Updated: Aug 18, 2021
Living In Thailand, specifically Bangkok, can be amazing, but you have to be smart and strategic
There's no easy way of saying this politely, but as a "Western" expat woman your feminism is not an attractive quality, and if you're single and looking to date, your pool is very, very, very small.
“Beauty and attraction matter in this country, for jobs, for opportunities, and how people treat you. No one cares about your degrees, and if you're alone, you need to be smart and see where your leverage is.
Individualism vs. Collectivity
In the West, feminism has enlightened and paved the path for women to study, work, socialize, vote, make decisions about their bodies, and most importantly decide how they want to live their life. Be it settling down and get married, staying single and focusing on your career, starting a family on your own, cohabitating with your partner, and more. Individual choice and having an identity that is not tied to your family or spouse, is very much a western concept. In Thailand, and in other parts of Asia, collectivism, ie family, clan, tribe, and/or community plays are very large role in a person's life, from their identity, abilities to study, career, housing, and more. If you've come to Bangkok, to teach English (I did for about 2 years), work, or study, and you're single, you may come across a few challenges.
Now, if you are married, in a relationship, are asexual, or have no interest in dating, this is not for you. But, you should continue to read, you may learn a few things, as you're never really an "individual" and the following tips may give you some perspective of how to navigate living in Bangkok.
Tip 1: Being Beautiful Matters, And It Influences Everything
Western beauty standards and feminism has allowed women, of all social classes and ambitions to either use their "brains" to get ahead and advance their careers, to use their "beauty" to get ahead and secure opportunities, and the rare combination"beauty and brains" to get everything you want. Being slim, with blonde hair, and blue eyes is definitely still a beauty standard in the West (though now it's trendy do have a big bum and be curvy or fit), in Thailand, beauty and smarts are valued differently.
Beauty is being: fair skinned, oval face, big eyes, full hair, and slim. People will treat you differently in the workplace, at school, at retail stores, even walking in the street, very differently if you're unattractive versus being traditionally beautiful. Now, it's a stereotype that all Asians are slim, but compared to the West (especially the US), Thai women are slimmer on average than the Western woman. And women do take care of themselves, which is great, it's so affordable to go to the salon!
So, if you want to get far here, you need to put an effort in how you dress, your skin care, how you carry yourself in public, how you speak, and how you express yourself.
Tip 2: Dating Is A Numbers Game, And Being An Expat Your At A Disadvantage
Thailand is a beautiful place and attracts tourists from all parts of the world, and there are many different types of expats. However, if you are looking to exclusively date expat men, your pool is very small. Unfortunately, many expat men look to date local women. And it's very rare for Thai men to seriously date or marry expat women (I've seen 3), so you have to be very smart. Frequent places, venues, and hobbies where there are more men than women, dress more feminine, and put an effort into your appearance. I'm speaking from experience, as I've successfully dated a Finn when I was in Bangkok, we met at a meetup for Coders & Hackers, and adjusted my "western views" and embraced being a feminine, soft, but smart independent woman. So it's possible, just be strategic!
Tip 3: Thai Women Are Your Friends, Learn From Them
I believe it's universal that women mistrust each other when it comes to dating and marriage, because of the "scarcity" of finding and keeping a good man. Thai women are business savvy, beautiful, and feminine because the culture and traditions is matriarchal and even for families that own businesses and put their sons as the CEO/President, in most cases it's the daughters and the wives that manage things. So, Western women we can learn from Thai women that your feminine qualities are a strength not a weakness, in addition you can be an independent woman and still be feminine. In the West (especially the US), so many women have been stripped or forced to "rest in their masculine energy" given the corporate and business culture, plus no safety nets. Wheres in Thailand, families support and help each other at every stage of life: studies, marriage, and kids, so the burden of caregiving doesn't solely fall on one woman. So, learn and observe Thai women!