Tag: Romance

Expat Dating Diaries: Are You Scared to Be Lonely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Scared to Be Lonely

Dua Lipa, Martin Garrix

It was great at the very start

Hands on each other

Couldn’t stand to be far apart

Closer the better

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

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

Dating in Toronto: Are Local Men Commitment-Phobes?

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Dating in Toronto: Are Women Too Intimidating?

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 on finding a job than a date (current job ‚úď, new job August 20th ‚úď), 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.


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Lisa Fotios


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!


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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.

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Eneida Nieves

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.

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Jennifer Decan

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.

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Caitlyn Wilson

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.

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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.

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Martin Jernberg

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.


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

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Photographer: Matthew Henry

Creepy Communication

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

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Photographer: Ant Rozetsky

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

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

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Photographer: Allef Vinicius

Poking Holes in More Than Just the Story

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

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

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Photographer: Matthew Henry

Personal Space

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

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Photographer: Kaci Baum


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

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My Two Great Loves

That Girl Cartier - My Two Great Loves

When I was in high school, Sex and the City was in its final seasons. ¬†I thought Carrie Bradshaw was the height of sophistication, and that one day I’d find myself a Chris Noth look-a-like to sweep my off my feet on Pont-des-Arts (the love-lock bridge in Paris). ¬†I wasn’t far off! ¬†I was 17. ¬†I had been to Paris twice. ¬†I was obviously pretty damn close. ¬†I was even closer by the love locks at Namsan Tower when H and I decided $7 was too pricy for a romantic gimmick. ¬†There are so many quotations from dear SATC which I’m sure resonate rather shamefully with most of the women in my generation and beyond. ¬†Recently, I was reminded of a concept Charlotte brought up in season 5’s “Anchors Away”. ¬†In one scene, she states, “Everyone knows you only get two great loves in your life”.

The idea that we only get two great loves would terrify most people, but I think this irrational fear is far more prevalent than most people might realize. ¬†This irrational fear of mine is compounded by the fact that one of my “two great loves” isn’t even a person. ¬†You see, I recently lost someone who I thought might just be my last great love. ¬†It’s ¬†silly to think something so short could have meant so much, especially since it’s so one-sided. ¬†Nonetheless, I’ve replaced him with my first great love: food.

When I lived in Vancouver we were somehow invited into the glamorous world of Vancity foodies. ¬†Perhaps service is just paramount there, but I regularly dined at Michelin Star Restaurants and hobnobbed at hole in the wall bars. ¬†In Toronto, I had a food blog and somehow managed to get on a few PR e-mail lists. ¬†Now I was eating great food all the time…free of charge. ¬†I got fat. ¬†I mean, I guess I was a bit chunky moving home from Vancouver to Toronto, but with an expense account and a few years working in hospitality management, I was an absolute porker.

Culinary delights can often be as pleasing as the embrace of a loved one, especially when dining in good company. ¬†I think that in my last relationship I may have had some of the best dining experiences ever. ¬†A threesome with your two great loves? ¬†I’m not sure I could have asked for more.

I had wanted to write my “The 7 Worst Guys An Expat Can Date” series in sequence finishing with “The Travel Romance”. ¬†This should be an epic ending, but I can’t quite seem to admit to myself that it’s beyond over. ¬†I can pinpoint the moment the exact moment I think I knew this would be more than a couple of smooches on the beach past midnight. ¬†I had had lacklustre Tom Kha Gai (coconut chicken soup) for breakfast at our hostel in Phuket, and was craving some rich Thai curry.

I spent the day taking a Muay Thai sparring class followed by a tour of Wat Chalong. ¬†I was hungry. ¬†The “never dine alone” culture of Korea left me praying for a dinner companion. ¬†Though we had no wifi beyond the hostel, we still arrived back around the same time. ¬†I got my massaman curry and spicy dinner companion¬†in one fell swoop.

When you’re in lust, love, or on vacation (I’m still not sure what this was) everything is just better. ¬†Sun and salt water make my hair soft and wavy. ¬†I care less about what I’m wearing and more about who I’m with. ¬†Sunsets are more profound. ¬†Food tastes better. ¬†Whether I was in Thailand finally trying authentic versions of my favorite dishes, or sitting in a crappy all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ restaurant in Hongdae where the exhaust backed up, everything was better. ¬†Sugar is an addiction. ¬†Food is one of my two great loves. ¬†Right now¬†I feel like I’ve got a monkey on my back telling me to chase the dragon.

“Some love stories are novels. ¬†Others are short stories. ¬†It doesn’t make it any less filled with love”. ¬†This is not my account of “The Travel Romance”…it’s just a tribute. ¬†For now, I need to make healthier choices with the first of my two great loves, don’t you think? ¬†Have you felt addicted to sugar or food? ¬†How did you kick the habit of going back to the ex? ¬†Let us know in the comments!

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