1. Introduction

Annie, who is my perfect girlfriend, told me that the best way for a foreign man to find a ladyboy girlfriend is for him to walk out into the street and open his eyes, ears and mouth! While it may not seem as easy as that in Thailand’s teeming and eclectic metropolis; Bangkok, there is a simple wisdom in her advice. A favourite bon mot of Thai people is ‘Don’t think too much!’

There are lots of websites about Thailand and Thai women or Ladyboys.

Those I have read seem to be written by intellectual midgets, children (men under 30) or misogynist sex tourists with an axe to grind about ladyboys.

You will be treated to stories of how the blog writer does not pay for sex and is always surrounded by beautiful university girls and sneers at sex tourists or how no Thai girl should ever be trusted and will ruin your life if you let them.

Many of these so-called writers clearly have little experience of Thailand and its denizens, perhaps only writing from the perspective of a tourist. Even the best of these writings offer a polarised view of Thailand and its dating scene. The characters in the stories are bad men, bad girls and no hope. The truth is full of shade, colour and subtlety.

In my experience almost all men living in Thailand have paid for sex at some time or still do even if it’s only from time to time. Some men choose to pay for sex all the time. They actively choose this in preference to having a girlfriend, or after experiencing life with a ladyboy girlfriend. It is true that one does not need to pay for sex, especially but not exclusively, when one is resident here.

Ladyboys constantly post messages and pictures on Facebook saying, ‘I’m horny, I want someone come and fuck me’, another good reason to learn some Thai! So why do some men prefer to pay? The answer is because it makes the sex act a transaction at the end of which, the ladyboy leaves. It prevents the insidious creeping towards a personal relationship with no boundaries that will surely happen if one begins to ‘see’ a ladyboy on a regular basis. It’s also cheaper in the long run. Cynical? No, after all, I am in love and have lived with Annie for some time. I am simply realistic.

Long term prostitution and pornography can be toxic to the soul

Thailand offers that choice to western men and amen to that choice. It’s just not my choice any longer. Some Thai ladyboys who are prostitutes are good-hearted people and some who are not prostitutes are the opposite. Some Thai ladyboys may be university students who pay their tuition by part-time prostitution.

Prostitution in Thailand, while not entirely stigma-free, is not the same animal as in the west. But, Thai men of any standing will not be seen in public, arm in arm, with lowly Isaan girls or prostitutes and many will not be seen with kathoey either. On the other hand it is impossible to avoid seeing western men with the former two in some parts of Bangkok and in places like Pattaya. Men are more nervous of being seen with ladyboys in public. What goes on behind closed doors is another matter.

Thai men represent 55% of all visitors to prostitutes but they are subtle about their activity and avoid the farang-oriented red-light districts. Prostitution, in my opinion, is not good for the prostitute or the men involved if they are looking for a partner rather than sex. The reason, because anytime you equate sex with money any chance of an emotional connection disappears and the longer a ladyboy does that job, the harder it is for her to understand herself or the larger world around her. There are exceptions of course. But if you are looking for an emotional connection with a ladyboy girlfriend why give yourself hurdles along the way. This is not about money itself but the relationship that money has with the rest of your life.

Whether you have a girlfriend or prefer prostitutes you will still pay one way or another. That is the nature of life and love. It’s an expensive business, but less so than in the west.

Finally, there is no reason to be coy about your sexual and relationship preferences. One does not need to publicise the details but secrecy or lying to oneself will keep you in chains. If you truly want a Thai ladyboy partner the three pieces of advice I would like to give you are, understand yourself. Spend some time thinking about what you expect from a relationship and be honest with yourself. Try to understand Thai culture, both the good and the bad and the impact it will have on your life should you decide on a long-term Thai partner. Try to understand Thai ladyboys and their place in society, history and their world view. One cannot help but to generalise when in fact all Thai ladyboys are unique individuals but they do share a common culture and the more you know about it the better you will know her. More in part two.