Expat Dating Diaries: The Eternal Expat

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Photographer: Frank McKenna

The Eternal Expat

The Eternal Expat is one of the most likely men you’ll meet from my list of the 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date.  Flitting from city to city and country to country “sampling the local fare”, this guy has found a good life.  Probably considered to be generically attractive from a North American perspective, he’s got an even more charming personality.  Somewhere down the line he was likely a varsity athlete, fraternity brother, or both.  He’s got natural game and women everywhere seem to swoon.  He’s never settling down in one place, and for him you’ll never been enough.  He might make a grand gesture.  He might make it seem like he’d have you join his nomadic lifestyle and travel the world together (#travelcouple, #instaromance, the whole nine yards).  When it comes down to the actual plan, he’s a lone wolf and you’re just dead weight.

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Photographer: Denis Gavrilenco

New Notches

The main goal of the Eternal Expat is to carve as many notches on his bedpost as is humanly possible.  He loves to have the girlfriend experience.  He loves it so much that he’s collecting as many as he can manage and in as many countries as his passport will allow.  Let’s be clear: this guy does not want a girlfriend.  He wants adventure between the sheets and on the open road.  He has 1 priority, and darling as lovely as you are, it’s never going to be you alone.  Tucked between expensive dinners out, museum trips, and spa experiences, the eternal expat must be a master scheduler.  He can juggle multiple languages and even more women.  Remember marinated cherries? He was juggling THREE of my friends all at once and one more he brought on vacation!  I wonder just how many other rolodex members he had on rotation…

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Photographer: Leeroy

Red Flags

The Eternal Expat won’t ever let you see his phone because he’s sending the same messages to you and half a dozen other girls.  He will make it seem like he wants to date you exclusively right off the bat.  He will tell you how amazing and beautiful you are.  Far too early for heartwarming discussion, he’ll tell you straight up how much he likes you.  He’ll tell you exactly what he thinks you want to hear in an effort to avoid having “the talk.  Try to see through the bullshit.  He probably does like you a lot.  I bet you are beautiful and amazing, too.  Just take it all with a grain of salt since all these lovely things roll off his tongue easily.

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Photographer: Samuel Zeller

Long Gone Silver: Emotional Pirate and Booty Chaser

If you encounter someone you think might be an “eternal expat” communicate your expectations and desires immediately.  Don’t let yourself get surprised or hurt down the line thinking you’re in an exclusive relationship when he’s on a completely different page.  If he’s not where you are, move on.  You won’t change him.  Why would you want to waste your time trying?  It’s unlikely he’ll wake up one morning and realize what an idiot he’s been and what a loss you are.  If he does, it won’t happen until he’s Long Gone Silver and you’ve moved the eff on.  If all you want is a good time then that’s totally fine, too.  Be adults and talk about the kind of relationship you want to have.  He’s got plenty of experience and you’ll hopefully be more than satisfied.  If you want emotional satisfaction, however, don’t walk that plank.

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Have you encountered any Eternal Expats throughout your travels?  Leave me your story in the comments!

 

Expat Dating Diaries: The Local – Chasing the White Horse in Korea

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Photographer: Elijah Hail

The Term:

Riding the White Horse in Korea

I read every Korean blog Google populated in the first few pages and happened upon the concept of “riding the white horse in Korea”.  What this meant was that there were certain locals in Korea who preferred socializing with foreigners, but only as a novelty.  In less politically correct terms, this typically referred to a Korean man wanting to have sex with an All-American-looking woman.  There are many Koreans (male and female) who do not subscribe to the homogeneous ideologies of this small nation.  There are many Koreans who don’t make fetishes of particular races.  I have several North American friends who are dating or who are married to wonderful Korean men.  This article is part of the 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date, and is not about those people.

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Photographer: Trevor Paterson

A Horseless Carriage

In my year in Busan, I met and socialized with a ton of Koreans in our little neighbourhood of Hwamyeong.  On Friday nights we played guitar, a friend from a more central location brought a cajon, and we sang outside the local convenience store while eating instant ramyeon and drinking soju and/or beer.  There was never a time I felt like I was singled out as a caucasian North-American.  We were friends who enjoyed playing music together.  On the other hand, there were plenty of caucasian males who would mess around with anyone they could, but would exclusively date Korean women.  This is the North-American equivalent/opposite of what we’ll call “the local” from this point on.  Seoul was a different dating story…

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Photographer: Alexandre Chambon

The Local

“The local” is chasing the white horse in Korea.  He just wants to screw date someone foreign he can show off to his friends.  As a caucasian woman with blue eyes and blonde hair I’ve found that, more often than not, this type of local’s intentions are pretty transparent.  I don’t believe a significant other should be a status symbol.

Riding the White Horse in Korea ThatGirlCartier people men woman wet market basket meat fish utensil refrigrator signage pail lamp light korea
Photographer: Alexandre Chambon

Where (not) to meet The Local

Korean men frequently try to pick up at events called “language exchanges”.  This goes both ways, but I often hear about foreign women who want to improve their Korean skills and are instead propositioned.  Most people who have been here longer than a couple of months will scoff, roll their eyes, and dive into their own personal anecdote about a language exchange situation gone wrong.  They often involve the suggestion they “practice” Korean and English in a DVD Bang (a room with a tv, dvd player, couch, and a box o’ tissues), a love motel, or her apartment (as many Koreans in their 20’s still live with parents).  This is definitely a consideration when thinking about why many foreigners give up on learning Hangeul.  Language exchanges are great places to meet women who are new to Korea.  Guys chasing the white horse in Korea tend to lurk here.

Riding the White Horse in Korea ThatGirlCartier guy fitness athlete health boy people court black and white asian
Photographer: Poodar Chu

Western Status Symbol

You shouldn’t date someone or even befriend someone because you think she’ll impress your friends (or teach them English).  My old school asked me to help a young CEO of a Private Equity firm.  I think he wanted to introduce his employees to someone who looked different to the women with whom they would typically interact.  Meeting these men who couldn’t look me in the eye for the first two meetings was insightful.  I wasn’t introduced for my teaching abilities, but for the way that I looked.  Fortunately, these guys realized that I could discuss the Financial Times and other such publications.  Within a few meetings I was taken more seriously and some of my suggestions for their business were put into place.  I stopped wearing makeup or particularly fashionable attire.  I definitely don’t think I was brought in as a white horse in Korea, but it was pretty close.

Riding the White Horse in Korea ThatGirlCartier architecture building infrastructure room wooden bench people man guy thinking alone sad male asian
Photographer: Can Anh Khai

Dating Korean Men

I can’t speak from firsthand experience as I haven’t dated a Korean man while living here.  I’ve been asked out on dates, but the way the question was posed didn’t really feel like it was a date.  Dating conventions tend to be quite different from back home, and I just haven’t had the time for the runaround.  I find Korean men to be quite beautiful.  They often dress very well and have their own style.  The #1 sales of cosmetics for men come out of Korea.  While I enjoy getting dolled up, I don’t spend too much time on it.  If my man takes longer to get ready than I do I’ll get antsy and peace out.  Men in Korea tend to be more in touch with what we call their “feminine side”.  I think I’m a bit aggressive and outspoken for them (and the aforementioned North-American counterparts).

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Photographer: Annie Spratt

A friend of mine went on one date with a local Korean guy.  After that one date they were exclusive (from his perspective).  She went along with it even though she was still dating other men.  This is why communication is important.  He would bring her around his friends and show her off, but there was no way he was introducing her to any family members, including his cousin who was his best friend.  He wanted to meet more of her caucasian (only) friends.  This “white horse in Korea” is a woman with some serious sexual prowess.  No matter how she tried to entice him, he couldn’t keep up.  Their relationship ended when she popped into the shower with him to spice things up.  Things didn’t perk up – she never saw an erection from him again.  Guess the white horse in Korea isn’t for everyone.

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Expat Dating Diaries: The Green (Card) Monster

Expat Dating - That Girl Cartier

Photographer: Taylor L. Spurgeon

In this edition of the Expat Dating Diaries, we take a look at Frederick*, the “Green Monster”.  You may recognize this little gem from The 7 Worst Guys An Expat Can Date.  Frederick came to Korea in an attempt to escape a difficult political climate, to put it lightly.  Good ol’ Freddy had a Bachelor’s Degree from a prestigious University, and a post-grad in business to boot.  He loved his job in finance, however was made redundant in a suspicious turn of events (for which he wasn’t to blame, of course).  He told me straight off the bat that he wanted to immigrate to the United States or any other country which would take him…but, you know, America…#1.

Frederick and I met through Tinder, a wonderful little dating app for delusional women and men with questionable values.  We had been talking for weeks.  Because we were both new to Seoul and because he lived nearly two hours from my side of the river, it took quite a while to actually link up.  When we finally met, it was on a whim after I had a Sunday Funday with the girls in Itaewon.  He was a little sloppy from the baseball game and had run two subway stops to come meet me.  I hid a Taco Bell Salad (yes -the kind where you can eat the bowl) in my purse for the entire date.

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Seriously – bad decisions were made way before November, 2016.

We had a couple of beers and played some darts. Conversation was flowing well.  He was laughing at all my poorly timed, uncomfortable jokes, and I actually felt like he was really listening to what I was saying.  It didn’t hurt that he had sparkling eyes and a smile that made me go a little gaga.  By the way – I really hope you’re imagining me on a Tinder first date with The Donald.  You must be scratching your head right now wondering wtf I was thinking.  I assure you, he looked nothing like Trump, and it’d be a few months before I found out how much they really did have in common.

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Photographer: Tycho Atsma

Call me crazy, but I think it’s pretty important when working as an ESL teacher to have a basic appreciation of children.  Every day I’m surprised by the progress my little gremlins (er – munchkins) make.  The childhood whimsy in my daily life is a bonus of my job, not a detraction. Because of how far away Frederick lived, I didn’t really see him interact with many others in a social setting.  The one and only time I actually ventured out his way, there wasn’t all that much to do.  It was a beautiful day and the park provided a nice atmosphere for a walk, a talk, and some appreciation of jacket-less weather.

kids child boy happy smile smiling laughing people children usa flag water sprinkler
Photographer: Frank McKenna

A little boy trailed off from his mum and stood looking from Frederick to me and back practically beaming to have seen such alien entities in his little corner of a suburb of Seoul.  In true teacher form, I said “hello”, and asked him in Korean what his name was.  Frederick simply barked that he hated kids.  Good talk, bro.

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Photographer: Asaf R

When Daddy-o came to town I really should have gotten the hint, but we had been on so many awesome dinner dates, museum trips, and discussions about current events and opera, I had a tough time pulling myself away.  Frederick, you see, was a great fan of classical music.  He was a particular fan of Wagner.  I thought he just dug the intensity of The Ring Cycle.  Then, I spent the day with Frederick and his father.  Turns out it was his fondness of the Führer which drove his musical education.

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Photographer: Ondrej Supitar

I couldn’t figure out why he kept commenting on my blonde hair and blue eyes.  What I know of my background is that I’m mostly of English and Irish descent.  My blonde locks are a product of an overly enthusiastic Korean hair-stylist.  It’s no secret these locks have seen their fair share of bleach.  I think we’d all be surprised at our genealogical backgrounds.  My grandfather was adopted and I grew up in a multicultural society, so culture was always an exciting means of expression rather than a tool of judgement.  Frederick’s father mused about how lovely it would be to have a cute little boy running around the house.  Wait – Frederick only wanted to hitch his wagon to an American.  Pops knew that I was a “Snow Mexican”, right?

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Photographer: Dave Meier

That talk turned into a discussion about home decor.  Dad took out his phone and started swiping.  Pictures started popping up on Dad’s phone of his young Filipina girlfriend (she and I are the same age and his son is older than me).  Eventually, we got to the home bar.  Sitting on a rooftop patio in Itaewon drinking Pina Coladas, I discovered that Frederick was not just an opera enthusiast, but a history buff and a bit of a dick.  Frederick was the wurst.  The basement bunker bar was designed in red, black, and white.  Propaganda and paraphernalia covered the accent wall to the left of the bar.  Had I been dating a modern day Nazi sympathizer?

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Photographer: Chris Lawton

I wish I could say the story ended there, but expat dating is tough!  Sadly, Frederick got the better of me for one more date.  I needed arm candy for an event, and Freddy definitely fit the bill.  That night he asked me to be his girlfriend.  We went out partying at what was then the newest and hottest spot for Koreans and expats alike in Seoul.  Bumping into many of my friends, he didn’t hesitate to hold my hand or kiss me in front of anyone.  Then, we ran into a naturally red-haired, adorkably beautiful friend from my neighbourhood.  They seemed to recognize one-another, but I wasn’t sure how.  It wasn’t until Monday when I received the screenshots of their 4 AM time-stamped Tinder conversation that I knew it was over.

passport travel trip
Photographer: Ian Baldwin

I was wrapped up in his arms and he was telling another woman how much he wanted the D….C.

Here lies Episode I of the Expat Dating Diaries and the 7 Worst Guys An Expat Can Date.  

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*Names and other incriminating details have been changed to protect the not so innocent.

Winter Wonderland: Beating Dry Skin in Korea

Miracle 10 Skin Care Yorkville Toronto

From the time I was 8 until I was around 10 years old, I had some strange breakouts that plagued me (and my poor Mother while we were in France!).  I got teased quite a bit because of it.  When kids called me the traditional, silly, childhood names reserved for acne I wasn’t really bothered because they were mislabeling the issue.  They weren’t zits, but nobody really knew what was going on with my face.  At one point it all just cleared up, and since then I’ve always been the kind of person who found pride in being able to wash my makeup off with soap and water and still have pretty flawless skin.

Since coming to Korea, I’ve made much more of an effort to use a proper cleanser to take off my make-up before bed.  Since I’ve started teaching, my crows feet and forehead wrinkles have gotten out of hand.  It’s sudden, too.  I woke up in Osaka, Japan last summer and smiled at my reflection in the mirror while putting on make-up.  To my sheer horror, there were crows feet.  Aging: not a subtle bitch!  That’s actually why I decided to get botox once I moved to Seoul.

When I wrote this article, I hadn’t gotten botox, but you had better believe that my medicine cabinet had more than a few moisturizers.  Even with my twice daily moisturizing routine, the air quality in Korea combined with the dry winter cold (they don’t heat places like they do in Canada!  I’m constantly wearing my winter coat indoors) has left my skin really dry.  I know that a lot of my friends have had their fair share of weird and unexpected changes in how their bodies react to things in Korea, but the most common issue (beyond gut rot) has been related to skin.

My face is the biggest concern because that’s the only place where the dry skin actually feels itchy.  I don’t want to constantly be scratching my face – I’m (finally) trying to be good to my skin!  One of my kindergarten students actually pointed out that I had some red patches along the lower half of my face closer to the jaw-line.  My bronzer or blush actually clumps up in these patches.  It’s not pretty, y’all.

Miracle 10 Spa in Yorkville Toronto

I think it’s important to note that while this is in no way a sponsored post, The Plastic Surgery Clinic and Miracle10 skincare were in a Brand Ambassador-style partnership back in 2014 and 2015.  Miracle 10 skincare had been very good to me when I was in Toronto and had my lifestyle blog up and running, and my Twitter feed was more Toronto-centric.  I had been given the entire starter line of skincare products  ($249.00 on their website) tailored to my particular skin type.  The scents are very, very subtle (which I loved) and my skin felt fresh, clean, and healthy.  After running out of the products I unfortunately just did not have the money to purchase the set, but now that I’m getting older I think it would be a really wise investment (especially with this air quality and pollution in Asia).  Since their products are available with international shipping on miracle10.com, as well as on The Shopping Channel and Amazon.com, I can’t imagine I’ll have a problem getting them shipped to Seoul.  Fast forward to cleaning out my Busan closets and going through my  beauty collection, I found I actually still had quite a bit of one product left: Super C.

Miracle 10 Super C

Super C is designed for Normal/Maturing and Delicate/Dry Skin.  It helps to refine the appearance of fine lines, refines the texture and tone of the skin, and aids with skin brightening and fortifying.  When I see skin brightening in Korea it usually means whitening agents (eek – bleach!), but since this product is from Canada I felt fine going right ahead.  The Miracle10 skincare  website also provides the following information:

Your unique skin type may need a little extra boost to help it look its radiant best. Super C is 100% pure Vitamin C. This powerful anti-oxidant helps to repair the look of sun damage, hyper-pigmentation, and the signs of aging.

Super C
100% pure topical vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid) is a highly stable antioxidant powder formulated to dissolve into and instantly supercharge any Miracle10 gel or cream formulation. Powerful antioxidant properties may help to repair and heal damaged skin. Super C assists in collagen production and the repair of sun damage to restore vitality, clarity and refinement to all skin types.

Features

  • Over time, skin becomes accustomed to certain ingredients, so it becomes important to adjust your skin care system.
  • This powerful antioxidant instantly dissolves into and supercharges any Miracle 10 cream or gel.
  • Improves skin texture and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Within 2 days and 3 applications my dry patches are almost entirely gone.  I’m pretty thrilled with the change in how those dry patches reacted, and wanted to pass on this little beauty fix to you!  Have you tried any of the Miracle10 products?  Are there any Korean beauty products that corrected an unexpected problem?  Let me know in the comments!