Being far away from your friends and family at home will change the relationships you have with them. Unfortunately, these relationships don't usually strengthen through this time. Distance can be a tricky part of any relationship. You won’t be there for the big, important events in their lives or for the small events which add up over time. Put in the extra effort to maintain the relationships that you care about, but know that it's okay to fall a bit more out of touch with people. It's a natural part of the experience, and if you're friends and family care about you they will work with you to reach a healthy balance of communication.
Sometimes the price of incredible freedom is isolation. You’ll form business and personal connections with people all over the globe. Maybe you speak to them often but very rarely see them in person. This lifestyle is amazing but there are social and emotional trade offs, so ensure you make the most of the benefits.
Remember to take care of and speak with your family. They're the people you will always be connected to even if you lose contact with old friends. Use Interflora to send flowers on Mother’s day. Maybe you didn't do anything like that when you were able to be physically present so it could feel a bit fake or contrived. However this is a little way to compensate and let them know how they’re in your thoughts.
If you’re in your 30’s then your parents will probably be in their 60’s. If they only have about 15 years left to live and you only come to their country once per year and see them for 2 days, that means you have a total of 30 days left in their presence. If you choose to prioritize travel and business, do so deliberately and in full knowledge of the consequences. Although this may seem morbid, it's forcing you to think about how everything will play out before you make any big decisions. However don't let this stand in the way of your DN journey. Take time to think about ways that you will be able to spend time with your parents and friends while living as a DN (ask them to visit, spend longer amounts of time at home, etc).
With other nomads
There are many events and meetups to attend in cities with many DNs such as Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Bali. You will find like-minded people with similar goals, values and projects there. These are usually organized through Facebook or meetup.com, so find DN groups for the places you’re going to.
Facebook groups can be a great way to ask questions, find events, find a place to rent and so on. If you can't find a DN group for a location, there should be an expats/foreigners group. They tend to be more cantankerous, but they serve the same purpose. Here are most of the DN related ones I am subscribed to.
Digital Nomads around the world - a little too broad for my taste but still useful
Digital Nomad Kit Tribe - for virtual assistants
Digital Nomad Girls women only.
Chiang Mai eCommerce Digital Nomads - online shops and dropshipping
Chiang Mai Nomad Girls (woman only)
What where when - Chiang Mai - events
Nomad Coffee Club (Chiang Mai) - meetups of DNs
Stupid Questions Chiang Mai Group - It’s ok, go ahead. Ask.
Real estate Chiang Mai - rentals
Bangkok - take over my lease - rentals
The only DN-specific groups are tiny so not useful.
Amed Bali Community - Amed is in the north east. Great diving and less traffic.
The NomadList Slack team is worth trying out, especially if you’re in Bangkok or Chiang Mai. In addition to channels for DN hotspots, there are subject-based channels for all aspects of DN life. There are also more experienced people on there than you will find in Facebook groups. Make an account at join.nomadlist.com and then join the nomadlist.slack.com team from within your Slack client.
At first glance, Slack looks like IRC with a lick of paint. But it is so much more. The smoothly integrated apps on every platform and device combined with a really intelligent notification system and rich media integration really change the real-time chat experience.
Sometimes you can find DNs or similar people to socialize with on meetup.com. Here is one in Chiang Mai called the Chiang Mai Entrepreneur and Meetup Group. They have meetups every 2 weeks.
Meetup.com is usually better for pursing your hobbies or adventure needs with people who live there, rather than nomads that pass through.
There have been a few attempts at creating a dating web site / app for digital nomads but none have reached critical mass. The DN Dating Facebook group is quite popular.
Meeting local people can be one of the most fun parts of travel. They can show you places you’d never find alone, foods you’ve never heard of and even join you on your travel adventures for a while. It’s really transformative.
Single foreign men of all ages can have a lot of fun in southeast Asia. Local women are attracted to foreigners for their money (more fun, more security), but there is more to it than that. Foreigners tend to be more open minded, less controlling and insecure and better educated. There are plenty of well-educated, beautiful, smart, kind local women who are looking to leave behind the vast majority of local men who just want an obedient housewife and mother to their children. There are also many pretty, uneducated, poor, cunning layabouts who just want an iPhone, envy-inducing selfies and a massive shoe collection.
When there are many romantic options, it is easy to fall into becoming a bit of a douche bag. People with power have a responsibility to use it responsibly, which is easy to forget if this is your first rush of relationship power. There’s no need to promise things you never intend to deliver . Just be honest about your intentions and goals even if they are quite short term. You’ll still find plenty of takers and you'll avoid some awkward conversations and angry women.
Foreign women dating local men often have a hard time due to patriarchy and men not being expected to try to be monogamous. However, local men can be very polite, gentle, kind and you won’t get sent a dick pic after the first date. Or before it. So that’s something to look forward to.
Dating logistics and strategy
Tinder is common everywhere, especially in Thailand. Skout is popular in Thailand and Cambodia. These apps are both heavily location driven: they find people based on how close they are to you. They are also a bit shallow and heavily based on appearance as the photos are the only way you have to assess people. This is fine if convenience and hotness is your main criteria but quite limiting if you have something more specific in mind.
Asiandating.com has people from all over SEA and filipinocupid.com is very popular in Philippines. Both of those sites cost money for men to contact anyone but the quality of people is much higher than free sites such as Date In Asia. The paid sites also do a better job of keeping out the fakes and scammers. They have search filters for education level, number of children, english language ability and many more which make cutting through the loads of options a lot easier.
OkCupid is huge in the west but doesn't work so well in SEA. The matching algorithm it uses assumes you want to find people who answer their quizzes the same as you. Very few local people answer quizzes the same way western people do. This rules out people who may differ from you, which is part of the beauty of dating!
The chat interface in dating sites and apps is usually quite basic and inconvenient. Early in the conversation you will want to move it to a chat app on a phone to make the conversation more fluid and picture-heavy. Line is popular in many countries (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) while Viber is another (Philippines) and Wechat (Vietnam, Cambodia) another. There are desktop versions of each of those apps, so you don’t need to type on your phone. Don’t chat endlessly - you don’t need to try hard to impress or persuade. Just establish basic compatibility and interest then arrange to meet somewhere.
If you’re using multiple web sites and apps, things might get tricky. It might be tough to keep track of which chatting account matches up with which dating account and what stage things are at. Make a spreadsheet if it is getting hard to remember.
You will see them everywhere: in bars, on the street, on dating sites, on Tinder.
There are a bunch of cultural, economic, familial and power reasons why there are so many prostitutes in southeast asia. Patriarchy, poverty, lack of education are the main factors. This is how it often plays out: a poor family can’t afford to educate all their children so the boys will get priority for an education while the girls miss out. The oldest girl turns 16 and gets a job in a restaurant earning 2000 baht per month with 12 hour days, 7 days per week. Now that some of the children are working, the father retires early and starts drinking heavily so the girl supports the entire family while her older brother is at university earning nothing. The girl discovers she can earn 2000 baht in one hour by sleeping with a foreigner so she moves to Bangkok and sends most of her money back to the province to support her family’s ever growing needs. This sounds extreme but it's very very common.
Or sometimes they just really like having an iPhone, being taken on free holidays, having a shoe collection and hate working bent over in the rice fields doing 60 hour weeks in the tropical heat. Understandable.
Treat them like human beings. Listen, you might learn something. Go to dinner or the beach and share stories - you’ll hear things about their culture and country that no one else will tell you.