When it comes to meeting someone from a different country and culture, it is best to read the owners manual first. Too many good relationships have gone south because of accidently stepping on cultural toes.
Aside from the physical attraction and the charm of not having an attitude as many western women do, there is learning how and what to do to keep it that way. An angry Thai woman can be no less nasty that her western sisters, so keeping her out of pissed off mode is important for a healthy and long relationship.
Meeting a girl from the country and not from the city can be a delight and a field of land mines all at the same time. A girl from northeast Thailand in an area called Isaan the girls are sweet as you could ever imagine. They have been raised to show respect and to take care of others. The family structure is based on the child seeing to the parents as they get older. That is why a significant percentage of pay is sent home to Isaan every month. There is no social security, it is all inter family support. That same caring and respect for their husband or boyfriend is the icing on the cake.
Because it usually falls to the women to tend to the family while the men work, it means you will ultimately become part of the family via your wallet. How you decide to deal with that is a personal choice. When you decide to get involved in helping her to support her family, there is a very clear line when that should start. Bringing money into the picture too soon is nothing but trouble. In more cases that not, you can expect your girlfriend to be pressured by the family and particularly her mother to tap into your wallet.
This is the single biggest reason that relationships fail. Keep in mind Isaan is the poorest part of Thailand and to them you look like an open ATM machine. In this case her mother is stepping on toes. It is not unheard of for the mother to suggest to her daughter that she should dump her boyfriend and find someone with more money. Always keep in mind that to her parents, initially you are just another source of income. Developing a relationship can always come later. Considering that the normal annual income for a family in Isaan is about $500.00, you can see why money is so important.
As for digging into your wallet, never do that until you are sure she is the right girl for you, and never do it before you meet her. For all you know you could be one of many men being milked by Thai charm. There are several ways to keep her family in check before you tie the knot. The best way is to tell her that you will help her with some money. What she does with that money is up to her. You are dating her and not her mother, so as far as you should be concerned mom is still out of the loop. She can spend it on herself, or she can send it to her family. This way she provides a layer of insulation in that her parents never see money coming from your hand to their hand. Once that happens you will be expected to fork out cash to her mother on demand with ever increasing amounts. Keep in mind this is all optional at this point, as you are still technically single and dating. Once you get married, then another set of rules comes into play, and that will be discussed in another part of this series.
In this article you strike a very important cord. There is no effective welfare in Thailand. The Thais say, “Mie tham gnarn mie kin kao” which loosely translates to “not work not eat.” It is very easy to criticise the working girls, but what choice do they have? Often it is the daughter who provides financial support for the entire family. I have visited Isaan many times over 20 years and witnessed some disturbing poverty.