The historical study of women and gender in Southeast Asia is relatively new, and has concentrated almost exclusively on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This article provides a deeper base to the discussion by examining changing attitudes toward sexual relationships between foreign men and local women during the early modern period. When Europeans arrived in the region in the early sixteenth century, they found that foreign traders commonly entered into a temporary marriage with local women who also helped them in trade. The rise of patriarchal states, penetration of elite values, increase in the number of foreign males, expansion of urban centers, and growth of prostitution acted together to change attitudes toward sexuality. Because foreigners increasingly preferred slaves or ex-slaves who could act as both servants and sexual partners, the status of the temporary wife was permanently eroded.