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.

Flings, Stings, Constant Cravings: Am I Summoning a Demon on Earth?

Secret Whisper Couple Brunette Toronto Dating

Exes & Oh No’s: Part 2

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.

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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.
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Constant Cravings

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.
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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?

Candidly Cartier: Deleting 4 Dating – Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and OkCupid

Single Sally Stops Swiping

When it comes to Bumble Fails or Tinder Nightmares, the stories write themselves. My writing has become boring in Toronto, however. Life in Korea was interesting because it was foreign and everything was a challenge and new and exciting. The guys I dated were damaged. One was having massive internal crises about love. I wish I could have helped him, but he will have to learn to help himself. Others were with me because they wanted to be on the blog. Ex-co-p I’m looking at you and your wife who still creep my social media – literally LinkedIn today. Writing is a way for me to work through the weirdness I experience while navigating these relationships. I haven’t watched Bird Box yet, but if following the memes gives me any idea, deleting all apps and trying to navigate the Toronto dating scene blind seems to be the only way to avoid the monsters.

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Deleting all Apps

Ladies and gentlemen, I went into 2019 sans swipe. My instagram storied lacked some serious mansplaining and offers of pantsless Netflix and chill. I only lasted about 16 days over-eating, working out, and over-sleeping without window-shopping for men. This is hardly the recipe to meet a mate, and I’m starting to realize why people get cats. Instead of a cat, however, I bought a ticket. Normally my travel talk would be limited to The Toronto Seoulcialite. I haven’t yet posted about Bali because how do you write the top 10 ways to eat, drink, and bang your way through Gili Trawangan?

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Va-Kate-tion

Of course, I’m kidding. My Gili T romance was full of passion and drama, but there was only one apple of my eye. I am clearly unable to distinguish the b*tches from the beaches, but I do know when a deal is too good to pass up! Toronto, Canada to Cebu, Philippines for $575 round trip and tax-in was a great buy. I’m going at the beginning of April. The weather is supposed to be insanely good and without much rain. In March it will be a year since I left Korea. While there are some cute guys online/ on dating apps, in person they tend to look like moldy coleslaw. I find Hotness monsters on the beach, and I just signed myself up for 7 days of babe-watching.

Willpower Weakness

In the 2 and a half weeks without any dating apps I did find I approached more men in the hopes of initiating an organic connection. It really worked the first time, however someone who I thought was a friend ended up f*cking him in the men’s bathroom of a popular downtown bar (and breaking the baby change table in the process). I met another since we had exchanged numbers before both deleting our dating apps. He indicated he was interested in seeing me again, but ultimately ghosted (because of course he did). Now? I re-installed tinder, but no other dating apps. I don’t open it very frequently. My dating life is actually improving, believe it or not. Tinder managed to bring me one special guy who is hitting all the points of communication I so desperately crave, and another who I’m not quite sure about, but who is ambitious as all get out. I think there’s something to be said for simplifying, and I’m not going to say no to putting a few more chucklehead tinder nightmares on blast in the process.

Repat Dating Diaries: Oh no – I’ve been on this date before!

Cold, Quiet, Dry Winter Months

It’s been seven months since my return from the land of morning calm (Korea, dweebs). In that time I’ve tried to date as much as possible, if only to provide you lovely Seouls with fresh content so you can feel better about your lives as we go into the cold, winter months. I thought Itaewon was bad for guys and girls alike furiously swiping left and right while at a bar full of decent-looking, age appropriate humans with at least the common expat connection.  No, no – Toronto is far worse for tinder tendinitis.

Double-Dipping for Dating

I got pretty lucky meeting the hot, young, Italian 3-minute Stallion. I met a guy who flew all the way to Jamaica for some fatherly advice after we got “too intimate too quickly” (read: we went on 3 dates that week and he met my roommate’s dog). There was a carpenter, but if you’ve been reading for a while then you know there’s only one carpenter in my heart (and no, it’s not JC). Beyond that, I’ve yet to really date the same dude twice – except I did.

Repetitive Repercussions

Keep in mind that I had been living on the other side of the planet for 3 years when I tell you this story. I thought the pictures were kind of familiar, but I just didn’t put two and two together. It was like a bad episode of “How I Met Your Mother”. There I was sitting in a booth at The Drake Hotel (a popular West Queen West spot) and my date walked in. He wasn’t anything to write home about, but I probably wouldn’t have kicked him out of bed either. Then, he opened his mouth and it all came flooding back. After 3 years, he still told me the same stories about his 1 trip to Poland (tldr: he got drunk the whole time and saw no historical attractions). My date was still bragging about buying his condo with 0% down.

I’ve Learned Nothing

Was this a trap? Did he know that I knew who he was? Was he pretending we had never met before, too? This was the first time I had doubled-down on a dreadful date. Are there really so few single men in this city? Have I completed the circle and come back to the start?

Who knows…

I’ll probably make this mistake again.

 

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.