Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Romance, international style.

Last night, Min Gi and I celebrated our six-month-iversary (as I side note, I hate it when people say "one month anniversary" or "eight month anniversary," and not just because those particular units of time have little significance to a relationship once you get out of high school, but also because "anniversary" means YEARS).

Those of you who know me well know I'm not that gushy about romantic stuff. However, I have learned from my many failed relationships that lack of romance is one of many relationship-killers (or just a sign it's over).

I have also learned (from my own mistakes, but also from observing others, including my parents) that men don't always know what kinds of gestures I would find romantic, and I have to teach them how to make me feel special. Not in a demanding "you must buy me 100 roses a year" kind of way, but if a certain day is important to you, let the guy know about it in advance so he can prepare for it. I have so many friends who make a huge deal about people forgetting their birthdays, but they won't tell people when their birthdays are--that's just not fair. Also, be sure to appreciate all the little efforts your guy does make, even if it's not exactly what you wanted. Men really love to please women, but they won't bother if they feel like nothing they do is good enough.

Interestingly enough, being in an international relationship has taught me even more about communicating effectively and patiently with a partner. We have language and cultural barriers to overcome in addition to the usual barriers between men and women (or between people, for that matter). Amanda wrote a great post about this about a year ago, before I was even dating Min Gi.

Koreans don't really celebrate dating markers on the months. They celebrate hundreds of days (i.e. 100 days, 200 days, 500 days, etc.). I don't get this system. It has no significance for me because frankly, who wants to sit there with a calendar and count these things out? I don't. (I've since been informed that in all Korean cell phones, you can easily program this information into your phone and it will mark the dates on the calendar for you.) And, as I've explained, I'm not huge on the monthly "anniversaries." However, I'm really happy with Min Gi and am impressed we've been dating for half a year and wanted to do something special with him on that day.

So I told him about it. A month ago. I said, "Did you know that it was five months ago today that we started dating?"


"Yes. But I don't think five months is that important, even though some American couples do. However, I do think six months is important."

"Ok. But I don't like to do the same thing as everybody else. It's not my style."

"I know... but we're in Korea. Celebrating six months is kind of different in Korea. I don't need our hundred days or peppero day or Christmas as a romantic holiday. I do need this."

"Ok. What day?"

"November 19. Eleven nineteen."

"I won't forget."



I checked that he was remembering a few times this last month (kind of as a joke, but to be fair to him). And he even asked what I wanted to do for that day.

But even with this reassurance, international relationships can have their obstacles. The day before the big day, he sent me a text with a sad-faced man that said "D-day: -1." I was initially confused by this, as D-Day in English usually means a much-anticipated event, but always in a negative way. It comes from the military name and alludes to the infamous Normandy Landings from WWII, now remembered by how they were depicted in the Spielberg movie, Saving Private Ryan.

I called him. He and my co-teacher both informed me that "D-Day" is used in Korea to refer to an anticipated event, negative or positive. As in your wedding is next week, "D-Day -7." Or something like that. (There are many English borrow words in this language that don't QUITE mean what we think they do and it can lead to much confusion.)

Anyhow, miscommunication aside, last night we met up downtown and headed to my favorite Italian place in all of Daegu, Little Italya, and then watched the new James Bond flick. Both were great.

And Min Gi gave me some little gifts: a small pot of fake pink roses (because they will last longer than real flowers), two hair clips (because they were cute), and a small typewriter figurine (to remind me of my dream to be a writer). None of these things were expensive, but the last one especially touched my heart.

When we got back to my place, I showed him my re-arranged kitchen with more cooking space for experimenting with food for his bar. We made plans for the winter (skiing, hiking, dancing, etc.) and reminisced about the good times we've had so far.

It was wonderful.

Who says men can't be romantic?


  1. Happy we-don't-have-a-proper-word
    -in-English-to-replace-it half-iversary.

    Maybe Koreans count by 100 days to make it tougher on themselves to get the right date. These are a people who will hit their bodies against trees while hiking to toughen it up, after all.

    And good job getting past the "he must be a mind reader" thing some women believe in.

  2. Wow, he sure sounds like a keeper = flexible, he's clearly paying attention, and he values the same things about you that you value about yourself. I'm impressed.




    Let's meet for a double date. I miss hanging out with international couples. Your guy sounds great!!!

  4. I miss you guys! Can I work at your restaurant?



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