It’s been seven months since my return from the land of morning calm (Korea, dweebs). In that time I’ve tried to date as much as possible, if only to provide you lovely Seouls with fresh content so you can feel better about your lives as we go into the cold, winter months. I thought Itaewon was bad for guys and girls alike furiously swiping left and right while at a bar full of decent-looking, age appropriate humans with at least the common expat connection. No, no – Toronto is far worse for tinder tendinitis.
Double-Dipping for Dating
I got pretty lucky meeting the hot, young, Italian 3-minute Stallion. I met a guy who flew all the way to Jamaica for some fatherly advice after we got “too intimate too quickly” (read: we went on 3 dates that week and he met my roommate’s dog). There was a carpenter, but if you’ve been reading for a while then you know there’s only one carpenter in my heart (and no, it’s not JC). Beyond that, I’ve yet to really date the same dude twice – except I did.
Keep in mind that I had been living on the other side of the planet for 3 years when I tell you this story. I thought the pictures were kind of familiar, but I just didn’t put two and two together. It was like a bad episode of “How I Met Your Mother”. There I was sitting in a booth at The Drake Hotel (a popular West Queen West spot) and my date walked in. He wasn’t anything to write home about, but I probably wouldn’t have kicked him out of bed either. Then, he opened his mouth and it all came flooding back. After 3 years, he still told me the same stories about his 1 trip to Poland (tldr: he got drunk the whole time and saw no historical attractions). My date was still bragging about buying his condo with 0% down.
I’ve Learned Nothing
Was this a trap? Did he know that I knew who he was? Was he pretending we had never met before, too? This was the first time I had doubled-down on a dreadful date. Are there really so few single men in this city? Have I completed the circle and come back to the start?
I’ve come to understand that fitness will always be a journey for me. I will always have ups and downs and times of amazing confidence or, like now, times where I just don’t feel like I’m at my peak. There are a gazillion reasons to get close to the person (or people, in my case) helping you on your fitness journey. When I started with Big Hit Kickboxing Studios, I was in pretty peak physical condition for my own standards. Beyond the obvious attention to my new additions, there wasn’t anything I was afraid to do nor was there much that could knock the wind out of me. Now that I’m well into my re-patriation, I’m not as confident or fearless. Plus I’m certainly not in the best shape anymore. I do, however, have help – and I want to encourage you to seek out allies on your fitness journey as well.
If it’s your first time walking into a gym or walking into the ring, letting someone know you’re new isn’t embarrassing – it’s essential. More often than not, it’s expected that you’ll jump into a class and go with the flow. If your coach knows that it’s your first (or second, or even third time) they’ll make sure to give you that little extra bit of attention to ensure your technique is just right so you won’t get hurt. You may have signed a waiver before your class, but you’re part of the team now and nobody wants to see you injured!
Speaking of injuries, if you’re just getting back to fitness you have to let your coach know. Hopefully you’ve given your body enough time to heal, but you might be a little rusty getting back in the game. I find a lot of coaches want to push you right to your limit. When I had my surgery anything chest related (from push-ups to lat pull-downs) was not on the menu. If your coach is aware of your limits, he or she will be more likely to give you an alternative motion to complete.
Hesitation is one of the most common causes of injury in sports and physical fitness. In an instance where your timing is off because of jitters you could really hurt yourself. Taking a step back and asking for help will sharpen your focus and take you out of a fog of confusion which could cause an injury or give you an ineffective workout (be it once or as a pattern).
If you commit yourself to the community at your gym/ studio (or create one – especially if it involves Tanya Kim – duh!) then there will be a give and take with your workouts. When your coach knows you, he or she will be able to tell when you need to get out of your funk, or even if you need to be left alone. Sometimes when I’m at Big Hit, my instructor will get out the pads and work with people one on one. My energy is revved up to the max. I feel like I’m actually good at what we’re working on and I’m being rewarded for good work. On the flip side, when I’m not giving it my all you know nobody’s bringing those pads my way!
You may not be best friends with your coach/ yogi/ mentor/ instructor, but there’s a level of unspoken but always shown respect and discipline between the student and the master. Showing a little interest and a lot of initiative goes a long way. As it says on the wall of every Big Hit, “in 2 weeks you’ll feel it, in 4 weeks you’ll see it, in 8 weeks you’ll be it”.
I’ve mentioned Big Hit Kickboxing Studios a few times over the course of this article (and shared some pictures of some, not all, of my favourite coaches) because I’ve committed to a 3-month partnership with them to get back into fit fighting shape! For more Toronto Gym Alternatives, click here. For more on Big Hit:
Time Commitment: 30 – 60 Minutes (most classes are 45 Minutes)
Cost: $30/ Drop-in Class, packages vary, and $59 gets you gloves, wraps, and 2 weeks of unlimited classes!
Buckle your seat belts and take out your chips and salsa, ’cause it’s about to get real cheesy up in hurr. If you follow The Toronto Seoulcialite (my other “less sarcastic” blog), you’ll have read about my issues finding a job, finding a man, and finding my figure through the mess of moving back to Canada. I’ve finally found something which could be the makings of a career, and a date with myself 3 times a week which gives me structure and an outlet. Coming back home is like picking up an old, ear-marked book. The characters are the same and the setting hasn’t changed, but you’re still not exactly sure what will happen to the protagonist next.
Someone Else’s Story
My biggest fear returning to Toronto was that I would be reliving the same old story. While I was away, several of my friends partnered up, a couple had kids, many got promotions, some went back to school, and my nightmare boss was finally arrested. Beyond that? A lot of the people I’ve left are ear-marked – frozen in time right where I left them doing the same old things and just banging their heads against the wall calling it happiness. I knew I wasn’t happy back in 2014 when I made the decision to begin the arduous application (okay – it was long, but not that tough) to move to Korea. I couldn’t come home and return to old habits.
Die Hard: With a Vengeance
Old habits die hard. I ended up moving back to Queen St. West and was working in the events industry when, at last, I found work. Getting into a rhythm took time, and my physical and emotional health took a hit. I decided to hit back. I bought myself a 2 week unlimited introductory pass at Big Hit Kickboxing Studios. At that time, I was living with a disrespectful roommate who was a neglectful pet owner. I had no autonomy in my own life. Looking back, I think that I was committed to my 2 week membership, but not so much to myself.
Be Your Own Boss (Without Working for Yourself)
I once read that you should treat yourself like the CEO of your own life, and that fitness was a meeting you set with your employees. Good bosses don’t reschedule again and again. I wasn’t managing my life properly, nor was I being a good boss to my mental and physical health. At this point I needed to hit back, but not just for 2 weeks. Big Hit Kickboxing Studios in Toronto has given me the schedule I need to succeed.
Be a Good Boss
Proper preparation prevents poor performance. I’ve set meetings with my very important sanity at least 3 times a week, which is honestly pretty manageable! After work on weekdays I leave the office between 5 PM and 5:30 PM (I know – my job offers work/ life balance <3) and walk for about 35 – 40 minutes from the office to Big Hit Kickboxing Queen West. The walk enables me to just zone out and enjoy constant, steady movement while listening to music. The workout to follow is full of different combinations which challenge my mind and various muscle groups. Over the next 3 months I’ll be sharing my highs, lows, pounds, and measurements. Stay tuned for preparation and progress, not perfection.
Since getting back on a regular schedule with Big Hit Kickboxing Studios, I haven’t actually lost any weight, but the rest of my body and my life has changed pretty drastically. My clothes have started to feel different – better. I don’t crave sweets like I did throughout my unsettled period between my old job and old apartment and now. I have been on several dates with not one, not two, but 3 different men who actually want to see me again.
When you start physical activity with dedication, dedication spreads throughout your life in different ways. My posture exudes confidence rather than that fear of failure with which I started. I’m back to caring about a connection rather than having a fear that I won’t be liked (word to the wise – fear of someone not liking you crushes a connection right off the start). I don’t really have time for people who aren’t adding to my life in a positive way, so when I make time to see my friends we’re connecting on a much deeper and more enjoyable level. I also always seem to come back to that old adage: “You can do naked back-flips across his lawn, but if you’re not the one he wants, honey, you’re just not the one he wants”.
Strength, determination, and hope fill the pages of my novel. I know what comes next in that old, worn out, dog-eared story because I’m writing it now.
Now that I’m back in Toronto I’m trying to assess the dating pool from the outside looking in. While I’m more focused onfinding a jobthan a date (current job ✓, new job August 20th ✓), my gal pals are on the prowl. I’ve returned from Korea to find I only have a handful of single male friends. It seems like I have more single female friends in my age-group than ever, and they are all experiencing the same problem. Is it that Toronto men are scared of commitment or scared of a confident, successful woman? Let’s take a look at some examples of my single pals and other gals dating in Toronto.
Dating in Toronto: Lisa
Lisa and I have known one another for over 10 years. She’s got a pretty dominant personality at first, but is pretty chilled out and easygoing when it comes to making plans. She finished her MBA a few years ago and has taken on a senior role at a start up. She’s passionate about her work, her dog, and her family. I haven’t seen my friend Lisa in 4 months. Why? Well, she’s been pretty heavily into the Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid scenes. For her, Dating in Toronto is a full-time job, too. She’s met a pretty attractive man who seems to take up a lot of her time, yet another commitment-phobe, plus she’s juggling a gazillion first dates. Seems like she’s collecting a variety of styles, throwing them at the wall, and just seeing what sticks. So far she hasn’t really gotten anywhere, and I haven’t really seen my friend!
Dating in Toronto: Abby
Abby is 25. She goes out every Friday to the exact same bar hoping to find a husband. I shit you not, this girl honestly thinks that the first guy who doesn’t back away when she smashes her face into his is going to make for a great provider for her 2.5 children, dog, and white picket fence in Thornhill. Abby joined ultimate frisbee because she thought it would be a great way for her to meet guys. She does it all for the ‘gram. She captions with the likes of “your vibe attracts your tribe” on a picture of a group of people who don’t actually know one another. With someone like Abby, you can’t share your interest in a particular member of the opposite sex. She will undermine any sort of connection you had by trotting over, tits out, making the game real easy for ya man over there. Why work an hour for $100 when someone’s dangling a $20 note in your face, right? She gets off on creating competition with her remaining female friends. She’s a juvenile, insecure, little girl who needs the validation of strange men more than the loyalty and support of gal pals. Don’t be an Abby, don’t take home an Abby, don’t befriend an Abby.
Dating in Toronto: Jessica
Jessica has a revolving door of men. She keeps 2 or 3 in play and has a whole bunch of guys on the bench. She climbed the corporate ladder quickly at the same company for the last 8 years. Recently, she bought a condo and furnished it exactly the way she wanted having lived in a shitty, run-down old building for most of her time in Toronto. Dating in Toronto changed a lot for Jessica when she made the move. All of a sudden the dudes who were freelancing and bartending on the side felt the need to get their shit together and move on up in the world. Jessica was finally showing the wealth she had accumulated, and these guys were not into it. The two men she’s currently dating have told her those three little words over and over again (“I love you”, for those of us who are jaded). Neither of them want to date exclusively. It’s sad, but when you’re dating in Toronto everyone is always on the look-out for something better. They could have their perfect man or woman doing naked back-flips in their front yard, but unless they put down the phone they’ll remain completely oblivious.
Dating in Toronto – Candidly Cartier
So what’s the secret to actually meeting someone in Canada’s largest city? I thought it would be easier than my experiences in Korea seeing as there are more native English speakers here and many of us grew up with similar cultural backgrounds. In reality, it’s far more difficult. Why is dating in Toronto so obnoxious? When I met Adonis, it was an instant connection. Our wifi signal was weak and I can honestly say, for me, it was love at first sight. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away, and even thousands of miles apart I still feel like we’re connected. With ex-Co-Pilot it was easy, too. I begrudgingly met him after a series of crappy first dates and it was a “right place, right time” situation. He was absolutely incapable of being alone, and I needed a band-aid. Now I’m in a situation where I have a great apartment, great job, and some great friends. I’m no longer working as a conventionally “female” gender role (as a teacher), and the intimidation factor is out of control when you’re dating in Toronto.
Dating in Toronto is Exhausting
I’m too tired to get dolled up and go out on Friday nights. I’d muuuuuch rather Netflix and Chill. Going out clothes sold here are either hoochie-mama bralets and booty shorts or totally binding triacetate-polyester blend urban professional attire. There is no in between, anymore. My feet hurt. Doing my hair and makeup, stuffing myself into spanx, then trying to get that dang zipper up by myself is exhausting – and for what? All you see at these meet markets are people trying to get the bartender’s attention or simply sitting in a corner and swiping all night.
Swipe for Your Life
Speaking of swiping, I’ve been out on my fair share of first and second dates having met through a dating app. My aforementioned friends and I get the same message each and every time we opt to keep our legs together for more then a couple of dates. “I think you’re looking to take things a little slower than me. I’m looking for something more casual.” Sir, I’ve met you twice. It’s entirely unfair to imagine that you know what I want. It’s cocky to think that you’re such a stud that I’ve fallen head over heels in love with you after seeing you in two different outfits. Also, it’s pretty pathetic that apparently I’m only good enough to be your booty-call. I was prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt after your horrendous first kiss because we had good banter. I’m starting to think that these morons just want their tinder date to turn up and bend over before agreeing to ever meet again.
A Girl’s Gotta Eat
These guys seem to think that I want the ring, the house, and the 2.5 kids immediately. It’s not that I want something serious, I just want something consistent. I’m starting a new job and have a pretty full schedule, but a girl’s gotta eat, right? Realistically, I’d like to have a companion with whom to do absolutely nothing on Friday nights, and maybe to go hiking with on Saturday mornings. I like breakfast in bed, too. Yeah – I’ll make it. Don’t get up. There’s still so much of the world to see, and I’m plenty happy as a solo traveler. If you’re along for the ride, great. Please don’t assume to know what I want. Don’t dismiss me simply because you’re intimidated or a Toronto man scared of the first inkling of commitment.
Settling back into life in Toronto hasn’t gone exactly as planned. My career didn’t quite get off the ground the way I expected. I just settled into a condo downtown and now have to move. Everything’s just a little bit up in the air right now. Dating is no exception. Everyone at the bar is swiping left or right while in a perfectly lovely meet market. Tinder is for hook-ups. Bumble is allegedly for “serious dating” (sure). Meeting people through buttoned up/ tied-down friends is nearly impossible. I’ve now been on dates with a commitment-phobe real estate developer, a self-obsessed rocker, an UBER driver (yes – he drove me home and then we went out), a blogger who recently carbon-copied my latest post on The Toronto Seoulcialite, and a Tinder I had been out with 4 years ago. The conversation barely changed and he definitely didn’t clue in. Dating is depressing. Oh – and I went out with my old calculus teacher.
Hot for Teacher – Dating isn’t Calculus, it’s Chemistry
When you were in high school, did you ever have a crush on a teacher? How about that hottie who wasn’t much older, but just enough that the difference in age/ power balance would have been inappropriate? Imagine my surprise when the Facebook algorithm encouraged me to reconnect with my old calculus teacher 14 years my senior. I can’t imagine he’ll mind my writing about this. The probability of us meeting as we did was low, and the probability we’ll ever meet again is practically non-existent. He was my teacher for all of 3 weeks (and change) and we bumped into one another locally and in Kingston for all of 3 minutes each time. This round, after a lovely date, a hesitant goodnight kiss, and a few text exchanges promising to see one another again, it only took him about 3 days to ghost. Dating isn’t algorithms or equations, it all comes down to chemistry and the space-time continuum.
While it would be lovely to meet someone who had the raw, passionate, primal masculinity of Adonis, or the “jamais seul” nature of ex-Co-P, it’s summer. Dating in Toronto doesn’t really ever seem to be clear or direct – just derivative of our parents’ and grand-parents’ generations. In the summer it’s the least likely time for any of that to change. Our diluted and deluded perspectives of responsibility to one another make me believe that I’ll always be house-hurt from carrying the weight of rent completely alone. Owning at all is a pipe-dream. White picket fences are a thing of the past. There’s plenty I’m tempted to try. Did I learn anything from scratching off this bucket-list item? Not really. Just that I think I’ll keep my interests outside of the classroom.
How do you get a job in your old city/ industry when you’ve been out of both for over 3 years? It took me 7 weeks from the time I arrived back in Toronto after Bali to my first day of work. My method was to cast a wide, wide net and see what came out of making a full time job of finding full time work. The first couple of weeks were frustrating as I’d see hiring manager after hiring manager check out my LinkedIn profile, but no communication beyond that. I updated my resume a gazillion times so it would be more appealing to the digital media and advertising industries. I was using my jet lag and night owl status to adjust and apply (and boy, did I ever apply for everything), but it felt like I was getting absolutely nowhere.
Master of None
My recruiter told me that my career background read as unfocused even though it highlighted a lot of desirable skills. Having been away from my home and my industry for 3 years I couldn’t exactly walk back into a director-level role, and my level of seniority was too high for most of the jobs for which I was actually eager. I would have been happy to take on something that would have looked like a step backwards, as long as I was learning rapidly and equipping myself to move forward with a company. The goal was to become an expert in my role, rather than a Jill of all trades.
Living out of the City
For the first month and a half I felt like a hobo. My parents moved to a small town when I was in my 2nd year of University. When I finally started coming in for interviews I felt like I was on the “inconveniencing my friends” tour. I couldn’t commit to hanging out because just to get into Toronto I had to bother my parents for a 45 minute ride to the Go Train station, then spend $10 to get unto Union Station, then get the subway with all my junk. That’s if I had booked an AirBnB or had a friend’s couch on which to crash. I was trying to survive just on wifi (cause you can, for the most part, in Korea). After 2 weeks I realized that my savings from Korea unfortunately didn’t amount to much and I’d have to start spending.
Waiting by the Phone
From my online applications, I had plenty of “no response” responses, a whole lotta “more appropriate backgrounds needed”, and some straight up weird replies from hiring managers who didn’t know the job from Adam and were just trying to get the placement $. I was asked to complete several phone interviews and a pile of “assignments” (aka FREE WORK). By applying online I got a bunch of garbage, but also a couple of interviews. Pair that with the few interviews I got through personal references, and I was starting to feel hopeful again. How can you sound positive once you finally get the interview when you’ve been dealing with rejection after rejection after rejection?
Dealing with Job Rejection
When I left Toronto I had my finger on the pulse. My hire-ability was off the charts, but I couldn’t get a guy to take me out for coffee to save my life. My, how the tables had turned. In my most successful interview, I was told that I would hear back within a few days about next steps and meetings with the CEO. Some of the recruiters/ hiring managers even promised offer letters within the next week. I started looking for an apartment. My friends started taking the idea of me sticking around pretty seriously. Then, each and every one of those fckers ghosted me. I even saw one of them from a pretty pathetic excuse for a communications company at a PR event. I’ve never seen the “run fast ’cause I never called that broad back” face on a woman before, especially one with whom I had had a job interview!
I did it! – Well…kinda
Like Dev, I did it…with plenty of help! I actually got really, really lucky. When I use the word “luck” I tend to mean a combination of timing + preparation. There’s a little element of magic that comes along with it, too. I was walking out of one of these horrible cattle call job interview situations. Picture pizza, a poorly-rehearsed speech from the child CEO, and sorority large-recruitment style “interviews”. Then, I got a call from someone within my network. I had sent her my resume weeks earlier. Her friend had posted on Facebook about an immediate need. Within 10 minutes I was on the phone with the gentlemen who would become my boss less than 24 hours later. Sure – it’s only a contract for now, but it’s my foot in the door to work for an amazing organization doing some pretty creative things.
Avoid the fckbois to Find a Job
Just like in dating, I met with a lot of fckbois. In the end, I completely bypassed the fckbois (the recruiters) and found a diamond in the rough (the job). Reach out to everyone in your network. Don’t be afraid to annoy someone by asking to send along your resume. Chances are they were once exactly where you were. You can’t avoid the recruiters and HR managers hiring for positions they know nothing about. You can cast a wide net and let several of them work for you at once.