It was a couple of months before I left home for Europe that I decided I would try the whole “I don’t want a boyfriend” thing. I decided that I would have fun with whoever comes along and not get too attached to anybody at all (although I guess the fact that I had just broken up with my first real boyfriend contributed to this sudden change of personality). I didn’t want to bring any of the sad feelings with me, it was baggage that I didn’t want to keep around me as I prepared myself for a new life in a new country. And of course, as usual, when you try to control matters of the heart, or, God forbid, feelings, you almost end up going in the exact opposite direction…

To be fair, he told me right up front, that he had a girlfriend. She was an exchange student here and now she was back in Korea, and that he would probably never see her again. When the whole thing between us started to happen, I asked… “Don’t you have a girlfriend?”. It was from this question that I learned of a different type of guy, one I had not really encountered back home, but I am now realizing is surprisingly common here. This would be the kind of guy who answers the question, “Do you have a girlfriend?” with the answer… “Not really.

At the beginning of this whole thing when I still had my head on straight, I told him not to break up with his girlfriend for me because I didn’t want a boyfriend and I was not going to take care of him. I hated that I probably came off as presumptuous that he was in love with me or something, but I felt like I needed to say it. I was getting exactly what I wanted and the fact that he had a girlfriend was just an added bonus.

I didn’t really have strong feelings for him, we were just having fun and being silly, and through this I managed to convince myself, “Hey, I’m not the one with the boyfriend, I’m not doing anything wrong, he is!”. Sure, I felt bad every time his girlfriend would post a Facebook status that said, “He is still a surprise to me. My miracle, ___”, all while completely unaware of what her boyfriend was doing on the other side of the world with a girl who didn’t really know the rules of the game. I mean, what was this? I was the other woman!

Of course, as time took its course, I began to care/feel way more emotions for him than I initially set out to. He made no move to break up with his girlfriend (but then again, I never really expected him to…) and because I was afraid of issuing such an ultimatum, I’d just carry on and pretend like the whole thing wasn’t bothering me at all.

It came to a point where I was upset and prepared and scared but I eventually did ask him that he could either be with me or his girlfriend, but he couldn’t have both of us anymore. It was still a case of “I don’t want a boyfriend”, but now the game had changed to “I’m not looking for a boyfriend…but if this guy asked me, I would say yes.” After giving me a couple of bullshit psychoanalytical questions and me shouting a lot, he eventually told me the reason why he couldn’t break up with his girlfriend. And although I promised him he could tell me anything and I wouldn’t disappear… I did eventually disappear and cut him out of my life completely. We were more than friends, less than lovers, but I couldn’t be friends with someone who made me feel the way I felt all those months.

All in all, I believe that people come into our lives for a reason, and very often, that reason is to teach us lessons, or to make ourselves more aware of the way we are. I realized how alright I was with being someone’s number two, and how nonchalant I was being “involved” with a guy who already had a girlfriend, and I think I wouldn’t have realized this had I not met him. I came out of this entire thing with a newfound sense of caution for myself, for my impulsiveness, and for the way I approached “boys” and “relationships” with reckless abandon and often very little care for anybody except myself, all as a somewhat protective shield. I was – and still am – afraid of getting hurt, but the way I’m starting to see it is… “Your eyes need to do some raining if you’re ever going to grow.

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Eleni-Sofia, 19 and currently studying in the Netherlands…and doing “studying abroad” all wrong!

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