It’s always amazing how when you’re happy with someone new, your old beaus come back to haunt you. The night before Adonis moved to Korea, an old fling who had hurt me quite a bit came back to explain his actions and beg for forgiveness. When I started dating Co-P, Adonis took responsibility for each and every thing which had driven me bonkers during our relationship. The way I handled all of those things was certainly the reason for our relationship’s demise, and the fact that he knew he had done a plethora of stress/ rage inducing things throughout our tenure (but was too stubborn to change) created a flood of emotions which were confusing, especially when I was starting to date someone new.
Flings and Stings
We all have a bizarre sense of when the winds change, but what about people who haven’t made that much of an impact, yet? I work near this guy I met almost a year ago. Things got very intense really quickly, and he ran for the hills. I thought he has ghosted me entirely. He has come back time after time with the caveat that he doesn’t believe in monogamy. (*LOL ROLLS EYES INTO BACK OF HEAD FOREVER!*) I think that just means that he’s scared – scared to miss the opportunity of another notch. He’s scared to actually feel something and potentially get hurt. He’s scared to put in a little effort.
I rarely run into him, but when I do it’s always when I’m starting something new with someone else. I’ve been on a few dates with someone who seems to have everything I’d like in a partner on paper, but he’s starting to pull back and I just don’t have the time or energy for that. Enter guy who works nearby – let’s call him ‘Sensory Overload’. He always manages to bump into me when I’m questioning my self-worth. he’s a total f*ckboi and I hate that I actually have a crush on the dude, but when you’re with him you feel like the only person on the planet. He will literally stop traffic to give me a hug. He’ll hang up the phone (he’s always on the phone, of course he is) to ask what’s going on in my world. He sends cute messages once we part ways. When I need him casually, he’s always around.
Why can’t we ever get what we want at the right time? This is why we turn into gremlins when one from the fold has found “a good one”. Tinder is like Pokémon-Go – we search the city swiping for monsters. We’re desperate for structure and consistency. Why am I summoning this demon each time something good starts to go a little sour?
Now that I’m back in Toronto I’m trying to assess the dating pool from the outside looking in. While I’m more focused onfinding a jobthan a date (current job ✓, new job August 20th ✓), my gal pals are on the prowl. I’ve returned from Korea to find I only have a handful of single male friends. It seems like I have more single female friends in my age-group than ever, and they are all experiencing the same problem. Is it that Toronto men are scared of commitment or scared of a confident, successful woman? Let’s take a look at some examples of my single pals and other gals dating in Toronto.
Dating in Toronto: Lisa
Lisa and I have known one another for over 10 years. She’s got a pretty dominant personality at first, but is pretty chilled out and easygoing when it comes to making plans. She finished her MBA a few years ago and has taken on a senior role at a start up. She’s passionate about her work, her dog, and her family. I haven’t seen my friend Lisa in 4 months. Why? Well, she’s been pretty heavily into the Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid scenes. For her, Dating in Toronto is a full-time job, too. She’s met a pretty attractive man who seems to take up a lot of her time, yet another commitment-phobe, plus she’s juggling a gazillion first dates. Seems like she’s collecting a variety of styles, throwing them at the wall, and just seeing what sticks. So far she hasn’t really gotten anywhere, and I haven’t really seen my friend!
Dating in Toronto: Abby
Abby is 25. She goes out every Friday to the exact same bar hoping to find a husband. I shit you not, this girl honestly thinks that the first guy who doesn’t back away when she smashes her face into his is going to make for a great provider for her 2.5 children, dog, and white picket fence in Thornhill. Abby joined ultimate frisbee because she thought it would be a great way for her to meet guys. She does it all for the ‘gram. She captions with the likes of “your vibe attracts your tribe” on a picture of a group of people who don’t actually know one another. With someone like Abby, you can’t share your interest in a particular member of the opposite sex. She will undermine any sort of connection you had by trotting over, tits out, making the game real easy for ya man over there. Why work an hour for $100 when someone’s dangling a $20 note in your face, right? She gets off on creating competition with her remaining female friends. She’s a juvenile, insecure, little girl who needs the validation of strange men more than the loyalty and support of gal pals. Don’t be an Abby, don’t take home an Abby, don’t befriend an Abby.
Dating in Toronto: Jessica
Jessica has a revolving door of men. She keeps 2 or 3 in play and has a whole bunch of guys on the bench. She climbed the corporate ladder quickly at the same company for the last 8 years. Recently, she bought a condo and furnished it exactly the way she wanted having lived in a shitty, run-down old building for most of her time in Toronto. Dating in Toronto changed a lot for Jessica when she made the move. All of a sudden the dudes who were freelancing and bartending on the side felt the need to get their shit together and move on up in the world. Jessica was finally showing the wealth she had accumulated, and these guys were not into it. The two men she’s currently dating have told her those three little words over and over again (“I love you”, for those of us who are jaded). Neither of them want to date exclusively. It’s sad, but when you’re dating in Toronto everyone is always on the look-out for something better. They could have their perfect man or woman doing naked back-flips in their front yard, but unless they put down the phone they’ll remain completely oblivious.
Dating in Toronto – Candidly Cartier
So what’s the secret to actually meeting someone in Canada’s largest city? I thought it would be easier than my experiences in Korea seeing as there are more native English speakers here and many of us grew up with similar cultural backgrounds. In reality, it’s far more difficult. Why is dating in Toronto so obnoxious? When I met Adonis, it was an instant connection. Our wifi signal was weak and I can honestly say, for me, it was love at first sight. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away, and even thousands of miles apart I still feel like we’re connected. With ex-Co-Pilot it was easy, too. I begrudgingly met him after a series of crappy first dates and it was a “right place, right time” situation. He was absolutely incapable of being alone, and I needed a band-aid. Now I’m in a situation where I have a great apartment, great job, and some great friends. I’m no longer working as a conventionally “female” gender role (as a teacher), and the intimidation factor is out of control when you’re dating in Toronto.
Dating in Toronto is Exhausting
I’m too tired to get dolled up and go out on Friday nights. I’d muuuuuch rather Netflix and Chill. Going out clothes sold here are either hoochie-mama bralets and booty shorts or totally binding triacetate-polyester blend urban professional attire. There is no in between, anymore. My feet hurt. Doing my hair and makeup, stuffing myself into spanx, then trying to get that dang zipper up by myself is exhausting – and for what? All you see at these meet markets are people trying to get the bartender’s attention or simply sitting in a corner and swiping all night.
Swipe for Your Life
Speaking of swiping, I’ve been out on my fair share of first and second dates having met through a dating app. My aforementioned friends and I get the same message each and every time we opt to keep our legs together for more then a couple of dates. “I think you’re looking to take things a little slower than me. I’m looking for something more casual.” Sir, I’ve met you twice. It’s entirely unfair to imagine that you know what I want. It’s cocky to think that you’re such a stud that I’ve fallen head over heels in love with you after seeing you in two different outfits. Also, it’s pretty pathetic that apparently I’m only good enough to be your booty-call. I was prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt after your horrendous first kiss because we had good banter. I’m starting to think that these morons just want their tinder date to turn up and bend over before agreeing to ever meet again.
A Girl’s Gotta Eat
These guys seem to think that I want the ring, the house, and the 2.5 kids immediately. It’s not that I want something serious, I just want something consistent. I’m starting a new job and have a pretty full schedule, but a girl’s gotta eat, right? Realistically, I’d like to have a companion with whom to do absolutely nothing on Friday nights, and maybe to go hiking with on Saturday mornings. I like breakfast in bed, too. Yeah – I’ll make it. Don’t get up. There’s still so much of the world to see, and I’m plenty happy as a solo traveler. If you’re along for the ride, great. Please don’t assume to know what I want. Don’t dismiss me simply because you’re intimidated or a Toronto man scared of the first inkling of commitment.
Co-P and I started having the inevitable (inevitable because he’s leaving Korea, not because he’s a cheater) break-up talk. It would have been fine had it not been in Haneda airport 6 hours before our flight. A few days later our fast, serious, fleeting, expat dating romance was over. Little did I know then, he was already seeing (and sleeping with) someone else. The confidence I had in our direct, communicative relationship was an absolute lie, and I feel pretty stupid having trusted him. Because of the exciting, dramatic, androcky way our relationship began, I felt like most of the time we were playing relationship chicken. I had several trips lined up before meeting him. He said he wanted to come, and without too many jokes or dares he booked flights. I should have taken my own advice…
Looking back on our relationship (as shortlived as it was) I have a number of thoughts and feelings. We are completely different people with a few key common interests (fitness, food, and expat dating, it seems). Ultimately, we weren’t compatible romantically or with our timing. He tried to limit me to 2 tourist attractions per day on our travels. He wanted a 10 PM bedtime. I wanted to soak up everything (including the nightlife) in a new city. He followed the rules. I wanted to renegotiate them. There were so many times when I felt I couldn’t be as wild and outlandish as I wanted to be. In some respects, that’s a really good thing. Co-P pushed me to be the healthiest and strongest person physically I could be. I was well-rested, too. Ultimately, I got bored. I think he did, too.
As much as I’m content with my life without him as my boyfriend, there are still moments that give me pause. I miss having him as the friend I thought he was. There are a lot of lessons that can be learned from every relationship, and expat dating is no different. Take a look and see what you can extrapolate from every interaction. Here’s what I’ve learned…
Expat Dating Don’ts
Don’t have your first few dates at favourite spots in your neighbourhood. You’ll hate yourself going back to a memory you made together there every time you pass them.
Don’t invest yourself too much in the beginning…or really ever. It’s important to keep a balance and your own social life. Don’t be one of those people who gives up on your single friends when you’re coupled up.
Don’t ignore the majority of your friends saying bad things about him. Especially don’t alienate them in favour of the ones who speak kindly.
Don’t ignore his ex gfs if they reach out to you. There’s a reason they sound crazy. That reason is probably that he hurt them something fierce.
Don’t let things move too quickly. If he’s asking you to be exclusive on the third day you’ve met, maybe there’s another issue. Pump the breaks if things are heating up a little faster than anticipated. It might be exciting to jump into a new relationship, but you also might be left with the feeling that you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. He might have self-esteem issues, be self-indulgent, or just want to stir up drama. Co-P posted about his new girlfriend the day before a trip we planned together. (Super nice way to let me know you cheated, by the way…). Expat dating is tough!
Don’t get hung up on past heartaches. There’s a reason he’s not the one with you on this date! Focus on this new person who wants to spend time getting to know you!
Expat Dating: Break-Up Do’s
Do let yourself have a mourning period. Maybe you haven’t lost the love of your life, but you’re losing out on someone who has made an impact on it. You’ll be ready when you’re ready.
Do: It doesn’t matter if your mourning period is short. If you are ready to get back out there then do it!
Do: Say YES. If you get an interesting invitation then say yes! Surprise yourself with new hobbies and activities.
Do: Meet new people! It doesn’t matter if you want to get out on the dating scene right away or not, new people = new perspectives. Isn’t learning what we’re born to do?
Do: Widen your net. Meet people (new friends and prospects) you might not normally go for. Everyone thinks they have a “type”. If yours hasn’t been working for you, try something else! Whether you’re an expat dating or just meeting new pals, there are plenty of us in a concentrated environment. Go forth an experience new things!
Do: Look out for #1. Take care of yourself first. Don’t overextend yourself for someone who won’t go out of his or her way for you.
I’m not looking for the stars and the moon in another human. I’m looking for a travel companion, good conversationalist, work-out buddy, party pal, and all around life partner. I’m looking for someone who won’t deliberately hurt me (or put me at risk) because he’s started to stray. Neptune has 13 moons. Uranus has 27 (and they’re outta this world, girlfriend). Our very own galaxy is full of stars and moons. If you’re an expat in Korea like me, you’ve likely circled the globe at least once or twice. He (or she) is out there, but you’ve gotta make it through the Star Wars first.
The Eternal Expat is one of the most likely men you’ll meet from my list of the 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date. Flitting from city to city and country to country “sampling the local fare”, this guy has found a good life. Probably considered to be generically attractive from a North American perspective, he’s got an even more charming personality. Somewhere down the line he was likely a varsity athlete, fraternity brother, or both. He’s got natural game and women everywhere seem to swoon. He’s never settling down in one place, and for him you’ll never been enough. He might make a grand gesture. He might make it seem like he’d have you join his nomadic lifestyle and travel the world together (#travelcouple, #instaromance, the whole nine yards). When it comes down to the actual plan, he’s a lone wolf and you’re just dead weight.
The main goal of the Eternal Expat is to carve as many notches on his bedpost as is humanly possible. He loves to have the girlfriend experience. He loves it so much that he’s collecting as many as he can manage and in as many countries as his passport will allow. Let’s be clear: this guy does notwant a girlfriend. He wants adventure between the sheets and on the open road. He has 1 priority, and darling as lovely as you are, it’s never going to be you alone. Tucked between expensive dinners out, museum trips, and spa experiences, the eternal expat must be a master scheduler. He can juggle multiple languages and even more women. Remember “marinated cherries“? He was juggling THREE of my friends all at once and one more he brought on vacation! I wonder just how many other rolodex members he had on rotation…
The Eternal Expat won’t ever let you see his phone because he’s sending the same messages to you and half a dozen other girls. He will make it seem like he wants to date you exclusively right off the bat. He will tell you how amazing and beautiful you are. Far too early for heartwarming discussion, he’ll tell you straight up how much he likes you. He’ll tell you exactly what he thinks you want to hear in an effort to avoid having “the talk“. Try to see through the bullshit. He probably does like you a lot. I bet you are beautiful and amazing, too. Just take it all with a grain of salt since all these lovely things roll off his tongue easily.
Long Gone Silver: Emotional Pirate and Booty Chaser
If you encounter someone you think might be an “eternal expat” communicate your expectations and desires immediately. Don’t let yourself get surprised or hurt down the line thinking you’re in an exclusive relationship when he’s on a completely different page. If he’s not where you are, move on. You won’t change him. Why would you want to waste your time trying? It’s unlikely he’ll wake up one morning and realize what an idiot he’s beenand what a loss you are. If he does, it won’t happen until he’s Long Gone Silver and you’ve moved the eff on. If all you want is a good time then that’s totally fine, too. Be adults and talk about the kind of relationship you want to have. He’s got plenty of experience and you’ll hopefully be more than satisfied. If you want emotional satisfaction, however, don’t walk that plank.
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Have you encountered any Eternal Expats throughout your travels? Leave me your story in the comments!
I read every Korean blog Google populated in the first few pages and happened upon the concept of “riding the white horse in Korea”. What this meant was that there were certain locals in Korea who preferred socializing with foreigners, but only as a novelty. In less politically correct terms, this typically referred to a Korean man wanting to have sex with an All-American-looking woman. There are many Koreans (male and female) who do not subscribe to the homogeneous ideologies of this small nation. There are many Koreans who don’t make fetishes of particular races. I have several North American friends who are dating or who are married to wonderful Korean men. This article is part of the 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date, and is not about those people.
A Horseless Carriage
In my year in Busan, I met and socialized with a ton of Koreans in our little neighbourhood of Hwamyeong. On Friday nights we played guitar, a friend from a more central location brought a cajon, and we sang outside the local convenience store while eating instant ramyeon and drinking soju and/or beer. There was never a time I felt like I was singled out as a caucasian North-American. We were friends who enjoyed playing music together. On the other hand, there were plenty of caucasian males who would mess around with anyone they could, but would exclusively date Korean women. This is the North-American equivalent/opposite of what we’ll call “the local” from this point on. Seoul was a different dating story…
“The local” is chasing the white horse in Korea. He just wants to screw date someone foreign he can show off to his friends. As a caucasian woman with blue eyes and blonde hair I’ve found that, more often than not, this type of local’s intentions are pretty transparent. I don’t believe a significant other should be a status symbol.
Where (not) to meet The Local
Korean men frequently try to pick up at events called “language exchanges”. This goes both ways, but I often hear about foreign women who want to improve their Korean skills and are instead propositioned. Most people who have been here longer than a couple of months will scoff, roll their eyes, and dive into their own personal anecdote about a language exchange situation gone wrong. They often involve the suggestion they “practice” Korean and English in a DVD Bang (a room with a tv, dvd player, couch, and a box o’ tissues), a love motel, or her apartment (as many Koreans in their 20’s still live with parents). This is definitely a consideration when thinking about why many foreigners give up on learning Hangeul. Language exchanges are great places to meet women who are new to Korea. Guys chasing the white horse in Korea tend to lurk here.
Western Status Symbol
You shouldn’t date someone or even befriend someone because you think she’ll impress your friends (or teach them English). My old school asked me to help a young CEO of a Private Equity firm. I think he wanted to introduce his employees to someone who looked different to the women with whom they would typically interact. Meeting these men who couldn’t look me in the eye for the first two meetings was insightful. I wasn’t introduced for my teaching abilities, but for the way that I looked. Fortunately, these guys realized that I could discuss the Financial Times and other such publications. Within a few meetings I was taken more seriously and some of my suggestions for their business were put into place. I stopped wearing makeup or particularly fashionable attire. I definitely don’t think I was brought in as a white horse in Korea, but it was pretty close.
Dating Korean Men
I can’t speak from firsthand experience as I haven’t dated a Korean man while living here. I’ve been asked out on dates, but the way the question was posed didn’t really feel like it was a date. Dating conventions tend to be quite different from back home, and I just haven’t had the time for the runaround. I find Korean men to be quite beautiful. They often dress very well and have their own style. The #1 sales of cosmetics for men come out of Korea. While I enjoy getting dolled up, I don’t spend too much time on it. If my man takes longer to get ready than I do I’ll get antsy and peace out. Men in Korea tend to be more in touch with what we call their “feminine side”. I think I’m a bit aggressive and outspoken for them (and the aforementioned North-American counterparts).
A friend of mine went on one date with a local Korean guy. After that one date they were exclusive (from his perspective). She went along with it even though she was still dating other men. This is why communication is important. He would bring her around his friends and show her off, but there was no way he was introducing her to any family members, including his cousin who was his best friend. He wanted to meet more of her caucasian (only) friends. This “white horse in Korea” is a woman with some serious sexual prowess. No matter how she tried to entice him, he couldn’t keep up. Their relationship ended when she popped into the shower with him to spice things up. Things didn’t perk up – she never saw an erection from him again. Guess the white horse in Korea isn’t for everyone.
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?
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?
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.
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 failstory. 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.
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.
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.”
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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In the summer of 2009 I started working for an online dating company. There are plenty of interesting things you learn working for a website such as this. Coding was not one of them, as you’ll soon understand. On the internet, you can be anyone. Take Paige, for example. Paige was some sort of administrative assistant IRL, but online she was known as the sexy teacher by day, medieval fantasy fiction writer by night “Piage”. All the customer service reps assumed that, much like Kanye typo-ed “cray”, she had simply misspelled her own name when creating her log-in credentials. In the spirit of solidarity, we all misspelled our own real names. Tila became Tilo, Brandi became Branki, Poustie-Rothberg became “P*ssy Rock”, and Carter became Cartier. We were already a pretty eclectic bunch, but once the obnoxious names were included we became unstoppable (in our own minds, of course).
That Girl Cartier – Today
That Girl Cartier in turn became my alter ego. Cartier is wild and uninhibited. Cartier books flights to luxurious, far-away places at the drop of a hat. She knows and buys quality. She was a party-crasher until she got invited along for the ride. Eventually, the ridiculous roller-coaster car flew off the rails, but it still seems to be soaring. Sometimes I wonder where Cartier ends and I begin…