Old and Lonely: an expat tale of (not) dating in Thailand

It’s one of those thick and gorgeous nights in Bali, when the air gently whispers in your ear, the ink black water of the Indian Ocean licks the soft butter-colored sand, and you can just barely make out puffy clouds lingering in the night sky.

Grand Mirage Resort Bali

Sitting outside at the Jukung Grill at Grand Mirage Resort, Daniel and I are enjoying overly-full stomachs, thanks to a decadent dinner, and more rose wine than we should. Late into our evening, an older couple sits across from us and we all begin chatting.

From the Isle of Mann, the two are on a 12-day holiday and this is their last night in paradise. Eventually, Daniel converses with the husband and I chat away with the wife.

She tells me of her battle with cancer (she’s been in remission for five years) and her need to just get out there and live. I tell her about my travels, my life today.

And, that’s when she says this:

“Please, dear. Do me this one favor.”

I raise my eyebrows, awaiting her response. Her face immediately turns from bright and sunny to a look of remorse.

“Please, with your life right now and traveling and everything, please do not turn Old and Lonely.”

Old. And Lonely.

Within a second, my airy October evening goes from light and happy to serious.

Old. And Lonely.

“Oh,” I say quickly, waving my hand, “I won’t.”

I try to say it with confidence, but there is none in my voice … or in my heart.

The truth is, being Old and Lonely is one of my greatest fears. I’m the single girl. I’m the girl that always gets asked by the perpetually-in-a-relationship girl “why on earth are you still single?”

As if it is a curse.

It’s not that I haven’t been in relationships — I have. Although most of them were horribly self-destructive. And, it’s not like I haven’t dated — I have. Although, most of the guys I have dated were total assholes. (Yeah, my taste in men has — up until very recently — sucked).

For many years, I stopped caring if I had a significant other. I mean, when I quit my job at 30 to go and travel, I was so thankful I wasn’t leaving the Love of My Life in Atlanta. Then, when I went backpacking, I was so thankful I wasn’t in a relationship with the person on the train next to me. But then, I was 31. And decided to move to Las Vegas. Which is like a cesspool of sleaze as far as dating goes. Ask any of my single (and amazing) girlfriends there. Finding a decent guy is next to impossible.

When I told my parents I was moving back there, I also told them I realized this decision would likely impact one of the things I wanted most in my life — to have children. Because, let’s face it, I wasn’t going to meet the man of my dreams living in Nevada.

It wasn’t until recently, I felt this sudden sense of urgency. This feeling of holy-shit-I’m-still-single-and-there-aren’t-even-any-potential-people-in-my-life moments. I mean, suddenly, I am 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, (gasp) 33 and I have … no one.

Old. And Lonely.

Arriving to Thailand, I hoped things would be different than Las Vegas.

Guess what?

They’re not.

In fact, it is worse here.

A few weeks ago, I was walking with an American (guy) friend and we were talking about dating.

“Shit, D,” he says to me as we walk down the street talking about him meeting Thai girls, “it must be just awful for you here in terms of dating.”

Thanks, buddy.

“Yeah,” I sigh, trying not to let the sting of his words penetrate my skin. “It pretty much sucks. The western guys want to date Thai girls … and the Thai guys …” I trail off.

So, on the gorgeous Bali evening when the woman tells me not to be Old and Lonely, it hits home. Hard.

As soon as I return from Bali, I make a promise to myself to go out more. To meet more people. To engage. To try and date in Thailand.

I’m in no rush to meet someone. I’ve waited 33 years for Mr. Right to walk down the tarmac. I don’t doubt it will happen at some point. And I can promise this: I will not be Old and Lonely. Just Old.

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‘Twas the night before London

A little more than 10 years ago I made a decision that would unexpectedly set the universe’s plans in motion for me.

If you asked me then, the decision held little importance in the scheme of what I expected from my life. I was a junior in college and needed money, therefore a job.

I answered an ad in Towson University’s student paper for a server. It was nothing great — two shifts a week to start at a local (and popular) crab restaurant.

That’s it.

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