Love Bombs: Cuffing Season is Year-Round

The notions of

The notions of
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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, telling me just how crazy his most recent lady was.  He would tell me each time she would write e-mails to him.  At one point he went so far as to read me a message from her mother where she called me the devil.  That was fun.  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.

The notions of
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
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

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

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