The term “Sexpat” often brings puzzled looks when mentioned around people who haven’t heard the term. If you ask most people in the Western world what they know about Thailand, they’d be hard-pressed to get beyond “prostitution” and “Western men moving there for Thai women”. Thailand has much much more to offer than that, but they would also be correct on both counts – both do exist here.
Thailand has its fair share of visible prostitution, however, per capita-wise it actually has less prostitution than does the United States. It’s just that it’s more visible in Thailand. And as far as Western men moving to Thailand for Thai women, yep, we have tons of them – we call them ‘Sexpats‘ (ex-pats here for sex) and they’re everywhere.
How Do You Spot a Sexpat?
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But how do you spot a Sexpat? And why is he here? (and I say ‘he’ because, even though there are a few female sexpats in Thailand, they’re outnumbered 1,000 to 1 by men). And what is it that makes them hook up with prostitutes when there are thousands of ‘good Thai girls’ who would likely give them a chance?
Men who fall in the sexpat category seem to come to Thailand when all else has failed in their home country. They’re often going through a messy divorce or break-up, they’re not paying their alimony or child support, they’ve got credit card bills out the yin-yang they can’t afford to pay, and the job they’ve had for 30 years is killing them. Then a friend of theirs tells them about Thailand.
Otherwise known as the Land of Smiles, it’s a place where the sun always shines, the living is cheap, and Thai girls are falling over themselves to date and marry a Western man. Unlike your ex-wife or girlfriend, they’ll treat you right. They’ll wait on you hand and foot, cook and clean, always look slim and beautiful, and the sex will be earth-shattering.
What Is A Sexpat?
So these guys pack up everything they own, board a plane and they’re in the Land of Smiles within a week. They check into a cheap hotel or rundown apartment building and head down to Patpong or Nana, the famous sex tourist areas in Bangkok. When they get there, they’re bowled over to see their friend was correct. There are beautiful, sexy Thai women everywhere and all shouting “Hi honey, sexy man, you come home with me?”. And sure, you’ve got to pay. But it’s cheap, right?
Their first few weeks, even months, in Bangkok disappear in a blur of drinking, drugs, and sex. By the time they wake up, they’re usually married to or at least heavily involved with one of the girls they met in a bar. She’s moved into his apartment, her kid’s there too, and she now spends most of her day watching soap operas or on the phone gossiping with friends. She talks a lot but he doesn’t understand what she’s saying, and she soon gets angry with his refusal to learn Thai.
She’ll leave at night to do her stint at the bar. Or she won’t, and the guy will soon be saddled with paying for all her bills and necessities as well as his own. It’s then when he realizes he’s actually got it worse here than in his own country because at least at home he can speak the language. This is when reality usually sets in.
Here he is miles from home in a foreign country, still not quite fully developed, shacked up with a woman who is half his age and whose conversational abilities in English don’t usually extend beyond “When we eat?”, and “You buy me this?”
Same Old Story
It’s then many of them begin to spend even more time at the bars, either with the hope of meeting somebody different (they won’t!) or just wanting to drown their sorrows in cheap Singha or Chang beer.
A year down the road, they’ll still be there. In the same barstool, with the same girlfriend or another one similar, and with even less money than when they started. Most of them will have picked up a low-paying ‘teaching’ job, something they’re not qualified for and don’t really know how to do. They’ll show up for work most of the time, although several days off a month with a hangover won’t be unusual.
The school will keep them on because they’re desperate for Western teachers, but the respect they initially had for them will dwindle. Eventually, they’ll be kicked out on their ass and will simply go on into another dead-end job, this one probably worse than the last and paying even less.
It’s all sad, meaningless, and empty and, what’s really tragic, is there are thousands of these guys. You see them all over Bangkok and Pattaya. In their 50s and 60s, overweight and bald, with a Thai girl barely out of her high school uniform hanging on their arm. They’re loud and rude and despised by the Thais, yet they walk around with the colonial mentality that they’re God’s gift. After all, they must be. They have an 18-year-old Thai girl on their arm, a bottle of $1 beer in their bag, and all’s right with the world.
But deep down, when you get one of them alone and they think they’re talking to a sympathetic ear, the floodgates will open and it all comes out. They hate their jobs, and their girlfriends treat them like dirt. They don’t understand what’s going on around them, they’re living from paycheck to paycheck but don’t have the money to go home even if they could. They thought their life in America, the UK, Australia, Germany was bad, but this is even worse.
Then 10 years later, on the same bar stool in the same bar, you’ll see them again. Older, fatter, and balder and, by now, usually smellier too. Same story, same mess, different girlfriend, worse job. Same life.
Thus is the tale of a Thailand sexpat – and there’s more coming every year.
Is there a place in Thailand for the 21st Century Sexpat?
The story above is considered a cautionary tale by most but it also has plenty of merits. Thailand has a way of chewing lonely western men up and spitting them right back out on the sizzling Pattaya pavement. Vacationing or retiring in Thailand isn’t for everyone. Being aware of the many pitfalls and traps that can come along with visiting or retiring in Thailand is key to a successful holiday or retirement.
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If you have a similar story to share about Thai Sexpats or any others for that matter please leave a comment below!