Stuck in the Middle, Without You

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(All of the artwork in this post is by Carole Wilmet and Jarek Puczel. I love their  work!) 

This is a story about Donald and Donny – two very different guys with two very similar names.

I met Donald about a year ago through a mutual friend. I met up with a couple of friends for after work drinks & he was there. My immediate impression was that he was cute, friendly and had a perfectly coiffed head of salt and pepper hair that would make even Roger Stirling jealous. When I heard him telling my friend about how he’d just started watching 30 Rock and that he loved it, I immediately butted into the conversion. Within minutes we were waxing poetic about our mutual love of Tina Fey and I was showing off my ability to quote Dr. Spaceman like a pro. Since we were both headed in the same direction, we shared a cab home and agreed to hang out again in the near future. The next day I received a text from my friend, “Donald just texted to thank me for introducing him to you. I think his exact words were ‘your friend is very impressive‘!” A few weeks later, Donald and I went on our first date.

Over the course of that first date and the month that followed, I learned that not only did Donald have perfect hair, he was also incredibly smart, thoughtful and fun to be around. We spent a lot of time talking about books, checking out local restaurants and lounging in front of the TV watching so-bad-its-good reality shows. He’d often do sweet things like bring me flowers or treat me to dinner. He loved hearing about Joe the Intern‘s adventures and even went as far as to make him his very own surfboard. Donald was in the truest sense, a total mensch. Things would have been perfect except for one thing: I just didn’t feel the right amount of physical chemistry for Donald. Instead, it just felt like I was hanging out with a really good friend. That’s when I knew I had to break things off.

Rejecting someone who is essentially a wonderful human being is never easy. After all, there is nothing wrong with Donald. I just don’t feel the way I should feel about him.

Donald and I have since transitioned into a friendship. However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. On several occasions he’s asked me to reconsider my decision about us dating. I’ve thought about it – I really have. Donald’s a wonderful person and I’m sure will make someone else very happy. However, that person isn’t me. Chemistry is so, so, important and we just don’t have it. The thought of being in a sexless relationship (no matter how wonderful the other person is) not only makes me incredibly sad, it goes against the core of who I am as a person. When Donald told me, “I’ve just never felt this way about someone before” I realized that yes, I have felt “this way” – many times – just not for him. I knew that no matter how many times her asked me to reconsider my decision, my answer would always be a definitive no.

If there’s been a theme to my dating life in 2014 it’s been this: It all comes down to chemistry. You can’t live without it, however you also can’t survive on it alone. 

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Flash-forward six months or so, to a few weeks before my best-friend’s wedding. We were hanging out, drinking wine and catching up as we usually do.

“We’re taking bets on who you’re going to hook up with at the wedding” my friend told me, a smile spreading across her face as she took a sip of her wine.

“I thought you said I was going to be one of the only single people there?”

“Well yes, but there are a few guys who will be there. I’m putting my money on Donny.”

Although I’d never met Donny, I knew a few things about him – that he lived in another city, had a high powered job in finance, was smart, funny & my friend’s (now) husband’s single best friend. However, between seeing the European, briefly dating Young Guy and a few other adventures in between, I’d already had a “busy” few months romantically, so I wasn’t exactly looking to add anyone else into the mix. Even when my friend pointed out that Donny was “super cute,” I wasn’t convinced. Part of the reason we’ve been such good friends for almost 30 years is because we have completely opposite taste in men.

However, when I finally did meet Donny, he was ridiculously cute. He was tall, handsome, impeccably well dressed and wearing black Rayban sunglasses that matched my oversized Marc Jacobs ones. Electricity crackled when we shook hands. Donny had a wry sense of humour and we quickly bonded over our shared Russian roots and love for dirty jokes. He was exactly how I like my men: a perfect gentleman with a filthy mind. I knew I was in trouble.

We spent the whole wedding weekend flirting. The wedding and reception were held at a gorgeous seaside location. Midway through the festivities, we snuck away from the party, grabbed two chairs and placed them at the water’s edge.

“Just so you know you’re going to have to make the first move” he told me, as we watched the sun set over the ocean.

“I’m perfectly OK with that.”

“Actually, I lied” he said as he leaned and kissed me.

We spent a very sleepless night on a sofa bed, a tangle of naked limbs. He told me I was beautiful. When I ran my fingers up his smooth forearms, I was amazed at how similar his freckles were to the ones on my own, much paler limbs. He was beautiful too. Dazzling even. Dazzling Donny. I had to do everything in my power to quell the anxiety that this gorgeous creature would eventually disappoint me.

In the morning, when I threw up against a tree (windy country roads + too much champagne the night before = never a good mix) he  held my hair back and kissed me afterwards.

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After the wedding, we stayed in touch and spoke regularly.

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On Lovers and Learning How to Hold On Lightly

Lovers 1Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of lovers.

I know that the word “lovers” makes many of us cringe. Up until recently, I subscribed to Liz Lemon’s philosophy that the only place the word “lovers” belongs is in between “meat” and “pizza.” However, I’m asking you to hold back your dry heaves & bear with me for a minute.

I few months ago, I was out for drinks with a few of my girlfriends. My friend started to tell the group about an acquaintance of hers who, after turning 40, decided to completely re-think her approach to sex.

“She old me she’s done with the booty calls, one night stands and “friends with benefits” scenarios of her youth. Instead she’s decided to take lovers” my friend explained to us.

What followed was a discussion about the nature of “taking a lover” and how exactly it differs from the other options mentioned above. As it was explained to my friend, “taking a lover” is about an arrangement between two adults that involves enjoying each others company – both inside and outside of the bedroom – without the binding commitment of a traditional relationship. Unlike being “friends with benefits” which requires a pre-existing friendship, having a lover simply means you enjoy having sex each other and sometimes this comes with the added bonus of some quality companionship.

As I sipped my whiskey sour and mulled this over, I couldn’t help but think all of this sounded incredibly modern and sophisticated – like something out of a French movie. (Cue moody accordion music and cigarette smoke.)

“I think that’s what I’ve been doing with The European” I shared with them.

The European and I met almost a year ago when I decided to try online dating again. The first time I showed my best friend a photo of this guy her reaction was immediate: “Wow, Simone – he’s so not your usual type.”

Aside from being tall and handsome, The European is pretty much the physical antithesis of the kinds of guys I usually go for: he’s distinctly Nordic looking with naturally white blond hair and blue eyes. He’ll probably hate me for saying this, but without knowing him, you might mistake The European for (gasp) a Hipster. If you need a visual, think Alexander Skarsgard with geeky on purpose Elvis Costello glasses.

wallpaper_di_alexander_skarsgard-1152x864With that said, there was something that drew me to his profile. Although he was born in Canada, he’d spent most of his life living abroad. Amidst the (literal) sea of guys you usually meet online in Victoria, The European seemed smart, sophisticated and well, different. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that I also liked how his arms looked in one of his photos.

We exchanged a few messages and a few nights later met for a drink at a local Oyster bar. My first impression of The European was that he seemed very serious, bordering on austere. However, a few minutes into our drinks and we were laughing and bonding over our mutual love of electronic music and the band Disclosure. When he walked me home, he kissed me outside of my house. I liked his lips and how he gripped me in his arms – gentle, yet deliberate and wanting. We made plans to see each other again.

There was a second date – this time at a local brew-pub (which I was completely overdressed for in my new Rachel Roy dress & cage heels) – and another kiss. Unlike a lot of my recent dates who just wanted to talk about Crossfit, I liked that I could have actual intellectual conversations with The European. I was looking forward to seeing him again.

However, a few days before we were scheduled to meet up, I received a text from him.

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Meet Vancouver’s Most Eligible Bachelorette

Life is weird and fun, and sometimes cool stuff happens like when you get chosen as one of “Vancouver’s Most Eligible Bachelorettes.”

In July, I flew over to Vancouver to meet with the Eligible Magazine team to be interviewed and do a glam photo-shoot around Vancouver’s gorgeous Coal Harbour. It was such a fun (but hot & sweaty) day and everyone I worked with was lovely. I’ve kept all of this under my hat for the past few months, so I am super excited to share the feature and the photos with you. You can read the full story here, however here are a few of my favourite photos from the shoot!

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Sex, Lust and Ruskie Business

Since writing this post several of you have reached out and requested more dating, sex and relationship stories. I often don’t write in real time, so here’s one from my personal vault – circa a few years ago. 

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Recently, a friend and I were discussing the topic of hooking up with people in other countries.A few minutes into the discussion I realized that my foreign boot-knocking experience is actually surprisingly limited. I never did the whole backpacking through Europe thing (everyone who did, seems to have some story about hooking up with a hot Spanish dude in a hostel), I’ve never been to an all inclusive resort and I was too broke in university to spend a semester abroad. All of my international travelling has been done with family, my ex, or through my old job. In other words, I’ve just never had a romance abroad – at least not the kind that would inspire a 1980’s Taster’s Choice commercial.

(Anyone who grew up in the 80’s remembers Jean-Luc)

I explained to her, “I’ve never slept with a foreigner. Kissed, flirted with – yes. Sex, no. Well, unless you count The Russian.”

“I feel like there’s a good story here, Simone.”

I then proceeded to tell her exactly what I’m about to tell you.

I met the Russian on my first trip back to Toronto after I left in 2011. The Russian wasn’t actually Russian per se. He was from another former Soviet country, close to where my ancestors are from and had been living in Canada for several years, working as an exec for a successful Canadian company.

I was out for drinks with one of my best friends in Toronto at a bustling restaurant-bar in the Financial District. We hadn’t seen each other since I had left for the West Coast, however it only took a  few minutes and a vodka martini (or three) before we were chatting up a storm like not a day had passed. Although the friend I was with that night very much a savvy, whip-smart, self-made woman, she has a tendency to attract, date and socialize with wealthy, high-roller types. She’s also one of the most fearless and confident people I know. So, I wasn’t surprised when an older, moneyed guy and his younger, noticeably attractive friend stopped by our table to say hi.

“Simone, this is ____ (older guy), he’s the CEO of _________ (insert well known Canadian company) and he dated ________(our friend)”

Then, she introduced The Russian.

“Simone, this is ______ (typical Russian name). He’s originally from ________ (insert former-Soviet country.) Typical Russian Name, Simone’s relatives are originally from your country. You guys should talk” she said with a wink.

She didn’t miss a beat before suggesting that the guys buy us a couple of rounds of drinks.

There was no doubt that The Russian was very handsome. He looked like a younger, better looking Mikhail Baryshnikov (my very first celebrity crush): sandy blonde hair, square jaw and blue almond shaped eyes that radiated just the right amount of mischief and sex appeal. Like many of the men on my Mom’s side of the family, he was built like a reverse triangle: broad shoulders, lean and muscular.

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Later, when I showed a photo of The Russian to my best-friend, she commented, “He looks like the kind of guy you’d meet on an Olympic podium, not in real life.” She wasn’t far off.

So, when the guys asked us if we’d like to accompany them to their next location, it was a no brainer. A few minutes later we were all hanging out at a very swanky hotel bar known for being a popular hangout for investment banker types, celebrities and high-end escorts alike.

While my friend chatted with CEO guy, The Russian and I were huddled close together at the bar, our legs touching. Although my friend has dated quite a few Russian and Ukrainian guys over the years, I explained that I had never really dated anyone who shared this part of my cultural background.

“Why not?” he asked.

“I don’t know. I guess I don’t know that many Russian, Ukrainian or Polish people outside of my own family. The guys that I have met, always tell me I look like I could be their sister.”

(This is true. My friend’s Ukrainian ex and I look like we could easily be related.)

“You’re beautiful. Not anything like sister to me.” he replied with a wink.

A few hours and quite a few vodkas later, The Russian suggested we all head back to his condo and continue the party there. Back at his place – a sparsely furnished, slick condo on the waterfront; my friend and CEO Guy talked business while The Russian and I vigorously made out in the kitchen. It had been months upon months since I’d had any physical contact from the opposite sex and let’s face it – he was hot. Although the free-flowing vodka definitely didn’t hurt, it wasn’t just the alcohol that was making me feel intoxicated, it was the Russian – the way he smelled (like freshly washed laundry), the feeling of my hands running through his hair, his lilting accent as he whispered in my ear that he thought I was sexy. We had chemistry. This much was clear.

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“I’ve never seen you like this!” my friend told me, once I’d been able to pry myself from The Russian’s lips long enough to come up for air.

“You mean single?”

“Well, yeah…and like, clearly ready to mingle!” she replied with a raised eye-brow.

It’s true, this is one of the first times we’d hung out since my big break-up a few months before and the first time she’d ever seen me with my arms wrapped around anyone other than my ex.

When things in the kitchen started to get particularly heated, the Russian and I moved our make-out session into his bedroom where we quickly became a tangle of naked limbs atop of his bed. He tore off my panties and proceeded to go down on me with such precision and vigour that it wasn’t long before I lost my breath as my back was arched in pleasure.

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Online Dating Is Still Dating, These Rules Still Apply

This is a post written by my friend Sara Stringer, a freelance writer based in Southern California. I hope you enjoy her post!

For some reason, many people seem to believe that online dating is a completely different animal from the garden variety kind. The first mistake is thinking that there is a garden variety kind of dating. There are as many configurations of dating as there are people. The second mistake is thinking that online dating is anything new.

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Back in the day, dating via correspondence was quite common. One might even say that it was the precursor to online dating. Back when we wrote with tapered, pointy cylinders called “pens”, we sometimes wrote personal letters to strangers known as “pen-pals”. When adults formed pen-pal relationships, it often led to dating, then to marriage. It was the equivalent of playing chess by mail vs. turn-based chess online. Different technology, same result. 

Online dating is still dating, and the same, common sense rules apply. For the safest, most enjoyable experience, you will keep these things in mind:

Bars and Churches, Choose Wisely

What do bars and churches have in common? They are major hubs for seeking dates. In the real world, you have to decide what type of partner you are looking for. Do you want the kind of man that frequents bars, or the kind that goes to church. For the moment, let us just ignore the large cross-section of the two. 

Once you have made that decision, you quickly come to the reality that not all bars, and not all churches are created equally. Selecting the best hunting grounds can be quite difficult.

When it comes to online dating, the challenge is the same. With what seems like thousands of dating communities to choose from, it is difficult to know which is best. Fortunately, there are places online that offer reviews of the top sites for dating. Having access to professional and user-based reviews really comes in handy for knowing which sites it is worth creating profiles on. If only bars had signs that said, “Beer, 4-stars. Dating, don’t bother!”

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Letting Your Freak-Flag Fly

Let’s not go into details about your kinks. I don’t want to know. The one who does want to know is the person you plan to date. At some point, the two, or three of you (however that flag swings) might end up being intimate. You want someone who shares, or at least appreciates your kinks.

In the real world, this can be challenging. We tend to not wear signs announcing the fact that we have some type of fetish, let alone disclosing the particular variety. These disclosures are tentatively made only after a relationship has begun. Guessing wrong about your partner’s tolerances and inclinations could be disastrous. 

This is not a problem online. There are so many dating sites to choose from it is a trivial matter to locate a community that caters exclusively to your particular kink. Because of the anonymity of the Net, you can lead with an honest description of what you like and what you are looking for. You don’t have to worry about being judged. And you can be sure that your partner shares your interests. The key is to be honest and upfront. Online, lying is not necessary for finding a date.

Safety in Numbers

Ever been on a blind date? Was your first meeting with that person at their house, a hundred miles from anywhere? Of course not! You don’t know this person from an ax murderer. You meet in public spaces with lots of witnesses.

Dating online, especially for a long period of time, might give you the false sense of knowing a person. You don’t. No matter how many photos you have exchanged, no matter how many secrets shared, you can’t be certain if any of it is real. The safest course of action is to treat it like a blind date.

The spirit of online dating is nothing new. It is quite legitimate. And it can lead to all the joy and heartache experienced by people without an Internet connection.

About the Author: Sara is freelance writer. When she’s not writing, she enjoys maintaining a healthy lifestyle through swimming and practicing yoga. 

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