I just started dating a guy, and I really like him. He's handsome, intelligent, well-read. I thought he was a real catch until he developed a nasty drinking habit. He’s sluggish, uncommunicative and seemingly bored with everything. The relationship is still pretty new, and I don't want to stay in it if he doesn't cut the alcohol out, or at least cut back. How can I go about broaching the subject without ruining the relationship or setting myself up as a support system for a handsome drunk?
~Blundering Boy Trouble
It's safe to say that, living in Korea, most of us have developed drinking habits to varying degrees. Drinking is a great way to blow off steam and temporarily disconnect from the day to day struggles of life as an ex-pat. With cheap local spirits and foreign bars that offer a taste of home, it's sometimes easier to disengage from the world, especially at the end of a week of “Lost in Translation.”
That being said, we can't let our vices get the better of us, which is precisely what is happening to your guy as he flirts with the deep end. What good are looks and brains if you're sluggish and uncommunicative?
While I find myself struggling to see how this guy is actually a “real catch,” there's obviously something about him that keeps you hanging around.
On confronting his drinking issue, I definitely wouldn't take the direct approach. The relationship is too new for an intervention and you might wind up just alienating him right out of the scene. Instead, why don't you help him connect with something outside of the drinking scene? There are a lot of clubs and activities in Busan that perhaps the two of you could pursue together.
Since he likes to read, suggest joining a book club or reading or studying something at home. Or try suggesting a night or two off from drinking and plan a distraction: a romantic date, a weekend getaway, or an adventure that requires a sober mind and body.
If this guy's not already past the point of no return, he'll get the hint and start making changes that are in the interest of his health and your relationship. But if he doesn't, it might be time to ditch him and move on. Cheers.
I just re-signed for a second year, but plan on leaving when this contract is finished. I recently met a Canadian guy who's only been in Korea for a couple of months. We really hit it off, and I he's definitely into me. The problem is we're from different countries (I'm American), and he really likes Korea and is already talking about staying on for another year. I'm worried about getting involved with someone when I don't know what's going to happen in 10 months time. What should I do?
~Confused in Korea
Let me get this straight… You've been in Korea for over a year and haven't figured out that landing a great guy who's into expat chicks is a total score??
The question is not what you should do, but what you shouldn't do. Live it up! Enjoy the time you have, get to know each other, have fun. There's no sense in stressing over hypotheticals and worrying about decisions you don't need to confront for several months. If the relationship matures into something cozy, then you can revisit these questions down the road.
In the meantime, you have a great opportunity to get to know someone without any real pressure. Who knows? This guy could wind up being a total loser, in which case you have the perfect out: a one-way ticket back to the good ol' USA.
There is no doubt that the very nature of the expat life can strain relationships. Sometimes they are accelerated by time limits. Sometimes they simply end. But allowing yourself to get to know this guy without worrying about the future will enable you to make the right decision when the time comes, whether it's staying on for a third year, moving together to America, Canada or another country entirely.
If, in a few months, he feels the same way about you as you do about him, you'll be able to make that decision together, which of course will make it a lot less terrifying than the place you’re in now. Stop trying to predict the future. Relax and enjoy your time.
If nothing else, should it not work out, you will always have Korea.
If you have a question for Leah, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org