If there’s one thing a man should know when dating me, it’s that I have a very close relationship with my parents. While they don’t know everything, they know most things. I try to avoid telling them things which will hurt them or make them worry. Sometimes they’ll surprise you when you doend up over-sharing.
In this episode of the Repat Dating Diaries, I can’t decide whether he was a cheater, cheater pumpkin eater or if this was a turkey dump. I’ve been seeing someone for the past couple of months. Things were going well! I’d see him once a week, we’d text nearly all day, and I was actually mildly hopeful. I loved waking up to an article or cute video from him, and made sure to say goodnight before crashing. I enjoyed the whole “taking it slow” thing; not just due to trying to let a relationship grow naturally rather than the warp-speed I encountered dating other expats, but also due to the global pandemic. Hugs make people nervous, understandably. Anything more than that is, of course, even riskier.
When we discussed dating exclusively I wasn’t actually all that excited, but I thought it was wise since both of us have parents in their 70’s. What came as a mighty surprise was when yesterday, on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, I received a text from him giving me a glowing review, but saying that he was “progressing” with someone else.
I wasn’t aware the real reason he was sending me off on a horrible guilt trip rather than saying bon voyage for a 45 minute Go Train journey from Toronto was notdue to the fact that he thought my conservative outdoor activity would put my parents at risk. In fact, the real reason was that he clearly expected all of the ladies he was dating to be monogamous. Bit unfair that he couldn’t return the favour, no?
Not only did he make me unable to see my family on Thanksgiving, he ensured that as we go into Lockdown 2.0 I’ll be alone. He restricted my opportunities andput me in danger of getting Covid-19 with an extended bubble I wasn’t aware I had. I’m glad he’s got a girlfriend for the upcoming cold and lonely nights, but I resent that he limited me from being able to have someone, too.
Once a mother has written you off, there’s no getting back in her good graces. Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday. Mum says that she won’t be wishing anyone “Happy Thanksgiving” this year because “Mac ruined it”. I FaceTimed with my parents this afternoon and my Mum asked what I was up to this evening. I told her I had some blog maintenance to do, Netflix to watch, some leftovers to reheat, and trash to take out. Her words?
Men are simple. Women are often pretty simple, too. We all want what we can’t have. Anything that is out of reach is challenge; a goal. It bothers most of us when we’re given a simple “no”. Isn’t it amazing how one little two-letter word can hold so much power?
Patterns in relationships are changing. As they evolve, I find that traditional, cisgendered, heterosexual relationships are going the way of the dinosaur. “Love who and how you want to love” is my sentiment, but my ultimate goal is a lot more traditional. As much as I hate being cookie-cutter, I like the option of a conventional relationship. I’ll put it right out there: I want to get married and have a family. I’d like to be able to dance with my father in a nice dress at my wedding (albeit destination with a limited guestlist).
Do you have to take some “settle” when you want to settle down? My mother always told me, “men are like streetcars – another will be along in a few minutes.” Sure, but if you’ve ever taken the TTC during rush hour, you’ll know it’s a balancing act to get on and a fight to the finish. Welcome to dating in Toronto. A signal problem is effecting all lines. Welcome to your thirties.
Toronto takes the cake for crappy dating pools. The men in Toronto are old, crusty towels with tinder profiles stating their height and “no fatties”. Riveting. When you meet one who is good-looking, is employed and ambitious, and takes care of himself, can you imagine the desperation he must be able to smell? Quality men are not like streetcars. They don’t come along frequently, and when they do I’m assuming single women look at them like they’re unicorns. I mean – I certainly do.
These men are used to hearing the word “No”, but they’re not used to women meaning it. I’ll probably get a lot of flack for this, but women I know and others I read about or watch on TV often fall into the same old script of saying no then giving in. These dudes are smooth! They often get what they want without even asking. There’s power in pushing him away – channel it.
There is power in “No”. The saying “always leave them wanting more” isn’t unique to dating, but the shoe sure does fit. Silly romantic comedies with particular sets of rules exist for a reason – we’re the rule, not the exception. If you (er – I) want to have a traditional relationship, when I meet a new unicorn, a coy McCoy and negative Nancy I’ll sure as sh*t need to be.
Settling back into life in Toronto hasn’t gone exactly as planned. My career didn’t quite get off the ground the way I expected. I just settled into a condo downtown and now have to move. Everything’s just a little bit up in the air right now. Dating is no exception. Everyone at the bar is swiping left or right while in a perfectly lovely meet market. Tinder is for hook-ups. Bumble is allegedly for “serious dating” (sure). Meeting people through buttoned up/ tied-down friends is nearly impossible. I’ve now been on dates with a commitment-phobe real estate developer, a self-obsessed rocker, an UBER driver (yes – he drove me home and then we went out), a blogger who recently carbon-copied my latest post on The Toronto Seoulcialite, and a Tinder I had been out with 4 years ago. The conversation barely changed and he definitely didn’t clue in. Dating is depressing. Oh – and I went out with my old calculus teacher.
Hot for Teacher – Dating isn’t Calculus, it’s Chemistry
When you were in high school, did you ever have a crush on a teacher? How about that hottie who wasn’t much older, but just enough that the difference in age/ power balance would have been inappropriate? Imagine my surprise when the Facebook algorithm encouraged me to reconnect with my old calculus teacher 14 years my senior. I can’t imagine he’ll mind my writing about this. The probability of us meeting as we did was low, and the probability we’ll ever meet again is practically non-existent. He was my teacher for all of 3 weeks (and change) and we bumped into one another locally and in Kingston for all of 3 minutes each time. This round, after a lovely date, a hesitant goodnight kiss, and a few text exchanges promising to see one another again, it only took him about 3 days to ghost. Dating isn’t algorithms or equations, it all comes down to chemistry and the space-time continuum.
While it would be lovely to meet someone who had the raw, passionate, primal masculinity of Adonis, or the “jamais seul” nature of ex-Co-P, it’s summer. Dating in Toronto doesn’t really ever seem to be clear or direct – just derivative of our parents’ and grand-parents’ generations. In the summer it’s the least likely time for any of that to change. Our diluted and deluded perspectives of responsibility to one another make me believe that I’ll always be house-hurt from carrying the weight of rent completely alone. Owning at all is a pipe-dream. White picket fences are a thing of the past. There’s plenty I’m tempted to try. Did I learn anything from scratching off this bucket-list item? Not really. Just that I think I’ll keep my interests outside of the classroom.
When writing about something as sensitive as dating, it’s kind of tough to write something positive without hurting someone’s feelings. You might be thinking “huh? What’s she talking about? Why would writing something good hurt someone?”, but hear me out. When you write something – anything at all – and it strikes a chord in a man (even one you may have never met!) the comments section can get a little heated. I’m ready and waiting with popcorn (Smartfood, I’ve missed you) for all of the man-hating, extreme feminist names they have stored in their back pockets. When you write something about men in general, and someone else he thinks he’s the man in your life, feelings can get hurt. I am single. I am all over the map literally and figuratively. In the (almost) 3 weeks I’ve been back in North America, I’ve met some truly wonderful people, and surprisingly young and accomplished men.
Dating After Korea
Since leaving Korea, I’ve been through Bali, back to Korea, to Canada, the United States, and back to Canada all within 40 days. If any of you think dating in Korea is wonderful, welcome to the rest of the world. It’s your damn oyster! If you’re having trouble and want to explore the dating world more extensively, maybe the contract life in the land of the morning calm isn’t for you. I know I’ve always been the queen of bad timing, and Korea pressure didn’t help. I’ve recently had a freedom and flexibility which seems to have been pretty attractive to men. Well, pretty attractive to the average ODB and younger man, alike. It feels nice to have most people believe I’m somewhere between 21 and 25. Guess my multi-step K-Beauty routine has been working! I’m always honest and upfront about being 30. Ain’t no shame in that game. My Tinder is set to meet men 25 – 37, which I feel is fairly age-appropriate. Meeting younger guys (organically) has actually taught me a lot about how to relax into the dating world again. In honour of The Real Housewives of New York City returning to Bravo, let’s let my favourite cradle-robber, Carole Radziwill, tell you all about why repatriation is best with a younger man by your side.
At 30 (and after living in Korea), it’s really easy to get anyone’s number. I’ve just been living in fantasy land (as far as any recruiters are concerned) for the past 3 years. If you can’t walk up to a random hottie and pretend you’re just two SIMS characters after that, what HAS Korea taught you? Seriously – after 30 we just don’t care. There are dating opportunities everywhere.
You Can’t Hurry Love
You might think that dating is the same everywhere. That notion would be entirely incorrect. Living in Korea has completely shaped the way I interact with men. Expats don’t typically buy into the Korean way of dating, but we definitely don’t do it like we would back home. We’ve all got that added pressure of our contract’s time limit looming over our heads, so more often than not we rush. I remember by our 3rd date (in as many days) Co-P asked me to be his girlfriend (and subsequently married the next woman he only met a handful of times. Bullet = dodged). Adonis went from traveling SEA to living with me in the course of a month.
You’ve been out of the game for X many years
Things happen so quickly when you’re living abroad or traveling. I had a whirlwind romance turned roller-coaster ride in Bali over 10 days. It’s insane how quickly things develop. Because of my experiences, I have the emotional ADHD of a much younger human. I need to learn how to slow down and actually meet people again the Western way. In order to do so, dating a guy on my level has a number of benefits:
He’s Not Necessarily Established
Coming back to live in Canada I’ve stayed with my parents, gone on a blogger trip, and am currently house-sitting. Until I sort out my job and living situation in Toronto, I’m 30 and living in my parents’ basement. Good news! He’s probably still living with Mommy and Daddy, too, or he may have just moved out on his own. You’re ready to re-enter the social scene and he’s eager to experience the city. Nobody’s there to make you feel bad about starting over since he’s starting up as well.
The younger guys I’ve met thus far have been far more earnestly doting, caring, and chivalrous than guys my age. Maybe there’s been a renaissance in upbringing or maybe they feel like they have more to prove with the change in typical gender dynamics. Whatever it is, I’m appreciative. All my life I’ve been so worried about losing someone precious. Suddenly I feel like I’m the important one they don’t want stolen away.
He’s Got the Energy
He’ll teach you about the latest trends
I feel like such a geriatric creature bringing this one up, but there are pieces of generational technology I haven’t had time to peruse. He’ll help you assess the latest gadgets and give you the specs before even heading in to buy the hardware. When I’m still fighting with Olleh/ Korea Telecom (KT) to get my last account closed, it’s great to have a wealth of knowledge helping me along.
Dating Younger: He Looks Good
Have you ever noticed how 30 year old men look these days? Being stressed and overworked not only has an effect on the ol’ beer belly, but their skin loses glow, too. Cameron Diaz’s character in “The Holiday” talks about how men age gracefully and women become haggard. “I’m gonna call bullshit on that.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth for me. 5 years ago, a friend who had just turned 30 told me she was the happiest and in the best shape of her entire life. I scoffed, but dammit if those words aren’t ringing like the Bell of Good Luck in my 30, flirty, and thriving ears.
In my mid-twenties I was fat and miserable. I worked out plenty, but stress and poor eating habits got the best of me. Coming back from Korea, I have a phenomenal beauty routine thanks to my friends at Leegeeham, G2Cell, CosRX (they just sent me a package I can’t WAIT to review for you), and Seoul Cosmetic Surgery. Botox is no longer taboo. Wouldn’t you want to stop the aging process dead in its tracks? I don’t want to look like I’m dating a child, but I’m not ready to look like I’m dating my dad, either.
When I was in my early to mid twenties, I went out with guys who I considered to be out of my league. I dated a lot of douche-canoes; a lot of big Richards, if you will. Ladies: you are worth it. Don’t ever let a guy string you along without commitment simply because you think he’s too hot or too accomplished. Spoiler alert: there’s no such thing! If he’s interested in spending time with you in or out of the bedroom, then you need to be clear about your expectations. When you’re happy with what you’re getting then that’s perfect. If you’re not, make it clear!
I’ve learned to care a lot less about what other people think. If he fucks it up? Well… I don’t care, really. I mean it’s lovely for now, but he’s got a lot of living to do before settling down. I’m looking to plant those roots in Toronto, but until then why waste good company?
Warning: Dating Younger may have Drama Closer than it Appears
When dating a younger man, there’s always the chance there will be some pathetic fly on the wall desperate to make a meal out of a snack. One day she’ll learn. For now, ignore…ignore…ignore.
In my last year in Korea I dealt with the most vile, psychotic woman I’ve ever met because she thought she was dating my boyfriend. She met him twice – before I had ever met him. The vendetta lasted a year, and I’m sure the wine, fat-shaming, and name-calling parties continue even now that I’m gone. There’s plenty more to the story, but that’s too juicy for today.
Just one for the young ladies considering the paragraph above. We’re older. We’re wiser. Take heed.
Korea –> Canada: Dating through Repatriation
Living in Korea was great for my health, horrible for my heath, and taught me a lot. It was great because in my first year I was able to create that work/ life balance I so craved. I had the opportunity to cook properly, my favourite snack foods were disgusting in Korea (BBQ Cheetos – ew!), and I had split shifts meaning I could work out 2 hours a day. I took my weekends off, and that’s where I’d let myself go off the rails a little bit.
Number 1 rule? No gym on weekends. Number 2 rule? It’s okay to eat an entire pie from Pizza School (corn and all) on Sunday. Was I hungover? Absolutely. Had I cleaned my entire apartment Friday night rather than go out? Hell yes. Did that have something to do with the “focus candy” prescribed liberally? OH YEAH. Korea helped me lose my stress weight and taught me about balance. When you feel good you look good and that goodness radiates. I have a whole new outlook on dating in Canada right now.
My #1 Key to Dating Anywhere
What did I learn? Well, this series is about dating, so we’ll keep it to that. Communication is the absolute most important part. Even if you’re dating someone from another English-speaking country, there are bound to be cultural differences. Knowing what you want and what you can bring to the table is also important. As someone returning to the dating game in my home country, I don’t feel comfortable dating someone who has just been blindly happy with the status quo the entire time I’ve been away. Maybe it’s the Korean Skincare Routine, maybe I’m just not willing to settle for someone who has settled. Regardless, I’m attracting younger guys – and I’m starting to be okay with that.
In conclusion, nobody needs to know you’re dating younger.
You’re only as old as the man that you feel, right?
Have you experienced something interesting and unexpected coming back to the dating pool in your home country? Let Cartier know in the comments section below!
I’ve been seeing tons of click-bait headlines making their way through the travel, expat, and lifestyle communities. Figured I’d give this one a shot, too. So sue me, right? Not quite – read on to see how you too can get him to commit with this one amazing tool.
Breaking the Rules
I’ve already gone back on my word by entering into a relationship with a) someone I met through Tinder, and b) on my list of the 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date. If you’ve read Expat Dating Diaries: The Military Man you’ll know that there are some dirty dawgs out there especially in and around Itaewon. I met my new Co-Pilot at Souva, which has quickly become the latest hot spot for my coupled-up pals. In our first week and a half we had been to at least 7 restaurants together, watched 4 movies, made dinner twice, and climbed a freaking mountain. He mentioned me to his parents and mine got the Skype update 2 weeks in. I know you’re still wondering how to get him to commit, but I’m sure you’re also wondering if good ol’ Cartier’s going to get boring with a boyfriend.
No More Drama
It wouldn’t be the Seoul expat dating community without a little bit of drama (I know this is what you came for :P). This wouldn’t be the Expat Dating Diaries without unnecessary drama, right? Well, shocker! My new beau went out on dates before he met me! There are a few women with whom he’s been out who are friends of friends of mine. One in particular was pretty pissed when he let her down easy (via text – party foul, I know). After she screamed at me, I told him straight out that if we were going to do this we wouldn’t be with anyone else. If either of us change our minds down the line that’s fine. That said, acertain conversation needs to happen if either of us want to start seeing other people. This leads me to the most important tool you can have in your arsenal if you want to know how to get him to commit. Time and time again girls lose their minds over men who choose someone else. How do you get him on the same page? This one’s simple…
The One Amazing Tool
What’s this one elusive tool to use when wanting to know how to get him to commit to you? COMMUNICATION. There’s no big secret. He’s not a f*cking mind-reader.TALK with your Seoulmate! Communication is a tool we all have within our big ol’ bag o’ tricks, but when it comes down to it we rarely feel confident enough to share our feelings effectively. The biggest flaw in my last relationship is that I felt powerless what it came to expressing my wants and needs. When I tried to initiate a conversation about things which bothered me, he “was bored” and didn’t want to hear it. In my mind, my last relationship was just a silly little travel romance in the beginning. Never in a million years did I think he’d skip out on an epic SEA adventure to come live with me in South Korea. I didn’t tell him what I needed and wanted right from the start. When he started weaving dreams of a real future beyond Asia, somewhere we might settle down, I scoffed and moved on. When I started to believe the fantasy, he pulled away. We weren’t on the same page at all.
For someone who “hated social media” as much as he did, he sure checked his instagram likes regularly. It blew my mind that he thought I was demanding he give up the “opportunity of a lifetime” to come live with me. It drove me mental that he wrote his younger female travel companion a love letter on Facebook when he took off from Cambodia to come to Korea. When he left Korea to head home, he shared: “too many people to name. It’s been emotional.” I was proud to be with him, yet he tried to hide me. He was always pleased to be tagged in cool hipster photos at the palace or beachy pics with the lads. Unfortunately, he refused to acknowledge our life together publicly. Looking back that should have been a HUGE red flag. I wanted to shout from the top of every mountain in Korea that I was happy with him, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell his own network he had a girlfriend. It’s such a night and day difference to have an intelligent, accomplished, handsome gent tell me he’s happy to be with me at the top of a mountain we climbed together.
Maybe this relationship will crash and burn tomorrow. Maybe it’ll withstand the tests of all the small town (ahem HBC) murmurings. If you don’t have the exclusivity conversation with your desired partner, then you can’t be angry with him (or her) for continuing to date. If this person meets someone else with whom they have more in common, you can’t fault them for wanting to pursue a relationship. You didn’t communicate your desires. If you’re not getting the answer for which you’ve been searching, then move along. He’s not going to fall in love with you just because you’ve been hanging around. It doesn’t matter if you have beer-flavoured nipples. No matter how much you pretend to love Star Wars, if he doesn’t love what you’re actually into then what kind of foundation are you building?