On Bromances, Breakups & The Stories That Bind Us

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When I start dating someone new I have to “come out” to them about a lot of stuff. For example, that I write about sex & relationships on the internet, that I live with my mother and that I have an anxiety disorder (I usually save the last one until I’ve had a chance to get to know them.) However, since bringing on Joe the Intern in 2013, if they’re OK with all of the above, then I have to add, “Oh and by the way…I also have an “employee”  who is a 12 inch tall half naked man.” You either get what Joe is about or you don’t. But, if you are going to date me, you need to know that me and Joe are a 2-for-1 package.

One of the things that initially impressed me about The Secret Agent was that he wholeheartedly embraced the presence of Joe the Intern, right from the beginning.

A few days after our very first date, The Secret Agent was scheduled to go on a business trip. He texted me from his destination and asked, “Is there anything that you or Joe need from the mainland?”

I told him I was good, but sent him this photo of Joe just for fun.


He came back from his business trip with a box of jellybeans for Joe and I to share. This was the start of what would be an epic bromance between the Secret Agent and Joe.

Actions speak louder than words. By accepting Joe into his life, The Secret Agent made it clear that he also accepted my quirks – a sign that he was the right person to have in my life.

After that initial offering of jellybeans, The Secret Agent and Joe would exchange messages on the regular.

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And, like any Step-Boss trying to impress his lady, he spoiled both of us rotten. He made sure Joe & Hammer kept their fanciness on fleek with a pair of jaunty top hats. He also purchased Joe a tiny pair of vintage cowboy boots and generously donated to the Skinny Dip vehicle pool, much to the delight of the interns.

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To show his affection for Joe, The Secret Agent even went so far as to get this T-shirt made for our adventure at the Squamish Music Fest.


However, it’s not about the material things that The Secret Agent brought into the relationship, but rather, the unending patience he showed for my unconventional hobby/intern. He travelled with Joe, helped me shop for props and never complained when I had to do multiple takes of the same photo just to get the perfect shot (doll photography is a lot harder than it looks!)

I know if you asked the The Secret Agent, he’d tell you that he doesn’t just tolerate Joe, he truly enjoys spending time with him and helping with the photos (& disposing of um, “personal items” in elaborate ways.)

While we were California, we used the bikes provided by our airbnb hosts and spent an afternoon riding around Venice beach & Santa Monica. When I looked up at The Secret Agent riding ahead of me on the boardwalk and saw Joe’s tiny head peeking out of the top of his cross body bag, I not only smiled – I felt grateful to have S.A in my life.

As I’ve explained before, The Secret Agent and I are alike in some ways, but also very different in others. Despite differences in lifestyle and ways of being, a shared affection for Joe was always a constant in our lives.

Whenever these differences became impossible to ignore or silence crept into our conversations, there was always Joe, standing by to break the tension.

The Secret Agent would ask me, “What do you think Joe’s up to right now?”

And I would reply with something like, “Shhhh, don’t break his concentration. He’s telepathically communicating with Hammer about all the margaritas they’re going to make tonight.”

That tiny 12 inches of muscled plastic was the glue that held us together, until it was no longer enough. 

I’ve always thought that the worst parts of breakups aren’t the actual moment of the split, but rather the weeks, days, hours leading up to it. When you stop holding hands in your sleep. When texts that used to be signed by “xoxox” are now signed with happy faces instead. When kisses on the lips are replaced with kisses on the nose. When you start feeling more like friends than lovers. You try and convince yourself that you’re just imagining these things; that you’re reading too much into it, despite the fact that evidence to the contrary is staring you right in the face.

These are the moments that suck the most.

This is all to say that The Secret Agent and I broke up about a month ago.

While it’s always sad when something ends, I don’t have any regrets when it comes to my relationship with The Secret Agent. Unlike my relationships in the past, which involved a lot of self-sabotage and trying to force square pegs into round holes, I’m proud of how I handled us being together. I committed, I was patient and I let the relationship evolve organically – we both did. We had a great few months together, but when those differences became too big to overcome, we parted ways as adults without any drama.

{Epilogue} I’m fine. The Secret Agent is fine. Joe is fine. The Secret Agent & Joe have decided to stay in touch and continue being “bros.” Joe is handling it all like a champ, with his signature brand of stoic silence.

(Top photo is via Steven Henke‘s series, “Barbie Does Palm Springs“)

Review | All’s Fair in Love & Wardrobe

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(A book review by Contributor, Suzanne Paddock)

“To all the girls who’ve ever wanted to shop, dress, eat, party, travel and Instagram like a fashion editor. Now you can date like one.”

So starts off All’s Fair in Love and Wardrobe: A Fashion Editor’s Rules on Shopping for Love by Stephanie Simons, “fashion editor, television beauty expert, and single girl about town”. The concept to have an inside look at the exclusive dating world of a fashionista definitely intrigued me. What are their dating lives like? Does being a fashionista immune you from rejection, get you any man you want? What hidden fashion knowledge has this elusive enclave cloistered from the rest of us?

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The book stays true to its intent, literally consisting of 121 succinct dating “rules” with a few “closet confession” vignettes and a smattering of dinner and drink recipes, how-to’s, and other odds and ends all interspersed by fantastic watercolor illustrations.

The illustrations, drawn and painted by Malia Carter, really make the book. They bring the words on the page to life and solidify the book’s playful, coquettish and feminine vibe by creating a unifying flow and narrative consistency to the varying rules and sundry text.

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The sumptuous illustrations and punchy text make the experience less like reading a book and more like flipping through an, albeit, lengthy magazine spread. It’s a very quick and easy read.

Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 2.11.21 PMSimons almost exclusively uses metaphor to compare how shopping and fashion relate to dating. The comparisons range from the banal, Rule 93: “A purely physical attraction has about as much value as a gorgeous pair of shoes you can’t walk in,” to the at times almost thoughtful, Rule 80: “The “happily ever after” you read about in fairy tales comes from within, just like shinier, healthier, thicker hair comes from eating at least two daily servings of iron-rich foods,” to the downright offensive, Rule 4: “At some point a man may informally say to you, “Let’s get married!” Without jewelry as collateral, this is merely his way of putting your love on layaway,” (and numerous other oppressive comments about exploiting unpaid interns, using the term “Indian givers” – I could go on).

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Most of the comparisons fall flat and offer little insight. Rule 64: “Look before you leap into any sort of final sale arrangement for the rest of your life.” But they also reveal that this purported group of fashionistas experience the same level of confusion about male behaviour (Rule 2: “Men ask for numbers they’ll never call, like women buy clothes they’ll never wear), rejection and heartbreak as they rest of us; it’s good to be reminded of our common fallibility after all.

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And the book did provide some warm human moments. In a list of “pity party” ideas to organize post break-up, one suggestion included, “Do make it a potluck and have everyone bring a Post-It with their biggest qualm about him written on it”. This made me chuckle. We’ve all relished asking our friends what they really think of our ex as we struggle to convince ourselves it’s all for the best when things don’t work out.

Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 2.07.24 PMAll’s Fair offers a glimpse into the values and thoughts of at least one mainstream fashionista’s perspectives on dating but provides little in the way of any fashion insight. The illustrations do charm and give the book that magazine layout feel, making it somewhat entertaining.

As I read the rules and pondered how hard dating can be, I reflected on my own dating journey and felt a faint but collective sense of sadness and fear, as many of us struggle with the idea of being alone. Not quite the fashion editor’s bravado I expected, but certainly in line with its title.

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If you’re looking for a list of awesome, female centric must-reads, make sure you check out this list and this list for some of our top book recommendations.

Single Is The New Black? Um, Not So Much


(photo credit via handmade charlotte

Last month I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell, a renowned psychologist, relationship expert and author, for a Toronto Sun article. She was lovely to work with and kindly offered to send me a copy of her new book, Single is the New Black: Don’t Wear White ‘Til it’s Right to review (Thank you!) However, since I am currently trying to wrap up edits on my own book, I handed off the task to SD contributor Vendredi. Take it away, V!


We’ve all been through the dating jungle. You go on date after date with no real prospects. After several dates, you want to throw in the towel because you’re so frustrated with the fact that love is just not coming your way. Then comes the negative self-talk – are you good enough? Or is there something wrong with you as you’re single and pretty much everyone else is dating. And really, why wouldn’t you think that? The media, friends and family perpetuates relationships stereotypes and makes you feel like a leper if you’re single.

Single is the New Black: Don’t Wear White ‘Til it’s Right, the new book by Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell debunks all conventional ideas as to why you’re still single. Instead of telling you exactly how or whom to date, this book encourages you to be yourself, and keep that glimmer of hope alive because, if you’re still single, it just hasn’t happened for you, which doesn’t make you “lesser than.” All it means is that it’s just not your time, which is probably one of the most important things we need to hear when we’re trying to navigate through the dating jungle.

What I did like about the book:

SITNB is honest.

Reading this book made me feel like I was talking with my true friends. Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow, but like a good friend the book told me the truth, not things I needed to hear to make me feel good about myself.

The book didn’t act as a self-help guide to find a relationship.

Never did it once mention tips or advice on landing the perfect mate. We’re all aware of the societal pressures about dating/marriage, and several dating books seem to hone in on finding the perfect soul mate – often relaying messages that are pejorative to women. This book debunked the myth that there was nothing wrong with being single, and most importantly nothing wrong with you.

Abrell kept it real.

The chapters were all broken down in the same way making it an easy read. Two particular sub-sections really resonated with me: “Guy Talk,” where she offered weird and wonderful male perspectives and, and “The Awful Truth”: what women really think/feel about women who are single. These sub-sections not only offered multiple perspectives, but kept it real for the readers.

What could have been improved:

In attempts to offer encouragement, Dr. Abrell seemed to only trivialize singledom.

She seemed to make being single seem like a trendy phase. On the one hand, she’s saying “ don’t settle, stay true to yourself, as you are smart, sexy, savvy “catches” who will eventually get “caught” so there’s no need to settle for anything less than a stellar relationship.”

However, on the other hand, the book made women seem incomplete without a relationship. This was articulated in her intro. She knew there was nothing wrong with herself prior to finding her match, but yet felt more at peace when she found a man. For women who have been searching for their right partner for a long time, the fear of being along is real. For these women being single is not trendy, it’s certainly not the new black…it’s their reality, so please don’t trivialize it by throwing it back in the reader’s faces that you’re in a stellar relationship when others aren’t.

The book an easy read, but too basic.

I’m all for easy reads, but I literally felt like I was reading Seventeen magazine (all I needed was acne medication ads and colour photos of prepubescent models to boot). I totally understand she was trying to keep it fun and flirty, but in actuality it was almost too juvenile for such a sensitive topic. I appreciated the chapter break downs and how the book was segmented, but it was too superficial for my liking I felt that it catered to an early to mid 20- something audience.

She kept reinforcing that you don’t have to change one bit to find a relationship.

I don’t know if that’s necessarily true. Sometimes changing yourself is good for a relationship—in fact; perhaps necessary because relationships are based on compromise as there is no such thing as a “perfect fit” between people. And while it’s definitely not recommended to change your morals and values, or the person you are, dropping negative traits or bad habits is change for good in relationships.

I would recommend this to my friends if they were looking for a good laugh or an easy read, but definitely not as a guide to relationships as there was no real advice to offer.

Vendredi bio

If you’re looking for a list of awesome, female centric must-reads, make sure you check out this list and this list for some of our top book recommendations. 


The 5 Most Important Things I’ve Learned From Tinder

One of the most common things people ask me when they find out what I write about for a living is, “Have you tried Tinder?”  They’re usually shocked to learn that I haven’t tried the app that’s become ubiquitous in modern online dating. I refuse to count that time when, after a few too many Pisco Sours, my friend let me play around with her Tinder account & I got a little too trigger happy with swiping right. This resulted in a very interesting conversation with a guy named G-Dawg69 from Seattle (one the “matches” I chose for my friend.) File that under: “sorry” and “let’s pretend that night never happened.”

People have been asking me to write about Tinder for awhile now. However, since I have very little first hand knowledge, I decided to bring in an expert. My British dating blogger friend, Tinderella is here today to share her Tinder knowledge, while Joe the Intern  and his friends provide the visuals. Take it away!

5 things I've learned from Tinder

I’ve been Tindering furiously for a few months now, so I suppose I could consider myself a veteran Tinder junkie.

Between laugh-out-loud experiences, drunken one-night stands, and sloppy first-date kisses, Tinder has taught me a lot about men and the world of online dating.

Below are 5 of the most important lessons I’ve learned from Tinder (in no particular order):


1. Be Open About Your Intentions

Tinder™ is a curious little dating app. Unlike Match.com or Christian Mingle, it’s geared mainly toward hookup culture rather than finding your soul mate/ life-long partner. Yet, some people (both men and women) are on there in the hope that they might meet someone special.

On the flip side, there’s also lots of individuals on there merely looking for a speedy sexing. Not being clear about what you want out of you Tinder experience is a rookie mistake. Being vague about your intentions (one-off sex vs. romance) may actually hurt you or the other person in the end. This actually leads me into the second thing I’ve learned from Tinder …


2. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Brutally Honest

Most people are weenies. They are afraid to say what they mean for fear of rejection, backlash or disappointment.

Don’t be that person.

As a woman on Tinder, I can tell you that there have been countless guys who just. don’t. get. the. hint. that I don’t want anything to do with them. Similarly, some just can’t fathom why I wouldn’t want to have sex with them after one measly date.

It’s important therefore, to be honest with your Tinder matches. I’ve told guys who have invited me to their houses, that I straight up don’t want to have sex with them. While this approach may seem uncouth or too intense for some, trust me – it works. These guys respected me more in the end, and some have actually told me that they appreciated the fact that I didn’t play games.

For the sweethearts who I just can’t see myself with in the long-term, I’ve also had to be brutally honest and let them know that “while the conversation was great”, and “they’re very witty”, “I just don’t see this going anywhere”. While it sucks having tell some nice guy that I don’t want to see him anymore, letting your matches know that this isn’t going to work is the mature, honest and right thing to do.

Ultimately, you want to date someone who wants what you want, and the best way to find that out is to be truthful with every individual you meet.


3. Beware of Shirtless Pics

Now, this may seem totally obvious for some, but be wary of guys with shirtless photos on their Tinder profiles. The same goes for men seeking out women: beware the ‘duck faces’ and pushed-out boobs. By striking these poses, these individuals are priming themselves for sex. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since some people are on Tinder merely for a late-night rendezvous…

The reason I’m telling you to take these online dating pics with a grain of salt is for the following reasons: If you’re looking for a relationship out of Tinder, someone who bares their body parts [even if they look amazing] in an online dating profile for the world to see, is probably kind of vain and waaaay too into themselves. So I’d stay clear.

Alternatively, if you’re only looking for sex, you may still want to be sceptical of the shirtless and boob pics. These photos represent a specific moment in time. Who’s to say that that person even looks like that now? Exactly. So. Beware ladies and gents.


4. That Cute Dog Photo? Yeah, That’s Totally Intentional.

Even though they totally work on me, men who upload photos of themselves with their dogs or cats (squee!) are totally aware of what they’re doing. In fact, that might not even be their dog. Don’t rule out them borrowing their neighbour’s Fido for the photo op.

Pay close attention to the animal’s face in the image. If it looks distressed, then your Tinder match may not be the loving person you make them out to be. Conversely, if the pet looks like it’s loving life and is comfortable and at ease in its owners grasp, then your match may be a softy at heart.

On the other hand, STAY AWAY from matches who have been photographed next to wild animals. Tourist hubs in places such as Mexico, South Africa and Thailand sometimes have lion or tiger cubs drugged up and on display for the masses. Anyone who is willing to take advantage of these poor animals’ exploitation for personal gain is a douche-bag (or at the very least has no worldly experience or empathy) and should be avoided at all costs!

(So in other words, follow this guideline for animal shots.) 


5. Always Have Your First Meeting In A Public Place

Once again, this may sound obvious to some, but it’s extremely important for your personal safety – both physically and emotionally. Without ever having met him, I’ve had many a dude message me asking if I want to come over. Even if you’re just looking for sex, and it seems too good to be true that this hottie is only 2 miles away, it’s always best to scope them out in a public place before you go home with them.

Meeting your Tinder™ match in a bar, café, restaurant, even a busy park, will ensure that you get a ‘feel’ for who they are and what they want from you. Your gut instincts when you meet a person face-to-face are the single most-important indicator of whether or not you should/want to go home with them later.

When online, people can craft themselves into exactly the person they want to be perceived as because they have the time to do so. In the flesh, one needs to think on one’s feet, and you’ll know within minutes if a person is creepy or genuine.

So folks. There ya have it – the 5 most important things I’ve learned from Tinder (so far). I’m sure as I continue the pleasure of Tindering I will encounter more lessons, which I will of course share with you if given the opportunity!

tinderella logoThis article was written by yours truly, Tinderella. I’m a 20-something sex and relationship blogger based in the UK. I love to make people laugh with my terrible sex and dating stories, but occasionally I do also have some sound advice to offer about the realm of dating, sex and relationships. 

Check out my blog called Great Sexpectations and follow me on Twitter at @TinderellaBlogs

Dating Advice for Guys: 6 Tips For a Successful Date

joe header 2Hey dudes, Joe the Intern here. Some of you have been requesting more posts that feature dating advice for men. Unfortunately, I haven’t been going on many dates lately – my girlfriend Milly left me to go on what she describes as a “sexual walkabout” with Malibu Ken – I mean, I get it. He has a beach cabana and I live in a bachelor apartment located in a filing cabinet. So, lately I’ve just been having a lot of feelings and practicing my Krav Maga moves. Anyway, I brought in my friend Joshua Pompey to provide some dating tips for the dudes. You might remember him from his instalment of the Things I’d Tell My 20-year Old Self series. Take it away Joshua!

6 tips for a successful date

By Joshua Pompey

The day is finally here.  You somehow managed to meet a single, attractive, funny, and sane woman online, and now she has agreed to meet you in person.  What comes next?  Panic.  Sweat.  Heavy Breathing.  Once all of that passes, remember these 6 tips and you’ll have that second date planned in no time.

1.  Arrive Early

There’s an old saying in the military “If you’re on-time, you’re late.”  I’m not saying to arrive for your 8 PM dinner date at 5 PM and take advantage of happy hour(s), but planning to arrive 20 minutes early will ensure success.  Even if you lose 10 minutes because of traffic because you get lost, or because it takes a while to find a parking spot for your massive SUV, you’ll still have another 10 minutes to spare.  The last thing you want to do is keep her waiting.

2.  Dress Appropriately

Where are you going?  If the first date is at a park for a picnic, don’t wear a suit.  If you’re meeting at a fancy restaurant, leave the sandals at home next to your superman tie.  The best trick is to go to a department store, find a pretty saleswoman, and ask her for help.  Let her know you are going on a first date and chances are she will set you up nicely.  If you cannot afford to buy something new, make sure you’re comfortable in what you pick out of your closet.  A woman can tell a lot from a man by his clothes.

3.  Smile

Never underestimate the power of a smile.  There’s just something about this odd facial expression that helps people connect with each other.  From the very first time you meet and at times throughout the conversation you must always remember to smile.  A real smile will engage the entire face, the cheeks, and the eyes.  A fake smile will make it look like you’re holding in a fart.   So unless you’re lactose intolerant and out for ice cream with your sweetie, let her know you’re happy to be with by showing her your real smile.

4.  Shut Up and Listen.

Speak to a seasoned sales-person and ask them the best tactic for making a sale.  They will tell you “Listening to the customer’s needs.”  The same can be true for personal relationships and when the product you are selling is yourself.  A woman who feels she can open up to a man because he truly listens to her is going to become more interested and comfortable at a much quicker pace.  Spewing out stories of how you and your buddies “Got so wasted” or receipting lines from every episode of Entourage is probably not going to keep her interested in you.  Listening is a skill not owned by many.  Master it and you will be ahead of the curve.

5.  Treat Others Nicely

When she sees how nice you are to the waiter, to the cab driver, to the other couple who you held the door for, she will notice you more.  She is an extension of you, and when others thank you and recognize you as a gentleman, she will feel part of that recognition.

6.  Always Pay, But Do It The Right Way

Let’s be honest – the man pays.  Women will tell you that they are equal (which they are) and can also pay.  The right thing to do, the chivalrous thing to do, and the impressive thing to do is to pay for your woman during a date.  Let her offer to pay at which time you can politely thank her and say “It’s my pleasure.”

The first date can be a nerve-tingling experience, one surely to leave you hot under the collar.  If you follow these 6 tips for success not only will you impress your woman but you’ll leave her asking for more by the time the night is over.  And if not, there’s always that pretty saleswoman at the department store!

joshua circle

Joshua has successfully been helping online daters find love since 2009. For more great dating advice from Joshua, visit jpompey.com, or click here now for a free article on how to write a great online dating opener.


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