Meetup.com Imagination

21 Nov

Many friends/co-workers/aquaintances/psychics (yes, psychics too) are quick to mention Meetup.com when we foray onto the topic of my meeting new/single people. And it’s great, in theory.  The idea of like-minded people getting together, creating events and groups where we do like-minded things, all in the name of like-minded fun.  I’ve been to two events myself, admittedly about a year ago. Both events were organized by the same group which had thousands of members and advertised itself as people in their 20’s and 30’s just out to have fun and try new and different things in Toronto.

The first event was a cocktail mixer, located in the bowels of an old ship, or at least, a bar designed to look like one. Why this would be a great location to simulate, I don’t know (no windows, no air flow, CARPET in the bar area. Furniture that looked like it was borrowed from a 1970’s legion hall. I could go on, but I digress). I spent the night being oogled from across the room by socially-awkward guys too afraid to speak to me, and surrounded by Asian exchange students excited to practice their English, which is difficult enough, but made even more impossible when under the influence of alcohol and over the pulsating 90’s hip hop from the 10 dollar an hour DJ.  The second event was the Christmas Story which I really loved (who doesn’t love to watch the story of the Baby Jesus? I don’t care who you are, it’s great), but the whole time the organizer was whispering in my ear and trying to pass me his buisness card. Turns out he runs his own business of ridding horders of their junk and “decluttering” people’s social space (whatever that means). He uses the events to find willing or not-so-willing ears to lay his schpeel on. 

I’ve gone back to the site a few times with the high hopes of finding a group that is really ‘like-minded’ for me.  But I can’t help envisioning that any group I join is going to end up like this:

Have you had any success with Meetup.com?  Let me know, I could use some positive motivation.

What’s Wrong With The Male Online Dating Profile (AKA Why I’m Still Looking)

20 Oct

In a world of 50+ hour work weeks, gym sessions, seminars and ‘lifelong’ learning classes, grocery shops without a car in the snow, and just trying to get laundry done so you don’t stink, it’s hard to find time to get out and meet someone new. Especially when the good chunk of your friends are married or engaged-to-be-engaged, and your time with them ends at 9 so they can put their kid to bed. So the concept of Online Dating (not unlike Communism), in theory works perfectly. Post a profile, exchange a few messages, meet in person and voila! A new-man friend who hopefully blossoms into a Prince. But, also not unlike Communism, the incentive to work for others is removed and everyone, and anything, becomes fair game. That, and it attracts a whole boatload of crazy.

I’ve online dated off and on for 2 years, and have come to wonder what could possibly be going through the minds of some of these profilees. So, just in case there is actually a handful of dudes out there who are genuinely clueless as to why that special lady never responded to a fantastic, well thought-out message, here’s some of the things you could be doing wrong.

The Two-Face

Yes, think Seinfeld’s girlfriend who looked wildly attractive or slightly repulsive depending on the lighting. This happens in the online dating world frequently, where every picture in a guy’s profile looks like a different person. In one he might be bearded and burly, the next he might be clean-shaven and thin, the next with shades and a completely different hairstyle. The more pictures there are, the more confused we get. Which leads us to wonder – what does this guy REALLY look like? Or is it even the same guy at all?! Who are we talking to, and more concernedly, who of those 3, 4 or 5 guys pictured is going to show up on the date? And you know we’re dreading. It’s going to be the one we don’t find attractive in the least.

The Stranger Danger

This is the guy that on the initial first message or within the first few, wants to take you out right away, or treat you to something that he thinks is wildly romantic, like a foot massage. Here’s an example of some stranger danger I received today, courtesy of a right young gentleman, I’m sure.

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As tempting as going over to a complete stranger’s house is, I do vaguely remember being told not to take candy from strangers. And if it doesn’t work on a kindergartener, what makes you think it will work on me? (That, and I’m still a big fan of the PSA “Don’t ya put it in your mouth”. Ya, I went there.)

The Rico Suave

This is a close cousin to The Stranger Danger. Usually because a guy this smooth doesn’t wait till he gets to know you to romance you. Oh no ladies, he comes out with the big guns a blazin’ (and most likely compensating for something, though I’ve never made it far enough to find out for sure). Here’s the man of your dreams, ready and willing to let you know you’re in for the time of your life.

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Men: this type of message should only be reserved for a time and place when you’ve not only confirmed the girl is interested, but also taken her out on a few dates, confirmed that you’re not (outwardly) a sex-driven beast, and also provided some official documentation of STD-free living. However, if you refuse to heed my warning and decide to go the Rico Suave route, perhaps don’t accompany the message with a photo of you in the Disney store dressed as Captain Hook (and holding leftovers?)

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Men should also take note that overly complimentary messages are just as off-putting, and more so, an insult to our intelligence.  When the first message I receive praises the very ground I walk on and air I breathe based on a few lines I wrote in an “about me” section, it’s unlikely I’m going to think “OMG! Here is the man of my dreams, my very own Prince Charming who’s instantly fallen in love with me. Now to discuss the wedding plans.”

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As much as I had to let this man down by not responding, I’m sure he was able to copy and paste said declaration of love to a few other girls who needed saving. God speed, little man.

The Over-Revealer/The Flasher

I don’t mean this physically (although I’ve heard horror stories from girlfriends on that front as well). The over-revealer is the guy that tells you intimate details about himself or his dating life in the initial message(s). This can be off-putting for several reasons. For example, a friend of mine recently had a guy she met on a Friday night tell her he was into anal play.  While they were dancing. A few minutes after meeting at the bar.  Prior to this, she was having a grand ol’ time getting to know him. Other than the anal play bit, he seemed like great guy and she was having a blast.  While I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a little bum fun, this man immediately became known to us as “Bum Bum Guy”, and made her start to question whether or not this would be something she’d want in a partner. Now, if this guy had revealed his sexual preferences 5 or 6 dates (at least!) down the line once she had an opportunity to get to know him and his other traits, she might look at his sexual interests differently or with more understanding/openness now that she knows him as a whole person. Unfortunately for Bum Bum, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get very far.

Another case in point. I recently received a message from a guy who seemed great. It seemed like we had similar hobbies and aspirations, and he was cute. His initial message ended with “How have you found online dating so far?”. I HATE this question. This is an auto-red flag. I feel like it means they’re trying to troll to see why I’m online/how many guys have rejected me. Either way, I never say anything negative (it’s never conductive to shit on the very thing you’re engaging in), and would never reveal the details of my dating life.  It’s none of a stranger’s business to begin with, and not a good way to start a conversation – i.e. no good relationship starts with a pissing match. After dodging the question and asking a few more light-hearted ones about his weekend, he responded with a novel-esque diatribe about being single for 4 years and dating online on and off, only to have women date for a few months then disappear or screw him over in some way by taking his money or cheating on him. He ended the lovely message with “How long have you been single? What are you looking for in online dating?”.

Men, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by over-revealing qualities that shine you in the “uh oh, what am I’m getting myself into” light.  Just as you do, women will run at the first sight of damaged goods.  Too often in relationships we fall into the mothering/caregiver roll, and the last thing we need is another project on our plates. Stay positive, and reveal only what you need as you get to know your lovely lady – at least until she knows you’re a fully functioning and stable human and knows you enough to work through your faults.

The Pen Pal

Simply put, if you’re on an online dating site, you should be willing, within a reasonable time period, to meet in person. One of the most frustrating things to happen when you finally feel like you’ve made a connection with someone, is to have them write a diatribe and end it with “have a great week!”. In my experience I think 2 weeks of chatting back and forth warrant an invite out to a date. Anything longer, and you’ve got a bona-fide pen pal on your hands.

Call me old fashioned, but when a guy doesn’t make an effort to set a date, I eventually lose interest. Maybe it’s too many Disney movies as a kid, but I want a guy to be as excited to meet me and spend time with me, as I am to be with him. Pen pals are for prison inmates and pre-teens, not adults.

The Shut-In

You get a great message from a guy. It’s insightful, original, asks interesting questions and you’re looking forward to responding. You go in for the pre-requisite click on the profile and are immediately let down when you see 6 pictures of the guy – in the mirror, from his web cam, and other equally original selfie photographs. What you have here is the apparent Shut-In.

Men, you could write the world’s most compelling profile that includes all the most fun hobbies (I save baby turtles in Costa Rica! I’ve handglided over a volcano! I skydive every Tuesday morning at 8!) and admirable traits (My favourite authors are a bunch of old dead guys you’ve never heard of). But when every photo of you was taken in some reflective surface, and you’re wearing the same clothes, it makes a gal think ‘hmmm does this guy ever really get out? Why has no one, apparently up until this moment, taken a photo of him out and living life in the world?’

And so your chances of a response are little to none. Even if I would have loved to save those baby turtles with you, some time.

Quick & Healthy Breakfast – Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

14 Oct

Morning Smoothie - Pumpkin Spice LatteIf you’re like me, you wake up starving but need the extra few minutes each morning to dig through the pile of clothes at the bottom of your closet vs. putting together a healthy breakfast that consists of something beyond Frosted Flakes.

Let me say that pumpkin-flavoured anything is on my list of favourite things in life.  I instantly forget the summer sun & fun combo with the first sip of that Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.  So incorporating it into my breakfast was the natural next step.  I put this little concoction together when I was stuck with a quarter can of puree left over from a pumpkin muffin recipe I made the evening before.

Note: this recipe is portioned for a single magic bullet blender. Cause you know, single portions are where it’s at for us bachelorettes.

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup of Pumpkin Puree (canned or fresh)

3/4 cup of Vanilla Almond Milk (I use unsweetened)

1/2 Frozen Banana (or fresh, but the frozen will give some slush texture)

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Tbsp Cinnamon

1 Tbsp Nutmeg

1/2 Vanilla Protein Powder (I use Vega One French Vanilla)

Mix in your bullet and voila! Pumpkin Pie in a glass. And at 175 calories, it’s a really low cal, healthy breakfast.  If you want to add a full scoop of protein to keep you full ’till lunch, you’ll hit 250 calories, however, I find you start to get the overpowering chalky taste that takes away from the awesome pumpkin goodness.

And the Most Annoying Question Goes To…

12 Oct

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“How are YOU still single” – Every guy, ever.

That’s got to be the number one most frustrating, gets-under-your-skin question that anyone could possibly ask a single person. Firstly, it thrusts your singleness in a spotlight, with the aura of the unspoken “there must be something wrong with you” hanging in the air while you ponder your answer. Mine is usually, semi-jokingly “Well, let me roll out the scroll. Reason the first of 999….”. Laughter aside, the real answer I’d like to give (because usually it’s a guy I’ve just met at a bar, or a friend of a friend, or an inital online dating site message) is “Because I keep meeting guys like you”.  Harsh, but 9 out of 10 times turns out to be true.

The truth of the matter is I’ve spent the last 2 years of my life meeting every type of guy you can imagine.  Yuppies, Hipsters, Blue Collar, White Collar, Mid-20’s, mid-30’s, nerdy, quiet, extroverted, introverted, egotisitcal, self-deprecating, artsy, buisness-oriented – the list goes on. A librarian with an obessession with the 50’s, tattoos and pompadors, a man’s man that looked EXACTLY like Paul Bunion, a bartender who was shorter than me (but made awesome free drinks), and hell, I even dated a grave digger for a few weeks (FYI – there’s a machine for that now but in the old sites, you gotta do it the old way with a shovel).  One thing they all had in common was an uncanny inability to communicate.  Some would just fall off the map, others would bore me to death with “pen pal” text messages that went on for days with no offer of a second or third date in sight. To be fair, if I don’t know you that well yet, maybe updating me on the party you couldn’t get into, or that the burger you just ate “isn’t sitting well’ is not going to encourage us to get to know each other better. But perhaps the worst thing is when you open your heart to someone, really and truly and honestly, you expect to get the same in return.  Case in point, Paul Bunion and I dated for 5 months; to the point where we went away weekends together, he met my parents and we practically lived together whenever we weren’t both working. But he could never say “you’re beautiful” or “I miss you” or even call me his girl. After 4 months, I found out I was “the girl he really liked’ to his friends, and hell if his family even knew about me. In the end he left to ‘go find himself’ abuptly one day and I never heard from him again.

So is it fair to say that single women, many of whom I know have experienced the same dating scene that I have in the city these past few years, are jaded and perhaps come across as bitter or guarded? How do you answer that question without seeming to be grizzled old bitch? For now, I laugh it off, say I’m picky and bat those big baby blues. Then I usually proceed to walk way, continue to live true to myself and proud that I’m independant, strong and hell – absolutely refuse to settle. Disney movies and fairy tales may have ruined me with the plague of a romantic soul, but until the real Prince Charming comes along, I’m happy being a single gal, bustin’ her butt to make a life that she loves.

So you’re a bachelorette. What next?

5 Oct

Keep Calm

A few months ago I was sat at my best friend’s bachelorette party. Dressed in a white mini with a lace veil and the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on her face, Ashley looked every inch the blushing bride. Beautiful, intelligent and the kindest soul I’ve ever been blessed enough to meet, there couldn’t be a more deserving gal to be out celebrating her impending nuptials to a fantastic guy. But there I sat, all the same, contemplating the concept of the ‘bachelorette’.  At 26, I’d already had a longer relationship than some people have marriages. I had made the big step in the previous year and moved in with my sweetheart, on a shady corner in the downtown core of Toronto. While building a home and a life together, I realized I’d made a big mistake. Who I was, and who he was, were incompatible. We were night and day, apples and oranges, mom and lazy son. I didn’t want to be a mom, a babysitter or a maid. I wanted a partner, an equal and a best friend.

A few months and a tough decision later, and I was thrust into the world alone. My own apartment in the city, a sofa bed and a cookbook called “Cooking for 2 (or just you)”, with the latter underlined. And how. I was 25 years old and hadn’t been single for 10 years. No college dating, no frat parties, and not a single one night stand. Just me, my 425 square feet and the future.

This is my experience, 2 years into the fray on my own, with a love/hate relationship as a bona-fide bachelorette. When all your friends are getting engaged, married and popping out babies, how do you stay calm and carry on?

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