The men who come to Thailand looking for love or its counterpart are not the ones who resemble movie stars. As a rule, they are the guys who struggled to find girlfriends back where they came from, and are hoping that the economic incentives a developing country offers might make them more desirable.  They are often right, though you get what you pay for. Purposeful forgetting will not erase the fact that this is a largely economic transaction. When questioned, most of these men will insist that the woman in question finds them charming or interesting or funny, and that the money has nothing to do with it.

It can be fun to see these hookups in action.  Not all of them are exploitative or creepy.  Pattaya is Bangkok’s whorehouse-by-the-sea. There, many an aging Caucasian man can be seen hanging onto the arm of a young Thai hottie.  I don’t think any one man or any one woman in this case is guilty of anything.  Since the women speak only a few words of English and the men speak no Thai, not much conversation goes on, but they both look reasonably content in each other’s company.  It’s not a creepy scene.  It’s a business deal, up-front and out in the open.  It’s transparent.

And how important are age and looks anyway?  If two people want to be together for whatever reason, why shouldn’t they, no matter whether their partnership fits into conventional models of romance?

I am a retired Caucasian man in Thailand and have recently met an attractive Thai girlfriend who is nineteen years my junior.  She doesn’t speak English, and I only speak a little Thai, so communicating about practical matters is often problematic.  Google Translate can only do so much.  When I describe our relationship to my women friends they always ask “How do you communicate?”  No man has ever asked me that.

Don’t know how far we’ll be able to run with this, but so far, I’d have to say that our lack of a common spoken language has had one unintended benefit.  She has never invited me to talk about our “relationship.” and we have never wasted a moment of our time together arguing about abstractions.