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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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.

online dating

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!”


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. 

18 Photos To Delete From Your Online Dating Profile Immediately

Since initiating myself into the world of online dating a year and a half ago, I’ve realized that you can’t discuss online dating without mentioning the photos. Oh, the photos. Despite countless articles about how to create a decent online profile (written by well intentioned writers like myself), I’ve noticed that guys continue to post the same hilariously terrible photos again and again. From the endless stream of shirtless selfies to photos that scream out “serial killer!”, it seems like a lot of men out there are still confused as to what kind of photos to include in their profile.

FYI. I am aware that women post ridiculous stuff online too. However, since I’m a woman who dates men I can’t really speak to what the ladies are up to without doing extensive research. If anyone would like to help me with this, let me know.

Because I’m here to help,  Joe the Intern and I have put together a list of 18 photos that should be deleted from your online dating profile immediately.

I’m all for “action shots” in online dating profiles. Whether you love hiking, camping, fishing, playing music, salsa dancing, scotch tasting, travelling to exotic locations or all of the above – photos of you enjoying your interests are a great way to show people who you are and what you’re passionate about. With that said, these photos must make sense. I once saw an online dating profile where the dude’s only photo was a blurry shot of him frying sausages in a dingy kitchen. All I could think was, “WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?” That photo of you awkwardly nuzzling a snowman, riding a giant silver chicken or petting a hedgehog while you stare into the camera at a super awkward angle does not belong on your online dating profile.

The truth is, awkwardness is contagious. I don’t care how awesome that chicken ride was. If we can tell you feel awkward in the photo, we feel awkward too.


It’s not 2004 and you are not a 16-year old girl. There is absolutely no reason to have a photo of your face making sweet, mysterious love to a bathroom mirror. I don’t care how “soulful” you think your eyes look. DELETE. DELETE. DELETE!

This is a photo I see all. the. time. Am I supposed to be turned on by the fact that you’re surrounded by a bunch of random lady friends that it looks like you picked up at Margarita Monday? Because, I could just walk over to the local Chilis and meet those ladies myself.

Seriously though, I know you think showing photos of you with scantily clad women will make you look more desirable, but you’re just shooting yourself in the foot. Yes, we’re all adults with romantic pasts. However, until we’ve gotten to know each other I prefer to imagine you as untainted and like the kind of guy who would never even consider doing body shots off a hot blonde at Señor Frog’s (and if you did, would have the common sense to keep it to yourself. After all, what happens at Señor Frog’s, stays at Señor Frog’s.) It’s called romance. Please don’t kill it.

As someone who has been flashed in public more times than I’d like to admit, there’s something very unsettling about seeing a strange man with his pants undone, or in his underwear…and yet, people seem to think that it’s totally OK to post these kinds of photos on their online profiles. Yes, Creepy Single Dad I’m looking at you. I have a rule: “Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t do or say in person.” If you wouldn’t walk into a Starbucks without pants on, you certainly shouldn’t be pantless in your online profile. Just like the morning coffee crowd isn’t interested in seeing your ample treasure trail, neither is the general online dating population. Put some pants on, bro.

These photos usually come with a caption like, “Just hanging with my friends” when really they should say, “I’m the one in the background looking dejected and giving you the crazy eyes.” There’s nothing wrong with including a few photos taken with friends. After all, it shows that you are a fun person with a social life. Just make sure that in the photos you actually look like you’re being sociable and having fun. No one likes a lurker. Choose photos where you’re upfront and centre, and for the love of jeebus, smile. 

One of the perils of living and dating on the West Coast is that you encounter a lot of photos of guys in wetsuits or scuba gear. That’s cool that you’re into aquatic activities, however just make sure you include some photos that show what you look like when you’re not in all your gear. However, more often than not I see profiles chock full of photos like the ones above with a tagline like, “This is me.” Well, that totally clears things up! (Not)

I’m always suspicious of anyone who has photos where their ex is noticeably cropped out, or worse, blurred out. Looking at your dating profile shouldn’t make me feel like I’m watching an episode of COPS. Also, If your most recent photo is from that time you took your ex to your cousin Artie’s wedding in ’98, it’s time for some new photos.

Once upon a time you looked like John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever and now you look like John Locke from Lost. Ain’t no shame in that game! However, what is shameful is posting super old photos in an attempt to get more dates. It’s a disservice to yourself because when we meet you in person, trust me…WE’LL BE ABLE TO TELL. However you look – own it. It’s way sexier.

No good can come of the  shirtless bathroom mirror selfie, yet like a bad case of bedbugs, it just won’t go away. This leads me to a very scary conclusion: some women must actually respond to them. It also makes me wonder what it would be like to go on a date with a guy who thinks taking a photo of himself in a cloudy mirror is a good idea. What exactly would this date entail? A trip to the local dog-fighting ring? Drinks at the Cactus Club followed by having sex while a UFC game played in the background? Am I just unfairly stereotyping these guys and most of them really just want to cuddle and discuss Proust by candlelight? My perverse journalistic curiosity almost makes me want to find out. Almost.

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The 20 Guys You’ll Meet Online Dating in Victoria

I’ve been Online Dating in Victoria on and off for the past year or so. It’s been entertaining to say the least. However, often when I take a break from dating and log on to my account a few months later, I feel like it’s always the same people online. Yes, the names, faces and identities may have changed, but it always feels a bit like I’m meeting the same 20 guys over and over again. So, with the help of Joe the Intern I’ve put together this post. Skinny Dippers, I present to you “The 20 Guys You’ll Meet Online in Victoria.”

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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.

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