(rĕu pôo chaai mee lăai jai)

The thing about Chiang Mai and Thailand in general is guys enjoy an elevated status. Machismo isn’t exactly the right word. Thailand is more subtle than that. The common term here is playboy, and the men here are truly boys at play.

Thai boys grow up with attention and lavish love and white boys flock to The Land of Smiles because the girls are pretty and plenty. But everybody has an agenda, even the girls. I’m not sure who is playing who sometimes. No one wants to be the fool in the court of the King and Queen and yet I think if you are playing the game you are indeed fooling yourself.

Look, I have Facebook friends who have a nice collection of Thai female trading cards (as I like to call them. I mean that is what they remind me of.) These are nice guys too; smart, thoughtful and funny and from different countries and backgrounds.

I didn’t realize that the guy I was interested in was one of these playboys. Now I could be wrong but I’m 95% sure that I am not. I’m definitely climbing up the coconut tree here and if I am completely mistaken, if all the signs were red herrings then I will write an apology and follow up to this post.

Let’s begin, shall we?

1. He’s charming. There is a persona that he has to give off. He’s got a reputation to protect so he’s going to be the nice guy to everybody. This is what makes him irresistible and at the same time elusive. A snake in dogs clothing.

Why a snake? Because he’s a glider and speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He’s smooth, convincing even himself because he lives in the moment. His agenda is to enjoy life and when you are with someone who is enjoying life, how can you get upset?

Why a dog? Because in Thailand to be called a dog is to be called loyal and that is exactly what he wants you to believe. He’s loyal. He’s busy but loyal. If you make a joke about being a player watch his reaction. This player’s face looked severe and irritated in a flash of a moment, but then he slipped back to his good-natured face.

He’s not a bad guy, okay? Let’s clear that misunderstanding up right now. In fact he’s good people. En serio. Their interests are simply not the same as the girl who wants a relationship. And most women want a relationship. It’s a rare guy in Thailand who can walk into the carnival grounds and just get on one ride.

2. He’s in control. If you call him he may or may not call back. He may or may not have his phone turned on. Rinse, lather, repeat. Rinse, lather, repeat. Rinse, lather, repeat. When he wants your attention he will let you know through texts, easy flirtations and phone calls. He won’t lie or give excuses because that’s part of keeping his collar clean. And that’s part of the problem.

It’s easy to push a guy into a corner when he hasn’t been honest but if he’s simply not available then you can come up with a plethora of excuses as to why he never called back or why is phone is turned off when he knew you were going to call. It’s the martial arts of dating many opponents; he’ll side step, duck and weave. kăo bpen ninja.

3. You see him with another girl. Oh sure, they could just be friends. Like you and him. Then someone else sees him with a woman and her child. Then there was that time late at night when his ex-girlfriend called but he took the call to show you he’s got nothing to hide. *A guy who claims he’s got nothing to hide, guess what, has something to hide! Sanook mái ka. Sanook jing jing.

4. He shows no interest in you. What? Yes. Pay attention to the conversations you have with him. He’ll be funny, dynamic and interesting but if he knows what he’s doing he’ll do a good job of making sure he never really gets to know you. He might ask about your schedule so he can make a little note of it but he’s not really interested.

Sounds harsh but it’s really smart. Everyone has their way of protecting themselves and boundaries are an effective way to keep attachments from getting too sticky. A guy who is truly interested will ask questions and want to know who you are.

5. All your girlfriends say he’s a player.

If you are anything like me you will bathe him with second chances, and benefits of the doubt. And if you are anything like me you will eventually tire of the merry-go-round and ferris wheel extravaganza. You’ll decide that the whole experience was like a dream and why be attached to something that’s not real?

Thank you dear for being my illusion.

12 replies on “How to tell if he’s a player

  1. Lani, sometimes the illusion is all wee need.I had a thing for a Thai woman that was very similar to your man. She was beautiful and she knew it and I couldn't stop thinking about her. I was being similar to your man as well because I knew she wasn't the type that would fall for overt attention. Sure enough it sparked interest on her part and we ended up together…the problem was that she couldn't live up to the illusion I had built up in my mind.


  2. Very interesting. Yeah, I definitely had a different idea in my mind as to where things were going. It can be tough but it's all a learning experience.We all enjoy the chase but I'm really not into games and playing tag. Someone else will enjoy my straightforwardness. Timing is also a factor.What a world, eh?


  3. Hi Lani, your post brings me back to night-shifts as a nurse. During the quite times the female nurses would discuss their men problems with me – it was quite enlightening. I have experienced both sides of the coin, I've played and I've been played – I don't miss any of it. I think that if I did ever end up single again I'd go straight to a temple to ordain.


  4. Boy am I glad that my Thai guy is NOT a player. He was tired of games too, and had been one in his 20s. We met when he was in his mid-30s and he was ready to settle down. We've been happily married for going on 7 years now. However, just before meeting my husband, I had a run-in with a player. Gorgeous and he knew it – taught PE at the same school as me. And he laid on the charm real thick. I won't get into what happened – it would be too much of a long story, but let's just say that your article hit close to home. I hope you don't have to go through the heartbreak that I did, but you seem far more savvy to the ways of these men than I ever was.


  5. @Amy: I'm happy to hear of your success. I don't know though about being too savvy. I felt pretty played.


  6. Snap are you the player?..:DReally though Lani, I think better you be the player than be played, at least until he the '1' comes along…..Good luck!


  7. @Snap: Yes! I'm glad you are back, but for how long?@Anon: I'm horrible at games! I don't think I could do it, or could I? 😉


  8. Back for at least 12 months, except for an ocassional short holiday :)….give you one guess who Anon is!


  9. Lani.. It is very interesting.. I really get your point.. because I am in this situation of being played right now.. it is exactly like in your story.. It is so annoying.. since I am also very bad a game.. ah…


  10. @Maisoong: Awwww. Good luck sweetie. It was a good lesson for me and I can say I am not interested in going down that drain again….


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