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Dispatches From The Dating Trenches

Hello Skinny Dippers. As promised, I am back with some dating updates. Like I mentioned before, one of my plans for 2014 is to put myself out there and revitalize my dating life. If you were reading this blog at this time last year, you probably remember reading about my adventures on Plenty of Fish which ranged from positive to positively fishy – literally. Since meeting people in person in Victoria has proven fruitless for the most part, I decided before Christmas that I would give Ok Cupid a try. Since the middle of December I have gone on a few dates and am now ready to report back with field notes.

Gather around everyone. We have a few things we need to discuss.

First up on the agenda is beards, or just facial hair in general. I never noticed how much facial hair there was in this city until I opened an Ok Cupid account. Within hours of setting up my account I was suddenly receiving messages and being matched with throngs of bearded gentlemen. From the hipster glamour beards and standard “urban lumberjack” beards, to overgrown facial hair of the Duck Dynasty variety, there were  JUST. SO. MANY. BEARDS. How had I never noticed this about my city?

Is this a Victoria thing? Like the giant trees, does facial hair grow faster here because of all of the fresh, moist sea hair? What’s the deal guys?!

Originally I thought the plethora of facial hair – ironic or otherwise – might just be spill over from Movember. However, we’re into January and the beards are still around, in fact they seem to be multiplying like Gremlins. When I mentioned this to my Mom before Christmas, she told me in all seriousness, “Maybe, it’s like a Christmas thing?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, maybe they’re trying to look like Santa Claus?”

“You mean like they’re Mall Santas?”

“Well, I don’t know Simone. It’s possible.”

The suggestion that 75% of the single men in this city are lying about their professions and are in fact, secretly Mall Santas, is indeed a terrifying thought.

I know some women love facial hair, but it’s probably a good time to mention that it’s never really been my thing. Yes, a little bit of stubble can definitely be sexy, but full out beard? Not for me. I have really sensitive skin and chafe easily, and there’s nothing worse than waking up after a night of making out to what looks like wind burn on the lower half of your face. So, with the exception of my spring fling, who had a lovely, close cropped beard (that surprisingly didn’t bother me at all), I tend to go more for clean shaven types.

With that said, I’m trying to break away from my usual dating patterns. I figure I need to give facial hair a fighting chance if I want to date in 2014. Besides, my recent experience has shown me that with the right guy, often comes the right beard. However, I have two ground rules: your beard has to be close cropped and well maintained, and if you have a fondness for red toques, we might have a problem.

At the risk of sounding like Jerry  Seinfeld, what’s the deal with people who want to hold hands on the first or second date? I’ve been on several dates with men in this city who want to hold your hand almost immediately – which, for some reason totally freaks me out. When I lived and dated in Toronto, hand holding was usually only something you did once you were “together”, or at the very least had seen each other naked. Whereas this may not have bothered me when I was younger, now that I’m in my 30’s I see hand holding as a fairly intimate act – in other words, not something I want to do with someone I barely know. Am I crazy to feel this way?

To gain some perspective on the issue I consulted with my friend Trevor who was visiting over the holidays. His response was very much in line with mine.

“Oh no, I don’t hold hands with anyone until we’ve slept together or at the very least made out. You know, maybe the morning after, when you’re walking to brunch or something. Otherwise, it’s totally a couple thing.”

A few weeks ago I was out on a date with a guy I had just met, when he grabbed my hand while we were walking down the street. Whenever I’d gently pull my hand away (subtle hint?) he’d promptly grab it again until we were literally playing a game of hand holding tug-a-war. I know he had good intentions, but it felt kind of aggressive.

I don’t have anything against hand holding, I’d just prefer to hold hands with people I know really well. Besides, Sleepytown is so small  that you’re bound to run into someone you know. If you don’t choose your handholding partners wisely, you might end having a version of this conversation with some girl you kind of knew in high school but are now distant Facebook friends with.

“Oh, is this your fiancee?”

“No, we’re not engaged.”

“Oh, I thought I heard you were engaged?”

“It’s a long story. I used to wear a ring, but we weren’t engaged. We broke up two years ago.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. Is this your boyfriend?”

“Oh this guy? I barely know him. He just won’t let go of my hand.”

As I suspected, I’m enjoying Ok Cupid a lot more than Plenty of Fish. Although there are still a fair share of photos of guys on boats and clutching the bloody, fish carcasses, there aren’t quite as many. In fact, I was kind of hoping that as a trade off there’d be lots of photos of men in cupids wings, clutching bows and arrows, but alas, no dice.

What I will say is that overall, the selection of guys is a bit more to my taste. Although there’s lots of facial hair, there’s also lots more hip, creative types and young professionals. More skinny jeans and suits, less tribal tattoos and creepy mirror selfies.

The most interesting thing to emerge from my time on Ok Cupid? For the first time ever, I’m being approached by hipsters. Yes, hipsters.

I can only assume two things: either I am not Hipster Kryptonite as I once suspected, or every one in this town is so desperate they’ll hit on anyone who doesn’t seem like a weirdo. It could go either way.

You guys, it’s a new era.

PS. In case you were wondering, Joe the Intern helped pick out the visuals for this post. This blog post was not tested on real humans.

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