Expat Dating Diaries: Travel Romance

The Travel Romance is just one part of the 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date. I have been avoiding writing this section for the better part of 3 years because the first one really and truly shook me to my core. While I’ve moved on, I still haven’t quite recovered. I’ve realized, however, that there’s a difference between a Travel Romance and Travel Love.  Travel Love has potential. It makes you want to work for, nay, fight for something intangible. It sweeps you off your feet and keeps you dangling – waiting for the other shoe (er – you, in this case) to be dropped.

This one shouldn’t be avoided altogether, but you must know upon entry that your risk of heartbreak is about 90%.  Meeting in vacation mode gives you the opportunity to live without the stress of work and other responsibilities at home.  You are at your peak around one another.  You’re consumed by the bliss of being in a new place with exciting adventures at every turn.  Give in to the Travel Love, just don’t give away your heart completely.  It will fly away to the other side of the planet to taunt you with ransom letters every time your time-zones allow you to connect.

Travel Romance, on the other hand, is fleeting. It’s a fling on the road never designed to be permanent. It has a mutually communicated date of expiration. Feelings might evolve, but you have perspective. It’s a paragraph; not a chapter.

I genuinely don’t understand the mating rituals of singles in Toronto. On vacation, with just a lingering gaze and a tentative wave, you’ve got the opening to conversation which could lead to a night of passion or following your newfound bliss across the country. Here in Canada, even at a designated “meet market”, all you’ll find are raggedy men glued to their phones or yelling about real estate.

My first Travel Romance after starting The Toronto Seoulcialite was in Shanghai back in 2015. It was my first truly solo trip, and I was shaking in my boots waiting for take-off. When I approached the hostel (with a printed out map and walking instructions – no SIM card), I was tired and nervous and wasn’t sure if I should venture out or wait until daylight broke. As I walked to the lobby a voice called out; “We’ve been waiting for you!”

It turns out he was from California, was staying at my hostel, had spent the last 5 years learning Mandarin, and had had a series of seizures in Beijing. He wasn’t sure if his health was up to finishing his months-long trip and hadn’t made any plans for Shanghai. I, on the other hand, had planned my trip down to the minute. We met up the next day and ventured around the city. It was nice to have a flirty new friend with whom to wander. People assumed we were married, and we didn’t correct them.

All things considered, he wasn’t a bad insta-husband for 2015!

The charade was all too pleasant. We walked all over for two days and the extent of our physical relationship was a bit of hand-holding and a tender kiss on my forehead. It was better than traveling solo. Better still than traveling with certain women. An intense flicker of chemistry with a well-established expiration. I was hooked.

After my little taste of Travel Romance I dove well into the deep-end with Adonis. After him, I thought I’d never fully let my heart go again. Then, I met an American (ex-Co-P) who confirmed it. I’ve never been as happy with anyone as I was when we were wandering through the dusty back roads of Phuket with a snaggle-tooth pup in tow. Since ex-Co-P, there’s been the Gentle Brummie in Seoul, the Tazzie with Trust Issues in Bali, Mr. Non-Monogamy in Toronto (who I met when home felt like a real trip), and the Dutchman in Hoi An. He cooked for me and I reworked his resume. We’re still talking, but that’s just for fun. That’s the key to a successful Travel Romance: make it all about fun in the moment.

Re-pat Dating Diaries: “LOL – It’s Complicated”

Looking back on my teen through mid-twenties crushes, I thought the juiciest thing in the world was the time at the beginning of a relationship. The heart/ gut-wrenching “does he or doesn’t he like me” feeling was one I looked back on almost fondly. Potential romance was fleeting, but almost as lovely as the romance itself. The excitement, the uncertainty, the torture, and the relief were things I looked back on as feeling like my heart was on fire.

That feeling left me entirely for three years, and for that I’m now so thankful. While I was in Korea, I dated 3 men who, in the beginning, gave me no feelings of uncertainty. I developed feelings not just of confidence, but self-assurance and safety from my partner. It wasn’t precarious – in the beginning I never felt like I was about to fall or my world collapse.

Dating now that I’m back in Toronto is disappointing. I keep meeting these complete and total losers who genuinely make me feel like I should give up and get a cat (or a second job!) Then, it’s like the Universe recognizes my disappointment in humanity; my loneliness.

I’m certainly not the free-spirited, lithe, fun-loving woman I was from 28-31. I’ve gained weight, lost confidence, and have retreated to the lost little girl I was in my teens through mid twenties. A glimmer of hope in romance leaves a world of doubt. Still, the Universe has brought me a forest fire.

I want a partner – someone with whom I can adventure, but also in which I can confide. This man is irreverent, masculine, sexy, and arrogant. He hasn’t quite shown me many of the answers to his brooding mystery, yet. Over the past year I’ve questioned whether I would ever be “cool enough” for a relationship with him. Recently, he has made me feel safe in the most emotionally nourishing intimacy I’ve experienced since I packed the man I still consider to be the love of my life into a taxi to the airport.

You can have sex without intimacy, and I’ve had incredible intimacy without sex. Just having someone hold you and interlock your fingers in theirs is like the emotional Kama Sutra.

Will he or won’t he feel the same way?

Expat Dating Diaries in Korea: The Lifer

Boryeong Mud Festival, Korea, Boryeong
Photo by Paige Stewart | Paste Magazine
This is not directed at any one person, it’s simply part of a lengthy and sarcastic series on The 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date!

The Term: The Lifer

The Lifer is someone who came to Korea (or any ESL abroad job, really) directly after University and found things were so good he never went home. Going beyond your comfort zone can be scary, and this guy is plenty content to not budge an inch. Why would he? He’s just like Matthew McConaughey in “Dazed and Confused”. He keeps getting older, and the revolving door of Koreans and Expat Women alike stay the same age!

Like the Eternal Expat, The Lifer doesn’t want to return home for fear he’ll just never have it as good. He’s perhaps a 6 at home, but a 10 abroad. Out every night of the week, he’s got a local girlfriend, but still crushes Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid on the regular.  With expat dates across the city during the week, he’s got a locally-sourced meal every Sunday night.

These guys are amazing because they know the best of everything. The best places to find the jobs where you get paid the highest and work the fewest hours. Traditionally these are University jobs, but sometimes you score with a hagwon pulling a fast one. The Lifer knows all about sketchy hagwons and sketchy behaviour. The Lifer knows “the best” BBQ spots in the city, and calls the servers Hyung (Brother) and Emo (Auntie). He knows every single person at the bar, plays it off like he’s too cool to chat anyone up, and secretly swipes in the bathroom because social interactions which aren’t completely under his control are far too nerve wracking.

He’ll leave you eventually, but he’d never dare leave the Land of Morning Calm.

Candidly Cartier: What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

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What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

New Year’s Eve always holds a little magic for me. Call me childlike, call me whimsical, call me a bitch in sheep’s clothing – this is the time of year where I set all sarcasm aside and am genuinely hopeful. There are plenty of “New Year, New Me”, “New Year, Same Asshole”, and “New Year, New Memes” running around my Facebook feed, but I think it’s a great time to step back and take accountability for the year coming to a close and the opportunity to come.

New Years Eve Toronto Lifestyle Blog, Sparkler

Hard Reset

Some people say that special days set the tone for the next year. I think they’re kind of like hard resets to as close to factory settings as you can get. They make you assess where you are and are optimal as pivot points if you’re unhappy with particular elements. On New Year’s Eve, I make tangible goals. On my birthday, they tend to be more sentimental. Even on Valentine’s Day I make goals, but that’s usually to pick up as much chocolate as I can while it’s on deep discount!

Coconut, Camera, New Years Eve Toronto Lifestyle Blog

Planning for Paradise

If New Year’s Eve sets the tone for the year, December 31, 2017 was a very good indication. Last New Year’s Eve I spent the day updating my resume, applying for jobs in Canada from Korea, finalizing travel itineraries, and decided very last minute to go to this huge hotel ballroom party with one of the most entertaining friends I met in Korea.

Bar, Lights, New Years Eve Toronto Lifestyle Blog

Step 1 – We can have lots of fun!

That evening we went to my friend’s bar for a quick sip of holiday cheer. When we arrived, the bar was completely empty. One and done, we hopped across to another’s friend’s restaurant which was picking up speed, and we were able to have a couple of cocktails and mingle with some people who, looking back, were really important to me over the course of my time in Seoul. We took a taxi down to Gangnam and the hotel was already insanely packed.

Kiss, Couple, Happy People, New Years Eve Toronto Lifestyle Blog

Happy New Year!

There were plenty of familiar faces. Some of these people taunted and tormented me the majority of 2017. I saw one fall on her face and welcomed the little bitch called karma to the party. I bumped into someone I dated right after ex Co-P when I was 100% not ready to be going out with anyone. Closure was good. I met some readers of The Toronto Seoulcialite and That Girl Cartier who ended up coming to my going away party in March. We all mixed and mingled and I got to hang out with a lot of  amazing friends I had made over the course of my 3 years abroad. At midnight, I even got my New Year’s kiss!

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Working Girl

If NYE 2018 was an indication of the year to come, I think it was pretty spot on. I continuously worked on my resume and interview skills. In Canada, I worked a contract position for a major non-profit before getting a job I love at a big Bay Street law firm. I am so incredibly lucky to have this position working under the management of someone I adore, and with two smart, strong, beautiful women who round out our part of the team. We have a host of characters in our department and each brings a magnitude of skills and swag to our dynamic. In 2018 I took trips to Borneo, Bali, Orlando, and Reykjavik. Landing in Toronto, I brought back the most important people (some I never thought I’d be so close to after 20 years of friendship <3). Anyone who had previously brought negativity to my life was ravaged by karma (see December 2016) or just didn’t make it back into my life.

New Years Eve Toronto Lifestyle Blog

Disappointing Dates

I dated a lot – whoa man, did I ever date. Like that NYE party in Gangnam, nobody was particularly special, however. I went on a lot of first dates which amounted to absolutely nothing. Even people from dating apps I’d never met assumed that (I guess based on age? I’m 31) I wanted to drop it all and get hitched right away. Nope, I’d like to have a connection with someone and would like to go on regular dates, but don’t really see that happening with someone in Toronto. 2019 – feel free to surprise me in that department!

2019 – Back to that Fitness Grind

In December I began a program called F45 which stands for “Functional 45 (minutes)”. It’s circuit training you take at your own pace with several trainers moving throughout the stations to ensure your technique is correct, you’re not getting injured, and you’re giving it your all. I’ve decided to partner with them (they call me an “F45 Ambassador” #fancy!) because I’ve tried a number of similar classes throughout Toronto in November and December, and this was the only one I felt was accessible to every body (skinny fat, big boned, bloated, or big and buff) and at every stage of the fitness journey. As much as I loved (and I LOVED) Big Hit, I need something that’s convenient to home or work, and these studios are popping up all over town. St. Clair West is convenient to get to from work then to head home, and I love the community that’s developing at this relatively new studio! I’ll be taking a class on December 31, 2018 and anticipate F45 will be a bit element in my personal growth (and physical reduction!) through 2019. FREE WEEK – CLICK HERE

New Years Eve Toronto Lifestyle Blog, heartbeat, pulse

Peaks and Valleys

A concept recently brought to my attention is that our life should have peaks and valleys much like the lines on a heart rate monitor. When the line moves, we’re alive. When the line is a plateau for too long, our heart has stopped beating and we’re dead. The past few years have has such epic highs and deep, deep lows. I now find that I’m teetering awfully close to the plateau. Honestly, I’m kind of bored. I hope that this year I can find the beauty in the break, strive for more epic highs, accept any tragic losses, and keep this wildly passionate heart beating. If not for the simile, at least for the caloric burn.

New Years Eve Toronto Lifestyle Blog

Happy New Year

Love,

Cartier

Expat Dating Diaries: Are You Scared to Be Lonely

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I’m not the girl I used to be. The manic pixie dream girl you fell in love with on a moonlit night en route through sandy streets to 7-11 exists somewhere, but she’s not here. The stressed out, overworked, manic, afraid of failure girl you loved because you had to isn’t here either. I’m back in Canada where there’s no mania whatsoever. Honestly – I feel as though I must be crazy for holding onto this, but my life is so well-balanced and normal that it can’t be. I’ve either become completely boring or am walking the long line of a plateau; on the precipice of something great.

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I wake up and start my day with a light workout. I go to work and count my calories. After work sometimes I’ll go to boxing and sometimes I’ll make plans with a friend. Every two weeks I pay off my credit card and put money into a tax-free savings account. I’m now 31 and this is what you do here even though the notion that I’ll ever produce anything with my measly savings is one hell of a pipe dream. Occasionally I’ll go on a blind date because its next to impossible to meet someone organically. I’ll typically never see the person again and consider it time wasted on the search to find your replacement.

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Have you ever tried to replace a love which has moved you so deeply that it changed the way you approach every element of your life? The kind of love that can shake you to your core with memories of its intensity? I have. I was pretty successful too for a 4-month stint because I found someone who was even more afraid of being on his own than I.

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For most of my life I was a lone wolf. I was more concerned with getting ahead in my career than finding a partner. I dated, sure, but I had never felt like a piece of myself or my heart was missing until my trip to Thailand in 2016. I was free before I met him, and now i’m scared I’ll never feel free or love/ be loved the same way ever again. It was my 29th birthday and I met the puzzle piece I never knew I was missing at a hostel on the beach in Phuket. After a week together I grit my teeth and made my way back to Korea and feeling emotional pain unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my life.

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When he made the leap of faith and moved to Korea to be with me, I didn’t know how to be thankful in a humble way. I didn’t know how to love him without smothering him and unintentionally pushing him away. It was such a foreign concept to me that someone like that could make such a sacrifice for me, that every day was worth celebrating. Colours were brighter. Food tasted better. Parties needed to last all night because why wouldn’t everyone want to rejoice in my newfound discovery?

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It was exhausting for us both, eventually, and when he left I felt a pain even more excruciating than before. It stayed with me for another 4 months through which time I must have dyed my hair 10 times and blacked out even more.

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Then at the beginning of March I met someone. He was still in a long-distance relationship at the time, but I had had no idea. We didn’t have that much in common, but he kept me on a schedule which improved my health and pulled me out of the darkness. He told me his mother always said he was a white knight to maidens in distress. I never imagined that my darkness would take me that low. Eventually I regained my footing and my strength. Of course that was a turn-off for him, and he sought another insecure woman. My replacement had replaced me. You told me you always thought he looked weird.

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Looking back to that time in Thailand when we had just met, I remember something he said then reiterated the day he moved in with me in Korea and about a year after we broke up. He had told me about this theory that some people were built for one another. I laughed it off because he told it to me in far more graphic terms than I’m explaining here (more emphasis on the body than the soul 🍆), but feeling the need to repeat it one last time when we were both in replacement relationships something I still just can’t shake.

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I often wonder: if so many of us are just replacing our missing puzzle pieces, has the other half of my heart just found a band-aid he can’t bear to rip? Are you putting a square peg in a round hole because you’re too scared to be lonely or too stubborn and afraid to admit you made a mistake?

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Scared to Be Lonely

Dua LipaMartin Garrix

It was great at the very start

Hands on each other

Couldn’t stand to be far apart

Closer the better

Is it just our bodies? Are we both losing our minds?
Is the only reason you’re holding me tonight
‘Cause we’re scared to be lonely?

Do we need somebody just to feel like we’re alright?
Is the only reason you’re holding me tonight
‘Cause we’re scared to be lonely?

Candidly Cartier – Hit Back: Be Your Own Best Boss

 

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Photographer: Andrew Branch

Kicking My Own Ass Back to Sanity

Buckle your seat belts and take out your chips and salsa, ’cause it’s about to get real cheesy up in hurr.  If you follow The Toronto Seoulcialite (my other “less sarcastic” blog), you’ll have read about my issues finding a job, finding a man, and finding my figure through the mess of moving back to Canada.  I’ve finally found something which  could be the makings of a career, and a date with myself 3 times a week which gives me structure and an outlet.  Coming back home is like picking up an old, ear-marked book.  The characters are the same and the setting hasn’t changed, but you’re still not exactly sure what will happen to the protagonist next.

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Photographer: Scott Webb

Someone Else’s Story

My biggest fear returning to Toronto was that I would be reliving the same old story.  While I was away, several of my friends partnered up, a couple had kids, many got promotions, some went back to school, and my nightmare boss was finally arrested.  Beyond that?  A lot of the people I’ve left are ear-marked – frozen in time right where I left them doing the same old things and just banging their heads against the wall calling it happiness.  I knew I wasn’t happy back in 2014 when I made the decision to begin the arduous application (okay – it was long, but not that tough) to move to Korea.  I couldn’t come home and return to old habits.

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Photographer Scott Webb

Die Hard: With a Vengeance

Old habits die hard.  I ended up moving back to Queen St. West and was working in the events industry when, at last, I found work.  Getting into a rhythm took time, and my physical and emotional health took a hit.  I decided to hit back.  I bought myself a 2 week unlimited introductory pass at Big Hit Kickboxing Studios.  At that time, I was living with a disrespectful roommate who was a neglectful pet owner.  I had no autonomy in my own life.  Looking back, I think that I was committed to my 2 week membership, but not so much to myself.

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Be Your Own Boss (Without Working for Yourself)

I once read that you should treat yourself like the CEO of your own life, and that fitness was a meeting you set with your employees.  Good bosses don’t reschedule again and again.  I wasn’t managing my life properly, nor was I being a good boss to my mental and physical health.  At this point I needed to hit back, but not just for 2 weeks.  Big Hit Kickboxing Studios in Toronto has given me the schedule I need to succeed.

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Be a Good Boss

Proper preparation prevents poor performance.  I’ve set meetings with my very important sanity at least 3 times a week, which is honestly pretty manageable!  After work on weekdays I leave the office between 5 PM and 5:30 PM (I know – my job offers work/ life balance <3) and walk for about 35 – 40 minutes from the office to Big Hit Kickboxing Queen West.  The walk enables me to just zone out and enjoy constant, steady movement while listening to music.  The workout to follow is full of different combinations which challenge my mind and various muscle groups.  Over the next 3 months I’ll be sharing my highs, lows, pounds, and measurements.  Stay tuned for preparation and progress, not perfection.

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Photographer: Aral Tasher

Naked Back-flips

Since getting back on a regular schedule with Big Hit Kickboxing Studios, I haven’t actually lost any weight, but the rest of my body and my life has changed pretty drastically.  My clothes have started to feel different – better.  I don’t crave sweets like I did throughout my unsettled period between my old job and old apartment and now.  I have been on several dates with not one, not two, but 3 different men who actually want to see me again.

When you start physical activity with dedication, dedication spreads throughout your life in different ways.  My posture exudes confidence rather than that fear of failure with which I started.  I’m back to caring about a connection rather than having a fear that I won’t be liked (word to the wise – fear of someone not liking you crushes a connection right off the start).  I don’t really have time for people who aren’t adding to my life in a positive way, so when I make time to see my friends we’re connecting on a much deeper and more enjoyable level.  I also always seem to come back to that old adage: “You can do naked back-flips across his lawn, but if you’re not the one he wants, honey, you’re just not the one he wants”.

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Photographer: Matheus Ferrero

 

Strength, determination, and hope fill the pages of my novel.  I know what comes next in that old, worn out, dog-eared story because I’m writing it now.

Repatriation Dating Diaries: Cartier’s Hot for Teacher

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Photographer: Josh Willink

Up in the Air – Not Exactly Dating on Cloud 9

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.

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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.

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Photographer: Angello Lopez

Dating Derivatives

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.

Re-pat Dating Diaries: Younger Men? Yes, please!

Carole RHONYC Real Housewives of New York City GIF Re-pat Dating Diaries: Younger, North American Men - yes, please! That Girl Cartier

The Newest in Dating Diaries: Repatriation

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.

Carole RHONYC Real Housewives of New York City GIF Re-pat Dating Diaries: Younger, North American Men - yes, please! That Girl Cartier

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.

Carole RHONYC Real Housewives of New York City GIF Re-pat Dating Diaries: Younger, North American Men - yes, please! That Girl Cartier

Confidence

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.

Carole Radziwill Bravo RHONYC Real Housewives of New York City GIF Re-pat Dating Diaries: Younger, North American Men - yes, please! That Girl Cartier

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.

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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.

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He’s Protective

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.

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He’s Got the Energy

‘Nuff said.

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.

 

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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.

Carole Radziwill Bravo RHONYC Real Housewives of New York City GIF Re-pat Dating Diaries: Younger, North American Men - yes, please! That Girl Cartier

Dating Expectations

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!

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Dating Doubts

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?

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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.

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Dating Deterrents

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.

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Just one for the young ladies considering the paragraph above.  We’re older.  We’re wiser.  Take heed.

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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.

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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.

Carole Radziwill Bravo RHONYC Real Housewives of New York City GIF Re-pat Dating Diaries: Younger, North American Men - yes, please! That Girl Cartier

In conclusion, nobody needs to know you’re dating younger. 

You’re only as old as the man that you feel, right?

Carole Radziwill Bravo RHONYC Real Housewives of New York City GIF Re-pat Dating Diaries: Younger, North American Men - yes, please! That Girl Cartier

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!

Exes & Oh No’s: An Expat’s Guide to Ladies’ Sick Sense

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Photographer: Matthew Henry

Creepy Communication

We all do it.  Social Media makes it easier than ever to look up how our loved ones past and present are doing.  Are they living their best lives?  How happy are they?  It seems when I’ve finally met someone new, the ghosts of lost loves past have their interests piqued.  When I started dating my most recent ex, it breathed life into a few poltergeists.  The man I’ll probably always consider to be the first great love of my life reached out.  He said everything that I had needed and so desperately craved hearing, albeit all a little too late.  I was honest about our communication with my new partner, and he was honest (well…to a point) about his.  When I was living with the Adonis, he would call his ex while I was at work.  What did I care if they spoke?  They dated for 7 years – she was a huge part of his life and he was important to her.  She was also roughly 9,000 km away.  How much harm could she really do from that great a distance?  I think I’d be more worried if he wasn’t interested in her well-being and didn’t want to maintain mutual respect.

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Photographer: Ant Rozetsky

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

In a new relationship, it’s tempting to look back on your partner’s old ones.  Are you part of a trend or are you different, special – an outlier?  Are you far enough outside the particular set of previous patterns and failures to stand the test of time?  A jealous, pissed off, or threatened woman does better research than the FBI, CIA and Secret Service combined.  When in a budding relationship I was contacted by my (then new) boyfriend’s ex stating that he had cheated on the previous two.  She told me I was becoming a symptom of a much bigger problem.  I, of course, dismissed it at the time.  He told me just enough to make it seem like we had an open and honest relationship.  I was completely transparent.  When his pattern reemerged several months later, you had better bet I quickly learned about RSS feeds, source, input, and the ease of info gathering online.  I did it because I sensed a problem.  I had an underlying insecurity about the state of our relationship.  I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, and unfortunately got more than I bargained for.

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Photographer: Allef Vinicius

Poking Holes in More Than Just the Story

What about the longstanding current girlfriend, fiance, or even wife, though?  I mean, she’s already won.  What use is it to look back on something which ended so very long ago?  On one hand, I can see that she means no harm.  She’s just curious about our history together.  How far down the line is it normal or healthy to creep?  Why does my ex boyfriend’s current love want to know about my daily activities now when he and I ceased all contact 7 months ago?  I’m sure there’s a small part where the “winner” can take perverse pleasure in popping up and rubbing it in your face that she’s enjoying your old memories.  Is there trouble in paradise or does she just want to lord her “success” over me without ever having to exchange words?

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When you’ve finally met someone new and are enjoying learning all about him, she’s there to drudge up the past.  At least when a man’s 6th sense kicks in, you might get closure.  When woman’s sick sense starts tingling, everyone just ends up shaken.  It’s better on both sides to leave well enough alone. 

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Photographer: Matthew Henry

Personal Space

To my exes’ new girlfriends and wives: ladies, if you’re really that curious about me, reach out!  I’d rather be cool with your creeping than completely unnerved.  If that’s not your jam, please have the decency to use a fake account.  You don’t need him to block me.  You don’t need to control with whom he communicates.  The women before me prepared him to love you.  If your relationship is strong, it’s due in part to the fact that I made him ready to love you and that you’re a better fit together than we ever could have been.  The hell he and I went through together doesn’t negate the joy you have now.  It’s not in spite of it, it’s because of it.  We worked through issues together that have made him a more considerate boyfriend or husband for you.  They will hopefully have helped make me a better partner in my next relationship, too.

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Photographer: Kaci Baum

Gratitude

To my readers: If your man is communicative, caring, and observant, chances are there’s a mother, sister, or ex-girlfriend who helped him along the way.  There’s not a single ex-boyfriend of mine with whom I’d want to get back together, but I have a genuine interest in their well-being.  Don’t try to police your significant other’s communication.  If he’s friendly with his ex and a better man with you than he was with her, you might even want to buy her a bottle of wine.

Love Bombs: Cuffing Season is Year-Round

The notions of "ghosting" (going out with someone then dropping off the face of the Earth completely) or "bread-crumbing" (dropping short messages here and there to keep the other person around, but not a priority) are common, especially for expats.  In the interest of keeping current on the trends explaining outside elements of my tormented love life, I read an article about a toxic dating trend: Love Bombs - ThatGirlCartier.com That Girl Cartier Expat Dating Diaries people man smoke bomb orange building outside
Photographer: Ezra Jeffrey

Cuffing Season is Year-Round for Love Bombs

The notions of “ghosting” (going out with someone then dropping off the face of the Earth completely) or “bread-crumbing” (dropping short messages here and there to keep the other person around, but not a priority) are common, especially for expats.  In the interest of keeping current on the trends explaining outside elements of my tormented love life, I read an article about a toxic dating trend.  “8 signs you’re being “love bombed” – it might be the most toxic dating trend yet“.

The notions of "ghosting" (going out with someone then dropping off the face of the Earth completely) or "bread-crumbing" (dropping short messages here and there to keep the other person around, but not a priority) are common, especially for expats.  In the interest of keeping current on the trends explaining outside elements of my tormented love life, I read an article about a toxic dating trend: Love Bombs - ThatGirlCartier.com That Girl Cartier Expat Dating Diaries people couple holding hands watch
Photographer: Ryan Franco

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.

The notions of "ghosting" (going out with someone then dropping off the face of the Earth completely) or "bread-crumbing" (dropping short messages here and there to keep the other person around, but not a priority) are common, especially for expats.  In the interest of keeping current on the trends explaining outside elements of my tormented love life, I read an article about a toxic dating trend: Love Bombs - ThatGirlCartier.com That Girl Cartier Expat Dating Diaries people man woman couple dating walking smile happy love sweater ripped jeans
Photographer: Brodie Vissers

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.

The notions of "ghosting" (going out with someone then dropping off the face of the Earth completely) or "bread-crumbing" (dropping short messages here and there to keep the other person around, but not a priority) are common, especially for expats.  In the interest of keeping current on the trends explaining outside elements of my tormented love life, I read an article about a toxic dating trend: Love Bombs - ThatGirlCartier.com That Girl Cartier Expat Dating Diaries people man woman fashion beauty swimsuit bikini beach ocean sea travel couple adventure vacation rocks love
Photographer: Christopher Campbell

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.

The notions of "ghosting" (going out with someone then dropping off the face of the Earth completely) or "bread-crumbing" (dropping short messages here and there to keep the other person around, but not a priority) are common, especially for expats.  In the interest of keeping current on the trends explaining outside elements of my tormented love life, I read an article about a toxic dating trend: Love Bombs - ThatGirlCartier.com That Girl Cartier Expat Dating Diaries people man woman couple happy love date amusement park ride ferris wheel street alley store shop summer
Photographer: Tim Gouw

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.

The notions of "ghosting" (going out with someone then dropping off the face of the Earth completely) or "bread-crumbing" (dropping short messages here and there to keep the other person around, but not a priority) are common, especially for expats.  In the interest of keeping current on the trends explaining outside elements of my tormented love life, I read an article about a toxic dating trend: Love Bombs - ThatGirlCartier.com That Girl Cartier Expat Dating Diaries black and white people couple happy smile bokeh ring hairstyle love sweet outdoor man woman girl lady
Photographer: William Stitt

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 ashamed was 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.

The notions of "ghosting" (going out with someone then dropping off the face of the Earth completely) or "bread-crumbing" (dropping short messages here and there to keep the other person around, but not a priority) are common, especially for expats.  In the interest of keeping current on the trends explaining outside elements of my tormented love life, I read an article about a toxic dating trend: Love Bombs - ThatGirlCartier.com That Girl Cartier Expat Dating Diaries people woman man couple blur sparkling light sparkler party celebration
Photographer: Priscilla Westra

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.

The notions of "ghosting" (going out with someone then dropping off the face of the Earth completely) or "bread-crumbing" (dropping short messages here and there to keep the other person around, but not a priority) are common, especially for expats.  In the interest of keeping current on the trends explaining outside elements of my tormented love life, I read an article about a toxic dating trend: Love Bombs - ThatGirlCartier.com That Girl Cartier Expat Dating Diaries people hands distance reach out away sad love black and white monochrome
Photographer: Mitchell Hollander

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.

The notions of "ghosting" (going out with someone then dropping off the face of the Earth completely) or "bread-crumbing" (dropping short messages here and there to keep the other person around, but not a priority) are common, especially for expats.  In the interest of keeping current on the trends explaining outside elements of my tormented love life, I read an article about a toxic dating trend: Love Bombs - ThatGirlCartier.com That Girl Cartier Expat Dating Diaries love locks hearts romance romantic
Photographer: Snufkin

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.

The notions of "ghosting" (going out with someone then dropping off the face of the Earth completely) or "bread-crumbing" (dropping short messages here and there to keep the other person around, but not a priority) are common, especially for expats.  In the interest of keeping current on the trends explaining outside elements of my tormented love life, I read an article about a toxic dating trend: Love Bombs - ThatGirlCartier.com That Girl Cartier Expat Dating Diaries snow winter white cold weather ice nature people hand heart love scarf
Photographer: Tohm Brigitte

“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!

The notions of "ghosting" (going out with someone then dropping off the face of the Earth completely) or "bread-crumbing" (dropping short messages here and there to keep the other person around, but not a priority) are common, especially for expats.  In the interest of keeping current on the trends explaining outside elements of my tormented love life, I read an article about a toxic dating trend: Love Bombs - ThatGirlCartier.com That Girl Cartier Expat Dating Diaries people couple man woman love romance piggyback ride

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.

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Photo by Fredrick Kearney Jr on Unsplash