It’s always amazing how when you’re happy with someone new, your old beaus come back to haunt you. The night before Adonis moved to Korea, an old fling who had hurt me quite a bit came back to explain his actions and beg for forgiveness. When I started dating Co-P, Adonis took responsibility for each and every thing which had driven me bonkers during our relationship. The way I handled all of those things was certainly the reason for our relationship’s demise, and the fact that he knew he had done a plethora of stress/ rage inducing things throughout our tenure (but was too stubborn to change) created a flood of emotions which were confusing, especially when I was starting to date someone new.
Flings and Stings
We all have a bizarre sense of when the winds change, but what about people who haven’t made that much of an impact, yet? I work near this guy I met almost a year ago. Things got very intense really quickly, and he ran for the hills. I thought he has ghosted me entirely. He has come back time after time with the caveat that he doesn’t believe in monogamy. (*LOL ROLLS EYES INTO BACK OF HEAD FOREVER!*) I think that just means that he’s scared – scared to miss the opportunity of another notch. He’s scared to actually feel something and potentially get hurt. He’s scared to put in a little effort.
I rarely run into him, but when I do it’s always when I’m starting something new with someone else. I’ve been on a few dates with someone who seems to have everything I’d like in a partner on paper, but he’s starting to pull back and I just don’t have the time or energy for that. Enter guy who works nearby – let’s call him ‘Sensory Overload’. He always manages to bump into me when I’m questioning my self-worth. he’s a total f*ckboi and I hate that I actually have a crush on the dude, but when you’re with him you feel like the only person on the planet. He will literally stop traffic to give me a hug. He’ll hang up the phone (he’s always on the phone, of course he is) to ask what’s going on in my world. He sends cute messages once we part ways. When I need him casually, he’s always around.
Why can’t we ever get what we want at the right time? This is why we turn into gremlins when one from the fold has found “a good one”. Tinder is like Pokémon-Go – we search the city swiping for monsters. We’re desperate for structure and consistency. Why am I summoning this demon each time something good starts to go a little sour?
Now that I’m back in Toronto I’m trying to assess the dating pool from the outside looking in. While I’m more focused onfinding a jobthan a date (current job ✓, new job August 20th ✓), my gal pals are on the prowl. I’ve returned from Korea to find I only have a handful of single male friends. It seems like I have more single female friends in my age-group than ever, and they are all experiencing the same problem. Is it that Toronto men are scared of commitment or scared of a confident, successful woman? Let’s take a look at some examples of my single pals and other gals dating in Toronto.
Dating in Toronto: Lisa
Lisa and I have known one another for over 10 years. She’s got a pretty dominant personality at first, but is pretty chilled out and easygoing when it comes to making plans. She finished her MBA a few years ago and has taken on a senior role at a start up. She’s passionate about her work, her dog, and her family. I haven’t seen my friend Lisa in 4 months. Why? Well, she’s been pretty heavily into the Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid scenes. For her, Dating in Toronto is a full-time job, too. She’s met a pretty attractive man who seems to take up a lot of her time, yet another commitment-phobe, plus she’s juggling a gazillion first dates. Seems like she’s collecting a variety of styles, throwing them at the wall, and just seeing what sticks. So far she hasn’t really gotten anywhere, and I haven’t really seen my friend!
Dating in Toronto: Abby
Abby is 25. She goes out every Friday to the exact same bar hoping to find a husband. I shit you not, this girl honestly thinks that the first guy who doesn’t back away when she smashes her face into his is going to make for a great provider for her 2.5 children, dog, and white picket fence in Thornhill. Abby joined ultimate frisbee because she thought it would be a great way for her to meet guys. She does it all for the ‘gram. She captions with the likes of “your vibe attracts your tribe” on a picture of a group of people who don’t actually know one another. With someone like Abby, you can’t share your interest in a particular member of the opposite sex. She will undermine any sort of connection you had by trotting over, tits out, making the game real easy for ya man over there. Why work an hour for $100 when someone’s dangling a $20 note in your face, right? She gets off on creating competition with her remaining female friends. She’s a juvenile, insecure, little girl who needs the validation of strange men more than the loyalty and support of gal pals. Don’t be an Abby, don’t take home an Abby, don’t befriend an Abby.
Dating in Toronto: Jessica
Jessica has a revolving door of men. She keeps 2 or 3 in play and has a whole bunch of guys on the bench. She climbed the corporate ladder quickly at the same company for the last 8 years. Recently, she bought a condo and furnished it exactly the way she wanted having lived in a shitty, run-down old building for most of her time in Toronto. Dating in Toronto changed a lot for Jessica when she made the move. All of a sudden the dudes who were freelancing and bartending on the side felt the need to get their shit together and move on up in the world. Jessica was finally showing the wealth she had accumulated, and these guys were not into it. The two men she’s currently dating have told her those three little words over and over again (“I love you”, for those of us who are jaded). Neither of them want to date exclusively. It’s sad, but when you’re dating in Toronto everyone is always on the look-out for something better. They could have their perfect man or woman doing naked back-flips in their front yard, but unless they put down the phone they’ll remain completely oblivious.
Dating in Toronto – Candidly Cartier
So what’s the secret to actually meeting someone in Canada’s largest city? I thought it would be easier than my experiences in Korea seeing as there are more native English speakers here and many of us grew up with similar cultural backgrounds. In reality, it’s far more difficult. Why is dating in Toronto so obnoxious? When I met Adonis, it was an instant connection. Our wifi signal was weak and I can honestly say, for me, it was love at first sight. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away, and even thousands of miles apart I still feel like we’re connected. With ex-Co-Pilot it was easy, too. I begrudgingly met him after a series of crappy first dates and it was a “right place, right time” situation. He was absolutely incapable of being alone, and I needed a band-aid. Now I’m in a situation where I have a great apartment, great job, and some great friends. I’m no longer working as a conventionally “female” gender role (as a teacher), and the intimidation factor is out of control when you’re dating in Toronto.
Dating in Toronto is Exhausting
I’m too tired to get dolled up and go out on Friday nights. I’d muuuuuch rather Netflix and Chill. Going out clothes sold here are either hoochie-mama bralets and booty shorts or totally binding triacetate-polyester blend urban professional attire. There is no in between, anymore. My feet hurt. Doing my hair and makeup, stuffing myself into spanx, then trying to get that dang zipper up by myself is exhausting – and for what? All you see at these meet markets are people trying to get the bartender’s attention or simply sitting in a corner and swiping all night.
Swipe for Your Life
Speaking of swiping, I’ve been out on my fair share of first and second dates having met through a dating app. My aforementioned friends and I get the same message each and every time we opt to keep our legs together for more then a couple of dates. “I think you’re looking to take things a little slower than me. I’m looking for something more casual.” Sir, I’ve met you twice. It’s entirely unfair to imagine that you know what I want. It’s cocky to think that you’re such a stud that I’ve fallen head over heels in love with you after seeing you in two different outfits. Also, it’s pretty pathetic that apparently I’m only good enough to be your booty-call. I was prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt after your horrendous first kiss because we had good banter. I’m starting to think that these morons just want their tinder date to turn up and bend over before agreeing to ever meet again.
A Girl’s Gotta Eat
These guys seem to think that I want the ring, the house, and the 2.5 kids immediately. It’s not that I want something serious, I just want something consistent. I’m starting a new job and have a pretty full schedule, but a girl’s gotta eat, right? Realistically, I’d like to have a companion with whom to do absolutely nothing on Friday nights, and maybe to go hiking with on Saturday mornings. I like breakfast in bed, too. Yeah – I’ll make it. Don’t get up. There’s still so much of the world to see, and I’m plenty happy as a solo traveler. If you’re along for the ride, great. Please don’t assume to know what I want. Don’t dismiss me simply because you’re intimidated or a Toronto man scared of the first inkling of commitment.
The concept of love bombs is one I’ve seen particularly frequently in Korea. The gist is that you meet a partner and it’s an explosion of feelings, but also commitments one or both parties have no intention of keeping. You have what you think are open and honest conversations about your emotions, about your goals, about the future. You travel together, meet your partner’s family, buy one another lavish gifts. In the blink of an eye, it’s over and done. Love Bombs. And what’s cuffing season? “Cuffing season is that period of time between fall and the dead of winter when people start looking for someone they can spend those long, frigid months with,” -Sameera Sullivan.
Expat Love Bombs
I can’t speak for expats in other countries, but I would venture to guess our issues of loneliness are all pretty similar. We leave our families and (for most of us) our friends and support systems back home. While social groups in Korea form quickly, they’re often made up of people with whom we’d probably never be friends back home. Romantic relationships are different. Expats often have “light-hearted” trysts, but once a connection is made, exclusive relationships are locked down very quickly. Everything is intensified when you feel instantly loved and cared for. I think most of us crave that adrenaline rush of passion. Unfortunately you can’t call a house a home without a little work, time, and attention. Most of us are only contributing one of the three in a new relationship while living abroad.
My Last Love Bombs
My last two serious (albeit short-lived) relationships were definitely love bombs. I knew right from the start that these should be enjoyable little flings and that I shouldn’t invest my time or emotions too much. In Thailand, H dropped everything, flew with me from Phuket to Chiang Mai, and started making comments about ring shopping and spending the remainder of our vacation pretending we were engaged.
Ex-Co-P was quick to start calling me his “Seoulmate”. He would call my apartment “Our City House” and his room on base “Our Country Home”. He shared what was his eagerly by bringing me goodie bags of things he thought I wouldn’t be able to buy (off post) in Korea. I was still getting over my last love bomb where the ye-olde-Adonis, H, actually gave up Bali to move into my shitty little studio apartment in Sincheon. I could see through Ex-Co-P’s bullshit immediately, but I chose to ignore it because he did all the things that H stubbornly refused to do.
Blind Beyond the Art of Seduction
On our 3rd date (coincidentally the 3rd day after we finally met in person), he snapped a selfie of us to post on Facebook calling me his KECH (a play on my initials). He asked me to be exclusive about an hour later. FINALLY! Finally I had someone who wasn’t afraid to show off to the world that he liked me. I didn’t need any of the expensive gifts he had brought me on our first few dates. All I needed was someone who wanted to be close to me. That was my version of having a guy jump up and down on a couch on Oprah. Finally someone wasn’t ashamedwas proud to be with me. Everything seemed different. He even put together an outfit to accompany me to Seoul Fashion Week. He invited his family and friends into our life together. Sparks flew.
Within weeks he was asking me my plans for the future (immediately by piggy-backing onto my Taipei and Tokyo trips), telling me his goals and dreams, and asking how we could fit into one another’s lives moving forward. He used to joke about me moving in with him on the base, but there was an underlying truth and neediness to it all. He made me actually want to have an easy life in the boonies running track on Sunday mornings, meal-prepping for the week in the afternoon, and cozying up with a movie Sunday nights. It seemed so simple. I couldn’t hear the tick-tock of the bomb because it had already detonated. Our simple, little, careless, time-sensitive relationship had immediately broken its contract and gone off the rails the moment I said “yes” to being his girlfriend.
Man-ipulation & Subconscious Un-Coupling
I can’t pinpoint the moment it all changed. In hindsight I think he continued to slowly chip away at my confidence by maintaining past drama. Ex-Co-P loved to drudge up his past relationships. He continuously brought up the issues he created for me in the workplace. He would perpetuate drama by inserting himself in issues I had had to rectify on his behalf that were having an effect on my life. I felt inadequate at work and at home.
After our one, and only, major argument, I coughed all night. The next day he demanded we run 6 km (round-trip) up and down Namsan Tower. He knew full well that I was a sprinter working on endurance and had a bad cough. He was testing me and patronizing me. It was clear that he was looking for a fight. When we got to the base of Namsan Tower, he asked me was if I wanted to go find his “Pont-des-Arts”-style love lock from two girlfriends ago. This was the girlfriend who was still friends with some of my friends. She even lived in the area of town I desperately missed. Had I not been dating this loser, we’d probably be friends.
“Cuffing Season” is Bullshit
I wrote the 7 Worst Guys an Expat can Date nearly a year ago. Hundreds of comments came pouring in. Many said I sounded like a jaded woman scorned. I think most of those qualities identified in the article still hold true. Elements of each character can be found in both men and women. As a cisgendered, straight woman, I write about my own personal experiences. The list is not comprehensive. Let’s say I wrote about the “7 Treasures Every Expat Woman Should Seek Out”. You better bet your bottom dollar there would be no more use for this site at all. You see, if I was any good at taking my own advice, ThatGirlCartier would cease to exist. My Grandmother was RAF and my Grandfather was RCAF. It’s like I walk around with a giant AF magnet on my heart and “US AIR FORCE” tattooed across my forehead. Am I supposed to avoid every Military Man I meet? Who knows – you already know I can’t follow my own advice!
Right now I’m talking to several men. I’m actually just dating and getting to know them on a personal, platonic level. No more intense situations right off the bat. No more instances of watching him pull the pin, drop the grenade and run away. Certainly no more “fuckboys in sheep’s clothing” (as so aptly a fellow Seoul Blogger described Ex-Co-P). I met H in August and Ex-Co-P at the beginning of March. Cuffing season is clearly not limited to the dark, cold, lonely, winter months…especially when it comes to sociopaths “love-bombs”. When someone shows you who they truly are, believe them the first time. Don’t let love bombs’ smoke get in your eyes.
Everything ends, but some things don’t even get a chance at a proper start. Grown men need to learn to communicate rather than “ghosting”. This is the story of my devilishly handsome, mysterious, and insanely cowardly rebound.
My Most Recent Ghosting Experience
I recently went out with a man who I thought was interested in dating casually. As I was fresh out of a relationship, I figured he planned on getting to know me over time. It’s also fair to assume that he was seeing other women throughout the first month of what I’ll call our “courtship”. Tinder is like window shopping, and I had a brand new account. We saw eachother 4 times that first week, which was a little intense for me. It was also pretty similar to my last relationship. Co-P was in a new Facebook relationship a mere 11 days after he and I split. That’s such a shady look. Perhaps he shouldn’t have cheated if he knew he’d get so butthurt about our break-up. I wasn’t in a place where I felt I needed to “win” the break-up. I want to wait until I actually know someone before determining I’ll be spending my valuable time with him alone.
So, rebound and I had some really nice dates. We went to some of my favourite spots in Itaewon as he was new to the city. A friend of mine came along on date #1 (what I call an “audition”), and his boss met up with us later that day. He joined me for a restaurant review and asked that we spend the next night “just us”. He held my hand in public and let other males around us know through physical cues that he was the alpha and I wasn’t going to entertain their advances. By date #3 he told me he didn’t want this to just be a fling. After that, I started to get the silent treatment. He’d go incommunicado for days, then blow up my phone with cute selfies and videos. We both left Seoul for the long weekend, but were in touch the whole time.
When he got back home, he called me via video chat. He cracked a joke at one point, so I laughed. He told me that’s all he ever wanted. All he wanted was just to make me laugh and smile. The line was delivered with such innocence and fluidity I almost believed it. I rolled my eyes and that’s when he said the one thing that surprised me.
“You’re so cool. You play it so cool.”
“Yeah, you act like you don’t care. I care.”
“I’m confused. You’re the cool one in this situation. I’m just trying to keep up.”
My bullshit-o-dometer was whizzing out of control. That’s when he told me he had the next 10 years of his life planned out. Where was I going to fit in? It’s nice to have a casual, physical relationship, but what were we and what happens next? What about the “dot…dot…dot…”? After I told him it was a little early to be having this conversation, I suggested getting together on the weekend. He agreed, with the caveat that now (after nearly a month of knowing one-another) was the perfect time for this serious discussion. After that? Radio silence…was he seriously ghosting me after trying to lock it down on freaking FaceTime?
Gentlemen, you know exactly what kind of shitty human being you are when you consciously decide not to pick up calls or respond to messages. Nobody is too busy to make plans with someone they like. When a man is interested in a woman, he’ll move Heaven, Earth, a board meeting or a boys night to see her. When you’re ghosting, you’re avoiding responsibility because you’re too chicken shit to have an actual adult conversation. Everyone gets anxious when it comes to potential confrontation. You owe it to the other person to provide a proper conclusion. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: to get what you want you have to communicate.
Ladies, here are some of the reasons why he’s ghosting you:
He’s Not Looking For Commitment
This guy will flip his shit at the simplest “how was your day?” text. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a serious relationship or casual tail. He wants no strings attached and assumes you’re hunting for a ring. Drop the dud and play the field. He’s not worth your time.
There’s Another Woman
I always say that Tinder is like window shopping. Men can certainly make the most of a shitty situation. In fact, a lot of guys I know actually exclusively Tind while on the can. If you’re dating someone actively perusing your replacement, he’s a turd. Don’t let yourself circle the drain with this one.
You’re the Other Woman
I met this wonderful man last year who really wanted to take things slow and get to know me. We went on some fantastic dates and I felt like we really started to make a connection. Then, he started acting weird and before I knew it – he was ghosting. It turns out his ex fiance was getting married and he just wasn’t quite over it all. It didn’t matter that their relationship was over. He wasn’t ready to make an emotional investment that might end with similar feelings. This one actually came back and we were able to talk it out. Eventually, we even became friends.
He’s Just Not That Into You
It sucks to hear, but the old Sex and the City adage is real. He doesn’t see this going anywhere and doesn’t wanted to get sucked into an emotional conversation where he’ll have to explain why. He doesn’t even respect you enough to have the common decency to tell you he doesn’t want to see you. Start swiping.
You’re an Option, Not a Priority
He wants to keep you around in case he needs an emotional relationship or a late night booty call down the line. Unfriend. Unfollow. Block if you must. Move the hell along.
Dating is tough. Expat dating is often tougher. When it comes down to it, we all want to feel important and cared for. Nobody wants to feel tossed aside. Ladies and gentlemen, don’t willfully neglect another human. Be kind, be gentle, and stop ghosting. I can guarantee that a reasonable person will respond much better (and likely stop responding altogether) if you tell him or her in a nice way that you don’t want to proceed. The calling, the texting, the passive aggressive social media posts (and lurks) will all vanish – and you won’t have to. If you want to alleviate guilt and avoid confrontational/ emotional conversations be clear. Stop ghosting.
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, androcky 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.
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.
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 notwant 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…
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.
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 beenand 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!
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.
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…
“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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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?