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Older man – younger Thai: lust, sex, and money is the paradigm of love for visitors to Thailand.

The worst thing that can happen to a happy go lucky sex touri in Thailand is to fall in love. The best thing that can happen to a happy go lucky sex touri in Thailand is to fall in love, too. That so many of those who plan on spending their holiday in the Kingdom hitting Bangkok’s gay gogo bars and scoring a new guy nightly end up the victim of love is surprising. That certainly wasn’t their plan. Their plan was sex. And lots of it. Their plan never had anything to do with falling in love. But Thailand has a way of fucking with you, both mentally and physically. To the detriment of some and the betterment of others, it screws with your emotions too.

I’ve no doubt some gay guys head for Thailand with a grand desire to fall in love. Some do so several times a year. The majority instead have sex on their mind. Maybe some companionship. Maybe even starting a new friendship. But love? How can you expect to find love in the matter of two or three weeks? And if you plan on hitting Bangkok’s bars and saunas, then you probably are looking for love in all the wrong places. Sex touri or touri who also happens to have sex while on holiday, it really is all about having some fun. And what’s love got to do with that?

Its not unusual for Thailand to draw into its bosom gay guys who have a preference for Asians. Go figure. Even if the draw isn’t the overarching reason for the trip, it is a nice side benefit. They may search the internet for places to go and things to see. But also do research on people to do. Many have firm plans on nights of getting firm during their trip. But seldom do they hop onto a plane with the expectation of finding their soul mate.

With all the hot flesh available in Bangkok you’d have to be a fool to fall in love.

When someone takes a holiday and travels to a foreign land, they are out to have a good time. They may define that as visiting museums and cultural spots. Or through athletic activities such as biking, hiking, trekking, or playing a few rounds of golf. Some look forward to dining at fine restaurants every night. For others it’s all about seeking out the hidden joys a country and its people have to offer. For most, a holiday is about a balance of these activities. They enjoy experiencing a bit of everything about the place they are visiting. One of the things Thailand offers is sex Just because a visitor engages in the commercial sex scene does not brand him a sex tourist. It brands him a happy, satisfied, and well-adjusted tourist.

The term sex tourist has negative connotations, for some odd reason that is beyond me. The mental picture is of a deranged individual on the prowl non-stop for sex with anyone and everyone they can find. Sympathy goes to his victims, there is little empathy for the hunter. And that is a valid picture. For some. For a few. But most gay touri in Thailand don’t spend their every waking hour devoted to sex. Sex may have been a large shining spot in their holiday plans, but it is seldom the only criterion for a successful holiday. It’s part of the enjoyment, not the entire package. In the end, we’re all sex tourists – some for a night, others nightly. And there is nothing wrong with that. Except that it makes us all susceptible to falling in love.

It’s a fine line that divides lust and love. But there is a difference. Infatuation with a young, hot Thai man who professes his love for you (within minutes of meeting) is easy to understand. We’re all ready to fall victim to flowery compliments, we all appreciate attention, and we’re all ready to believe that we really are attractive to someone decades younger. Even when we know that’s but a fantasy. If you want to buy into that illusion during your escape from the humdrum world you spend the rest of the year in, why not? Who does it hurt? That brief love affair that really isn’t can add a sparkle to your holiday, those encounters are pleasant memories that make your visit that much more memorable.

But then who wouldn’t fall in love with him?

It’s when you confuse love and lust that problems can occur. It’s when simple infatuation turns into obsession that you need to worry. When the illusion of love starts looking real, watch out. The phenomenon of normally rational people taking leave of their senses while on holiday is one that has been well documented. The phenomenon of visitors to Thailand who, in a matter of days, fall madly in love with someone they just met is too. With all the warnings against doing so readily available from those who’ve made that error in the past, you have to wonder what some guys are thinking. Or why they decided to let their little head take over that department.

The gay message boards are filled with warnings against getting into a relationship with a Thai guy, much less falling in love with one. The walking ATM syndrome is a perennial favorite, as are the tales of woe wherein a poor farang is taken to the cleaners by a crafty Thai bar boy, both emotionally and financially. Seldom do you hear of successful relationships. The bad bar boy posts out number the good 100 to 1. That percentage alone should serve as warning. The heavy preponderance of reports about failed relationships should sound an alarm. But gay men continue to flock to Thailand. And the fools continue to fall in love. Ya gotta wonder why. Are they delusional fools susceptible to youth and its lies? Or is it something more.

Falling in love with a bar boy can, and will, rock your world.

It is easy to confuse Thai sex workers with prostitutes the world over. The game is, after all the same. But the commercial transaction of sex for cash can take on a new light when a Thai is involved. Cultural upbringing may seem a small thing but can make a big difference. Many bar boys are not just looking for a customer, they are looking for someone who will become their friend, their mentor, their sponsor. They are looking for someone who will take on the role of provider, a traditional position in Thai culture. And while the love that customers seek may have to do with sex, the love bar boys seek has more to do with being cared for. Emotionally and financially. There may be a difference in definition of the word, but just like farang, bar boys too may be open to love. And that results in a recipe for disaster. Or the recipe that will bring you unimaginable amounts of happiness. Whichever way it plays out, visiting Thailand and falling in love with a bar boy can, and will, rock your world. Whether that is a good thing or not – like so much about Thailand – is up to you.

Even when it comes about unexpectedly, even when your plan was sex and you found love instead, if the setting where you stumble into romance is a gay gogo bar, caveat emporium still rules the day. Julia Roberts was the last known hooker with a heart of gold. And that one resulted in a love affair with gerbils for Richard Gere. Hearts, flowers, and cupid with his damn bow make for a nice fantasy, but that’s a package that has nothing to do with love in the bar boy world. Cash, and your willingness to spend it does. They guys who profess that bar boys are all looking for a walking ATM are not that far off the mark. But they’ve traded in a pair of rose-colored glasses for a pair in cynical green. If you found love with a bar boy in Thailand, your wallet will always be part of the relationship. But it need not be the overarching basis or the bond that holds the two of you together. No more than sex does” because bar boys are cynical too. While you may think its all about their demand for cash, they often think its all about your demand for sex. And what’s love got to do with that?

It’s when love moves beyond sexual desire that you need to be concerned.

Both are a starting point, both are the initial appeal. You may love sex, he may love cash, but your love affair will never be anything more than that unless it grows beyond fulfilling those separate but inextricable needs. For many visitors, for those willing to settle for fantasy, that intensification never happens. And while the result may not be love, it can be pleasurable. As well as costly. Then you may both call it love, but it really is about what you both love most. When either disappears from the relationship, it’s over, fini, kaput. Both become disgruntled. And yet another story of bad bar boys and cheap-ass farang become part of the lexicon that we all know so well.

But when you are able to develop your romance into something beyond the cash/sex paradigm, then love – however you define it – begins to enter the picture. The cash and the sex fade into the background. Friendship takes precedence over materialistic and carnal needs. What was a relationship based on gratification and desire progresses into one based on mutual trust and respect. Whether you were out looking for love or it hit you out of the blue, it’s friendship that you really need to worry about. Love is cheap. No matter how much baht it costs you. A friendship that incorporates love, on the other hand, is costly. Though the coin you use to pay for it seldom has monetary value. And just try to master those possibilities.

Many visitors to the Kingdom find themselves falling in love. Many go home deep in infatuation with the bar boy who made their trip so memorable. Most return again to reunite with their paramour. Or to fall in love again when they find he’s moved on. The lucky ones instead find someone to call a friend. Love has many faces. And love has many different definitions. But when you find that the ultimate goal of both parties is fulfilling the needs of the other out of a desire to bring that person, rather than themselves, happiness, you may find out just what love has to do with your visit to Thailand.

If you think you are in love you should consider what the ties are that bind you.

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