Dating sucks. It sucks everywhere. Having a more active love life is something that I see as a to-do item that I just keep putting aside. Many moons have passed and I still haven’t gotten around to making any progress in the dating department. I’m pretty independent at this point, so it’s cool for now. But, I constantly romanticize that I’ll eventually find the right person and everything will just fall into place with my love life.
I’ve used dating websites and apps for a while now. I much prefer meeting people organically in real life situations like parties or through mutual friends. But, when I came to Korea, I didn’t have any friends. So, I decided to try online dating once again. My sister had recommended Tinder as a way to meet friends and that’s what I did at first. My first Tinder meeting turned out to be one of the best things I could have done. I met my great friend Nick through it. On top of Tinder, I downloaded Jack’d (pronounced “Jack Dee” here) because I heard it’s the most popular gay app in Korea. It’s basically Grindr. I’ve also kept my OKCupid profile current even though not many people use it here.
I was pretty insistent on my profiles that I only was looking for friends and dates, not hookups. I thought I could meet other expats living in Korea or even Koreans who could help show me around and teach me about life in Korea. After many hours of meticulous research, I would like to share with you the things I have learned about gay dating in Korea so far. (Please cite me in all academic papers.)
1. Profile pics can be…unusual.
2. Some guys are very secretive.
Being openly gay is not accepted here pretty much at all. There’s no anti-discrimination laws preventing you from being fired if you’re gay (is this the United States?), which forces many guys to avoid showing their faces on apps.
So you see a lot of profile pictures like this:
Some guys get more creative:
This guy seems looks like the perfect match for me. And he’s only looking for friends just like me!
3. Like anywhere, chatting can be difficult.
And the language barrier adds more to that. This guy starting a conversation with me just by unlocking pictures of his dick.
4. Guys can be super impatient.
I couldn’t forget the first time I got called an asshole here. Because I didn’t respond to this guy in seven minutes, he sent me (in my opinion) a very passive aggressive message, which I was not in the mood for. And of course, like Azaelia Banks, I’m never going to shy away from calling a bitch out on social media.
5. Guys can be super intense.
And here’s one of the scariest guys I’ve met through dating apps here in Korea. “Patrick” and I first matched on Tinder. Our conversation was pretty tame to start off. Things seemed promising.
One Tuesday or Wednesday, he asked me if I wanted to go ice skating that weekend. I had tentative plans with my sister and he lives pretty far away, so I didn’t respond immediately. I also didn’t want to explain why I couldn’t commit to his plan because I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to go all the way across the city to meet this guy. I didn’t really know much about him. Then I started getting passive aggressive messages (this seems to be a theme here) like “I guess we won’t hang out this weekend.” “I guess we won’t ever meet…” Stuff like that. I told him he was acting very dramatic. He sent a series of utterly crazy messages that I wish I could have screenshot before he unmatched with me. He did however find me on OKCupid and wrote this rant about some (maybe imaginary) Americans who told him that I wouldn’t be a good friend blablabla.
So, bye Patrick. I will not be your Spongebob.
I met someone a few weeks ago who showed me Patrick’s picture on his phone and warned me about him, which confirmed my suspicions. Apparently, Patrick was making fake profiles using this guy’s pictures. That’s some Catfish shit and I’m not into it.
So, no love life to speak of here in Korea. Carry on posting your couples pics on Facebook and sending me your wedding invitations.
My sister (see last post) has been a huge help to me since I arrived in Seoul. On top of providing me with basic provisions (like peanut butter) that are either too expensive or non-existent in the Korean market, she has also given me a ton of advice on day-to-day life here. One idea that she suggested was for me to use Tinder to look for friends.
I had been on and off Tinder while I was living in the U.S. Despite having matched with hundreds of people, I had had zero success in meeting up with anyone IRL. I only really used the app when I was on the toilet and had run out of Candy Crush lives. So I did use it quite often. But, like my love-hate experience with Grindr, I would usually download it while drunk and thirsty and then delete it a few days later after having no luck.
But, a new city and country could prove to be more fruitful. And my #1 priority was friends. A boo would be nice, but I’m very aware that I’m not the luckiest when it comes to relationships. So, I downloaded Tinder once again.
I tried to make it pretty clear that all I wanted was friends.
But there were still some people who could not understand friendship.
Joseph’s first questions are: 1. where are you from? 2. top or bottom?
So, I wasn’t having tons of luck at first. I was matching with lots of guys, both Koreans and other foreigners, which was a huge confidence boost. It led to a few conversations with people promising to show me around Seoul sometime. But, there still seemed to be a sexual undertone that our meetup was ultimately going to end with me putting out.
One Saturday I was on my way to work and running through the next batch of potential matches to see if there were any possible friends. And then I came across Nick.
Are you fucking kidding me? How could I not want to be friends with this guy? If your profile makes me laugh and not because it’s so sad, I’m a fan.
After we starting chatting, I found out that Nick lives in Cheonan, a city about 30 minutes past my sister on the subway line. He was in Seoul for the weekend visiting friends and invited me to hang out that night so that I could avoid my sad weekend past time of sitting alone at coffee shops in my neighborhood.
It felt great to be invited out by a potential new friend, but it was also scary because I had never met up with anyone from Tinder! What if we couldn’t find anything to talk about? I was nervous and very non-committal in my messages leading up to the burlesque show we were going to so that if I chickened out last minute, I could always block him on Tinder and never have to think about it again.
I finally decided to bite the bullet and give it a try even though the temperature was well below freezing that night. The subway ride there took longer than expected and I kept thinking how I would be 100% okay with him not waiting for me because I was late. I would just do an about face and head back home where I would watch Netflix over some camomile tea like the 45-year-old woman that I am.
Despite arriving about 15 minutes late, Nick did wait for me. He was easily recognizable with his long hair, backpack, and cell phone plugged into the wall. To my relief, we got along really well from the beginning. Nick’s a very social person and I feel like he could make conversation with pretty much any human or animal. On our walk to the bar, we found out that we both went to college in Oklahoma. What a coincidence! At the bar, I met some of his friends as we waited for the burlesque show to start. It was my first time out in Seoul (sadly), so I decided not to hold back when it came to drinking.
The burlesque show was a cool new experience for me. Nothing enticed me obviously, but I appreciated it. After that, we went to Homo Hill, Seoul’s aptly named gay-borhood. It sounds like a bunch of bigoted frat guys came up with that name but whatever. I’ll just call it The Hill. We first went to a party at a “gay-friendly” bar where there were a lot of welcoming lesbians but not many gay boys. I don’t remember much of it because I was holding that cup like alcohol all night.
I don’t know who three of those girls are.
We danced and whipped our hair for a while before Nick took me to my first full-on gay bar in Seoul. It was obviously also on The Hill. Only a few seconds after walking in, a Korean guy stopped me and showed me that we had matched (no joke) on Tinder. He then introduced me to his very drunk Irish friend who was apparently nervous as this was his first time at a gay bar. Because I was liquored up, I ever so benevolently tried to help him overcome his fears and dance with some Korean guys he was interested in. Of course, this being the gay world, some signals got mixed and I ended up spending the night with the Irish guy in a hotel room that he paid for (#sugardaddy). It turns out that this might have been his first time at a gay bar but he was no stranger to the world of gay hookups.
But back to Nick!
Nick has been an ideal Tinder friend match. On top of taking me out in Seoul for my first time and introducing me to new people, he laughs at my jokes, which is the most important quality I look for in friends. He’s stayed with me for a couple nights while visiting Seoul and I even went down to Cheonan for a visit. Thanks for everything, Pussy Monster. Looking forward to many more fun times together.
***Warning: Graphic images and language used below. Not suitable for children or lame bitches who can’t stomach a harmless dick pic. Do not read the Grindr section on a work computer.***
Dating isn’t something that has really come naturally to me. I say that not to feel sorry for myself but rather to show that the few brief relationships I have participated in have not been initiated by dates. So how have my relationships started? I fell in love with my best friend. I slept with my Guatemalan friend’s bestie on spring break because he was hot. A guy left his live-in boyfriend (maybe just a little bit) because of me. You know, the usual.
After moving to DC, I decided to put myself out there and try to date seriously. This was not Norman, Oklahoma where the gay population is incestuous and options are limited. This is not Armenia where the gay bar gets fire-bombed. This was the gay Mecca, where all the short, pretentious boys of all races flocked to realize their political dreams of working on Capitol Hill, and end up temping at a random law office and being a part-time barista.
I started using OKCupid at my friend Courtney’s suggestion. She met her current beau on it and the pair have been together for about two years. The site is a like an eHarmony or Match.com for younger people who don’t want to pay for dating or haven’t reached that level of desperation yet.
I assumed there was no harm in putting myself out there. OKC’s clearly for dating and not hooking up in terms of the questions it asks users. I had to list “the six things I could never do without” as opposed to my “tribe” (see Grindr below). After having a presence on the site for a little over a year, I think it’s a smart concept but DC gays have yet to figure out how to use it effectively. Or maybe, it’s not them; it’s me. From my recollection, I have met up with four guys that I started talking to on OKCupid. None of them went past the first date and that’s cool. I just wanted to put myself out there and meet new people. Find out what I’m looking for in a guy. All that Bridget Jones shit.
Not for hookups
Shows height of guys (I’m a tall glass of water and like my prospective significant others to be the same)
Others can see if I viewed their profile (awkward when you accidentally do it multiple times)
Guys decide their body types. That means even though I can see your gut and man boobs, you can still call yourself “fit”. Sure, you are.
Overall, I rated a lot of guys. A lot of guys rated me. Sometimes, we messaged back and forth. More often than not, one of us gave up responding and that was that. Of the guys I went out with: one was too pretentious, one was a terrible kisser, one had an annoying voice, and one was a hot Turkish guy that stopped talking to me. Two out of five stars.
This app became all the rage at the end of last summer. I learned about it by glancing over my friend’s shoulder at a bar while she was using it. For those who don’t know how it works, you browse through prospectives’ profiles that show their name, age, picture, and a little blurb about themselves. You can choose to either swipe right if you like the person or left if you’ll take a pass. If you and the prospective both swipe right, you’re matched and can begin messaging through the app. It uses your location and tells you how far away the person is from you. Some people think it’s a superficial concept but I’m in favor of it. If you’re at a bar, you want to go up to someone who’s attractive and who looks like they have their shit together. Tinder just mirrors that logic.
Does awesome things for self esteem. If you feel ugly, just open up Tinder and swipe right a lot. Someone else will do the same thing and then you’ll both feel a little more attractive that day.
The app can be connected to your Facebook account, so it shows if you have any mutual friends or interests. This can be a good judge of the person’s character. He’s friends with a cool girl you know from college? Might lead to something. He’s friends with that pretentious asshole you met at a networking event? Probably should swipe left.
Doesn’t show height or weight. Have to assume that if someone only shows photos from the neck up, a soft body is lurking out of frame.
I swear to god if I see one more picture of a guy who did the Color Run or holding some random baby, I will lose it!
NO ONE TALKS TO ME!! I have come to the conclusion that guys here just use it to boost their egos. Over the course of almost a year, I have matched with 311 people. I’m guessing that over 200 of those guys have not messaged me once. It should come as no surprise then that I have never met up with anyone from this app not because I didn’t want to. I have found the guys on here, like many in DC, to be flaky, non-committal, and just overall douchey.
It has become sleazy. I know it has pretty much always been that way for straight guys looking for girls. But a casual conversation about something very important for me (height) can turn into this:
Yeah, Connor. It was. That was the end of our messaging. Lately, I’ve only used Tinder for when I’m riding the porcelain throne and have a good internet connection. One out of five stars.
The king daddy of all gay apps. It is known for being purely a hookup app, although some guys attempt to find dates or friends using it. Others, seem nice enough and then just send you a picture of their dick like, want it?
There’s not much to describe in terms of how the app works. It uses the location of your phone and finds other guys nearby. You can post a picture (must be approved) and enter basic information like height, weight, age, etc. Funny story about profile pics: I tried to use my main modeling pic, and it got denied TWICE!! Really? Half of the people on here use a shirtless torso pic, but I’m restricted from having a tasteful undie shot? What’s wrong with this gay world we live in? My Amer-I-Can Take it off photo, on the other hand, was ok by their standards.
On Grindr, you can also choose your “tribe”. Some of the options include bear, clean-cut, daddy, jock, leather, otter, rugged, and twink. Despite all of the progress that gay activists have made in previous decades, fighting for equal rights and acceptance, the gay scene has deemed it necessary for gays to be categorized into tribes, many with animal names. How are we supposed speak out against being treated like second class citizens, when as gay men we identify both ourselves and the type of guys we are attracted to as “bears” and “otters”? Ugh, one of my many frustrations with the current state of gay affairs in America. I also don’t see myself as any of these tribes so that could also be the impetus for my bitterness.
Lots of people to talk to. In Armenia, there were about ten guys within one hundred miles who used this app. After that, the closest guys were in Georgia (the country) or Turkey. In DC, you can’t walk fifty feet without running into another gay guy. But, with so many poodles in this city, you get a lot of weirdos.
Guys really don’t know how to make conversation. Like, I just…can’t.
I eventually gave up trying to find anything serious on Grindr and jokingly made my profile headline something along the lines of “Will put out for pizza”. My personal goal when I go out is finding a guy who will buy me pizza at the end of the night. We don’t even have to hook up. That would even be preferable because who feels sexy after eating pizza? I noticed a significant decrease in the number of people that were interested in messaging me for either no strings attached hookups or otherwise after this profile transformation, which was kind of a bummer. My faithful blog followers (all 7 of you) know I like attention, both romantic and weird.
Most people either took it as a joke or stopped talking to me immediately. Then there was Roberto: For the millionth time on Grindr, I was left at a loss for words.
Nothing can compare to my convo with this 19 year old from Bethesda, Maryland though. While having a little kiki with my friends by the pool, I drank a little too much and decided to mess with this guy. His response though makes me embarrassed, both for myself and for this guy who #1 not only thought that a guy would believe he could get pregnant but #2 was still interested in dating that guy.
Someone needs to give that boy a lesson in self respect. You are worth more than that.
Grindr, I can’t even use the five-star scale to rate you. I hate you and love you at the same time.
In the end, none of these apps have brought about any positive change in my life. If anything, they have lowered my self esteem because I have made passes at so many seemingly attractive people that have gone mostly unreciprocated. I have also become dependent on these apps and constantly look at them for gratification. Oh, no matches on OKCupid or Tinder and no one’s messaged me on Grindr today? It must be because I’m unattractive and don’t deserve anyone. FALSE!!! I don’t like preaching but this needs to be clear to all the single people who feel they are not good enough: Dates, dating apps, and other people do not determine your worth in this world. People in relationships are not better than you. Being single is not the end of the world. You is good. You is kind. You is important.
A couple of weeks ago, I tried to talk to my mom about relationship stuff. (She was actually very understanding when I went through my Oklahomo drama.) I had gone to the club and met a boy who was tall, handsome, older than me, didn’t have an annoying voice, all the qualities I look for. We exchanged numbers, but after a few back and forths, it became clear that things were never going to move forward. Being the sensitive little bitch that I am, I took it personally and just needed to talk about my feelings. Despite wanting to talk about my sister’s menstrual cycle, my mom did offer a few key words of advice: “If he’s not interested, fuck ’em.” This, ladies and gentlemen, is my mother Carol Ann and I will make her words my life motto. (I recommend you do the same.)
I will be sending a link to this blog post to all users mentioned here and then deleting these apps. I know that I will miss them, especially when I come home drunk and like to aggressively flirt with random guys in my vicinity while aggressively stuffing my face with anything in reach. But, even though I receive instant gratification from my browsing/rating/messaging these random guys, I always wake up the next morning, hungover and ashamed for not being able to resist the temptation.
Goodbye, OKCupid, Tinder, and Grindr. I’m over you, at least for now.