Thais And Loneliness
:-from Stickman Weekly
It is said that if a Thai woman intimates that she is hungry you should feed her. Right away. A hungry Thai woman can be a difficult beast. But as much as Thais struggle with being hungry, there's something they battle with even more. Loneliness.
Most of us don't like being alone for too long and the subsequent feeling of loneliness, but for the Thais, it's an extreme emotion. The feeling is strong and goes way beyond mere discomfort and into the realm of pain!
The family unit is close in Thailand, insomuch that members of a family not only live together, they often do everything together. In rural areas, multiple generations may sleep together in the same room, work the farm together, go to the temple together and do almost everything together. In wealthy and urban families, family members do many things together as a family, through the kids' teen years, into their 20s and perhaps even beyond. Sunday is family day and restaurants across Bangkok and all over the country fill up with Thai family groups spending much of the day together. Family members may not leave the family home until they get married, often staying at home well into their late 20s or even their 30s. And for those who don't get married, and don't have to travel far for work or study, they may never leave! As such, they are seldom away from others for anything more than a short period of time.
Thais have a group mentality. They live in groups, eat together in groups, may sleep together in groups and certainly socialise in groups, be it with family members, colleagues, university friends or other social groups. Solo activities are the exception, not the norm.
The average Thais finds it hard to get their head around foreigners who may choose to do things alone. For me personally, some of the best times I have had in Thailand have been road trips when I have travelled alone. I prefer it! I can go where I want, when I want and don't have to worry about anyone else. The feeling of freedom is liberating. I love it! But the Thais I meet and interact with along the way look at me as an eccentric, or worse, someone who has no friends, or maybe no family. Why would you want to do something alone, they wonder!
Activities that a non-Thai might typically do on their own, Thais will often do with others, as part of a group. Thai students typically do their homework in groups (and copy the brightest student's answers!). Thai men tend to go to massage parlours in a group or at least with a friend or two. When dealing with officialdom, such as getting a new ID card issued, they will take a friend along. And did you ever see a Thai go to a cinema alone? Thais think I am positively crazy when I say that I prefer to go to a movie I really want to see alone. Sure, watching movies with the Mrs. can be fun, but if it's a movie I really want to see and she isn't so keen on, I'd much rather watch it alone!
For most Thais, time spent alone is an alien feeling, and they will go to lengths to avoid it.
When foreigners hear how badly paid security guards are, we often think that it must be a miserable existence, working for 20 baht an hour or less. But ask any security guard who looks after a property alone, especially one that is empty, they will tell you how lonely it can be - and how they hate that feeling.
With the Thais' penchant for superstition, the worry of spirits, ghosts or other-worldly creatures coming for them is never far from their mind. It's far from limited to youngsters. Many Thai adults fear the bogeyman!
The concept of loneliness is different for Thais and foreigners. Whereas a foreigner can be around a lot of people and still feel lonely - their emotional needs aren't being met - for Thais simply being around people who welcome them and accept them is usually enough to overcome any feeling of loneliness. While the Thais' emotional needs may be less, they can become lonely very easily.
For Thais, loneliness is the opposite of sanuk (the pursuit of fun in everything you do), which they seek in most everything they do.
While there are plenty of Thais in Bangkok and other urban centres living alone, few enjoy it. Living alone is seldom their first choice. Retreating to a room where they have but a TV, mobile phone and perhaps a laptop to keep them company, Thai women can become desperately lonely if they spend much time alone.
Recognising how Thais view time alone, and loneliness, can help us understand some of the common difficulties Western men involved with Thai women face.
When a Westerner splits up with a Thai woman, especially if they had been living together - or spending much of their time together, she can take it particularly hard. It's not just the loss of face - which will always be a big issue, as well as perhaps the loss of financial assistance, if she is living far away from family, knowing that she will be on her own again and likely experience loneliness, is hard. Cold-hearted Stick has heard the pleading words "Please don't leave me alone!" from a few Thai women, each with an almost harrowing look.
Some Thai women are with Western men as much as anything to alleviate their loneliness.
For guys abroad who have a Thai girlfriend back in the Kingdom, leaving her to live alone for long periods is a recipe for failure. You can shower her with money and material goods and call her everyday but if she is living alone she will become lonely quickly. This partly explains why some women involved with a guy who treats them like a princess may still shack up with someone else, or see someone on the sly. It might not be that she doesn't love her man, rather that the feeling of being alone, and the loneliness that brings, is even stronger. To many Thais, loneliness is unbearable!
Over this long New Year holiday, Western guys in Thailand playing around on local dating sites will be swamped with offers from local women keen to meet. You don't have to be good looking, rich or even have any semblance of a personality, she wants to meet you - and stay with you - because she doesn't want to spend the holidays alone - and lonely. I cannot count the number of times I have met an online girl at the start of a holiday weekend who has a bag packed with enough clothes to last a few days, notwithstanding that we're meeting for the first time.
Some Thais see loneliness as a sign that a person has few friends, or worse still, has become estranged from their family. They'll do everything they can to overcome loneliness and being seen like that themselves.
If you're close to a Thai woman, don't leave her alone for too long. If loneliness sets in, no good will come of it.
Stick can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.