I Have a Boyfriend and Life is Good

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We met the old fashioned way: in person, through a mutual friend who introduced us at a cocktail party that was taking place at our local art gallery.

Although he says he first remembers seeing me lurking by the coat check area, I only remember the moment we met.

One thing you need to understand, is that like many laid back locales on the West Coast, my hometown isn’t exactly known for it’s well dressed male population. In fact, between the masses of conservative buttoned up government workers and the slew of prototypical west coast dudes who live in hoodies (and who I suspect have never worn socks or owned a pair of full length pants) this city is often referred to as a place “where men’s fashion goes to die” (this phenomena was even covered on the local news!)

When he walked into my life wearing pink pants, a tailored suit jacket, with an earful of piercings, my initial thought was  “Where the hell did this guy come from?!”

I was instantly drawn to him and we bonded quickly over our mutual love of Jill Scott and Ballet (me – from having danced for 18 years, him – from having worked as a publicist for a famous ballet dancer.)

As I was sitting on a step, enjoying a cocktail with my friend he told me,

“Sitting there like that, you look very much like Heather Sweet. Has anyone ever told you that before?”

(I learned a few seconds later that Heather Sweet is the given name of Dita Von Teese. Colour me flattered.)

With his shaved head, dark eyes and sexy facial scruff, I thought he looked like a cross between Andre Agassi and Jason Statham. Think: Russian athlete meets action hero/character from James Bond. (as I’d later discover, we are both Eastern European mutts.)

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Cocktails at the art gallery lead to more cocktails at a lounge downtown.

I didn’t have any inkling that he liked me until we were ready to head home and my friend suggested we go to Burger King.

When we got to the restaurant, he asked me if I wanted anything.

I told him that I don’t really like Burger King; that I only like the Filet o’Fish from McDonalds.

“Do you want me to go get you one?” he asked.

So, while I stayed in our sticky Burger King booth with my friend, her boyfriend and a plate of poutine; he braved the throngs of drunks and teen meth heads at the sketchy McDonalds down the street. When he returned a few minutes later, proudly clutching my favourite fish sandwich, I knew that I indisputably liked him.

We now joke that,  “you had me at Filet o’ Fish.

Earlier that night we had exchanged business cards. When I woke up the next morning, the first thing I did was email him.

I sent him a short message thanking him for the Filet o’Fish and he sent me back the most romantic email I have ever received, which ended with him asking me out.

A week later, we went on our first date at my favourite wine bar. Throughout the date I noticed myself turning my chair so I could get closer to him at the bar. When I got up to use the washroom, he handed me this handwritten note.

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It was one of the best first dates I’ve ever been on & we’ve been together ever since.

It’s been almost three months now – three really great, amazing months. I’ve resisted writing this post because it’s hard to distill (and do justice) all of my favourite moments from the past 90 days – there are just too many.

There was the first morning I woke up at his house, looked over and asked him what he was doing on his phone and he replied, “I’m buying us tickets to go see Erykah Badu in June.”

There was the moment after I introduced him to my best friend and I told her, “he just intuitively knows how to be with me.”

There was also the time when he bought Joe the Intern and Hammer a set of top-hats (among other things.)

His burgeoning bromance with Joe the Intern makes me smile everyday, because it shows that he really gets me – blog, “interns” and all. In return, I like to make him Filet o’ Fish themed art work, which is not very good, but that he seems to love anyways.

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(Also, he helped dispose of the iRide, which if you read that post you know was no easy feat.)

For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to call him My Secret Agent – partly as an ode to a character from one of my favourite books, Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block; but also because he seemingly appeared out of nowhere and always makes me feel safe and protected in his presence.

It’s funny how you don’t realize what specifically is missing from your life until it arrives. In my case it was someone who is kind and thoughtful, and accepts me exactly as I am. The influx of romance and handwritten notes also doesn’t hurt.

I don’t know how to end this post because unlike previous dating posts there isn’t an ending. When it comes to the Secret Agent, it feels as though we’re just beginning our adventure together. So, just know that things are good, I’m happy and me & Joe the Intern give this guy an enthusiastic two thumbs up. It’s about time.

On Dating, Intuition and Being Brave

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One of my favourite parts of my job is when readers email me with questions. I don’t always feel qualified to answer them (after all, I always joke that this blog is basically the blind leading the blind – except when it comes to sex toys. I actually know quite a bit about those.) However, the email below, which was sent to me by a reader that I also consider a friend, hit really close to home. It was one of those, “Yup. Girl, I have been there” moments. Because of this, I thought it would be a really good one to answer on the blog –

“Simone – I can’t bring myself to date yet! How do you bounce back from all the whack situations and disappointments? What is your mindset when you date? How do you know when to walk away? I feel like I’ve lost faith and trust in myself for misjudging the last two situations…I always try to make things work or give it more time “to see.”

 I also have this belief that my anxiety and any flaw in me has to be fixed before I can truly attract the love I want and be the partner that I envision. This is a really good mind trick to never date again! In short: gearing up to get back out there but terrified.” 

Ok, so a few things –

First of all, if you’re not ready to date – that’s totally OK. I feel like we live in a culture where everyone is constantly being encouraged to date, pair off and be together – something that just isn’t always realistic, fair or even healthy. We’re fed the message that if we’re not dating, in a relationship or trying to find one, that there’s something wrong with us – something that inevitably needs fixing. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Sometimes hearts just need time to heal. Being alone can help facilitate this. If not dating feels like the most authentic and right thing for you right now; follow your intuition. However long you need, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a breather.

The truth is, although this blog covers a lot of my life, there are also a lot of things that you don’t see. It may seem like I’m always dating up a storm; immediately climbing back atop of the proverbial horse every time I get knocked down, however this isn’t always the case. Over the past three years I’ve taken several lengthly hiatuses from dating and sex. It just doesn’t always read this way because more often than not, I don’t always write about my experiences in real time.

With that said, this wasn’t always the case. While writing my book, which involved digging through the romantic wreckage of my past, I realized there were so many times that I flung myself, head-first into various relationships with very little regard for my own self-preservation. I practiced what I like to call “emotional cliff-diving.” I wanted to feel and experience things, and didn’t really think through consequences. I was brave to a fault. I had some good experiences but also lots of really, really bad ones.

Although a lot of good writing material came from these experiences, I wouldn’t recommend emotional cliff diving to anyone (well, at least anyone over the age of 23.) With that said, here’s what I’ve learned now that I’m older and a tiny bit wiser: dating is always going to make you feel somewhat vulnerable. The only way you can avoid vulnerability is by closing yourself off emotionally from other people – which doesn’t work if your goal is to meet someone. You have to be brave. Once I decided that I wanted to start dating again, I realized that the only way I was going to get through it was by becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. 

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Happy 20th Birthday Match.com!

It’s been a busy few weeks of editing and putting the finishing touches on my first book (!!!) I’m so excited to be on the homestretch of this project – partly because it means that I can get back into blogging on a regular basis. Stay tuned, I tons of beautiful lingerie, sexy toy reviews and dating stories that I can’t wait to share with you guys!

In the meantime I thought I’d share some fun news: popular dating site Match.com just turned 20! If you’re thinking to yourself, “has it already been 20 years?!” – you’re not alone. If Match.com was a Canadian kid, they’d now be old enough to drink in all thirteen provinces and territories. To celebrate, I have some interesting facts to share about the evolution of online dating. For example, did you know….

Stat_1Match.com pioneered the Internet dating industry, launching in 1995 and today serves millions of singles in 24 countries. Match.com continues to redefine the way single men and single women meet, flirt, date and fall in love.

Since it’s launch 20 years ago, more than 125 million people have joined the dating website. Match has created more than 10 million relationships and “made” more than 1 million babies. In the next 20 years, they estimate that the single population will nearly double and that 2 out of 3 relationships; with more than half of all marriages beginning online.

When Match.com asked me to share how I think online dating has changed over the years, one word came to mind: stigma. The stigma that was once associated with online dating has evaporated. In high school, one of my favourite TV shows was Mad TV. I remember spending many late nights babysitting laughing over sketches featuring the “Lowered Expectations” dating service. Although I’m pretty sure singles like Gena (“murder”) and Doreen are still lurking around online, finding love online is no longer considered merely as a last ditch stop for chronically rejected weirdos. Online dating isn’t the exception to the norm…it is the norm.

Although I often give online dating a hard time, I still think it’s a really great way to connect with people you might not have met otherwise. In fact, if you’re living and dating in a small town like I am, sometimes online dating is your best option.

Another thing that I think has changed even in the three years since I first tried online dating, is that everything is going mobile. Since it’s launch, more than 20 million people have used Match.com through their mobile device. For better or for worse, we’re living in a culture where finding a date or a life partner is as easy as swiping left or right while you’re in the line at Starbucks.

In honour of their 20th anniversary, Match.com decided to catch up with Bill and Freddi Straus, their very first success couple that met through the site. Bill and Freddi met online in 1995 and were married in 2000. Reading about how they got together you can’t help but think that they’re totally adorable.

bill & freddiWhen asked to describe her first date with Bill, Freddi says, “We emailed and spoke on the phone for about a week or so, then made a date for lunch at a local Chinese restaurant. He wanted to impress me so he ordered the lobster. When the check came, he was $5 short so he had to borrow it from me. As we walked out, he said he would like to see me again so he could give me my $5 back. We quickly planned our second date for Sunday.

I tried to cancel our second date after I decided to get a perm (bad decision), but he wouldn’t budge! When he came to pick me up for dinner, I greeted him at the door with a paper bag over my head with the eyes, nose and mouth cut out. He laughed and loved it and that was it! It was a done deal.”

Proof that sometimes the best love stories are spawned from an awkward beginning that includes borrowed money, a bad perm and a paper bag.

We also have our very own Match.com success story at Skinny Dip headquarters, which Joe the Intern has happily volunteered to share.

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Joe + milly

Happy birthday Match.com! Whether you’re looking for a partner who is 5’10” or 12″ tall, here’s to many more years of creating fantastic matches both big and small!

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This post was kindly sponsored by Match.com. Thanks for supporting the brands that keep Skinny Dip going. All opinions are my own because that’s how I roll.

Things You Learn When You Date in a Small Town

After living in Toronto for 12 years, you decide to move to Victoria, BC as a single 30-something.

With a population of about 300,000, Victoria isn’t exactly a small town yet, it manages to have a small town feel. Everyone knows everyone. After living in a city of 4 million people you find this both strange and comforting.

You spend the first year in Victoria mostly hanging out with your best friend and being an honorary senior citizen. However, you slowly start to make new friends. You start online dating. You make more friends. When you get frustrated by meeting the same 20 guys online, you ask your friends to set you up. You date a friend of a friend. You date another friend of a friend. You date another.

Although you prefer meeting people in person, you come to the conclusion that this whole “meeting people through common friends” thing has it’s drawbacks.

Dating in Victoria BC: Things You Learn When You Date in a Small TownNamely, that some people don’t want to date you precisely because you have friends in common. When you ask a friend about his dating habits, he tells you that he likes to “date off the grid” – no small feat in a town like Victoria, where everyone is connected by one or two degrees of separation.  (photo credit)

You ask him, “I’m kind of off the grid though, right?”

“Simone, you know 30% of the people I know. You are the Grid.”

Dating in Victoria BC: Things You Learn When You Date in a Small TownIn theory, we’d all be able to live within reasonable geographic proximity, date each other and still get along with minimal drama, like they do over at Seattle Grace Hospital. However, you quickly learn that this is a far cry from reality. In other words, life is not an ABC drama written by Shonda Rhimes. (image credit)

You have conversations that sound like this:

Ryan: “I can’t date you because you dated John.”

John: “I can’t date you because you dated my friend Ryan.”

You try and explain, “But Ryan and I never dated. He just sends me really weird photos of his penis, and I’m not sure why.”

However, it’s no use.

Meredith Grey and Olivia Pope don’t have to deal with this kind of bullshit. Why do you?

Dating in Victoria BC: Things You Learn When You Date in a Small TownYou try not to let this get you down until a guy tells you that he considers you “tainted” as a romantic prospect, because you briefly dated two people that he knows.

You’re single. You like dating. You like sex. However, sometimes dating in a small town can make you feel like you’re wearing a scarlet letter. You feel like a double standard is at play and you can’t help but wonder if things would be different if you were a man. Although you don’t regret leaving Toronto, you start to remember why you left this one horse town in the first place.

Dating in Victoria BC: Things You Learn When You Date in a Small TownSometimes this town can feel small. Too small. This hits home when you bump into Fitness Guy at your local Thrifty Foods. You figured it would happen eventually since he lives around the corner from the store, but you still have a heart attack when you see him and almost drop an armful of groceries. Apparently, your case of sexually transmitted awkwardness is still alive and well. (photo credit)

Instead of going to the other Thrifty Foods where you’d surely bump into your high school nemesis (or that other guy you hooked up with), you buy most of your groceries at the overpriced yuppie-ster bodega in your neighbourhood. Your skin looks great, but your wallet cries every time you fork over $12 for a package of organic lunch meat and a pear.

You go out for a beer with a guy that you meet on OKCupid, only to come home to find the following message from another guy.

Dating in Victoria BC: Things You Learn When You Date in a Small Town

This isn’t the first time this has happened. A few months ago you received a message that said, “I saw you walking through the Bay Center. Have you cut your hair? Maybe you noticed me, I was the guy in the red toque, eating an apple?” You haven’t met either of these guys in real life. Apparently, your online dating inbox has turned into Craigslist’s Missed Connections. (photo credit)

NOWHERE IS SAFE. I REPEAT, NOWHERE IS SAFE.

Dating in Victoria BC: Things You Learn When You Date in a Small TownDespite it’s drawbacks, you realize that dating “off the grid” is even more terrifying than dating people in your social circle. You notice the small town vibe is getting to you when you catch yourself becoming unreasonably suspicious of anyone who doesn’t know at least one person you know (“How do you not know Ryan?! EVERYONE KNOWS RYAN! You know, the guy who sends people photos of his penis?”)

You really start to appreciate the grid when you go out on a few dates with a guy who literally has no friends – that is, except for a guy he met while buying a stereo at Best Buy who goes by the nickname “Rapey” (“He’s always telling his female coworkers that he’s going to rape them. It’s hilarious! You’re going to love this guy, Simone.”) Luckily, you never have the chance to meet “Rapey” because according to your date, he’s been missing for some time and may or may not be residing at your local mental hospital. True story. (photo credit)

Dating in Victoria BC: Things You Learn When You Date in a Small TownWith that said, you know something has to change with your love life when you find a photo on your friend’s Facebook and tell yourself, “I’ve seen far too many of these dudes penises.” (photo credit)

So, life in a small town didn’t turn out like the ABC drama of your choice, but you decide to lean into it anyways. In a moment of frustration, you contemplate channeling your inner Emily Thorne from Revenge, printing out the photo and crossing the faces out with a red marker. However, you suspect it will just incite lots of awkward questions when you have to explain to people who come over, “No, I don’t have a revenge plot in the works. These are just people I’ve banged in the past 3 years.”

Mostly though, you just laugh. You drink wine with your friends. You laugh some more.

When a girlfriend of yours drunkenly comments on how incestuous this town is (“Everyone in Victoria shares a few bedpost notches”) you don’t disagree.

Instead, you laugh and drink more wine. What else can you do?

Guys, We Need to Talk About Your Online Dating Photos

After a weird December and calling it quits with my younger man friend, I decided to get back on the ol’ online dating horse and give OkCupid yet another shot. Since reentering the world of online dating, I’ve been on a few dates with nice people, been matched with someone I dated 15 years ago and had one guy ask me if I’d be interested in “sexually dominating him.” (When I politely delcined he got really offended and sent me a message that said “INTERESTING THAT YOU DON’T RESPOND TO ANY OF MY OTHER MESSAGES BUT RESPOND TO THIS ONE SO YOU CAN REJECT ME.”) So, in other words – just your average month on the beat.

No matter how long I stay away from online dating; the one thing that never changes are the photos. Oh, the photos. I can write a hundred of articles about the do’s and don’ts of online dating photos, and yet, truly terrible online dating photos prevail. I’m sure some of you are actually decent dudes (and that us ladies post our share of equally terrible pics), however you’re shooting yourself in the foot with all of these bizarre photos.

So, in an effort to remedy this problem, Joe the Intern and his friends have teamed up to provide 6 more photos that you need to delete from your online dating profileFYI, these are all modelled after actual photos I came across on OK Cupid, February 26th, between 7:42pm-9:05pm. 

Dating in Victoria BC:  Bad Online Dating PhotosHere’s something I like to call “Ok Cupid: Dead or Alive Edition.” Recently, I was matched with a guy whose only photo showed him sprawled limply over a bank of rocks, with a vacant, heavy lidded expression; his beer dangling limply from his hand. The photo was taken on the beach near where I grew up – an area I know well. The photo literally looks like he fell off a cliff and impaled himself on the rocky shore below. When I showed the photo to my friend, she leaned in then jolted back in surprise. “Is he OK, Simone?” she asked. FYI, this is not what you want women to say when they look through your online dating profile.

I get it – we live on the West Coast. The soulful, hanging out on the beach photo is about as ubiquitous as seasonal allergies – everyone and their dog has one or two. However, if you want to make these beach shots work in your favour, they can’t be awkward or look like something that a CSI team should be investigating.

Below, Trump has helped recreate another photo I stumbled across. The male subject in question was sprawled out on the beach, with his arm placed inexplicably behind his head in a way that looked like he had dislocated his elbow. His face was scrunched up in discomfort, while his armpit hair played centre stage. Once again, I have no idea why the person decided to include this photo, but there it was in all of it’s painfully uncomfortable glory. Awkwardness is contagious: if you look awkward, we feel awkward too.  So, if you’re going to include a “chill beach pic” make sure you actually look, well, chill and that you have good posture. (photo credit)

Dating in Victoria BC:  Bad Online Dating Photos

Dating in Victoria BC:  Bad Online Dating Photos

Dating in Victoria BC:  Bad Online Dating PhotosOnce again, most women are attracted to guys who look alive. We don’t want to see photos of you sleeping (?) on the couch, passed out on the floor or floating face down in a pool of water. You may think these shots are funny and whimsical, but to us, you just come across as lazy and not much fun. Along with some simple head shots, we like to see photos of you doing stuff that you’re into. Whether that’s brewing your own beer, hiking the Grand Canyon or playing hockey – almost anything is better than a photo that looks like a potential crime scene or something your friends took when they thought you were too drunk to notice. (photo credit)

Dating in Victoria BC:  Bad Online Dating PhotosSo, this photo is still happening. If you want to be taken seriously, keep in mind that no good can come from the shirt grab photo. Joe the Intern’s army buddy wants you to know that it looks just as ridiculous when you do it. (photo credit)

Dating in Victoria BC:  Bad Online Dating PhotosHey, you know what else I’m sick of seeing on OkCupid? Dead animals! To that dude who posted a photo of himself clasping the horns of a dead and bloodied elk – yes, I’m talking to you (and no, we won’t be going for coffee anytime soon.) You know what I find totally sexy? Photos of guys being nice to animals, not standing over their bloody carcasses. But you know, maybe that’s just me.

Dating in Victoria BC:  Bad Online Dating Photos

Dating in Victoria BC:  Bad Online Dating Photos

Dating in Victoria BC:  Bad Online Dating PhotosARMPIT HAIR. There’s entirely too much of it online. Yes, we all have arm-pit hair. However, if you’re trying to make a good first impression online, you might want to avoid posting photos where it’s prominently displayed. Sure maybe some women like this (maybe? possibly? I don’t know?) however, personally I’d prefer to not see your armpits in intimate detail until we actually know each other. What would be better: A nice photo of your face, sans armpit foliage. (photo credit)

Dating in Victoria BC:  Bad Online Dating PhotosThe other day I got matched with a family – at least that’s what can be assumed by the profile photo. The photo featured a man, a woman, two kids and a German Shepard. I assume that it’s the man’s profile, however considering he describes himself as “an easy going guy who loves long walks in the park” it could be the German Shepard. Who the heck knows. If these kinds of details are unclear, you’re doing it wrong. (photo credit)

So, to sum up:

-Alive is better than dead.

-A nice photo of your face > everything.

-Put your arms down.

The End.

{All photos taken by me, unless otherwise noted.}

What’s your online dating photo pet peeve?

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