Life Personal

What a Nude Sauna Taught Me About Relationships

I was absolutely living the life in November of 2018. I had left my hometown of NYC and finally moved to Seoul, South Korea. It was my dream destination at the time, and it fully lived up to the hype. Korea was clean yet exciting, wild but safe, and it provided me with that same first day of college wonderment once again.

I left my family and the majority of my friends back in America, but I felt it was worth it. I had a cushy job, and an absolute abundance of free time. This free time allowed me to start up this blog, and it also allowed me to go on a litany of online dates; eventually leading to a girlfriend.

The Good Times

You know how Andy Bernard says, I wish there was a way to know when you’re in the good old days, before you’ve actually left them? Well the young and naive version of myself thought I knew. I had a girlfriend, a growing blog/business, enough money to afford any reasonable thing that I wanted, what else could I possibly need?

My blinders were on and I just ran straight ahead week after week. I became so fixated on the things that brought the most joy to my life; hanging out with my Seoul girlfriend and writing on the side. Nothing else seemed to matter. Making new friends, personal fitness, actually learning the native language properly, all of these things seemed irrelevant to my good times.

One of this blog’s most popular articles is this one: The Definitive Guide On Dealing With Heartbreak. I wrote that in January 2019, and that was also probably the apex of my time in Korea. That was my first article that got a lot of views, and it was the tipping point for me in truly believing that this blog could be something. It emboldened me in thinking that I’m somehow a certified relationship guru. (Psst, I’m not.)

A Time Capsule

That article really was a good one though. In fact it was so good, that I ended up having to use it for myself just two months later. In a sad and ironic twist of events, my Seoul girlfriend became my ex girlfriend. It was as if that article was a planned message, a note in a digital time capsule for my future self.

The article helped, but ultimately I was still extremely unprepared for life afterwards. Besides the blog, I didn’t have any real hobbies or passions to help take my mind off things. There was just nothing productive for me to fill my newly acquired free time with. I had lived as if my life revolved around hers, when in reality I was always the sun within my own solar system. As it is for all of us. I think we forget that sometimes.

Nude Saunas

Shout out to my friend Dong Yoon. He was one of the few friends that I had nearby during that period, and he really bailed me out of my post-breakup slump. Sometimes people plan extravagant things to help a friend feel better, but not Dong Yoon. He took me out to eat dinner, and then to a sauna.

There’s probably a big difference between what you’re imagining as a sauna, and what a traditional Korean sauna actually is. They’re called jjimjilbangs, and they’re absolutely nuts the first time you go to one. Jjimjilbangs are bathhouses where everybody gets completely naked, and then they shower and soak in communal hot tubs together. After that, you’re given pajamas, and then you go and sleep on a mat.

People sleeping on the floor in a jjimjilbang
A traditional jjimjilbang

Maybe this sounds fun to you. Maybe it sounds bizarre. I’ll tell you one thing for sure though, it is great medicine for break ups. At least for me.

I still remember it so clearly. Sitting butt naked in a hot tub along with my friend and a couple of strangers. Steam filling the air and fogging my vision, even with my glasses off. It doesn’t get any more raw, unfiltered, and simple than that. In that instance, none of us had any problems. We didn’t know who each other were, who made more money, who had a happy personal life and who didn’t. We didn’t care that we didn’t have clothes on. We were all just people, living in the moment.

Break ups hurt because they take us out of our moments. A world where everything is normal and okay gets replaced with one that seemingly isn’t. Our focus turns towards what’s lost, instead of what’s still there. Sitting in that tub, I realized that I lost one relationship, but I still had many others. The friendships and the people that can be there for us, for whatever situation, matter just as much as romantic relationships. If not more. Now I know.

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