(Los Angeles, CA) Dating has long been an elusive, mysterious thing for one woman. The concept that two people meet, eat, and somehow decide that they can tolerate the other seems unlikely although millions manage everyday. As the woman has recently realized (again), that life does not just hand things to you, and that learning from the past is the way to be prepared for the future, she begins the process of mentally preparing herself to actively enter the dating world again.
Meeting people, or rather people with any glimmer of potential, is often the first hurdle to overcome. Set-ups through well-intentioned family members have for the woman proved a poor strategy. Asian families in general, use the delicate process of parents targeting any young person as potential mate for their children.
The woman and her family joined a Korean tour group by bus through the Canadian Rockies as a fun affordable vacation. The tour was, predictably, full of Koreans with little to no levels of English fluency along with assimilation to American culture (i.e. FOBs) — a perfect breeding ground for potential arranged marriages, particularly as the woman and her brother were the only “catches” under the age of 50.
But any place, any setting is an opportunity to match-make and parents do not waste the opportunity. They broach the important issues: age, profession… (That’s it.) Interests rarely come up and for the woman, this is sort-of an important thing.
“It’s kinda important to know that we’re going to have something in common,” shared the woman. “Right?”
The ability to speak English is one such commonality. During the Canadian Rockies trip, another set of parents broached the woman’s mother and father about a set-up. Their son was not on the trip, but they wanted an introduction and the woman agreed to the fairly non-committal mode of e-mail.
The following is an excerpt from the exchange:
FIRST OF ALL ,THANK YOU FOR YOUR MESSAGE AND I AM SORRY
I SHOULD HAVE SENT YOU A EMAIL FIRST.
I HEARD ABOUT YOU FROM MY PARENTS.
MY PARENTS TOLD ME THAT YOU WERE A VERY ATTRACTIVE
ANYWAY, I WANT TO INTRODUCE MYSELF SHORTLY.
MY NAME IS [J]. I AM 33 AND LIVING IN MONTROSE
WITH MY FAMILY.
I LIKE TO WATCH MOVIES , GO ON A WALK , COOK, HIKE..
IF YOU DO NOT MIND MEETING ME, I WANT TO SEE YOU AND
I WANT YOU TO TEACH ME ENGLISH.
I WILL CALL YOU.
And the following exchange:
I THINK YOU ARE VERY KIND.
I ALSO DO NOT CHECK EMAIL OFTEN. IT IS NO BIG DEAL.
[WOMAN], DO YOU LIKE KOREA FOOD?
WHAT KIND OF FOOD DO YOU LIKE?
While the woman was flattered that his parents thought she was very attractive, the woman did not appreciate being ‘put-on’ to become an English instructor. She also did not much care for “Korea” food (something most Koreans from Korea only eat… even in Canada), and as a foodie – near close a deal-breaker.
Matchmaking through parents also means that sometimes, the individuals being matched are not able to successfully date on their own. One basic dating skill is contacting the other person. While e-mail can be safe and non-committal, the step to talking on the phone can sometimes prove daunting. Even more daunting, in the woman’s experience, has been leaving a voicemail message.
“I’m running around in meetings and stuff all day at work,” the woman explained. “It’s not like I can always get to my cell phone… BUT, if you don’t leave a message,” the woman went on, shaking her head, “then I think you didn’t think the call was important enough to say something to me.”
The woman went on to share that while she realizes this logic may be flawed, at the time, J who exchanged several e-mails with her, never did leave a voicemail message, and communication trailed off completely. The last the woman had heard, from her mother from J’s mother, was that he was disappointed that the woman was not interested in him, and that he was going to “stop thinking about marriage” and concentrate on work and going to school.
They had been plotting all those little Korean babies eating Korea food.
Another important dating skill is be able to be alone with the other person. The woman’s mother was broached by another woman to have her son meet her daughter. The son never made a move and the woman had thought the matter was closed. She was wrong.
“My parents tell me we’re going out to dinner with this other family,” recalled the woman, “and my mother kept asking me what I was wearing. As she does this often enough, I didn’t really think anything of it at the time.”
“But when I got to my parents’ house, to carpool together, not only did they tell me that we were meeting “that guy’s” family for dinner… ‘By carpooling together, I could spend some alone time with him and he could drive me back.'”
The woman loudly sighed at the recalled memory. “To be schemed about,” said the exasperated woman.
The dinner itself went fairly smoothly, although “that guy” hardly said two words the entire evening. “That guy’s” stepmother however, was animated for the both of them, pushing and prodding and poking them to spend time together after dinner.
The woman refused. The woman tried to politely suggest that they arrange a separate date for another time, for it was out of principle that the woman could be handed off to “that guy” without her prior knowledge, but to little avail. It also became obvious that “that guy” never even suggested it, or agreed with his stepmother’s suggestion, and the woman became doubly mortified that “that guy” was not standing up for himself.
“He wasn’t standing up for himself,” exclaimed the woman. “If, and that’s a huge “if,” if we ever did get married – that [stepmother] would’ve make our lives miserable.”
Sometimes, family does not help in the end.
But as Seneca wrote, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” The woman was looking forward to that new beginning to dating beginning… well, soon.