Tag: Korea Dating

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.

 

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 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!

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 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?

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

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.

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 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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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!

Expat Dating Diaries: My Best First Date in Seoul

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My Best First Date in Seoul

Over a year ago I wrote an article about the best summer date spots in Seoul.  My most enjoyable first date in Seoul, however, was pretty unconventional.  Our romance was short-lived and never got very serious.  It was before I ever fell in love.  It was before I ever truly had my heart broken, too.  There were disappointments down the line, of course, but he and I actually still talk to this day.  Maybe it has something to do with my best (and longest) first date in Seoul!

Where Do I Begin?

A friend and I had planned on going to the Doosan Bears game at Jamsil Stadium.  She had come up from Dongtan and had no intention of joining me on a first date in Seoul.  This military man and I had been chatting on and off on tinder for a few weeks.  This was before having written about the 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date.  I was avoiding seriously dating at the time.  Since boys were already on their way to the game, so we figured we could all hang out.  While sitting in the stands some overly aggressive foreigners started waving at us and one of them even shouted out, “Kate!”  We still can’t figure out who they were, but they didn’t end up being the guys from Tinder.  Because of that encounter, we almost bailed on the meet up.  I’m so glad we didn’t!

First Date in Seoul Key # 1: Common Interests

I love going to watch live sports, so meeting up at a baseball game was perfect for me.  At a baseball game you’ve got the hoopla of the game, the crowds, and the walk up songs.  At a baseball game first date in Seoul you’ve got the bonus of cheerleaders, and announcer, and BYOB.  If conversation gets boring, get well into the game.  If the conversation is riveting, it’s just the Korean league.  The field is smaller, the players are slower, and unless watching pop-fly after pop-fly being caught is your thing – it’s pretty repetitive.  Not a ball fan?  Find something else with an element of distraction or an easy out.  If you’re meeting someone for the first time you don’t want to get sucked into a massive time commitment (read: waste of time).  If you’re having a good time, however, laissez les bon temps rouler!

First Date in Seoul Key # 2: Perfect Sunset

Could the sunset pictured above be any more perfect for your first date in Seoul?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen one quite as extraordinary since!  We got to canoodle for a bit as the game wrapped up and the sun went to sleep.  Red sky at night, sailor’s delight, right?  Well our weather the next day was pretty darn perfect as we strolled hand in hand along the stream, but that comes later…

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First Date in Seoul Key # 3: Multiple Dates in One

Did you think my perfect first date in Seoul would lead you to a bathhouse crossed with Korean Dave & Buster’s?  Well, we’re here!  We had been out in Itaewon for dinner and needed somewhere to go before curfew hit.  My date was actually with his boss who was totally down to check out Dragon Hill Spa.  If you’ve never been to a Korean bath house/ sauna/ jimjilbang, read up on the most luxurious one in Busan! (Privilege check: this probably is best suited to cisgender straight couples.  Being on a first date in the actual baths together could prove risky!  I’ll let you use your imagination…)  Here are my reasons why a jimjilbang is an awesome first date in Seoul.

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First Date in Seoul Key # 4: Clean up Your Act!

With 9 different baths in the female sauna area, you’ll be super fresh, clean, and relaxed for the rest of your date.  We separated for about 30 minutes and reacquainted fresh-faced, squeaky clean, and in pajamas!  If a guy can’t handle me without makeup then I know it’s not going to last, but PJ’s is a whole ‘nother…ballgame!

First Date in Seoul Key # 5: Plenty to Explore

After a quick scrub and some relaxing in the tub, we all met up in the lobby.  I used to live in Jamsil (south of the Han River in Seoul), so sometimes we’d crash at Dragon Hill if it was tough getting a taxi home.  Since it’s open 24 hours, it’s also the perfect hideout if you want to socialize past curfew.  Since the boys were new to Korea, we explored the many different saunas in the huge building.  Are you a hot or cold sauna kind of person?

First Date in Seoul

There is a restaurant and a snack bar.  Grab a snack of some ramyeon (cup noodles), bingsu – a Korean dessert which is like flavoured “snow” (shaved ice), or a beer to keep you going!

I love getting a little competitive on first dates.  Playing plenty of arcade games was a great way to get to know how my date handled victory and defeat!  We shared a sneaky little first kiss in the singing room where he sang me his absolute favorite song (and where we screamed Alanis Morisette’s “You Oughta Know”).

First Date in Seoul

Ready to catch some Zzz’s?  Head into the indoor (or outdoor if you’re keen on being mosquito breakfast) cinema or any of the sleeping rooms around the jimjilbang.  Sleeping together on the first date in Seoul means something a little different here!  The best part?  In the morning, we got to soak one more time before heading to breakfast in Itaewon.

Dongdaemun!

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You know you’re on a good date when you don’t stop to check your phone or take pictures along the way.  Back in the winter of 2016 I took this snap of Chonggyecheon – a stream in Seoul.  It was nice ticking this one off my Seoul bucket list.  You can walk from Dongdaemun through Namdaemun and up to the palace by following the stream.  Who knew just a few months later we’d be walking and talking hand in hand under a noticeably warmer, blue summer sky?

Have you ever been on a truly unconventional first date in Seoul or anywhere else? 

Tell me all about it in the comments below!

Break-Up Don'ts and Dating Do's - Expat Dating Diaries That Girl Cartier

Break-Up Do’s and Dating Don’ts – Expat Dating Diaries

Expat Dating Don’ts and Break-Up Do’s

Co-P and I started having the inevitable (inevitable because he’s leaving Korea, not because he’s a cheater) break-up talk.  It would have been fine had it not been in Haneda airport 6 hours before our flight.  A few days later our fast, serious, fleeting, expat dating romance was over.  Little did I know then, he was already seeing (and sleeping with) someone else.  The confidence I had in our direct, communicative relationship was an absolute lie, and I feel pretty stupid having trusted him.  Because of the exciting, dramatic, and rocky way our relationship began, I felt like most of the time we were playing relationship chicken.  I had several trips lined up before meeting him.  He said he wanted to come, and without too many jokes or dares he booked flights.  I should have taken my own advice…

Because of the dramatic way our relationship began, I felt like we were playing relationship chicken. I should have taken my expat dating advice! girl woman barbell weights muscles strength training athlete crossfit health fitness exercise working out people
Photographer: Alexandre Vanier

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.

Because of the dramatic way our relationship began, I felt like we were playing relationship chicken. I should have taken my expat dating advice! airplane travel adventure plane people vacation trip transportation vehicle helicopter
Photographer: Inge Wallumrod

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…

 

Because of the dramatic way our relationship began, I felt like we were playing relationship chicken. I should have taken my expat dating advice! people man woman couple dating talking romance candle lighting lights bokeh
Photographer: Austin Call

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!
Because of the dramatic way our relationship began, I felt like we were playing relationship chicken. I should have taken my expat dating advice! people girl woman couple clothing hand touch
Photographer: Christiana Rivers

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.
Because of the dramatic way our relationship began, I felt like we were playing relationship chicken. I should have taken my expat dating advice! sea ocean water waves nature horizon sky sunset sunlight sunrise sunshine people couple love man woman hug smile happy
Photographer: Christiana Rivers

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.

Britney Spears in Seoul Korea

Britney in my Seoul – Oops, I did it again…

Britney Spears in Seoul, South Korea

Saturday June 10th Britney Spears played a show in Korea.  She was actually in Tokyo when I went with Co-P, but we didn’t go to the show.  We actually began the break up process at Haneda Airport, but that’s a story for another time.  Oops…I did it again.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d see her live, and I certainly didn’t think it’d be in Korea of all places!  Even cooler?  With G Dragon playing a show and Ultra Music Festival this weekend we got our KRW 99,000 tickets (just over $100 Canadian) upgraded TWICE.  I was sent to 3 different windows and had to wait a long time while they got their act together, but I walked away with VVIP tickets which had a value closer to $400 Canadian…each!  I got all gussied up with fabulous fellow blogger “A Fat Girl’s Food Guide“.  We had all kinds of laughs I really needed outside the venue, and went inside just before the show.

Britney Spears in Seoul Korea

Circus

There was no opening act.  Britney got straight into it and didn’t stop for an hour and a half.  She was strictly business, purely professional, and an enchanting entertainer.  The fan favourites were all a blur, fading into one another in a medley that got me in the zone!  Last night was a reminder that if Britney can make it through 2007, I can make it through the day, too.  When you breakdown you can go further into the madness or take the opportunity to rebuild.  There’s a blessing and a beauty in the breakdown.  Others may have torn you down, but only you can truly rebuild from the wreckage.

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Toxic

The past year has not exactly been my easiest.  I came to Korea to give myself a break from a stressful job and a toxic work environment.  After a healthy, comfortable, calm year in Busan, I decided to take on the capital city: Seoul.  I was right back in a difficult work environment with longer hours and less time to dedicate to fitness and finding friends.  Sprinkle in a couple of dating disasters and Itaewon drama, and voila!  You’ve got yourself a pretty shit sundae.  It’s getting tougher and tougher to pick myself up.  I truly believe that you should take as many lessons as you can from a negative situation.  Reflecting on our actions, reactions, and the ones from the people around us is crucial to personal development.  While I often feel like I take one step forward and 3 steps back, I want to move forward and enter my 30’s with joy and energy.

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Work, B*tch

On Mondays I aim to ease into the week.  I get to work with the youngest kids on Mondays.  While conversation is tougher, the cuddles tend to be plentiful.  My gym doesn’t open until 8 AM on Mondays, so I take it easy.  I talk to my parents on Skype every Monday and always look forward to our weekly ritual.  I’ve partnered with Sprout Seoul (Natural Healthy Whole Food Service in Korea), so I skipped out on my weekly meal prep in favour of flavour.  I’ll have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack or dessert free of over-processed ingredients, chemicals and additives.  I’ll be sharing pictures and honest thoughts on the menu here daily, too.  Last time I ordered from Sprout I was down 3 kg within days.  I’m thrilled to be on the 5 day plan.  If you order from Sprout Seoul, make sure to mention The Toronto Seoulcialite or That Girl Cartier to get a free snack!

…One More Time

I’ve read that we should start now rather than waiting for a special occasions. I say, take what you can get.  New Year’s Eve, a birthday, a new job, a break-up or even a Monday is an opportunity.  I’ve got a recent break-up, a birthday on the horizon (August 6th if you’re keeping track), and the Monday trap tomorrow.  I want to take these opportunities as spring boards to a better me.  As cheesy as it all sounds, a fresh start is exactly what I think I need.  With a new gym membership, Sprout Seoul, a little Restylane c/o Eunogo, some rad new friends, the love of more than a couple drag queens, and Britney in my Seoul, I’m Stronger.  Now get to work, b*tch!

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Expat Dating Diaries: The Eternal Expat

Expat Dating - That Girl Cartier

Photographer: Frank McKenna

The Eternal Expat

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

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Photographer: Denis Gavrilenco

New Notches

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

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Photographer: Leeroy

Red Flags

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

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Photographer: Samuel Zeller

Long Gone Silver: Emotional Pirate and Booty Chaser

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

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

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Photographer: Elijah Hail

The Term:

Riding the White Horse in Korea

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

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Photographer: Trevor Paterson

A Horseless Carriage

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

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Photographer: Alexandre Chambon

The Local

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

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Photographer: Alexandre Chambon

Where (not) to meet The Local

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

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Photographer: Poodar Chu

Western Status Symbol

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

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Photographer: Can Anh Khai

Dating Korean Men

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

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Photographer: Annie Spratt

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

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Letters from the Ex-Boyfriend: An Expat’s Guide to Man’s 6th Sense

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Photographer: danist soh
Letters from the Ex-Boyfriend: An Expat’s Guide to Man’s 6th Sense

Getting “that message” from an ex both incredibly gratifying and infuriating.  It seems like it’s the new vogue to write an apology letter to your ex-girlfriend.  It’s like it just sits there waiting and waiting for the exact moment she’s over you.  The moment she’s moved on and might just finally be happy, he clicks ‘send’.  Is this man’s 6th sense?  Has Google created a new alert?  Am I the last to know that they’ve created the latest algorithm in social media f*ckery?

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Photographer: Adam Birkett
He Hurt You

In this letter, he finally takes responsibility for all the things he did wrong.  All the times he lied (and the corresponding gaslighting), all the times he perpetuated gender stereotypes, all the times he just wouldn’t listen.  How did he come to the realization that this was the perfect moment to bare it all?  Why is right now the perfect time for him to come to his senses?  How does man’s 6th sense determine the right time to connect?

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Photographer: Wilfred Iven
Creep…Creep…Creepin’

I have no doubt that a recent post encouraging communication between partners is the most recent source for “the apology letter”.  What about the other times, though?  My rebound after H got his friend to message me on Facebook to see if I was going to Busan for an event.  This friend owns a travel company and it was pretty clear that there was no way in hell I was getting on the bus for this sold out trip.  How do these people know that you’re off the market?  Most of these messages come from men with whom I’m no longer even connected through social media.  Even if they are able to look on Facebook or instagram, the messages are sent before there’s any sort of public trail of the relationship.  It’s like how dogs can sniff out fear.  These douche-canoes can sniff out happiness and want to stifle that shit immediately.

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Photographer: Brigitte Tohm
Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

I went out with a military man who was just dying to make the blog.  He was, indeed, a Tinder fail story.  He lied to me about his location for no reason with the full knowledge that Tinder shows you the distance between you both.  We lived pretty close to one another already.  When he said he was out in the bush running drills, he was actually cursing the high cost of a side of guac at Lotte World Mall.  I wouldn’t have cared if he was too busy to hang, but don’t tell me you’re being eaten alive by mosquitoes out in the peninsula.  The night before H came to Korea, I got a lengthy message from MM apologising for it all.  He even told me he had gone deaf in one ear and had nearly lost his job.  We had only been out maybe 3 or 4 times.  He owed me nothing.  Some cosmic force in the universe (or man’s 6th sense) must have whispered that Cartier might be happy so it was the perfect moment to insert his thinly-veiled attempt at roping me back in.

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Photographer: Matthew Wheeler
Hieroglyphics

What does it all mean?  Well, man’s 6th sense seems to hit him like a pile of bricks once he realizes there’s a chance you won’t agree to another shot.  It’s not that he wants you back, he wants you to want him back.  Toxic relationships are less partnership, more power struggle.  He wants to have the upper hand back and he can feel that it’s gone.  The best part?  By this point you really should no longer care.

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Photographer: Chelsea Francis
Get Creative

Gentleman, what you must realise is that your messages contain several of the same phrases.  When you all write the same thing, it doesn’t sound genuine.  Here are some of the canned phrases in each message I’ve received:

  • “I just want you to be happy.”
  • “You’re an incredible woman.”
  • “You deserve the best in life.”
  • “Even if we don’t get back together, I hope we can at least be friends down the road.”
Letters from the Ex-Boyfriend - Man's 6th Sense - That Girl Cartier - card board letter paper slogan hand green tree plant nature
Photographer: Corinne Kutz
It is well.

It’s lovely for you to admit that you were wrong.  It’s validating to have all those worries and frustrations confirmed as your own f*ck ups.  I’m glad you’ve managed to clear your conscience.  Next time, don’t bother drudging up the past.  The notion that I’ll ever see a travel romance again is ridiculous.  We didn’t work out.  I’ve released your ghost.  It is well.

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Seoul Dating: This Is What You Came For…isn’t it?

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Seoul Dating: This Is What You Came For

Dear Wonderful Readers and Internet Trolls,

It has come to my attention that I’ve become known around Seoul as “the girl who goes on dates and then writes about them”.  Cool.  Let’s go ahead and clarify that, shall we?  ThatGirlCartier has been around since 2009 (on Twitter).  If you want the roots of the name itself, go check out one of my first posts on this site.  On instagram?  You can creep me back to 2012 there.  You’ll see pictures of food, fashion, fitness, culture, travels, a variety of weights and hairstyles, and oh yes – a couple of ex boyfriends.  That’s life, ladies and gentlemen.  Expat dating is tough!  Seoul dating is a minefield.  Just like Juicy Couture sweats and UGG boots, some things don’t last. If Juicy is any indication, some things might just return (you know who you are and yes, you’re welcome back – just say the word).

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xoxo Gossip Girl

The idea that I’m some sort of “Land of Morning Chaos – xoxo Gossip Girl of Seoul Dating” is ludicrous.  That said, if any of the show’s designers want to dress me I would not put up a fight.  Also, wasn’t Gossip Girl a dude in the end? Writing bits and bobs about my silly Seoul dating life seems to be a bigger deal to men than it is to women.  Men seem to either really appreciate my writing from an outside perspective, or take what’s written too personally.  To those who understand this to be entertainment and defend me and my right to write, thank you!  To those guys who “would never go on a date with a dating blogger”, well this one’s for you.

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Express Permission

If an expat dating experience ends up on That Girl Cartier it’s because express permission has been granted to share whatever has occurred on the date.  Tinder often initiates Seoul dating.  I’ve mostly got stories in the vault which aren’t all that interesting.  A lot of people ask to be featured on The Toronto Seoulcialite.  One guy even snatched my phone for a couple’s selfie just in case he “made the article” I was thinking about writing on Olympic Park.  This is not new.  Expats constantly ASK to be featured on the site. The marketing men, military men, locals, teachers, or anyone else from the list want to be here.  It is astoundingly easy to get material, because people love having our experiences shared anonymously online.  Sometimes they’re exaggerated.  Most of the time they’re not.

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Hey Friends,

I recently shared a tidbit on my personal Facebook page from a comically bad first date.  My personal profile is just that: personal.  Venting and sharing anecdotes on my personal page should not be grounds for an attack.  I feel that everyone’s entitled to share personal opinions on Facebook.  November 8th and 9th, January 20th, and the past month have been great indicators of just how many personal opinions people share on Facebook.  I’m a writer.  Your antics won’t get published to my site without permission.  Please continue to be ridiculous and make me push my own boundaries, too.

Remember friends, readers, and trolls, this right here?  This is what you came for.  

I wouldn’t have 3 times more views on this silly little website than its informative sister site if it wasn’t.

WDTDT: Who Pays on the First Date?

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Photographer: Wilfred Iven

Why Do They DO That?!: Who Pays on the First Date?

This new series entitled “Why Do They DO That?!” (henceforth: “WDTDT”) is all about the things that some men do which baffle women.  On wine nights the ladies have gone through it all.  We’ve asked “why would he go back to her?”, “why won’t he call/ text?”, “why won’t he kiss me if he says he likes me?”, etc.  The thing that baffles me the most is what they won’t do, or the sneaky and conniving things that some men do.  This leads me to the age old question (for our generation, at least), “Who Pays on the First Date?”

Read to the end for my personal take!

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Photographer:  Jay Wennington

It Begins…

This is a situation I’ve encountered first-hand, but have heard from other gal pals as well.  I find that this is particularly prevalent with guys you meet online.  Whether it be Tinder, POF, OK Cupid, or even instagram, these particular guys have a heavy rotation for a specific reason.  You chat for a bit online and he suggests meeting up.  He suggests a trendy new restaurant you’ve wanted to try.  Great!  You share a couple of dishes and he either says he’s not going to drink at all or he has a cheap bottle beer.  Trying to match the vibe of the date, you either have the same beer, something of the same value, or water.  You don’t want to go overboard, right?  You don’t want him thinking you’re some sort of alcoholic or that you’d win first prize in a pie-eating contest.

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Photographer:  Mitch Rosen

He likes You (maybe)!

You finish up, you’re still a bit hungry, and he suggests you move on to the next spot.  Awesome!  He wants to spend more time with you.  He likes you!  What you may or may not realize is that in your effort to be polite and accommodating, he’s been in control the whole time.  He grabs the cheque, you pull out your wallet, and he insists on paying.  Ever so sweetly and carefully he lulls, “you can get the next one”.  Why do they DO that?! I think you know why…

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Photographer:  Alex Knight

Bourbon by the Barrel

Your next spot is uber hip with a great atmosphere, low lights, and expensive cocktails.  He’s pulled this trick before and wants you to foot the bill for his top shelf Boulevardiers.  This might be the point at which you’re tuned into his ploy, it might not.  Most girls I know don’t want to poke the bear, so instead of saying something we’ll go along with it and balance out his suddenly extravagant tastes with house wine or draft beer.  While he’s downing two at once, you’re pacing yourself.

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Photographer:  Olu Eletu

So…Who Pays on the First Date, Then?

In this situation, you’re both paying.  That said, you’re paying through the nose for his wild night out since he’s made the initial investment.  This has actually happened to a friend of mine and me in Seoul with the same guy.  She’s had some bad luck having also been out on a date with The Military Man (yep – Mr. Cherry Freak himself), too.  This guy has the same M.O. each time: he takes the girl for Korean Barbecue, orders some soju (maybe $2 a bottle?), eagerly foots the bill, and then suggests much pricier spots in Gangnam.  When the remaining cheque(s) arrive, he sits back, sneers, and gives the same line without missing a beat, “your turn”.

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Photographer:  Gabriel Gurrola

Who Should Really Pay on the First Date?

I think that in this day in age, especially if you’re both teachers in Korea making the same salary, it’s ideal to go Dutch.  If you’re in a relationship show that you care for one another by thoughtfully bringing over his favourite beer or wine for movie night.  Never arrive at someone’s place empty-handed.  This is pretty much a rule whether you’re dating or not (and with men and women, alike).  If you are dating, go back and forth, but don’t be a doormat (that one goes for guys and girls, too).  A relationship is a partnership.  If you want a sugar-daddy (or a sugar-mama!) there are plenty in and around Seoul.  If you want a partnership, however, it’s a two way street, ladies and gents.

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Have you been out with someone who played you with the line, “Your turn”?  Have you felt like you were completely missing your backbone in that situation?  Let us know in the comments!

Expat Dating Diaries: The Green (Card) Monster

Expat Dating - That Girl Cartier

Photographer: Taylor L. Spurgeon

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

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

Cheeto Taco Salad - That Girl Cartier - Expat Dating Diaries
Seriously – bad decisions were made way before November, 2016.

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

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Photographer: Tycho Atsma

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

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Photographer: Frank McKenna

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

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Photographer: Asaf R

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

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Photographer: Ondrej Supitar

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

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Photographer: Dave Meier

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

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Photographer: Chris Lawton

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

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Photographer: Ian Baldwin

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

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

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