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Ask TherapistMaryAnn Your Own Question
TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1704
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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Thank you very much in advance my story. I am a Chinese

Customer Question

Hi, thank you very much in advance for reading my story.
I am a Chinese Canadian (moved to Canada for about 15 years since my 17 and speaks reasonably fluent English) and I have moved to work in Korea since last September. There is a local coffee shop that I started going to from November almost everyday. There are only two lady baristas working in that shop. Although their English is not fluent, but we can communicate and they are both very friendly.
I found one of the ladies very attractive because of her lovely smile. In fact as soon as I was served by her once, I have wanted to see her everyday. She also soon recognized that I am a regular. I believe most of the customers do not call them by their names when putting their orders, but there was once that I found her name printed on the receipt, so I walked to her, asked if that's her name, and how to pronounce it.
Then I knew her name is***** a few days letter I called Shin-Hae by her name when she took my order. She seemed very surprised, possibly because very few (or even no one) called her by her name in her work. Soon after that I also told her my name, and I believe I am now the only customer that they called out the name when they said the coffee is ready :D
So far we have maintained friendly interaction. We haven't had a chance to chat a lot, but:
- We smiled to each other every time when I took the order and when I left the shop.
- She once told me that her co-worked is actually her elder sister.
- There were a few times that when I left the shop, she offered me some simple snacks.
- I gave Shin-Hae and her sister cards when I had to leave for Canada for Christmas. Both cards were hand written, and the card to Shin-Hae has a hand drawn cartoon figure. When I came back to Korea one month later, she brought up about the card, said thanks, ***** ***** asked her if she likes the figure I drew, and she happily said yes.
- There was one early morning I went to the shop, and she offered a banana. I then ordered an extra hot chocolate, and I said it's for her. She accepted it with a smile!
- I believe Shin-Hae and her lovely sister know that I am interested in her, because almost every time I go to the shop, her sister calls her to serve me even if Shin-Hae is not standing at the cashier.
- There were also a number of very brief small talks about very random things. So far I haven't got a chance to know about her interests yet.
My feelings so far is that Shin-Hae certainly thinks I am a special customer. One reason is that I am a foreigner. Another reason is that I might be the only customer who is extra friendly to her, tries to talk her, and shows some interest.
About 10 days ago, I decided to ask her out.
One day when I was on my way leaving the shop, I went to Shin-Hae and asked her:
"Hey Shin-Hae, I'd like to take you out for dinner at a very nice restaurant."
She didn't seem to hear that very clearly the first time so I slowly repeated the sentence.
Then she said "No" with some kind of surprise on her face.
I was a bit embarrassed and asked "NO?"
Then she said again "No, sorry." with a light smile.
Then I said "It's ok, it's understood".
Then she talked about some random thing like the shop will be closed next week for a few days for some national holiday.
Then I left and we said goodbye to each other.
It's been almost 10 days after being rejected. I did not walk away and still go to the shop everyday. She has not avoided me, and we have been able to remain the friendly interaction as before.
My questions:
1. She did not say anything about her having a boyfriend or being married when rejecting me. Would you think she rejected because she does not feel comfortable going out with me yet, since we've only known each other for a month?
2. Would you think I should ask her out again, possibly in a couple of months or more from now, and by then I should keep the interaction going to let us know each other more?
3. Maybe at some point later I can ask Shin-Hae's elder sister if Shin-Hae is single?
Thank you very much.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am 32. I think Shin-Hae should be around her mid-20s.
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.

I suggest that you write Shin Hae a note. You can explain first that you like her and don't know what the proper way is to ask for a chance to get to know a young woman in her work situation in Korea. If it is not proper for you to ask to learn more about her at all, or if she does not want to know you except as a customer, then you will accept that and not bother her. If she wants to explain why she needs this distance (such as having a future husband already chosen for her) that would help you to understand. But you don't want to offend her or violate her customs--but you don't know what is proper. You hope that writing out her answer to this note, even a very short one, will be easier and more proper than speaking in person.

I suspect that you're facing pretty strict customs, tight family restrictions, and strong embarrassment about doing the wrong thing in public. that's why asking your questions in writing could be easier for her to deal with, because she can take them home and discuss with family members and then write a reply with others' help. I would also caution you that if you actually got so far as to marry a girl whose upbringing and customs are far different than your own, your intimate relationship could be very different because of cultural and languages differences that you would have a very hard time working out-- plus the issue that she might be torn apart inside if she had to choose between being your partner and staying forever very close to her parents. You might be better off finding another person with an adventurous spirit like your own, who has chosen already to move far away from her family in order to become a part of the wider world outside of her own country.