The Old Roue is not the only person doing research into Thai life.
The Thais are a loyal people. That loyalty may not always well understood by an outsider. The Thais are loyal to the King and Royal family. The Thais are also very loyal to their own personal families. They are also loyal to their communities.
There would be some debate on why they are loyal. Some attribute it to how they are raised. Others would guess that their loyalties are rooted by virtue of how the society works. My guess is that it’s a mixture of both. They are indoctrinated from an early age to respond to their family and society in appropriate ways. And yes, some of their success in life also depends to some degree how they conduct themselves and perform their social obligations.
All of their actions in some way exhibit their loyalties.
As westerners, we are the same. Our actions follow our loyalties as well but our loyalties don’t always involve the social circles that we live in. The single westerner is commonly loyal to their integrity and their career. Or the westerner may be loyal to their own personal endeavors. In the west, we sever ties with family in may ways. We are the ones “pushed out of the nest” and taught to fend for ourselves. We still love our families and we have an allegiance to our families, but our immediate and future successes don’t directly depend on our direct loyalty to our families. We are certainly more on our own in may ways.
Here in Thailand (and other places in Asia), loyalty to the family is paramount to how Thais work within the framework of their society. Thai children are not pushed out of the nest. They are taught how to make their family’s nest larger and more powerful. They are encouraged to stay in the family and support and nurture their families. This is a prime priority; this is perhaps their greatest loyalty. Frequently, in their minds, their own personal happiness may be sacrificed in order to unsure the health, stability, and happiness of their family. That is their priority. That is what most heavily influences their decisions.
Loyalties is just one type of influence. It is likely to be their greatest influence. There are a number of others and I’ll list a few here to diagram how I think a Thai person thinks.
I’m going to diagram the circles of influence that I believe effect a younger (20′s – 30′s) Thai female. I believe that most of my readership is most interested in that segment of this society. It’s will Thai females that most foreigners have the most direct and personal contact with. This is the gender that seems to mystify us the most.
The number of influences are not few in number. There are many. I’m only going to diagram 5 circles to keep this treatment of the subject simple.
First, we’ll omit the influence of the King and Royal family. Thais really can do all normal everything things without any conflicts in their their allegiance to the King. Assume for the sake of this article that all other circles are inside their loyalty to the King.
The five circles we will itemize are:
Obligation to Family (orange)- This is the influence that requires the Thai female to “check with her mother” first. This is very common in the normal landscape of Thailand. You won’t see any Pattaya girls checking with Mom first, but I assure you it happens all the time in the country. The needs of the family also drive the girls into gainful employment. The key would in that sentence is “gainful”. Make no mistake. One of the key influences for a girl to work is the family. That family need is typically greater than her own personal needs.
Teachings of Buddha (yellow)- This influence calls the girls to be kind, generous, and do no harm to another person.
Sexual Desire (blue)- This is her native desire to be in a normal sexual physical relationship.
Personal Interests (pink)- This would be her natural interests and desires. That might include wanting to travel or go to school. This would also include the personal desire to have children and be happy.
Greed (green)- Personal selfish desire to be wealthy. Everyone has some greed and the Thai female is no different. In the country, greed is not so easily seen in many cases. In Pattaya, greed is much more apparent.
Social Correctness (brown)- This is a girls influence that asks here to be polite, and conform to proper social etiquette. Girls will go to some length to satisfy the appearance of conforming social correctness. This is obviously not so commonly seen in Pattaya but it’s very common in the country.
When I deal with the a country girl I think of her in these terms of the diagram above. I know that she is very concerned about family obligations. I know her personal interests are smaller and take a back seat to the greater need for social correctness. She wants to be in love but she is more likely to agree to arranged marriages if the family is deeply in need. She puts her own selfish desires typically behind the needs of her family.
Zone 1: If she wants a new telephone and she works at the local restaurant and flirts with her male customers to gain extra tips so she can buy that telephone, she’ll be operating in zone 1. It’s not against Buddha, and it serves her family and it may not necessarily require sex to obtain. Many girls operate in this zone.
Zone 2: If she is secretly meeting guys for sex and money then its more likely that she is operating in the area of zone 2. In most cases the family will not know (or does not want to know) that she is exchanging sex for money. It’s totally outside the local social values system but not against Buddha and she may be doing it for family or just for her own personal financial desires. She may or may not care for the sex. And though her actions are contrary to Buddha, the local community would not openly condone her actions.
Zone 3: Zone three is quite common for girls who have a secret boyfriend. He supports her, she has a monogamous commitment to him. It’s not marriage but its functional for her life and it helps the family. In most cases the family may know about the boyfriend but may not know about the intimacy of the relationship. For those of us (like me) who are quite shy of marriage, this is a common zone to be in.
Zone 4: If you happen to have a relationship with a girl in this zone, the girl loves you and will devote herself to you and will certainly want to be married to you. To her, its not even a matter of greed. She’ll not be seeking out your money as a prime concern. If you are standing in this zone for her, she’ll be quite a happy lady and you’ll bring honor to her family and the surrounding community in which she lives.
The circles of influence for a bar or go-go girl are quite a bit different. In Pattaya or the Bangkok “red light” districts, social correctness is significantly reduced. The girls there don’t feel in influences of social correctness as they would in their home town.
This girls enjoy the freedom to indulge in sex for personal advancement. Greed is a common influence.
Zone 1: A girls is at the top of her game. She is enjoying the work. She is making great money. She is doing something she likes and she is building the family their new home. She is really not doing anything bad against anyone and this is no conflict to her Buddhist teachings. Life is pretty damn good in this zone.
Zone 2: A girls is ripping of guys for cash. She is certainly outside of the Buddhist principles and she knows it. She may also be into drugs and just headed down a bad path. She may not care about herself anymore.
Zone 3: This has been working for a while or this is the type that never really liked the bar industry. She wants to get out of this work and marry and leave. She is still doing well, but is not much interested in the money as a means to the end. She may very well look forward to marriage and as the means to the end for a happy life. Or this girl may have already made a lot of money and she is looking to retire. She may be in a transition frame of mine. Perhaps she saw a close friend die of a drug overdose or someone she knows contracted AIDS. Greed is off the table and she is probably planning an exit strategy.
Zone 4: This is a girl who is in trouble. She has over-stayed here visit to the naughty night life industry and her beauty is waning. She may be having a hard time making enough money to support family back home and wants to leave but doesn’t have any other skill required to work anywhere else. This girl is looking to marry as well but knows that her options are much slimmer than the younger more attractive girls who work with her.
In all of these models, the circles of influence are changeable based on surrounding influences to some extent. And as an example, a girl down in the south battling Muslim hatred and violence would find here circles very different in size and placement.
As a foreigner, you may coax her into different zones by what influence you have on her…
What about Honesty?
As for honesty – and this is a big point…… The greatest honesty from a girl is seen when she is in her natural zone and she has no external influences on her position. In other words, if you meet a country girl who is ready to marry and she is basically in zone 4, all other things being equal, she is honest plain and simple. However, if you meet a girl in zone 4 and you appeal to her greed and desire for sex and pull her over to zone 1, then honestly will be reduced.
Conversely if you meet a bar girl at the peek of her profession (zone 1) and you just want a hot piece of sex and a good time, then she’ll be straight up and honest with you. But let’s say you fall in love with her (or think you did) and you ask her to stop working for money, then you appeal to her greed and offer to send her significant cash to stop working. You push her outward toward Zone 2. She may reluctantly agree, and she take and cash, and she may have a slight itch to consider leaving the bar scene, but in reality, she won’t leave. She is at the top of her game! She knows that she’s not being right by the Buddhist philosophy, she knows its not right in the eyes of community, but damn it, she’ll reason that her family could always use the cash, and what you don’t know won’t hurt you. She’ll lie to you. Expect it. In my mind, and the limited knowledge that I have about bar girls in Zone 1, they typically leave when their value starts to wane. Very very few just jump ship on all that income without a very good reason. If if they do take a respite from the industry, they are normally sucked back in again because life back at the house is pretty boring when compared to hot sex with the men of their choice, gratuitous shopping, and that occasional trip to Phuket.
Honesty is not a fundamental virtue inside the circles of influence. Honesty is more the result of allowing a girl to be themselves in any zone they reside in. Honesty is part of the Buddhists teachings, and it is part of family values but it takes a big back seat in normal everyday life. Honesty is not practical. It’s not a primary influence.
Loyalty is in fact be more important than honesty.
Your notice here that I make no mention of integrity. I don’t sense that the Thai operate from it. When an action looks like integrity I typically hear them refer to it as Buddha would not approve, or this is not good to do (in a social context). I occasionally hear them talking about “Jai Ching” (honest heart), but it’s not a large driving force.
Integrity is not a motivator. It’s doesn’t command respect because it not a principle that is taught in this society.
Consequently, you can not operate in the realm of honestly with this girls. You have to operate keeping their circles of influence in mind.