While Thai dating customs can vary from area to area, certain fundamentals are universal. Respect plays heavily into Thai dating. Certain expectations have to do with the lack of wealth in Thailand. Couples are expected to become serious quickly if they're going to continue to date, and family becomes involved in discussions regarding the couple's future. Thai couples typically date for nine to 18 months before marriage.
Both Thai men and women are allowed to choose their own partners. Thailand is unlike other Asian cultures where marriages are often pre-arranged by the couple's parents. While dating, the woman will discover whether or not the man meets her expectations.
Over the course of a few dates, the woman will test whether or not the man possesses good behavior and a solid upbringing. Unlike in Western culture, Thai men and women do not openly discuss their thoughts and feelings during dates. Instead, men are expected to read the woman's nonverbal cues.
Thai culture believes that it's more suitable to express emotion through subtler ways than straightforward conversation. Nonverbal communication and body language is used to convey feelings. It is also not appropriate for either partner to lose face via a public argument. Thai society is not loud or boisterous. If either person is upset, they will communicate their distaste using nonverbal cues instead of words.
Each person in a Thai couple is expected to respect the other's family. Thai culture regards family highly. Couples "date" not just each other, but also each other's extended family. As Thailand is largely poor, the man who is courting a Thai woman is expected to be financially stable. Should the couple be married, the man is expected to not only provide for his wife, but also for her entire family. If a Thai couple decides to become serious after a few dates, the man will meet the woman's family. Discussion will revolve around topics such as marriage and dowry.
Most single Thai women are virgins and are sensitive to physical acts that could alter their reputation. A majority of Thai women do not engage in sexual acts while dating; if they do, it's often right before they're married. During the first phase of dating, the couple will not even hug each other; instead, they will sit close together and touch each other simply and lightly. Thai couples will hold hands and avoid touching each other's legs or head. During the next phase, the couple will kiss each other gently on the cheeks.