Going Steady Before You Are Ready

We looked last month at guys who bring their wives or girlfriends with them on holiday to Thailand and how that’s not the ideal travel arrangement. But maybe they had no choice … it was that or don’t go at all.

We’ll look at a more common pattern in this column: guys who show up here unattached and then inadvertently acquire a girlfriend once they’re here. A lot of guys seem to get caught that way, so this month we’ll look at some ways of avoiding that plight.

How does a guy show up here and inadvertently acquire a girlfriend? Here’s the progression. The guy arrives on holiday after many months of minimal (and tepid) sex back home with women who look like me in a wig. Once in Southeast Asia and surrounded by nubile lovelies all wanting to be his new best friend, he succumbs. How could he not?

So he selects his bride du jour and they retire to his room for some quality time. Soon after, it’s “Flip flop, panties drop, he’s on top, bop bop bop.”

And when morning comes, so does he (again). At this point, he’s had a round or two of her bonking him happily and eagerly. And perhaps she had started out the festivities the night before by swallowing his tadpoles, all the while gazing lovingly into his eyes.

He’s not used to this kind of “service with a smile” back home, and so he is instantly smitten. Next thing you know, he decides to keep this girl for the rest of his trip. Yesterday, he had no girlfriend. Today, he has one … just like that. And tomorrow, he’ll be researching visa requirements back in his home country.

That’s a common pattern among newbies. But even returning scamps who have had several campaigns under their belts can sometimes end up with an unplanned girlfriend here.

Imagine the same scenario as above … you “early-released” a young lovely, you have enjoyed your night of bliss together and now you’re dressed and getting ready to go out and greet the day. The obligatory gratuity changes hands and you bid her a fond adieu.

And then she makes her move: “So … you’ll come to see me again tonight?”

That’s the moment of truth … you didn’t come to Asia to be a one-woman man. Maybe you’re just naturally poly-amorous? Maybe you had an “okay” time with her but it didn’t register as high on the Richter scale as you had hoped?

So, what’s a nice guy like you to do? You could always be honest and tell her, “Nope, one night with you was plenty for me … I think tonight I’m going to try to find someone else who’s a lot sexier that you are”.

But you won’t. After all, it might hurt her feelings. What that really means is that she might cause a scene. Women will do that now and again and it isn’t pretty.

So you take the path of least resistance and tell her what she wants to hear: “Um … uh … okay … sure, I’ll see you tonight.”

That’s what motivational gurus refer to as “buy-in”. And she has now gotten it from you. The advantage goes to her.

One of two things will happen next: (1) You keep your word and show up at her club again tonight; or (2) You do a “no show” and avoid her club tonight.

If you show up, there’ll be no graceful way to not take her again (as she may cause a scene otherwise). So you’re now on the slippery slope to acquiring an inadvertent girlfriend. The same dynamic will unfold the next morning as did this morning and you’ll soon be hers.

If you don’t show up, will she just blow it off? Maybe, yes … maybe, no. It’s the luck of the draw (although I’m guessing it will depend more on whether or not someone else early-released her that night). If she didn’t get early-released, she may show up at your hotel when her shift ends.

You had promised to come see her but when you didn’t, she started to worry that maybe you were ill and needed her to come over and nurse you through your bout of sickness. Well, she may phrase it that way but she is actually thinking that you met some other woman you like better and the interloper is probably in your bed right now. And that’s not such a bad guess on her part, either.

She will want to come up to your room to nurse you back to health. Which really means that she wants to come up to your room, see who’s in the sack with you and then have both a cat-fight (the interloper is the other cat) and a dog-fight (you’re the dog) all at the same time. If the interloper decides to bail out on you (the more common pattern in my experience), then it’s just you and your “previous liaison” in the room now.

She’ll scream at you, cry, pout, maybe throw things … in other words, all the things women pull that men have no idea how to handle. She’ll accuse you of not loving her, of thinking she’s no good, of not thinking she’s pretty and so on. In an effort to cheer her up (i.e. stop the tantrum), you will deny that she is any of those horrible things. “Oh, no, you’re really a very fine person,” you’ll suggest hopefully.

That will give her the opening she needs. “Oh tilac [that’s the Thai word for ‘honey ko’], you really do love me!” she’ll exclaim excitedly. Before you can respond, she’ll smile coyly and say, “Okay, we go to bed now” and then she will hop into your bed.

You’re toast.

The next morning, she won’t gently ask you, “So, you’ll come to see me again tonight?” This time, it will be much more direct, as in: “I’ll see you tonight.” If you don’t come for her, she’ll come for you.

Voilà … you’ve now got a girlfriend! See how easy that was?

Most experienced Asia hands eventually learn how to evade these traps. But if you’re still fairly new at the game, your old Uncle Hannibal will share his bag of tricks on how to avoid going steady before you’re ready.

Be Vague. How do women avoid being pinned down when you try to get them to commit to something? That’s easy … they become very tentative. They won’t tell you “yes,” since that would represent buy-in. And they won’t tell you “no,” since that would at the very least motivate you to keep trying to wear them down.

Instead, they’ll use an expression such as “I’ll try”. Let’s look at that phrase. What is she promising? Only to make some level of effort but not to actually deliver any results. And who can say she didn’t make some effort somewhere along the way?

Houdini couldn’t have done it any better.

That magical phrase has a number of cousins that women use (it’s the same concept as rotating your inventory to keep it fresh): “We’ll see”, “I’ll have to check my schedule”, “If I get a chance”, “I’m not sure yet”, “Maybe” and so on.

In each case, it sounds almost like a “yes” but without actually being one. That way, women can extract themselves from unpleasant situations while avoiding scenes and also not having to come through later on.

There’s no reason why you can’t use the same weasel technique in the other direction. When your early-release friend asks whether you’ll be coming back to see her again that night, you can say “I’m not sure yet” or “I’ll try”.

Now you’re covered … if you meet someone better, great. If you don’t, you still have the option of taking the original one again if you really do wish to. Total flexibility.

Let’s add a few more twists. If your new friend is highly skilled at this game, she may not give up so easily. Instead, she may press you to be much more specific (hoping to extract a firm commitment). Here are some ways you can frustrate those efforts.

Lack of Authority. One way to deflect pressure to make a decision is to not have the authority to make that decision.

That’s easier to fake than it might sound. Suppose you’re here with a bunch of your buddies. Then you don’t really have the authority to pick which clubs to hit that night because it will be by group consensus … wherever most of the guys want to go, that’s where you all will go.

Now you know and I know that if there’s a hot little number from the night before that you simply must have again (and soon!), your buddies will all forgive you for peeling off from the group for some primo bonking. But the girls are less familiar with male etiquette and they’ll usually fall for this sort of demurral.

So if she presses about why you won’t commit to come back and see her the next night, you can say “It’s not up to me … I already promised my friends I’d go bar-hopping with them so it’s up to them where we all end up going.”

It’s Just Business. If you’re tag-teaming with only one or two buddies, then you’ve got even more room to evade commitments. Just refer to one of the buddies as your boss (and if you have a second buddy with you, you can refer to him as your biggest customer).

That transforms a night of debauchery into a work-night for you. Then, you really would have no authority … it’s “up to the boss” when and where you will go drinking and for how long. You can even ham it up for good effect: just roll your eyes and look extra annoyed as you explain that “My jerk-off boss wants to go bar-hopping again tonight, so I’ve got to go along.” Then mutter a couple of muffled obscenities under your breath and the illusion will be complete.

Occasionally, the girls will try to go over your head. They’ll approach “the boss” directly to ask him if it’s okay for you to knock off early that night. If that happens, all “the boss” needs to do is to pretend to get annoyed himself. We’ve all had an irascible boss or two or five or ten in our careers, so it’s just a matter of imitating one of their outbursts: “No, he can’t take the night off! We don’t pay him to party, goddammit, we pay him to work! I’ll fire his sorry ass on the spot if I see him trying to sneak out early! Nobody pulls that crap on me!!!”

As veteran Hollywood actors will tell you, it’s always more interesting to play the role of a villain than to play the “good guy” … try it, it’s great fun. I’ve used this one often enough with my buddies that we do it on automatic pilot by now. If we’re out drinking and a bar-girl comes over, addresses me as “Boss” and asks if it’s okay for a buddy to leave now, I’ll know that he has told her I’m the boss and so I’ll launch into my faux tirade.

The funny thing here is that girls expect “the boss” to be an unreasonable tyrant. Apparently bosses are much the same, the world over. So other than worrying momentarily whether she might have gotten the guy into trouble with his boss, she won’t take it personally at all.

There’s no loss of face involved … it’s just business.

Plus there’s an upside to playing the role of the tyrannical boss … some of the girls are drawn to such an obvious alpha male. As Henry Kissinger is reported to have once claimed: “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”

Avoid Easements. Even if you follow the other rules, there’s still one more way that guys get cornered into going steady. Be careful of establishing a pattern.

In some countries when people cut across your property often enough (to get to the beach, for example), in time an “easement” is deemed to have been created and you then are obliged to let them keep crossing your property in that same manner. The pattern of unchallenged behavior becomes a legally enforceable right.

Something similar happens with women. Whatever regular dating pattern you fall into with them, that becomes their expectation. If you early-release a winsome lovely seven nights in a row and then don’t show up on the eighth, she will feel mistreated. Those seven nights in a row created an easement. She can’t enforce it in court, but she will feel that you have treated her in a shabby way and she’ll be upset. She’ll also be likely to come looking for you (and looking to see who else might be gracing your mattress in her place).

So even if you never tell a woman you love her or you want to be her steady beau, just seeing her regularly will eventually cause her to infer that she now has “steady relationship” rights with you. And that will make her clingy.

Are You a Butterfly? At some point in your conversations with a woman, she will ask you if you’re a butterfly. Most guys will say no. After all, being a butterfly doesn’t sound like a compliment when women accuse us of it.

But I think it’s a mistake to deny it. If you tell her you’re not a butterfly, she has buy-in from you again. So if you are ever spotted straying, she’ll accuse you of being a liar as well as a butterfly.

I take a different approach. When asked if I’m a butterfly, I’ll say, “Of course, all men are … that’s how we’ve been designed.”

That seems to end the discussion quite cleanly. She can’t hang a guilt trip on me because I’m just being normal, not deviant. And there’s no buy-in. If she sees me with someone else later, hey, I never claimed I was not a butterfly. And in a twisted sort of way, she can even admire my honesty for admitting what she already knew is true anyway (that all men are butterflies).

Soft Heart. The best counter that I’ve heard yet to being accused of being a butterfly is the “soft heart” excuse. Amazingly, this one was suggested by a bar-girl to a buddy. We spotted the potential immediately.

Women get angry at guys who butterfly, partly because women will assume that if they were that great, you would be back to see them again. So if after sampling her wares you decide to move on, that will imply that the woman was somehow deficient. And that’s a blow to her ego.

The “soft heart” excuse comes from the other direction. You don’t butterfly because she’s not wonderful enough … you butterfly because she’s too wonderful.

In Thai culture, the concept of “soft heart” means that someone falls in love very easily. So describe yourself that way. Because you fall in love so easily, it would be much too dangerous to take a lady as wonderful as she is for a second night. If you did, you would not be able to keep yourself from falling deeply in love with her. So, when the time came for you to return home, you would be heartbroken. You wouldn’t be able to sleep, to eat, to work … your whole life would fall apart.

She is just much too easy to love. And that’s why you will have to take someone else tomorrow night. It’s the only safe thing for you to do.

As strange as it may seem at first glance, that angle has worked quite well for me over here.

And there you have it … an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But for those guys who do end up in Bangkok with a wife or a girlfriend (whether imported or local), the next two columns will explore a couple of out-of-the way places where many ex-pats and other old Thailand hands enjoy straying in the afternoons when they need to butterfly but still keep a discrete profile.

Stay tuned …

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