2022 Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Does Romance Still Exist in Our Pandemilovato?

Does romance still exist in 2022? In Toronto, we’re in our 164th lockdown (I can’t keep track), the most adorable restaurants are closing minute by minute, and our country’s leader is in hiding due to the cavalcade of bible-thumping racists increasing emissions with empty trucks. We could use a little cute, but I think expectations of romance might be beyond the scope, this year.

The gift guides for her I’ve seen online stating the #1: a robe and #2: fuzzy slippers give me some real second-hand embarrassment. If you ever get a woman a robe, she’ll know your relationship’s on the rocks. Let me tell you what she doesn’t want. Your lady does not want a teddy bear. Heart-shaped jewelry is not joining us in 2022. She does not want cheap corner store chocolates/ candy. There’s only a couple acceptable candles, and we’ll get to that later. For the love of all things holy: if you buy her the fragrance your mother or your ex wears, you deserve to be left alone. Forever. Ghosted, probably.

The caveat: I’m writing this to you as a single, 34-year old cis/het woman who is currently in a 10-day lockdown because my 3 vaccines, 0 symptoms, and I “tested positive” upon return from Mexico City. Take from this what you will, but I know what I want and I think I have a good idea what women like me would like, too. I know that my apartment has no stuffed animals or trashy lingerie, and the only cheap chocolates I have are the ones I bought online since I literally cannot leave my home right now.

The Basic Gifts

A Card

Whether you’ve just started dating or you’ve been married for years, it’s always nice to let your partner know how much they mean to you. Get a cute card (Indigo has tons!) Give a few words of affirmation, share a sweet memory, and be specific about all the things you adore about them.

 

Flowers

At the beginning of the pandemic I got a stunning arrangement from Inspire Design Studio. They have bundles for $35 and vases for $9.50. Tonic Blooms has never steered me wrong, but their bundles are upwards of $70 plus delivery. If you buy her flowers, make sure she has a vase, and look up how to cut and arrange said flowers in a vase of that size. If she doesn’t have a vase and you insist on going the flower route, buy one for her. It doesn’t have to be pricy – it’s just a vessel!

Chocolates

We’re just coming off of Christmas where I had to beg my parents to limit the chocolate in our stockings (first world problems, I’m well aware!) We’re all trying to keep balanced throughout these lockdowns. If you’re going to buy your partner chocolate, do it right. Each Chocolat de Kat is a tiny piece of edible art. Kata Ambrus trained in Classic French Pastry Arts program at the International Culinary Centre in NYC. Her shop is located in the St. Clair West neighbourhood of Toronto. The above chocolate heart is $12 + HST and a 25 piece gift box (with delicious flavours like pear jasmine, salted caramel praline, Vietnamese coffee, hazelnut hot chocolate, chili tahini, classic champagne, and many more) runs about $65 + HST.

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Aunt Beth’s Gourmet Cookies

Beth Havers (aka “Aunt Beth”) has been baking since she was a little girl, and worked as a whisk(e)y ambassador and educator for almost as long. She’s combined her love of both and has developed recipes using bourbon, scotch, Irish, and Canadian whiskies for some absolutely fantastic whisky-infused cookies. On the menu at present, you’ll find crinkle cookies (made with Woodford Reserve), Santa’s Secret (Dark chocolate, candy cane, and a splash of Irish Cream), Maker’s Mark Bourbon Barrel Chocolate Chip, Jameson’s Cold Brew Espresso Yourself Chocolate Chunk, Hearts on Fire (with Fireball whisky), Canadian Club Rye and Ginger, The Singleton Speyside Big Short (butter and toffee), Jameson’s Irish Double Double, The Smoke Show (made with Ardbeg), and Straight Up Chocolate Chip (no alcohol). They ship to Canada and the US. For the whisky-lover in your life, head over to her website!

Lip Gloss

I would typically prefer to buy cosmetics myself, but a touch of pink gloss from Dior ($44), Gucci ($42), or Dolce & Gabbana ($56.50) is a fabulous gift for someone you think would want something to unwrap on Valentine’s Day. The packaging on these sweet little products is so darling, too!

Soft Loungewear

Again, if she’s the kind of gal who needs something to unwrap, cute and comfy loungewear might be the key. While the promise of lockdowns ending forever is on the horizon, I just don’t trust creepy Uncle Douggie. Stylish loungewear is here to stay, and Tara Rivas not only has super soft loungewear, but also formalwear, dresses, and designs made to order. Bonus: they’re having their end of year sale, and the shorts above are on sale for $44 (size XS – XL). Ethically and Canadian made clothing with free shipping? Count me in!

A Memory Immortalized

If you’re married (or if you’ve got a special song), this First Dance Lyrics framed art piece is a beautiful way to commemorate a beautiful shared memory. The centre image is a star map showing the alignment of the stars and constellations from your wedding day (or any other symbolic day for you, lovebirds!)

Flutterfly Stone Initial Necklace

I’m not a huge jewelry gal, but if someone were to get me my (or his!) initial in this sweet little necklace, I’d wear it every day. Available in 18k gold plated, 18k rose gold plated, or rhodium plated over brass with cubic zirconia stones and imitation pearls, the necklace is priced at $68 USD and is available here.

Valentine’s Day Kicks

I’m still relegated to flats after a tumble several months ago. I love cute sneakers, and if your partner does too, these Adidas Superstar, Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, and Nike Women’s Air Max sneaks are ADORABLE and are a great way to tell them you love them if you have a hard time saying the words out loud.

The “It” Gift

If you have $500 + HST to blow and she’s *That Girl* on TikTok (or is trying to be), I present to you: the Dyson Air Wrap. If this is you then I have questions, but go off.

Olaplex

Hair care is expensive! We all know and love Olaplex. When in doubt, click here.

YSL Handbag

I’d probably lose my mind if someone ever got me a YSL Handbag (the guilt!), but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a handbag on this list. Maybe it’s due to the fact that manufacturers don’t put pockets on women’s pants, but a divine handbag will always catch my eye, and this YSL 5 à 7 hobo bag is the one I can’t seem to forget. It goes with everything, has an adjustable strap, and from a trend perspective has long-term staying power. With a price tag of $2,430 + HST, I’m not holding my breath!

Experiences

people skating on ice

Go Skating

Skating is a great, affordable option for a Valentine’s Day date. If your relationship is new, it’s a cute way to *break the ice* and hold your partner’s hand for an extended period. Wear a cute mask and bring a thermos of hot chocolate to keep the date going once you’re off the ice.Valentine's Day Toronto Charcuterie

A Picnic

Yes – you can have a picnic inside. If you’re having her over, a good, old fashioned pillow fort plus wine and charcuterie is all I would need for some good quality time. If acts of service are your jam, grab some cured meats, artisanal cheese, olives, fruits, veggies, dips and some bread, pita, and/or pretzels and you’re off to the races. The Cheese Boutique has you covered. Add a splash of colour with some macarons from Nadège. Bonus points if you’re secure enough in your masculinity to drink rosé (Vanderpump is on sale at the LCBO, and Victoire is an always accessible Champagne at $42.95!) If you’re not super creative in the kitchen and want someone to get it all done on your behalf so you can focus on spending time together, give All the Graze an order. Available for pick-up and delivery, their boxes start at $55. Their image above is just a small-scale rendering of the insanely beautiful grazing stations they make!Cocktail Kit - Love of Cocktails - Ahma

Love of Cocktails

Add an activity! Shake up some cocktails together. Love of Cocktails has cocktail kits for $115 (pick-up only) as well as classes for $98 on February 12 and 14 at 7:30 PM. The class includes 1 welcome cocktail, a small charcuterie board, a take home cocktail gift set ($35 value) and 3 Valentine’s themed Cocktail Recipes:

  • Honey Collins – a tall and fresh drink that’s honey sweet but with a touch of pucker-y tartness
  • Hibiscus Rose Sour – fluffy, velvety and floral
  • Smoked Maple Old Fashioned – a classic with flavours of smoke and maple

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Little Sister Dutch Indo Food Bar

If you’re looking for something a little different, Little Sister (my favourite Dutch-Indo spot in Toronto) is doing a Valentine’s Day special grazing box called Nasi Campur. This Indonesian platter is centred around a scoop of rice and includes portions of meats, vegetables, peanuts, eggs, and shrimp crackers. This Valentine’s Day, their Nasi Campur is available for $80 and includes dessert for 2 and 2 cocktails by the wonderful Robin Wynne.

The Candle

If you’ve made it here (first of all, thank you) – you’ve made it to the moment where I tell you how I really feel about candles, bath bombs, and lotion. These gifts would show me you’ve never paid attention while at my place. They involve no personalization, in my world. As someone who reviews skincare, my bathroom (and closet) are full of personal grooming products. There are shelves on shelves of the stuff. Please, no more.

As far as candles go, same thing. I’ve got enough, thanks! If you’re hellbent on a candle, let’s make one together at Kandl Artistique! This hidden gem in Yorkville makes candles for Tom Ford, Estée Lauder, Jonathan Adler, and now – me! It’s the perfect spot to pop into for a dessert, coffee, and/ or a cocktail while making your very own customized candle. When I went, we pumped some tunes and got to work smelling the various fragrances and determining picks for top notes, middle notes, and base notes. The entire experience took about 90 minutes and cost $95 per person + HST. Reservations are available Wednesday through Sunday.Unchained Athletics - YouTube

Fitness

Classes anywhere but Goodlife ain’t cheap in this city. I’m hoping you’re not a douche canoe reading this thinking: wonderful – she’s telling me I can make my gal lose a couple o’ pounds. No, if she already enjoys working out or has indicated to you that this is something in which she has interest, then (and only then) is this appropriate.

If she’s already mentioned an interest in weightlifting, get THE BOTH OF YOUS a session or two with Brenna or Eddie at Unchained Athletics. They have programs for every fitness level, and when weightlifting can be so inaccessible to women, they make it really comfortable. Class sizes are small, so you really get the attention you need to build a solid foundation so you can eventually lift heavy. Get her some gloves and wraps if she’s interested in boxing!

6IX Cycle - Spin Studio - Home | Facebook

If you’re one of those “competitive about almost everything” kind of guys, she’ll probably prefer that you don’t chirp her at every chance. Give 6ix Cycle a chance if this is you and you’re still looking to enjoy some exercise together. It’s currently $60 for a 2 week intro membership. The dark lights and loud music in this spin class will dull out any chance a conversation.

Not to shy away from the lockdown insanity, owner Julie Harrish has also started yoga at 6ix Flow. “6IX Flow is a music based, beat driven, candle-lit, sweat-infused hot yoga practice to help you connect movement to breath with full intention, while connecting to your body and the beat.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds like my kind of Valentine’s Day.

Little Mordecai Chapel of Love

This one’s ridiculous – and I LOVE IT. If you’ve been waiting through lockdown after lockdown to get hitched, February 12th or 13th might just be your lucky day! E-mail emily@barmordecai.com

“Save your air miles & elope to Vegas right here in Toronto. Bar Mordecai’s Vegas-themed private room will be transformed over Valentine’s weekend (February 12th & 13th) into a wedding chapel inspired by the hallowed halls of the quickie wedding capital of the world, Las Vegas.”

You Bring: 

  • Your marriage license from City Hall
  • Up to 8 friends and family to witness your declarations of love
  • Yourselves!

They Provide:

  • A decorated wedding chapel in the spirit of the Vegas strip’s best destinations of love
  • A legal officiant
  • A photographer to document the festivities, a 30 minute photo session in their beautiful restaurant space post-ceremony & a minimum of 50 high resolution print-ready images as well as a web gallery that can be shared with friends & family
  • A celebratory toast for up to 10 people
  • An Elvis Serenade
  • A bouquet & boutonnière (or two of either if you prefer)
  • A 30 minute winter wonderland micro reception on a covered & heated patio

Kiss, Couple, Happy People, New Years Eve Toronto Lifestyle Blog

If you already live together

Okay great – you like each other enough to know you want to live together. When I’ve lived with partners in the past, I never had a situation where I had to “nag”. Maybe that’s why I’ve been single for the past 4 years, but the last couple of times I lived with people we made the effort to clean up after ourselves/ one another every day. With Adonis, I worked 60 + hours a week. He wasn’t working at all. He took care of the laundry, I bought the groceries, and we’d cook and clean together. With ex Co-P, he knew that my apartment only had a washer (it’s not common in Korea to have a dryer), so he would toss my laundry in with his so that my poor, stretched out clothing would get some life back. It’s also a dream to have warm, fuzzy towels and blankets tossed your way fresh outta the dryer.

37,635 Man Doing Housework Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

If you live together and you’re lucky enough to have someone maintain the domicile on your behalf what is she, your mother? Take some time to do something helpful without asking. Don’t weaponize incompetence. Do the dishes, dusting, laundry, and other acts of service right the first time. Take the trash out without her having to ask. Surprise her by fixing or upgrading something you’ve already been discussing.

If you want to make this really special, send her out for a manicure or pedicure (do yourself a favour and book at Kuko House), hair appointment, or a massage to get her out of the house while you work your magic. And please – make the appointment on her behalf and give the salon your credit card number, for goodness’ sake!

Final Thoughts

If you can’t do any of the above, please – for the love of all things holy – MAKE A RESERVATION. It’s truly the bare minimum and will be so very appreciated.

Have you discovered your partner’s love language? Words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts, or physical touch can determine how your person will react to your Valentine’s Day plans. Gift giving is an art. The perfect gift shows that you’ve been paying attention and that you can anticipate your partner’s needs. For me, eating, drinking, and spending time with my dreamy guy is all I need for a day celebrating love.

Dating Diaries: You Need to Learn How to Flirt Again

You need to learn how to flirt again.  I need to learn how to flirt again. We all need to learn how to flirt again.

Last night I ended up on an accidental double date. My newlywed friends had just moved to my neighbourhood, and due to the pandemic we got to celebrate neither their wedding nor their housewarming together. We were having some impromptu cocktails and a catch-up when a friend of theirs arrived. We are all double-vaxxed and the idea of meeting a meeting human is truly invigorating, to me, so when he started making various references to a particular woman in his life I found it disarming. Cool – he’s off the market and this is not at all a set-up. We’re golden. Let’s eat some pizza and get a little toasted. We’re all friends here. We’re comfortable. This is great.

It wasn’t until a couple of hours into the soirée that it unraveled that the woman he kept mentioning had made a very recent departure. He had broken up with said partner of a few years just a couple of days prior. As the drinks wore on, he started to put the vibe out there by caressing my shoulder and back. I hope the word “caress” makes you feel questionably repulsed, because that’s where I was – sitting in a small space with some friends and a super weird vibe. Sure – I’ve been on some pandemic dates, and our small group was all double-vaxxed, but I didn’t know him from Adam and he was tending to some really fresh wounds.

We left the condo and decided to try our luck at a bar, knowing full well with no reservation at almost midnight it was a bit of a pipe dream. Almost immediately, newly-single Sal started pulling me back so we *could talk*. He accused me of disliking him in the most bizarre way: “I think you’re a good looking girl – you’re beautiful, you’re fun, but we need to bury the hatchet.”

What hatchet?

This continued an excessive amount throughout the course of the evening. “Let me buy you a shot and let’s bury the hatchet.” “I’m going to buy us a drink and we’ll bury the hatchet.” “I like you a lot, but let’s bury the hatchet.”

What. Hatchet?!

In earnest, I had no idea if he was flirting with me or if I even wanted to engage in flirting with newly-single Sal. The compliments followed by “BUT” made it seem like they were completely negated by the rest of his sentence. Which was fine, but what was this dude’s point? I kept reassuring him that there was no hatchet, no animosity, no bad blood, but buddy just was not getting it. With every pull of my arm to isolate me from our friends, I was growing aggravated.

To my own dismay, I often play the role of “Good Luck Chuck”. Right now, I’m actually really satisfied only having to parent plants. If someone comes along and is incredibly special and those sparks hit, then absolutely I would love to be in a relationship. I don’t, however, feel as though it’s my responsibility to tend to a random dude’s broken heart on Dundas West on a Saturday night.

Ultimately, because I wasn’t engaging in the kind of behaviour for which he was hoping, he walked away to socialize with another group of young women. Awesome. I had heard about enough about this damned hatchet and wanted to enjoy one of the first nights of liberty as we enter a post-apocalyptic pandemic world without this man’s stressful energy.

He eventually came back as we were served our Gigglewater fries (iykyk) and he told me that I should leave. I’m the one that should leave because he wasn’t getting the kind of reaction to his advances he thought he deserved and the attention he craved. The three of us just stood there less in awe than in blank, exasperated silence. It was late. We were tired. We’re too old to be having a rager of a night, which quite frankly would have been impossible because I have an injury and it’s still Footloose in Uncle Dougie’s Ontario. Dancing is, indeed, still a crime. I don’t know what happened to Sal that night, but our carriage turned into a pumpkin and into an Uber. Our night was done and dusted.

I need to re-learn how to flirt. We all need to relearn how to flirt. But, if you give it a couple of shots and he/she/they aren’t interested, we all need to relearn how to be respectful and give it a rest.

Dating Diaries – Vaccine Badges: Public Safety or Publicity Stunt?

stay home stay safe

Stay Home + Stay Safe = Stay Single

While the pandemic has put most things on pause, it has also brought to light various ethical dilemmas. Uncle Dougie has kept us cooped up, sad, and single for more than 360 days as of today in various twists on “stay at home order”.

According to Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, “In terms of simple business closures, Toronto has probably had the longest lockdown in North America, and possibly the world.” Looking around at the rest of the world, I question the necessity of these extreme measures. I have tried to be the dutiful, respectful, tax-paying citizen doing my part of the cause for the most part, but has it really done us any good?

Dating Apps Vaccine Badges

The Pandemic Has Changed the Apps

There seems to be a bit of a subculture which has made niches of the main 3 apps people use in Toronto. Tinder was for casual hookups, bumble was for beta boys who need the woman to take the lead, and hinge tended to be for those invested in getting finding a relationship. I feel like the pandemic has thrown a lot of this out the window. Surprisingly, most of my friends who have gotten into serious monogamous relationships during the pandemic have met through Tinder.

Vaccine Badges

I was asked yesterday how I felt about “vaccine badges”. They haven’t made their way to the apps yet in Canada, but either way – I am rapidly losing interest in swiping left and right and then never talking. A badge isn’t going to change that. When it comes to the vaccine, I have developed a couple of notions for those who declare their vaccine status in their bios. Let’s start with vaxxed and anti-vax.Covid-19 Vaccine Badges

The Anti-vaxxers Aren’t Always Anti-Maskers

If he’s hesitant about the vaccine (or against it altogether), but has taken a dip in the pool at Cabana, I think it’s clear that we have fundamental differences in belief systems and values. By that same token, if he thinks he’s important enough for Bill Gates to have installed a microchip in his arm, he’s probably a little too self-involved for me. I think it’s pretty clear that anti-maskers effect others, while anti-vaxxers risk their own health. If you want to dick around with long-term, mystery side effects, that’s on you, bb.

Covid Vaccine Badge Research

Personally, I think it’s wise to get the vaccine to keep yourself out of the hospital and to leave resources for those who actually need them. My ideal partner understands/ respects the mRNA research which has been ongoing since the 1960’s. He doesn’t have a PhD from WebMD and he doesn’t believe everything his crazy Uncle George posts on Facebook. My ideal partner would have gotten the vaccine not JUST because it would keep him safe from COVID-19, but because getting the jab is a direct contribution to the return of normal, pre-pandemic life.

You would think that based on the aforementioned, I’d be hugely in favour of a vaccine badge. In reality, the badge itself doesn’t really make a difference for me. At this stage, I’m not sure how vaccine badges would be verifiable. This, to me, is just another opportunity for people to lie on their online resume – er, bio. If you’re really interested and it’s really a priority for you, ask the question. Have a conversation with the person. If their values don’t align with yours, u n m a t c h.

The only way to weed out the ones who are DEFINITELY not for me would be if there was an anti-vax badge, and (for obvious reasons) I don’t see the apps doing that. To the men who are advertising that they’ve received their first shot (of two) and stating that they’re “fully vaxxed” – Sir, are you sure you understand the assignment? Yes – you’ve got some antibodies, but we’re not quite out of the woods. Finally, when a dude’s entire online effort is limited to “6′, because apparently it matters”, I don’t think a rinky-dink badge is going to push me to swipe right.

Vaccine, Doctor, Injection, Syringe

For those bragging that they have had both doses – and let’s say, for argument’s sake, that it’s true – flexing that you’re vaccinated is the opposite of wearing a mask. Hear me out: when you wear a mask you’re showing that you’re protecting other people from your germs. When you brag about being vaccinated, however, the cynic in me feels kind of like you’re saying, “hey – Netflix and chill will be safe … for me. Choose your own adventure!” Might as well f*ck without a condom, right bro?

Injection, Syringe, Vaccine, Medical, Health, Medicine

The Badge is Bullsh*t

While dating apps seem to be a necessary evil, I’m hoping that once we’re all vaxxed, waxed, and relaxed, I can delete them once and for all. I yearn for the “before days” of bar-hopping; trying to find the cheapest shots and cutest guys. Dating apps have ruined the magic of the meet-cute. Even if there are fireworks (rare/ never guaranteed), they’ve conditioned us to always look out to see if someone better will come along. I don’t have all the answers; in fact, I may not have any. In my opinion vaccine badges are just another marketing gimmick. Just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a bio by a badge.

Vaccine Badges Pinterest Pin ThatGirlCartier

2020: I Dated More During a Global Pandemic Than I Did the Last 2 Years

Toronto Dating Stories

I’m 33 and a half and am still single. I know – shocker! As we wind down the year, I tend to be reflective. All year I’ve been telling people that 2020 wasn’t as bad as 2019, because 2019 really and truly was a shit year for me and plenty of people I know. The end of 2020 is really giving me a run for my money, however.

Toronto Dating Stories

I’d say it takes at least 2 years to really ground yourself in new surroundings. Even though I’m a Torontonian born and raised (yes, real Toronto, not GTA) every time I’ve returned it’s been like I’m brand new and all kinds of lost. 2018 and 2019 I met a lot of people, and in 2020 it appears I’ve tried a few on for size at boyfriend auditions.

Toronto Dating Stories

I’ve met some really shitty people here. I’m sad to say my hometown is full of ’em. Hell – I’ve been a pretty shitty person on plenty of occasions. Perhaps that’s why I was recently the target of a catfishing affair. I think I know who it was. This person will feel very vindicated for the aforementioned declaration that I was a shitty person, but in that scenario I was only the villain because they adore playing the victim. They are selfish and toxic and though I’m sad to have had to create a boundary with them, I really don’t miss their energy and how it effected me. Scroll down to the end for more on that *fun* story time.

Toronto Dating Stories

Since February 2020 I’ve lived alone. My home office from which I’ve worked for the past 9 months is 5 feet away from my bed. My “home gym” consisting of two pathetic free weights, a kettle bell, and a stationary bike I had the foresight to buy the first week of the pandemic are tucked away kiddie-corner ten feet from my bed. It’s close quarters here and hard to feel lonely because imagining more than one person’s stuff in this space makes my muscles tense and my heart beat faster than I’d like. Still, this year I’ve dated more than the last two.

Toronto Dating Stories

2020 has been a busy year for finding out exactly who and what I don’t want. Maybe I’ll feel possessed to make this a series down the line, so let’s make a link-able list:

  • Before I moved, I gave the newly-minted lawyer with mommy issues another try. Once was enough this year.
  • My self-proclaimed “Crazy Rich Asian” made appearances up until May, but after two and a half years it just wasn’t going to go anywhere.
  • There was the guy who showed up drunk and heckled the headliner at a comedy bar designed for stoners (genuinely – the quietest comedy bar in existence) pre-covid.
  • Virtual dates never amounted to anything, but made me feel like I was doing something new and cool during a time where the entire world was on pause.
  • One virtual date escalated to a socially distant walk. He talked about toilet paper brands for at least 4 blocks.
  • There was the Hollywood Director who came back to Toronto to finish his feature film. He had ghosted me in November 2019 and by June 2020 was ready to make amends. Candidly – his movie sounds corny with overdone themes. He was so comfortable to be around and I really did like him. Alas, if it could have turned out any other way it would have.
  • The psychiatrist who just wanted to make out on TikTok (I wish this one was a joke, but he’s up there).
  • Mac – the one who ruined Thanksgiving had me commit to exclusivity because of covid while he was putting his dick in whatever would let him up at Yonge & Eglinton. Not giving it up has done me no favours.
  • The date who drove to a coffee shop a 5 minute walk from his place only for me to cut things short after 3 blocks of our “distance date”.
  • A personal trainer who wanted to appear “woke”, but really, really enjoyed his male/ white privilege. Tons of Daddy issues with this one.
  • Kiwi, who I’m pretty sure had the best of intentions, but thought Joe Rogan, Elon Musk, and leaving me on read for 3 weeks were pretty cool. Granted, I was in Vancouver for a weekend and didn’t reach out either, but I had kind of assumed things were over.
  • A dude whose entire personality was board games.
  • The one who brought red wine from the freezer and wanted to make-out in a TTC roundabout 15 minutes after meeting.
  • 13 year itch. When I lived in Vancouver this dude took up all the real estate in my heart and mind. He found out I was visiting and asked me out, but bailed the day of, only to attempt a 1:30 AM booty call. Nah, b.
  • A commodities trader who walked with me at a safe distance, then took me somewhere with Christmas lights, Frank Sinatra, and bad dance moves. He claimed there was no spark and he didn’t want to see me the next day. It’s cool – I don’t what what doesn’t want me.
  • The worst texter on the planet. We’re still kind of seeing one another, but I figured if he didn’t text me “Merry Christmas” I’d release the ghost. He did reach out. Santa was good to him. We’ll see if he decides to reach out in 2021.
  • The Catfish. I didn’t send him (her?) any naughty pictures or incriminating information, so sorry if you thought this would be juicier! Just disappointing to have been targeted – especially during the holidays.
@thatgirlcartierStory time/ ##tiktokdoyourmagicplease ##tiktokdoyourthing ##catfished ##catfishedandghosted ##catfishedchallenge ##toronto ##yyz ##dating♬ Whoopty – CJ

Toronto Dating Stories

So there you have it. I may have forgotten some other really boring distance dates (or pre-covid dates – I can barely remember a world without masks and eau de sanitizer), but you have the gist of it all. I have certainly learned what I absolutely do not want, as well as what I do. First and foremost, the vaccine. Baby, I want it. If it was on Tinder I’d swipe right in a heartbeat. Hit me with that love shot, ASAP. Secondly, I’d like an adult man with a kind heart, good communication skills, ambition, and who can make me laugh. My inner child is in a state of perpetual panic these days, so I’m looking for that twin-flame energy that can put my heart, mind, and body at ease. Pretty eyes and nice arms wouldn’t be the worst either.

Cocktails, Highballs, Drinks, Toronto

While most of my closest friends are already happily married and quite established, one of my dearest friends is newly single. Normally, I’d have taken her out to shamelessly flirt with cute boys we’ll never, ever see again. I’d have told her to hold off on downloading the hell-on-Earth apps until absolutely necessary. Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, let’s do this dance – preferably on a table at 2Cats vibrating at just the right frequency so that next year I’m only dating the one.

Repat Dating Diaries: The Trash Takes Itself Out

If there’s one thing a man should know when dating me, it’s that I have a very close relationship with my parents. While they don’t know everything, they know most things. I try to avoid telling them things which will hurt them or make them worry. Sometimes they’ll surprise you when you do end up over-sharing.

dating diaries alley

In this episode of the Repat Dating Diaries, I can’t decide whether he was a cheater, cheater pumpkin eater or if this was a turkey dump. I’ve been seeing someone for the past couple of months. Things were going well! I’d see him once a week, we’d text nearly all day, and I was actually mildly hopeful. I loved waking up to an article or cute video from him, and made sure to say goodnight before crashing. I enjoyed the whole “taking it slow” thing; not just due to trying to let a relationship grow naturally rather than the warp-speed I encountered dating other expats, but also due to the global pandemic. Hugs make people nervous, understandably. Anything more than that is, of course, even riskier.

dating diaries red flag

Red Flags

When we discussed dating exclusively I wasn’t actually all that excited, but I thought it was wise since both of us have parents in their 70’s. What came as a mighty surprise was when yesterday, on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, I received a text from him giving me a glowing review, but saying that he was “progressing” with someone else.

dating diaries thanksgiving train

I wasn’t aware the real reason he was sending me off on a horrible guilt trip rather than saying bon voyage for a 45 minute Go Train journey from Toronto was not due to the fact that he thought my conservative outdoor activity would put my parents at risk. In fact, the real reason was that he clearly expected all of the ladies he was dating to be monogamous. Bit unfair that he couldn’t return the favour, no?

dating diaries turkey dump

Love Lockdown

Not only did he make me unable to see my family on Thanksgiving, he ensured that as we go into Lockdown 2.0 I’ll be alone. He restricted my opportunities and put me in danger of getting Covid-19 with an extended bubble I wasn’t aware I had. I’m glad he’s got a girlfriend for the upcoming cold and lonely nights, but I resent that he limited me from being able to have someone, too.

dating diaries trash

Trash

Once a mother has written you off, there’s no getting back in her good graces. Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday. Mum says that she won’t be wishing anyone “Happy Thanksgiving” this year because “Mac ruined it”. I FaceTimed with my parents this afternoon and my Mum asked what I was up to this evening. I told her I had some blog maintenance to do, Netflix to watch, some leftovers to reheat, and trash to take out. Her words?

“I thought the trash took itself out last night.”

dating diaries trash

Dating During a Pandemic: Virtual Dating or Bust

If Love is Blind was any indication of what was to come, virtual dating is the new normal. We’re going into week 6 of social distancing and isolation. Covid-19 has changed everyone’s lives in some way, shape, or form. I think we’ve all put on a few pounds, questioned whether some hypothetical socializing method out in the world is okay (newsflash: sadly, it’s not), and romantic relationships may never be the same again.

Virtual Dating during Covid-19

The first week of the Great Canadian Quarantine, my Bumble, Hinge, and Tinder were busier than ever. These Toronto skeezbags were using the coronavirus as the ultimate wing-man. I’ve never had so many offers to “Netflix and Quarantine” in all my life. As we learned more about the virus and its severity, it became really easy to just unmatch those who wanted to bring beer, wine, and germs over to my place.

Virtual Dating during Covid-19

Week two I experienced a change in the behaviour of men on these apps. Conversations were longer. Men were opening up, being vulnerable about their emotional fragility during this uncertain time, and sharing their hobbies and interests on a deeper level. Chats like these can seem amazing and fulfilling, but don’t get caught up in the excitement. Both sides have time to come up with a response, and Prince Charming may only be able to sweep you off your feet due to preparation time and good old Google.

Chrissy Teigen's Cry Face

This past week I finally gave virtual dating a try. I had 1 phone and two video chat dates. The phone date was uncomfortable. The guy was definitely already wasted, talked about giving up on his freelance work in favour of CERB, and told me I was going to marry him.

Virtual Dating during Covid-19

My second virtual date was through an instagram video chat. At first, things were flowing pretty well. While he did seem to look like his pictures, right away I felt as though I wasn’t attracted to him. We have actually worked in the same industry. I worked for a company (years ago) that developed the first iteration of the platform about which he was complaining. You have to give someone the benefit of the doubt with technology which can lag, but it didn’t take too long to realize that he was just talking over me and wasn’t willing to let me get a word in edgewise.

Virtual Dating during Covid-19

I would ask him questions – a pretty normal practice to engage in conversation. He would answer, but would not reciprocate with a question for me. Eventually we just sat there nodding while I waited for him to bring something to the table. Lags in conversation can be really unbearable in person, but when virtual dating it’s really tempting to just X out of the chat.

Virtual Dating during Covid-19

The last virtual dating experience actually went really well. I poured a glass of wine and immediately spilled it everywhere. He laughed, but was cool about it. Conversation flowed really well. None of it was the standard small talk. We talked about our families, our passions, and what we would do on our first “real” date once extreme social distancing ends. He was rugged and masculine. His mannerisms and body language were chill and relaxed. From what I’ve seen so far, I’m into it. It might not be magic in person, but at least I know that he’s not going to cut me off each time I go to speak on “in-person” date #1.

Love Is Blind

Ultimately, the virtual date is going to be awkward and tense at first. The new normal requires a change in perspective. You can either adapt or get reaaaal comfortable with isolation. Online dating can be a colossal waste of time, but I’ve had a couple of nice relationships thanks to their help. If you’re getting butterflies, kick things up a notch. Love is not blind, as we’ve discovered. The pods can only last so long. Save yourself some time and energy. Virtual or bust.

Love Is Blind

Have you tried virtual dating throughout the pandemic?

Let us know what app and method of virtual dating you’ve given a shot (and how it went!) in the comments below.

Valentine’s Day in Toronto: A Date With Dasha

Valentine’s Day in Toronto

I spent last Valentine’s Day getting filthy. An early morning sweat session was just what the doctor ordered, and I went for it first thing in the morning. It lasted about 45 minutes, and it was a mad dash to get ready and get to work.

I spent last Valentine’s Day working out. What did you think I meant? 

Last Valentine’s Day was actually quite sweet. I got up and headed to F45 where my Valentine’s at St. Clair West got my endorphins going. I did, in fact, rush to work, and was greeted by one of my favourite security guards handing out roses. Nice work, Brookfield. I spent lunchtime with my on and off beau of a year and a half. We’re still talking, but I’ve since set some boundaries since we ultimately just want different things. He’s one of the guys on the The Worst Guys A Re-Pat Can Date in Toronto  and his name actually rhymes with Dasha.

A couple of weeks ago I got a canned e-mail from the team at Dasha advertising their Valentine’s special. No longer being part of a couple (and a little burned by the naming convention reminder) I cracked wise on instagram asking if they’d like to have me hunched over a bar stool singing Céline Dion. Turns out – they were into it. With that in mind…

Join us on February 14th for a Date with Dasha!

An upscale karaoke party for singles, friends, lovers or whomever else your heart desires!

TICKETS: $25 (Click here to get yours!)

WHATS IN IT FOR YOU:

  • A welcome shooter (to set the mood – I’m calling it a “Love Shot” for EXO fans)
  • Appetizers (canapé-style food in Dasha’s private dinning room)
  • Access to 5 unique karaoke rooms ALL NIGHT LONG!

We will have a cash bar in the Private Dining Room (featured above) stocked and loaded for your night out.

Our bartenders will be serving up the best of the best – whether it be a customized cocktail from Dasha or a classic shot of tequila to get your pipes ready; you pick your poison.

This is a 19+ event and tickets are non-refundable.

Dating Diaries: How to Attract What You’re Least Expecting

The concept of manifesting your goals has been rattling around in my head for quite some time. There’s great power in positive thinking, and harnessing that power and honing it has been a big focus for me, especially toward the end of this year. It’s amazing what happens when you focus on something very particular and send out a very specific request to the universe. The answer certainly surprised me!

Lately I haven’t been focused so much on dating, but more on fitness, rest, healthy cooking, and just generally making it to the next day. After a tumultuous first year back in Canada, my aim is to focus on the positive, release the negative, and practice gratefulness.

It seems that the best things come to those who clearly envision their goals and make solid plans. This year, I wrote down that I wanted to see Angkor Wat. On my birthday, YYZ Deals came out with a massive list of destinations from Toronto on China Eastern. One such destination was Siem Reap. The goal I envisioned (and wrote down) turned into a reality in less than three months. I decided that was enough to get me on the path of the vision board making my dreams into goals, my goals into plans, and my plans into reality.

I often write about dating, so how do you make your vision into a reality when it comes to love? I mean, as much as it’s been on the back-burner, I’d be very happy to have a partner. They say you find love when you least expect it. How does that work with the law of attraction?

The Secret: “Under the Law of Attraction, the complete order of the Universe is determined, including everything that comes into your life and everything that you experience. It does so through the magnetic power of your thoughts. Through the Law of Attraction like attracts like. What you think about, you bring about.”

If thoughts become things, then how could you find “the love of your life” when you least expect it? Knowing that there isn’t a unique thought left on the planet, I dove headfirst into black hole of Google. Turns out the answer was on the very first page:

The Law of Attraction: “Focus on your intention, hand it to the eternal energy of the universe to contemplate entirely. You will have stopped the experience of wanting; therefore, you will have automatically placed yourself in a better position to receive. Just like those aha moments when ideas and solutions have entered your mind unexpectedly, you suddenly received what you wanted. 

If you are desperate to have something, you are in a state of need. Thus, you remain needy instead of becoming successful. The universe receives your needy energy, and politely sends you more needy energy since it is programmed to deliver your primary focus.

Your life might still be enhanced greatly when you receive gifts from the universe, and in this sense, you require what you obtain. However, you are not urgently crying out for a result when it occurs. Recognize that you also need to throw the energy of ‘want’ that you have created to the wind. When you have done so, good things will blow into your life.”

I had sent out a request to the universe to find, in essence, a unicorn. I wanted to meet someone who wasn’t from Toronto since the pickings have been so slim. I wanted to meet someone who has goals and ambitions; has his own thing going on. Someone who could make me laugh. A man who believes in monogamy. Physically I don’t really have a preference, but I like someone who is active and ready to try new things.

…and then he appeared.

I had a fantastic date with a man I seem to have dreamed up. It may not stand the test of time, but as far as the concept of asking the universe for what you want? I’m sold. Ask the universe for your wildest dreams with very specific details, then let all that focused, yet impatient, energy fly away; released to the universe – no longer something on which you need to fixate. The universe unfolds as it should.

Expat Dating Diaries: Travel Romance

The Travel Romance is just one part of the 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date. I have been avoiding writing this section for the better part of 3 years because the first one really and truly shook me to my core. While I’ve moved on, I still haven’t quite recovered. I’ve realized, however, that there’s a difference between a Travel Romance and Travel Love.  Travel Love has potential. It makes you want to work for, nay, fight for something intangible. It sweeps you off your feet and keeps you dangling – waiting for the other shoe (er – you, in this case) to be dropped.

This one shouldn’t be avoided altogether, but you must know upon entry that your risk of heartbreak is about 90%.  Meeting in vacation mode gives you the opportunity to live without the stress of work and other responsibilities at home.  You are at your peak around one another.  You’re consumed by the bliss of being in a new place with exciting adventures at every turn.  Give in to the Travel Love, just don’t give away your heart completely.  It will fly away to the other side of the planet to taunt you with ransom letters every time your time-zones allow you to connect.

Travel Romance, on the other hand, is fleeting. It’s a fling on the road never designed to be permanent. It has a mutually communicated date of expiration. Feelings might evolve, but you have perspective. It’s a paragraph; not a chapter.

I genuinely don’t understand the mating rituals of singles in Toronto. On vacation, with just a lingering gaze and a tentative wave, you’ve got the opening to conversation which could lead to a night of passion or following your newfound bliss across the country. Here in Canada, even at a designated “meet market”, all you’ll find are raggedy men glued to their phones or yelling about real estate.

My first Travel Romance after starting The Toronto Seoulcialite was in Shanghai back in 2015. It was my first truly solo trip, and I was shaking in my boots waiting for take-off. When I approached the hostel (with a printed out map and walking instructions – no SIM card), I was tired and nervous and wasn’t sure if I should venture out or wait until daylight broke. As I walked to the lobby a voice called out; “We’ve been waiting for you!”

It turns out he was from California, was staying at my hostel, had spent the last 5 years learning Mandarin, and had had a series of seizures in Beijing. He wasn’t sure if his health was up to finishing his months-long trip and hadn’t made any plans for Shanghai. I, on the other hand, had planned my trip down to the minute. We met up the next day and ventured around the city. It was nice to have a flirty new friend with whom to wander. People assumed we were married, and we didn’t correct them.

All things considered, he wasn’t a bad insta-husband for 2015!

The charade was all too pleasant. We walked all over for two days and the extent of our physical relationship was a bit of hand-holding and a tender kiss on my forehead. It was better than traveling solo. Better still than traveling with certain women. An intense flicker of chemistry with a well-established expiration. I was hooked.

After my little taste of Travel Romance I dove well into the deep-end with Adonis. After him, I thought I’d never fully let my heart go again. Then, I met an American (ex-Co-P) who confirmed it. I’ve never been as happy with anyone as I was when we were wandering through the dusty back roads of Phuket with a snaggle-tooth pup in tow. Since ex-Co-P, there’s been the Gentle Brummie in Seoul, the Tazzie with Trust Issues in Bali, Mr. Non-Monogamy in Toronto (who I met when home felt like a real trip), and the Dutchman in Hoi An. He cooked for me and I reworked his resume. We’re still talking, but that’s just for fun. That’s the key to a successful Travel Romance: make it all about fun in the moment.

Candidly Cartier – My Rodent Problem is like My Ex

Let’s be real – living in Toronto has not exactly been a cakewalk. My last apartment was actually affordable. It was also far from the modern amenities I enjoy downtown as a single Sally in the city. In this creaky old house divided into apartments, my upstairs neighbours (and their new, massive puppy) stomped around, bounced a ball, argued constantly, and played “How I Met Your Mother” on repeat. “Ba ba ba ba baaaaaaaaa ba ba ba baaaaaa ba ba ba da da dum ba da da da daaaaaaaa” haunts my nightmares to this day. I had no heat from November through January, and in February decided enough was enough and I had to vacate.

Nearly everywhere humans dwell, rats can be found living, too. I’m not just talking about the backstabbing betches spewing lies and exhausting themselves spewing vitriol. I’m talking about actual rodents. They’re all over the place, and unless what I saw was the biggest MoFo-king mouse, they’re in my new apartment, too.

We often equate rats with being dirty and diseased, yet we also describe humanity as a rat race. Are we all just dirty, diseased beings trying to bypass one another, grab that brass cheese (er – ring), and make it out alive? Maybe it’s just that we’re both warm blooded, we’re all mammals, and we give birth to living young. here are the ways in which both my exes and these rats are unwanted guests.

I never know when he’ll come to visit

While rodents are nocturnal animals, I’ve noticed that certain bait I’ve put out at before leaving for work has disappeared by the time I get home. My little furry friend is much like my big furry friend. Mr. “Doesn’t Believe in Monogamy” works on his own terms and comes to visit when he pleases. No part of me thought my new place would invite either. Both are unexpected and unwanted pests.

He lives in a hole in the wall

It’s amazing how shady some of my exes’ living arrangements have been. From Ex-CoP on the army base with no kitchen, all-burnt sienna errythang, and a broken couch (yes, I’m aware), to the aforementioned non-monogamous douche-canoe who lives in the dingiest corner in the basement of a nice Leslieville house he actually owns, it’s no wonder my exes want to spend the majority of their time at mine. It’s tantamount to Ratty ratterson climbing through pipes . I’m just as afraid of finding vermin in the toilets as I am my ex!

He doesn’t pay rent

My mouse/ rat/ whatever contributes nothing to my home, and the ex I adored sure didn’t either. Adonis lived with me rent-free and I’m pretty sure it damn near killed him to play a role where his masculinity was threatened. I do, however, miss having someone to do my laundry, tidy up my flat, and make me dinner. There’s only I one I could do without snuggling up to at night, however.

He wakes me up in the middle of the night

Speaking of nightly activities, while my pajamas parties have hit a staunch halt, my rat pal is up at all hours. My ex snored loudly, and would head for a midnight snack, a trip to the loo, or for a bit of a frisk at unexpected hours. Mr. Rat, however, is up looking for one thing only – food. I can no longer keep paper or plastic out in the open, and any garbage is taken out immediately. Also, just the thought of him potentially scampering about my space keeps me up at night.

He’s very active

Great for the ex, bad for the rat. Looks like marriage has sure softened up ole Co-P, but when we were together we were very active and worked out a lot. Not sure if I can hack a 4 AM workout these days, though. Mr. Rat and I will not be fitness pals.

He eats my food, but I still have to feed him

You can’t keep food in unsealed containers if there’s a boy or a rodent about. They. Will. Eat. It. And. Expect. More. At least with the rodent I’ve put out peanut butter and eco-friendly rat bait which seems to be an enjoyable snack for my guest.

I clean up after him

They leave their shit everywhere.

I don’t know how many others he’s seeing

As evidenced by my relationships with Adonis, Co-P, and Mr. Non-Monogamous I am not great at knowing when the apple of my eye is getting too friendly with others. As they say with rats: where there’s one, there are many.

 

I have no idea what diseases he’s carrying

Rats and humans often suffer from the same diseases, and I’m worried as to what’s being brought into my home. At least with an unfaithful man you can get tested and (hopefully) treated. What rodents bring into your home can be deadly. We have similar organs, basic physiology, similar hormones, we both have nervous systems that work in the same way, and similar body plans. While research on rats has been done to propel human disease control, vaccines, and cures, I’m not sure I want testing going the other way around.

Ultimately, I kind of want him dead

Okay, I’m mostly only talking about the rat in this case, but I often feel I would have been better off not knowing a couple of my exes. Adonis burrowed a hole in my heart I don’t think can ever quite be patched up. Ex-Co-P was a strain on my resources and the source of constant drama. The guys I’ve dated in Toronto have been a blur of pathetic POS. If I could wipe them all out from my memory, I absolutely would.