Expat Dating Don’ts and Break-Up Do’s
Co-P and I started having the inevitable (inevitable because he’s leaving Korea, not because he’s a cheater) break-up talk. It would have been fine had it not been in Haneda airport 6 hours before our flight. A few days later our fast, serious, fleeting, expat dating romance was over. Little did I know then, he was already seeing (and sleeping with) someone else. The confidence I had in our direct, communicative relationship was an absolute lie, and I feel pretty stupid having trusted him. Because of the exciting, dramatic, and rocky way our relationship began, I felt like most of the time we were playing relationship chicken. I had several trips lined up before meeting him. He said he wanted to come, and without too many jokes or dares he booked flights. I should have taken my own advice…
Looking back on our relationship (as shortlived as it was) I have a number of thoughts and feelings. We are completely different people with a few key common interests (fitness, food, and expat dating, it seems). Ultimately, we weren’t compatible romantically or with our timing. He tried to limit me to 2 tourist attractions per day on our travels. He wanted a 10 PM bedtime. I wanted to soak up everything (including the nightlife) in a new city. He followed the rules. I wanted to renegotiate them. There were so many times when I felt I couldn’t be as wild and outlandish as I wanted to be. In some respects, that’s a really good thing. Co-P pushed me to be the healthiest and strongest person physically I could be. I was well-rested, too. Ultimately, I got bored. I think he did, too.
As much as I’m content with my life without him as my boyfriend, there are still moments that give me pause. I miss having him as the friend I thought he was. There are a lot of lessons that can be learned from every relationship, and expat dating is no different. Take a look and see what you can extrapolate from every interaction. Here’s what I’ve learned…
Expat Dating Don’ts
- Don’t have your first few dates at favourite spots in your neighbourhood. You’ll hate yourself going back to a memory you made together there every time you pass them.
- Don’t invest yourself too much in the beginning…or really ever. It’s important to keep a balance and your own social life. Don’t be one of those people who gives up on your single friends when you’re coupled up.
- Don’t ignore the majority of your friends saying bad things about him. Especially don’t alienate them in favour of the ones who speak kindly.
- Don’t ignore his ex gfs if they reach out to you. There’s a reason they sound crazy. That reason is probably that he hurt them something fierce.
- Don’t let things move too quickly. If he’s asking you to be exclusive on the third day you’ve met, maybe there’s another issue. Pump the breaks if things are heating up a little faster than anticipated. It might be exciting to jump into a new relationship, but you also might be left with the feeling that you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. He might have self-esteem issues, be self-indulgent, or just want to stir up drama. Co-P posted about his new girlfriend the day before a trip we planned together. (Super nice way to let me know you cheated, by the way…). Expat dating is tough!
- Don’t get hung up on past heartaches. There’s a reason he’s not the one with you on this date! Focus on this new person who wants to spend time getting to know you!
Expat Dating: Break-Up Do’s
- Do let yourself have a mourning period. Maybe you haven’t lost the love of your life, but you’re losing out on someone who has made an impact on it. You’ll be ready when you’re ready.
- Do: It doesn’t matter if your mourning period is short. If you are ready to get back out there then do it!
- Do: Say YES. If you get an interesting invitation then say yes! Surprise yourself with new hobbies and activities.
- Do: Meet new people! It doesn’t matter if you want to get out on the dating scene right away or not, new people = new perspectives. Isn’t learning what we’re born to do?
- Do: Widen your net. Meet people (new friends and prospects) you might not normally go for. Everyone thinks they have a “type”. If yours hasn’t been working for you, try something else! Whether you’re an expat dating or just meeting new pals, there are plenty of us in a concentrated environment. Go forth an experience new things!
- Do: Look out for #1. Take care of yourself first. Don’t overextend yourself for someone who won’t go out of his or her way for you.
I’m not looking for the stars and the moon in another human. I’m looking for a travel companion, good conversationalist, work-out buddy, party pal, and all around life partner. I’m looking for someone who won’t deliberately hurt me (or put me at risk) because he’s started to stray. Neptune has 13 moons. Uranus has 27 (and they’re outta this world, girlfriend). Our very own galaxy is full of stars and moons. If you’re an expat in Korea like me, you’ve likely circled the globe at least once or twice. He (or she) is out there, but you’ve gotta make it through the Star Wars first.