Retirement should be all about enjoying life – isn’t that what they say? Most retirees will have worked all their life and now deserve to take it a bit easier. I am sure you have heard stories of dirty old men coming to Thailand and marrying young local women – some of these brides are only a few years out of school. There is some truth behind this stereotype, but like all other attempts to pigeonhole people it is grossly exaggerated. At the risk of attracting a lot of scorn I will admit that in some ways I admire these old-timers.
I would never admire people who exploit women, but the issue in Thailand is never so black in white. Most of these older guys do not end up with twenty year old Thai chicks, and quite a few of them don’t have any partner at all. Those retired expats that do end up with someone a bit younger tend to pick partners in their late thirties and forties. These are most often women who are divorced from husbands who don’t give them a penny, and who are left struggling to bring up kids. If an older western guy wants to come along and support them then why not? In most cases sex has little to do with it; I mean how demanding can these older guys be? I’m joking of course.
The way I see it, these relationships have a lot more to do with providing companionship for the retired westerner and providing a breadwinner for the woman. It may not start out as love, but the reality is that most marriages in the world have nothing to do with love those that do most often end up in disaster. It is well known that arranged marriages in India are far more successful than love marriages in the west. The retired westerner with the younger Thai women might not be a marriage made in heaven, but real affection can and does grow.
It is not the fact that these retired westerners have younger brides or girlfriends that leads me to admire them though. It is that they have escaped the predictability of old age in the west. If these people were at home they would likely be struggling through the winter trying to make the best of their pension. There are now more single retired men in the west than at any time in history, and many of these have only minimal contact with their own children. The future most of them have to look forward to is dying alone at home, or ending up in some institution for the elderly. An alternative is to come to Thailand and start again – I know which option appeals to me.