may have been less than truthful to others about where she worked and the job itself. By association with this elderly foreigner; she she may have labelled herself as a sex worker who has sold her body to foreigner customers. She may lose Face with everybody who knows her.
Ironically, although there are some differences between western and Thai social acceptance of age differences in relationships, it does not extend to one living or marrying someone the age of their father or grandfather. If one was to sit and talk with respectable Thais, they would quickly understand the social and cultural repercussions of these actions. Even though these social condemnations may not always be openly expressed to the individual concerned, the social judgement definitely exists.
As soon as this Thai and her significantly older foreign partner venture outside the tourist areas of Thailand, the world is watching. They enter a different world and will be judged by all. He will be judged as a sex tourist; a foreign sex monger with his paid prize. She will be judged as the lowest of the low; a Thai sex worker with her foreign customer. If there were any doubts about her profession and social status, the proof is standing beside her.