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REP_009 Reasons to Get Married or Stay Single as an Expat

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Author: Reekay V.

Since 2012 I’ve been traveling through various islands of the Philippines as a full-time Expat and spent 1999 living in Vietnam.

Share with me my ongoing adventures of life in the Philippines. Hopefully you find my observations helpful in your own adventures.
— Reekay


  1. Excellent commentary as usual.

    Most men want that deep real connection, not just hook ups. Most probably have had such a relationship, but later got burned. Surveys show that most men want marriage. Also, Dr. Helen Fisher notes, there are people who are very conventional, traditional, religious, book-burning, nationalistic and need to procreate, which may be linked to sub-clinical schitzotypal and narcissistic traits. The Philippines seems like a good place for this personality type. But, as Dr. Fisher notes, there are those with the exact opposite way of thinking.

    Living together can accomplish everything marriage has to offer only without the kids (and there can be exceptions to that as well). If a woman loves you enough to marry you, why not living with you? This is an obvious question. This is where the law and innate female hypergamy to capture resources absolutely comes to play. The “winner” of the marriage contract is the one who has lower SMV in terms of resume, income, assets, etc. Excluding the extreme religious and procreation element, there is just no need for marriage. I believe many men marry Filipinas so they can migrate to the West (not the expat) or because the Filipina has given them an ultimatum. Most Filipinas have NO desire to have a live with a man (and many will not upset parents and do this either). I still claim it’s hard to get a Filipina with high SMV (youth, beauty, resume, etc.) to live with in her country, without a ring on her finger and in your nose. Marriage is a financial transaction disguised as love (to both parties, but mostly the men).

    1. On paper, looking at the transaction.. there is everything for the woman to gain and not much in it for the man in marriage when looking at the material and legal distribution of benefits. It’s a losing transaction for the man. So why do men get married? I believe it’s mostly out of our traditional value system. That we “make an honest woman out of her” by no longer “shacking up”. Men also get married because it gives a new ‘identity’ to the relationship that society will approve of and identify with. “Ahh, this is your wife. You two are married. I see.” Whereas without that marriage it’s, “Oh, you’re just living together? That could end any moment. I see.”

      Women and men get married for that “sense” of security and commitment. It’s only a “sense” of it because we all know that if a person wants to leave or cheat, no paper document will keep them from doing so. I am not against marriage. I am happy for my happily married friends. It’s a structure and tradition that is to be celebrated and respected. But that doesn’t mean I personally need to jump on the bandwagon and go get married. And if I do, it would be with eyes wide open to the fact that it’s not in my financial favor to do so, but I’d do it for the social identity and “sense” of commitment it would give my proposed wife to be.

    2. Gosh, have found the opposite as all of my girl friends have had masters degrees or better and generally are high paid executives that aren’t concerned with tradition. In fact they feel constrained by cultural norms and love that their incomes don’t threaten me. They tell me how nice it is that I never pee in public after leaving a restaurant, don’t drink, nor eye the young girls. They are in their late 40’s early 50’s and enjoy companionship. I gladly clean and cook while they’re out slaying dragons and love the mix of old world charm and yet liberated from religious demands.

      1. This reaffirms what I have seen in dating women over 35 versus under 35. I have dated Filipinas who were 49 and 50. With each there was a more solid sense of maturity within them that is simply not present in Filipinas still in their 20’s and even some in their 30’s. It is a trade-off when going for younger women. While occasionally a man get lucky and find a mid-20’s Filipina who is “mature for age”, she still lacks the actual life experience of having “done” certain things in life. Older women have often settled certain insecurities out of their personality that younger women are still bound by.

        Definitely there are advantages to dating older women. And a few disadvantages as well. Mainly the fact that they can be very settled in their ways of doing things or could still be recovering from prior bad experiences.

  2. Commenting for staying single or getting married.

    I am going to suggest tweaking… one major lifestyle fit… in between the traditional 3rd world marriage and remaining single, in a country like Thailand or Philippines.
    I will use the experience of others who are married and still control their lives to a large degree, apart from their wife’s extended family of grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts, etc, etc. Relatives do pile up behind the so called rich expat.

    Relationship… may be designed by those who have “the spine” to draw a line in the sand. Another words: the buck stops here or these are my guidelines or budget…and stick to it.
    Most men who have been married and divorced in the west, coming to marry in a third world, bring their habits with them, which may cause a great deal of unwanted responsibility.

    Many older western expats are manipulated by their extended families to a point of dis stress.

    Personally, I desire a loving partner, a great, supportive companionship or even a legal marriage. At the same time I will also design that relationship around my partner and I will budget my monies for living as I feel comfortable. I am willing to help out the extended family to the degree that I am comfortable. Most reasonable women are open to whatever help I may offer.

    Our lifestyle in relationship will revolve around my personal vision for both; (space and time). As I am a good person I will help others in need, as I am comfortable. No way will I allow her family to control my life as so many families attempt. I prefer a relationship without kids, but if she has a child, I will help support the child who in most cases lives with grandma and grandpa. This child rearing, provides purpose and love for living elders.

    In Thailand and Philippines, the woman wants the man to take control and tell her what to do, in a loving manner. If the husband shows weakness of mind, the extended family will take control of the husbands life. I recommend living an inconvenient distance apart from the relatives, if you desire less interference from family. The weakest link in family will pull your strings until you relent. If you stand your ground, a husband will gain more respect from his wife and family and maintain his personal freedom.

    If you want to be told how to live, and what to do, than by all means, enjoy …if you are lucky enough to have married into a supportive family who respects you. Your wife will respect you more by being a man who stands his ground and she will love you more for it.

    Western liberated women may despise this kind of macho talk. Western men appreciate a refreshing, nurturing, feminine woman who loves to serve her loving husband. This experience is lacking to a degree with today’s new age woman. Equal pay and respect for women in America and Europe should be the norm.

    The problem with women’s lib is women are acting and behaving more like men in their approach to being complete and fulfilled. I choose not to be just a slice of the family’s pie in the sky. I want to live my pie, as I see it. The family is much better off as I can add benefit to a regulated degree, while I still maintain my visions of comfort in my golden years.

    1. Dave, it’s good you have the spine to not become the object of domestic abuse (which can go both ways). But, under western law, the court is likely to put you in the position of being financially abused IF the woman so chooses. So, not sure your marriage method will always work or that it would be one’s first choice.

      IF you can truly have it your way, then just live together (unless you need to procreate). You’ve probably discovered, finding a quality girl for that is difficult. For example, if your Asian dating profile says “seriously looking for marriage” you’ll get many responses. Conversely, if your profile says “looking for a live-in lover”, you won’t. Real life results tend to follow this pattern as well. You may be able to find a low-mileage high SMV “girlfriend experience”, but I believe it’s all P4P in one form or another just about anywhere. IMO, disclosing NO interest in marriage, instantly results in shaming and walking away, (after asking for money, job, visa, etc). It doesn’t take long to get to their true motivation for marriage.

      So, what’s the cost to play (marriage isn’t a good gamble for some men)? We know what sleazy red-zones look like. If you’re looking for more, here is what I found by rare chance. I met a Pinay who claimed she was a University student (false) seeking marriage (truth). In reality, she was servicing an exclusive Filipino clientele. Her casa was gorgeous with swimming pool and karaoke bar on par with a 5-star hotel. Her bedroom and wardrobe would put Victoria Secret and Macy’s to shame. Her all-white queen size canopy bed gave a playful feminine atmosphere. She could accompany a man to the finest evening occasion or wear the latest western bikini to Langan Island Resort in El-Nido (only about US $490 a night, plus private plane and tours). Like a concierge, she can even suggest such vacations you may enjoy with her. You’ll blend in like everyone else who can afford the finer things in life. And like a good western girlfriend, you won’t have to worry about STD’s, reliable contraception or religious OCD messing up your Sunday plans.

      So, to make it “more fun in the Philippines”, what is the price and where do you find it? Looking at what Filipino businessmen have to pay, and I believe they know a lot more than I do, I’m curious. I’ll have to see an in-field video of picking up Filipinas (not red-zone types or marriage seekers) before I’ll believe it.

      1. Living together with a woman first is a great option prior to marriage. It’s not 100% fail-safe, but it’s saved me in the past by catching red-flags prior to making any commitments. For those from Australia, a visitor visa for a Filipina is a possibility. I have expat buddies from there who have done this, 3 months at a time. However for those from the USA (like Dave), there is no visitor visa available, only the K1-Visa which requires marriage within 90 days of arrival. It’ not cheap and takes about 6 months to process.

        Personally, I have about a 3% confidence level in the chances a person has in finding an honest mate online. It “does” happen. But then again, people “do” hit triple-7’s on the slot-machines too. But not many. Most walk out of the casino with empty pockets. The better option, while not all can avail of it, is to spend time in-country and prove the woman out before making marital plans. Not just build a strong emotional bond that will cloud one’s judgment, but actually have a critical eye to spotting what might be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

        1. Hi Reekay
          People choose partners and have relationships for so many reasons that’s for sure. I am one of the lucky ones that hit the jackpot. An almost angelic connection that i won’t bore you with here, (maybe one day in person when I am in there I’ll share). Life is about experience and learning from it. I think those that learn from life end up being happier if they avoid the same mistakes that bring them undone. Thanks to your site and some others, I was better informed of some of the pros and cons of meeting people in the Philippines. I met my partner through friends in Australia and was able to ask the hard questions about my partner, and she had the same opportunity to suss me out. Our FB pages were real and honest. Being a widow with a 20 year marriage behind me I had to do some real soul searching to make sure I didn’t just get a replacement and ensure I was being true to me and my future partner. Yes in Australia we do have the opportunity to get our partners over on a tourist visa and spend time together. The biggest casualty I see with guys failing with relationships is that they are so naive about how the culture works and have assumed what they think love means is the same as everyone else. There is only a 5 year age difference between my partner and I and it is right for me. I think it is wise to look at any potential relationship with open eyes and from different perspectives. I think you need to ask honest and hard questions up front if you are truly looking for that partner of a lifetime. Expectations, family expectations, money needs, support, where you will die, life goals and how mature you both are all need to be assessed and discussed. There are many people scamming people, using people as stepping stones, using them for superannuation for their parents or just simply looking for Mr right. This happens everywhere. No one can predict the future, however, you can lessen the impact of things not working out and always try again. Trust and naivety may be the first casualties but you can rebuild trust and reduce naivety, it just takes time. Keep the discussions coming, they are informative and a joy to follow

          1. Yes, I can honestly say that after 4 years of relationships here in the PH, it is a huge understatement to say that Eastern and Western ideas about ‘Love’ are so different. And that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. Perhaps the easiest way to describe it here is that the ‘contrast’ is greater. Here you have women who love with all their heart. And then you have women who are complete mercenaries. In the West, we seem to be a bit more ‘romantic’ in our ideas about love. And again, that has both positive and negative aspects to it.

            Put them together in the PH and it’s no wonder some men find their ‘angel’ and others encounter a living hell. All the more reason for men to take things slow when dealing with love or business in the PH.

    2. “Ditto, and amen.” When a man relocates to Asia he finds himself availed of new freedoms and options he did not have in his own Western culture. However, with these new freedoms comes the responsibility to “Man-up” to the challenges he will face. And drawing that line in the sand with relatives is a good example.

      I’ve had 4 major relationships in the PH, only two of which were longer than a few months. But with the two that seemed to be getting serious, I made it clear from the beginning that (a) i would only assist her parents. The rest of the family is on their own aside from my own choice to help or not. (b) She’s free to visit them ANYTIME she wants, but I don’t want visitor’s at my house without prior arrangements made with me first. (c) I set a max dollar amount per month I would give for her parents.

      In the West, we were conditioned to see relationships as a 50-50 partnership where the woman gained another 5% using emotional manipulation. (or with-held sex) Here in the East, the women are looking to us Men for parameters. They want us to “take the heat” and take the lead. Once a man understands that, he can take the pressure off his filipina by letting her know, “If your family wants money, they need to work that out with me directly. They don’t ask you. You tell them to talk directly to me or forget it.” And majority of the time the family won’t try their manipulations on a foreigner who is going to put the critical, logical test to their nonsense. This is why they manipulate and guilt-up the filpina to do that work for them.

  3. For Bob Bruce….yes it is tough to find a relationship, on my terms. Thus far, I am not successful, nor have I tried that hard. I like the freedom to live my life without outside interference from my girlfriend’s family.

    Thailand is more flexible than the Philippines:if u are tired of each other…just walk away as that is what Thai men do with no consequence. It’s a bad deal for Thai women, left with a new baby to care for…America does not recognize Thai marriage…we expats are off the hook; we can also walk away. You may loose the house you built her, and the car, but that should be figured into your original plans at start of relationship. Many
    expats in Thailand are overshadowed by lust and infatuation: losing perspective and money invested.

    America recognizes Filipino marriage and yes she may come after your 50% or more in court. I believe this is the case, if not, please correct me.
    Bob..your rare find…the set up for the exclusive Filipino clientele costs money, I don’t have enough money to play that game. May be cheaper and free er to hire a short time free lance lady by the week or month for companionship. I have considered that but this illusion of companionship falls short of any sense of real feelings close to love. Sex, lust and purchased company is not a good enough memory for me to carry home.

    Many expats want that true companionship, and still fall prey to outside sex in the loose climate of Thailand and Philippines. And many men stay true in relationship, as they enter old age. When you’re younger, the temptation to play is strong in these climates.

    Moving on, let me tell you what most men do in Thailand and Philippines: They live in denial..meaning they present themselves as wanting relationship, a girlfriend or wife, then still cheat or play around with other women. Not all but most men cannot resist the candy outside of relationship. In turn many Thai and Filipino women play a similar game by courting more than one man’s monthly salary. I don’t blame those women for doing so as this is how they support family.

    Now most Filipino women are raised Catholic and those values generally hold relationship to a high standard.
    This is a generalization but in Thailand, women equate love with giving. If you give money and financial support to a Thai lady…in her eyes …that means love. Many expats in long term marriages in Thailand still question themselves…does she really love me? Fact is…. a Thai women can turn on a dime and walk away with little emotion after many years in relationship. I believe this is partly due to Buddhist thinking and her ties to blood family: being most important.

    The most successful expat/Thai women relationships are those found in the province areas of farming. Older expats with simple minded Thai women . She is more complacent and submissive unless her girlfriends have educated her as to what is available.

    I am moving to the Philippines, having lived in a few other countries. In Thailand there is a significant dis connect in communication between expats and locals. I speak “OK” Thai language but that’s not enough to close the gap. Philippines is an extension of America for last 60 plus years and complex communication in relationships work. A big plus over Thailand, generally speaking.

    So I will find a good woman, and will create boundaries with family and gateways to respect for family. But it will be my ladie’s and my life lived our way…her family is connected and respected, at arm’s length.

    Protecting my money is simple, I have so much budget every month from investments coming in. For education purpose…listen up! For example… Lets say I get $1500.00 every month coming in. My partner and I can live comfortably at home with at least one vacation per month to outer islands. 100 to 200 dollars a month to her family, out of respect, especially with child under care of elders. $1700.00 is more comfortable.
    With less money, 2 can still regulate a comfortable lifestyle at 1200 dollars a month. Less than that, become a minimalist and be happier yet…. with less stress of possessing material stuff.

    My money stays in America, under another family members confidence, with (power of Attorney). If I were to die, I would have a will stating my partners claim… my POA (my youngest sister) would provide her with a said % amount of money on her behalf. If my wife is found attempting to scam funds or poison me, or care less as I age, then my POA, through check ups and good connection to my partner will control 100% of my funding. Thus my Filipino partner and family will behave themselves to be proper caretakers in light of my POA’s conditions of influence. A POA with Skype is more powerful than any possessive extended family.

    The American court system has no power over my legal marriage when it comes to my money. I have set up a trust in my sisters name…legally… she owns my money and I also have power to override her POA. Use the system to protect your butt.
    Love your lady , respect her family, but keep them in expats, we are considered outsiders, and un protected in the Philippines through bias law enforcement.

    The Philippine women are really angels in arms, wanting love and security…we are lucky to have them, in these times.

  4. in regards to Reekay’s statements on Alzheimer’s or dementia in old age.

    This is a dangerous position to be in a developing country. My mom had Alzheimer’s, stage 3, then luckily and thankfully, died of a heart attack.

    I have always said if I get bad dementia in a 3rd world country, I will take myself out, when it gets bad. The problem is when it gets bad you still think you are ok. Dementia comes and goes, so one would have to delegate to another …outside family…what u want done when you forget to eat and can’t find your way back home, not knowing who u are.

    America is expensive and or depressing , so my thought is I don’t desire to be in a fetal position for years, in bed, wasting away in America or Philippines. What do I do?
    This is a problem in any country…people with severe dementia will not be taken care of properly by a family. At best you will be locked in a back room of a Philippine house, as most kids and teenagers will giggle at your condition.
    Its exhausting to care for severe dementia. In dementia clinics, it takes 24 hour, back and forth check ups to monitor Alzheimers. I saw it first hand and also saw final stages of it…bewildered, half conscious patients wearing diapers in wheelchairs.
    No way, will I submit to that inhuman condition,so, I will have a plan in place, if I am showing moderate dementia. Sky diving trip, whoops? Maybe an overdose of morphine? not sure yet…I got time. The American Indian had some good ideas, when out of use, just walk out into a beautiful zero degree evening snowstorm before bedding down under a tree. By morning, all things will be better.

    I don’t believe suicide is a good it bad karma..both Christians and Buddhists agree. So I will have to be creative in my attempt to finish life. Nothing written about extreme sports at any age. The bible doesn’t discriminate about having extreme thrills, so possibly I may want to break the world’s record for oldest man to ascend Mt. Everest….how perfect is that…a short flight from the Philippines.

    3 caretakers are rotated through 8 hour shifts a day in dementia centers. A family would go crazy attempting to handle the last 2 stages of Alzheimers at home. A third world family would just shut your door and turn up the music. A western civilized family also cannot handle later stages of Alzheimers unless they take lessons from Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa would also have to delegate responsibility to certified caregivers.

    I will pray for cancer, a heart attack, a brain tumor, anything but dementia, its the worst way to go out.

    Let me finish by saying, marriage ain’t so bad, when u have dementia to look forward too.

    good day

    1. Reekay and Dave, I appreciate your thoughtful discussions. I know many couples living-together and are viewed the same as being married (and at some point will be by common law – so some just do it). I imagine this is different in Asia. For those with assets, the RLT (Trust) & POA approach is the way. And I agree that dementia is tough to care for. For decades I’ve thought nursing homes would be a great business in the Philippines due the lower cost of nursing care (not expecting heroic medical interventions). Just a cursory look at the MERCK manual (list of many common diseases) shows how genetics and natural selection work like a huge genetic slot machine of different lemons, cherries, etc, resulting in some individuals better and worse suited for various environmental circumstances (who gets cancer, heart disease, immunity to this, susceptibility to that, etc). The heavy religious overtones of Philippines I find trying, and I doubt it really dampens female hypergamy. The same high percentage of women will monkey-branch when the resources or security are gone, culture permitting. I appreciate your knowledge of Thailand, and that the culture is more blatant in this regards. I have great difficulty learning foreign languages (barely passed in high school although getting honors in science – eventually leading to graduate school). So, I would have no luck getting that deeper intimacy and/or knowing the person’s deeper thoughts. I believe pick-up tactics of opening are rude (and could get a middle aged man shot or arrested in the west). Sadly, even in my early 30’s, Filipinas I met only wanted visas, money or marriage. An 80 year old man in a 5 star hotel was having the best luck of any of us guys getting 18 year old virgins (medically examined too as his requirement). That was back in the letter pen-pal days and he said his tactic was to write to the girls parents and offer a legally binding monthly stipend as a dowry (I learned in Asia, “no money no honey”). On my half-dozen trips to the Philippines I’ve not found true love. But I did find a lot of scams. I barely escaped being killed shortly after my wedding to a Filipina bride, only by sheer luck am I’m alive to write this finding out just before the nuptials (which did not happen). So, she and her pissed off Filipino lover got no money from me (elaborate scheme). Mabuhay!

  5. a note for Bob from Dave:

    Both Thai and Philippine culture of thinking, has been changing a lot in the last 5 to 6 years, within the younger generations. The root source for changing and developing minds evolves through social chit-chat on smart phones.
    The younger women are getting smarter, cultural barriers and borders are breaking up into a broaden opportunity of more flexibility of choice, in the process of living. Now, they see what is possible and they want the same, as what the west provides: more flexible change and growth opportunity in relationship to living.

    More so in Thailand: young women are seeking western men, in their own age bracket: starting traditional lifestyles, like we have in the west. After 2010, Thailand’s red light districts have been fading for numerous reasons. At the same time there is a large number of young Thai men (a whole generation) of lost souls who are falling behind the fore fathers…. in identity of self worth. There are a number of reasons for this failing: related to old thinking, family values.

    The reality: Thai women are harder at work and the same young generation of Thai men are falling short of potential.

    In both countries, the young woman is moving… the country forward.

    For Bob,
    if u are in your thirties, then the time is ripe for you to set an example for the Philippine culture. Don’t play by the old rules or plug into the old ways of thinking. Create your own dynamic: what u put your attention to grows strongest…that is physics.
    Be righteous and stern in the pursuit of love. Stand your ground, then strut into the abyss, for no other old men will dare to follow. Challenge your destiny, strike her with a sharpened stare to heart, as she will succumb if you carry no game. Dare those who misguide the fortunate couple, as they commit to cross over. Expect no less and expect time for battle …measure her options as she will falter under scams of sort. Pull wisdom from the gut and release to calm…a steady eye senses the beast..assuredly, walk lightly, in arm’s with confidence.

  6. After re reading your comments -Bob, I believe that was then and u may be much older than 30 something today. Same rules apply at any age, in fact I am an elder myself with more wisdom and determination than what I possessed early in life.
    Good luck in your pursuits…today is a new day, forward.

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