Culture Guides

True Love Abroad?

For all that we might laugh about the garish, exploitative side of sex tourism or the sterility of mail order brides, the fact is that a Western guy in his 50’s can still go and live in Venezuela, Thailand or Romania and end up with a pretty nice girl by his side.

And not only because he has money.

In much of the world, women’s rights are a late night joke between the guys over a beer, just before they go home to slap their wife around for not having a hot dinner ready at 2am. When she protests that there’s no money in the house to buy any food because he drinks all their income away, he jumps in the car and goes to an understanding professional who makes him feel like a man again.

In short, in most cultures around the world, men behave like cretins and women get the short end of the stick time and time again. So when a Western man arrives and treats a woman with courtesy and respect, buying her gifts instead of beating her then, well, what matter if he be 20 years older and a little on the plump side.

And if there’s one common refrain amongst ex-pat Western men it’s that Western women have become too masculine, aggressive and no longer know how to take care of them. An understanding Colombian wife cooks, cleans and maintains a femininity that disappeared in most first world countries 20 years ago.

Yes, yes, but aren’t they still trying to buy love?

There’s a great book available in Thailand for Farang/Thai couples written in English on the left-hand side and in Thai on the right. On the section about money and marriage, the Thai woman is urged to understand that in the West we’re taught that money and love don’t go together. That the moment she asks him for money he’ll assume he’s been taken for a ride.

The authors go on to remind the Farang that in Thai culture the man is always expected to provide for his wife and her family. He ought to show his gratitude to her parents for raising her otherwise she wouldn’t exist to brighten up his life! If he doesn’t give her money then she’ll think he’s just using her.

It’s a tricky subject and probably goes on a case by case basis. What’s clear is that you can’t take one glance at a Westerner romancing with an Asia/Russian/Latin American and presume you know what’s going on. Any traveler who’s learnt anything on the road knows that it’s vital to leave his cultural values and judgements at home if he’s ever to understand anything.

And never more so than in affairs of the heart abroad.