Expat Dating Diaries: My Best First Date in Seoul

Best First Date in Seoul JimJilBang Korea First Date ThatGirlCartier Dragon Hill Spa

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…

First Date in Seoul JimJilBang Seoul First Date ThatGirlCartier Dragon Hill Spa

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.

JimJilBang Seoul First Date ThatGirlCartier Dragon Hill Spa

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!

Love Bombs: Cuffing Season is Year-Round

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

Cuffing Season is Year-Round for Love Bombs

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

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

The concept of love bombs is one I’ve seen particularly frequently in Korea.  The gist is that you meet a partner and it’s an explosion of feelings, but also commitments one or both parties have no intention of keeping.  You have what you think are open and honest conversations about your emotions, about your goals, about the future.  You travel together, meet your partner’s family, buy one another lavish gifts.  In the blink of an eye, it’s over and done.  Love Bombs.  And what’s cuffing season? “Cuffing season is that period of time between fall and the dead of winter when people start looking for someone they can spend those long, frigid months with,” -Sameera Sullivan.

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

Expat Love Bombs

I can’t speak for expats in other countries, but I would venture to guess our issues of loneliness are all pretty similar.  We leave our families and (for most of us) our friends and support systems back home.  While social groups in Korea form quickly, they’re often made up of people with whom we’d probably never be friends back home.  Romantic relationships are different.  Expats often have “light-hearted” trysts, but once a connection is made, exclusive relationships are locked down very quickly.  Everything is intensified when you feel instantly loved and cared for.  I think most of us crave that adrenaline rush of passion.  Unfortunately you can’t call a house a home without a little work, time, and attention.  Most of us are only contributing one of the three in a new relationship while living abroad.

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

My Last Love Bombs

My last two serious (albeit short-lived) relationships were definitely love bombs.  I knew right from the start that these should be enjoyable little flings and that I shouldn’t invest my time or emotions too much.  In Thailand, H dropped everything, flew with me from Phuket to Chiang Mai, and started making comments about ring shopping and spending the remainder of our vacation pretending we were engaged.

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

Ex-Co-P was quick to start calling me his “Seoulmate”.  He would call my apartment “Our City House” and his room on base “Our Country Home”.  He shared what was his eagerly by bringing me goodie bags of things he thought I wouldn’t be able to buy (off post) in Korea.  I was still getting over my last love bomb where the ye-olde-Adonis, H, actually gave up Bali to move into my shitty little studio apartment in Sincheon.  I could see through Ex-Co-P’s bullshit immediately, but I chose to ignore it because he did all the things that H stubbornly refused to do.

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

Blind Beyond the Art of Seduction

On our 3rd date (coincidentally the 3rd day after we finally met in person), he snapped a selfie of us to post on Facebook calling me his KECH (a play on my initials).  He asked me to be exclusive about an hour later.  FINALLY!  Finally I had someone who wasn’t afraid to show off to the world that he liked me.  I didn’t need any of the expensive gifts he had brought me on our first few dates.  All I needed was someone who wanted to be close to me.  That was my version of having a guy jump up and down on a couch on Oprah.  Finally someone wasn’t ashamed was proud to be with me.  Everything seemed different.  He even put together an outfit to accompany me to Seoul Fashion Week.  He invited his family and friends into our life together.  Sparks flew.

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

Within weeks he was asking me my plans for the future (immediately by piggy-backing onto my Taipei and Tokyo trips), telling me his goals and dreams, and asking how we could fit into one another’s lives moving forward.  He used to joke about me moving in with him on the base, but there was an underlying truth and neediness to it all.  He made me actually want to have an easy life in the boonies running track on Sunday mornings, meal-prepping for the week in the afternoon, and cozying up with a movie Sunday nights.  It seemed so simple.  I couldn’t hear the tick-tock of the bomb because it had already detonated.  Our simple, little, careless, time-sensitive relationship had immediately broken its contract and gone off the rails the moment I said “yes” to being his girlfriend.

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

Man-ipulation & Subconscious Un-Coupling

I can’t pinpoint the moment it all changed.  In hindsight I think he continued to slowly chip away at my confidence by maintaining past drama.  Ex-Co-P loved to drudge up his past relationships.  He continuously brought up the issues he created for me in the workplace.  He would perpetuate drama by inserting himself in issues I had had to rectify on his behalf that were having an effect on my life.  I felt inadequate at work and at home.

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

After our one, and only, major argument, I coughed all night.  The next day he demanded we run 6 km (round-trip) up and down Namsan Tower.  He knew full well that I was a sprinter working on endurance and had a bad cough.  He was testing me and patronizing me.  It was clear that he was looking for a fight.  When we got to the base of Namsan Tower, he asked me was if I wanted to go find his “Pont-des-Arts”-style love lock from two girlfriends ago.  This was the girlfriend who was still friends with some of my friends. She even lived in the area of town I desperately missed.  Had I not been dating this loser, we’d probably be friends.

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

“Cuffing Season” is Bullshit

I wrote the 7 Worst Guys an Expat can Date nearly a year ago.  Hundreds of comments came pouring in.  Many said I sounded like a jaded woman scorned.  I think most of those qualities identified in the article still hold true.  Elements of each character can be found in both men and women.  As a cisgendered, straight woman, I write about my own personal experiences.  The list is not comprehensive.  Let’s say I wrote about the “7 Treasures Every Expat Woman Should Seek Out”.  You better bet your bottom dollar there would be no more use for this site at all.  You see, if I was any good at taking my own advice, ThatGirlCartier would cease to exist.  My Grandmother was RAF and my Grandfather was RCAF.  It’s like I walk around with a giant AF magnet on my heart and “US AIR FORCE” tattooed across my forehead.  Am I supposed to avoid every Military Man I meet?  Who knows – you already know I can’t follow my own advice!

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

Right now I’m talking to several men.  I’m actually just dating and getting to know them on a personal, platonic level.  No more intense situations right off the bat.  No more instances of watching him pull the pin, drop the grenade and run away.  Certainly no more “fuckboys in sheep’s clothing” (as so aptly a fellow Seoul Blogger described Ex-Co-P).  I met H in August and Ex-Co-P at the beginning of March.  Cuffing season is clearly not limited to the dark, cold, lonely, winter months…especially when it comes to sociopaths “love-bombs”.  When someone shows you who they truly are, believe them the first time.  Don’t let love bombs’ smoke get in your eyes.

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Photo by Fredrick Kearney Jr on Unsplash

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.

Fat Girl Food Guide Toronto Seoulcialite That Girl Cartier Britney Spears Seoul Korea

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.

Fat Girl Food Guide Toronto Seoulcialite That Girl Cartier Britney Spears Seoul Korea

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!

Fat Girl Food Guide Toronto Seoulcialite That Girl Cartier Britney Spears Seoul Korea

 

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.

Expat Dating Diaries The Eternal Expat That Girl Cartier feet legs couple people girl guy tattoo bed sheet blanket black and white bedroom bed pillow
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.

Letters from the Ex-Boyfriend: Man's 6th Sense - That Girl Cartier - flower pink petal bloom garden plant nature autumn fall tulip violet love passion intimate lettering
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.

Letters from the Ex: Man's 6th Sense stone wall letters symbols
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: How to Get Him to Commit

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Photographer: Jena Postma

How to Get Him to Commit

I’ve been seeing tons of click-bait headlines making their way through the travel, expat, and lifestyle communities.  Figured I’d give this one a shot, too.  So sue me, right?  Not quite – read on to see how you too can get him to commit with this one amazing tool.

That Girl Cartier - Time and time again girls lose their minds over men who choose someone else. How do you get him to commit? This one's simple. bokeh people couple happy kiss man woman smile christmas lights love heart
Photographer: Freestocks.org

Breaking the Rules

I’ve already gone back on my word by entering into a relationship with a) someone I met through Tinder, and b) on my list of the 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date.  If you’ve read Expat Dating Diaries: The Military Man you’ll know that there are some dirty dawgs out there especially in and around Itaewon.  I met my new Co-Pilot at Souva, which has quickly become the latest hot spot for my coupled-up pals.  In our first week and a half we had been to at least 7 restaurants together, watched 4 movies, made dinner twice, and climbed a freaking mountain.  He mentioned me to his parents and mine got the Skype update 2 weeks in.  I know you’re still wondering how to get him to commit, but I’m sure you’re also wondering if good ol’ Cartier’s going to get boring with a boyfriend.

That Girl Cartier - Time and time again girls lose their minds over men who choose someone else. How do you get him to commit? This one's simple. people girl beauty mobile phone talking communication gadget technology city blur
Photographer: Matthew Kane

No More Drama

It wouldn’t be the Seoul expat dating community without a little bit of drama (I know this is what you came for :P).  This wouldn’t be the Expat Dating Diaries without unnecessary drama, right?  Well, shocker!  My new beau went out on dates before he met me!  There are a few women with whom he’s been out who are friends of friends of mine.  One in particular was pretty pissed when he let her down easy (via text – party foul, I know).  After she screamed at me, I told him straight out that if we were going to do this we wouldn’t be with anyone else.  If either of us change our minds down the line that’s fine.  That said, a certain conversation needs to happen if either of us want to start seeing other people.  This leads me to the most important tool you can have in your arsenal if you want to know how to get him to commit.  Time and time again girls lose their minds over men who choose someone else.  How do you get him on the same page?  This one’s simple…

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Photographer: Freestocks.org

The One Amazing Tool

What’s this one elusive tool to use when wanting to know how to get him to commit to you?  COMMUNICATION.  There’s no big secret.  He’s not a f*cking mind-reader.  TALK with your Seoulmate!  Communication is a tool we all have within our big ol’ bag o’ tricks, but when it comes down to it we rarely feel confident enough to share our feelings effectively.  The biggest flaw in my last relationship is that I felt powerless what it came to expressing my wants and needs.  When I tried to initiate a conversation about things which bothered me, he “was bored” and didn’t want to hear it.  In my mind, my last relationship was just a silly little travel romance in the beginning.  Never in a million years did I think he’d skip out on an epic SEA adventure to come live with me in South Korea.  I didn’t tell him what I needed and wanted right from the start.  When he started weaving dreams of a real future beyond Asia, somewhere we might settle down, I scoffed and moved on.  When I started to believe the fantasy, he pulled away.  We weren’t on the same page at all.

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Photographer: Thought Catalog

Fake News

For someone who “hated social media” as much as he did, he sure checked his instagram likes regularly.  It blew my mind that he thought I was demanding he give up the “opportunity of a lifetime” to come live with me.  It drove me mental that he wrote his younger female travel companion a love letter on Facebook when he took off from Cambodia to come to Korea.  When he left Korea to head home, he shared: “too many people to name.  It’s been emotional.”  I was proud to be with him, yet he tried to hide me.  He was always pleased to be tagged in cool hipster photos at the palace or beachy pics with the lads.  Unfortunately, he refused to acknowledge our life together publicly.  Looking back that should have been a HUGE red flag.  I wanted to shout from the top of every mountain in Korea that I was happy with him, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell his own network he had a girlfriend.  It’s such a night and day difference to have an intelligent, accomplished, handsome gent tell me he’s happy to be with me at the top of a mountain we climbed together.

That Girl Cartier - Time and time again girls lose their minds over men who choose someone else. How do you get him to commit? This one's simple. people man woman couple lovers sweet nature trees grass forest trunks
Photographer: Emma Frances Logan Barker

Looking Forward

Maybe this relationship will crash and burn tomorrow.  Maybe it’ll withstand the tests of all the small town (ahem HBC) murmurings.  If you don’t have the exclusivity conversation with your desired partner, then you can’t be angry with him (or her) for continuing to date.  If this person meets someone else with whom they have more in common, you can’t fault them for wanting to pursue a relationship.  You didn’t communicate your desires.  If you’re not getting the answer for which you’ve been searching, then move along.  He’s not going to fall in love with you just because you’ve been hanging around.  It doesn’t matter if you have beer-flavoured nipples.  No matter how much you pretend to love Star Wars, if he doesn’t love what you’re actually into then what kind of foundation are you building?

How to get him to commit?  

Talk to him (or her) for f*cks’ sake!

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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).

Gossip Girl Seoul Dating That Girl Cartier

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.

Seoul Dating That Girl Cartier

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.

Expat/ Seoul Dating That Girl Cartier

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.