(Well, not for real, so instead we get this below.)
It is always a delicate balance at the beginning of a romance. The pair had been doing what real life new loves do – putting themselves in each others’ orbits by making up reasons to stop by unannounced, or causing inadvertent contact.
Remember the hip check at the cocktail party?
But admit to it? Never! Deny. Deny. Deny.
If they would only ignore the words that are coming out of their lying liar mouths and pay attention to the others’ actions, they would be able to see how madly in love they are.
Do you remember when you had your first special other who liked you back? Ah yes, the constant tension of being in their presence, when the only relief from this uneasiness was to touch them again and again and again. Sometimes just to make sure they are really there.
Somehow most of the K-dramas writers avoid/skip/ignore this very human response during on screen courtships. Sure, we get a kiss typically at the end of the 7th episode, but then the couple retreats back into their respective corners as if it never happened, and we have to wait weeks before we get to see more skinship.
(Aside: One of my first dramas, however, Coffee Prince didn’t follow that guideline. I loved how Han-gyul couldn’t stay away from Eun-chan nor could he keep his hands off of her from almost their first encounter.)
This is why I love Tae-yang. She represents all of the irrepressible feelings we have from the first blush of love/lust/crush/romance.
Science has documented all the good things that touching does for us humans and I linked it here. Summing it all up: it calms us and makes us happier.
Joong-won keeps using trick questions to get at how Tae-yang feels without actually asking, since you can’t do that without admitting your own interest. It’s all a complicated negotiation – like when you buy a house – where both sides fear that revealing too much could kill the deal.
I want you to want me but I can’t let on how much in case you think that I am too attainable, therefore lower quality, so I will play aloof and watch you keenly for signs of interest in me but only after you make your offer will I have or give the slightest clue as to exactly how much or how little you care.
At the end of episode 10, Joong-won challenges Tae-yang’s repeated assertion that she can accept a marginalized existence in his life – as long as he lets her touch him. She thinks he means she has to promise this or go away. Tae-yang worries, “I am sure he would tell me to get lost if he knows I liked him.” But Joong-won just wants Tae-yang to say, ‘No, I want more. I want ALL OF YOU.”
Joong-won: That’s right, I am afraid. Can you really remain by my side and not want for anything else? Can you really just use me as your shield? Can you really go away on your own once you figure out how to be by yourself?
Tae-yang: I told you that I would. I’m already trying to do that right now.
Joong-won: Can I trust you on that?
Tae-yang: No matter how badly you just stomped all over me right now, I will still run right into your arms if something scary jumps out at me. That’s what I’m like. It’s not like you’re unaware of that.
Her resolve to not be greedy is linked to her survival. Earlier in this episode she mentions that she cannot live without JW. There is no hedging with Tae-yang. Her life previous to their auspicious meeting was filled with torture: heart stopping disruptions, sleep deprivation, nightmares that didn’t stop even after she woke up, a horror she refuses to go back to. JW saved her from a fate worse than death.
No matter how badly he says that he will treat her, (I know. I know. The reality is he has been really kind to her, but we are supposed to pretend he’s a jerk) she knows she will be safe with him, and trades away what seems to her pride for that reassurance.
Guess what? That is us, too. We fall in love because we need to, to avoid being lonely and alone. We may not have anywhere near the terror Tae-yang experiences,
but is enough for us to give up our independence and accept a person whole hog into our lives. Despite the minor, and sometimes major, annoyances staying beside a completely different person brings. He talks too much. She’s obsessed about a clean kitchen sink. He gets mad when she goes out with her friends. She cannot stand his brother. They fight and ignore each other and sometimes want to run away, but, eventually, as long as the relationship is not abusive, the staying can have more benefits than the leaving – at least for a little while.
Jomo: No matter how badly I want to strangle you for not fixing the gutters, or putting away your laundry, for watching football games all weekend, I will rely on you if work pisses me off or if I have a nightmare. That’s what I’m like. It’s not like you’re unaware of that.
People who love people will never be made for each other, but if we are able to overlook the other’s many many flaws, we can create our own tiny space to breathe in, together.
PS: We want a kiss – a real one!