I love romantic movies. I love how they make me feel and I love how they tie everything up into a neat little bow and everyone gets their “happily ever after”. I grew up in the 80’s and consumed movies like Pretty in Pink and Xanadu like they were going out of style. They were my template for falling in love. I wanted to be the plucky girl who gets the geeky boy to come out of his shell or the wall flower that makes the hunky guy realize he loved me from the moment he saw me. It was OK to entertain those ideas as a wide eyed teen, but as I got older I realized I continued to drag around these unrealistic ideas of what love was supposed to be.
The fact is, real life rarely plays out like a movie, if ever. Life doesn’t work itself out in perfect comebacks, dramatic changes of heart and happy endings. It’s a bit more complicated than that. What real life does do is bring us lessons in the form of people, situations and relationships that are anything but simple and certainly take way more than a hour and a half to resolve.
You know that moment when someone says or does something that just infuriates you? I don’t know about you, but often in that moment I’m too stunned for words. I’m busy being amazed at what came out of their mouth. If I do have an awesome retort it doesn’t enter my head until an hour or day later.
Odds are we are not going to have the perfect thing to say at every moment. The best thing to do in those moments is to try and not be defensive. I know that can be hard, but instead really listen to their concern and respond honestly what you’re feeling. Always remember that you’re on the same team with the end goal of a happy relationship. You don’t need the perfect thing to say, you just need to be willing to communicate openly and honestly.
I’m not sure how this even became a thing. It’s unclear to me how love gives someone free reign to not be accountable for their actions. Real love means accepting responsibility when you screw up and/or inflict hurt on someone you love. Apologizing when you are genuinely sorry is a huge piece to healing hurts in a relationship when used properly. But to be clear it does not mean taking responsibility for absolutely everything that goes wrong in a relationship and becoming a martyr. Take it from recovering apologizer; it’s not possible that every single thing that goes wrong is your fault. Own your own stuff, no more no less.
3. There is a magic moment when everything becomes perfect
There is no one moment when the clouds part and your relationship becomes permanently perfect. In reality your relationship will be sprinkled with moments that are perfect, some that are just OK and those that are even bad. IT’s CALLED LIFE! It has its ups and downs, with moments of perfection, clarity, mediocrity, fun, boredom, excitement, frustration and everything in between. Throughout the course of a relationship this spectrum of highs and lows is going to happen and it’s totally normal. The sign of a healthy relationship is one that can weather these high and lows and come out the other side even better than before.
People are not projects to be fixed. Statements like , “He/She has such potential and if I could just get him/her to <insert desired change here>, they’d be perfect.” make me cringe. A good rule of thumb is that when you first meet someone, what you see is what you get. Who they are when you meet them is who they will continue to be. If they come into the relationship with moral flexibility, it’s not going to change overnight, that is a way of life.
People can change, but if they do it’s because of something inside of them, something they decided to do and not some magic thing that happened because they feel in love or because you willed (or pressured them to do so). Change takes time. It has taken them a lifetime to learn the techniques they have to deceive and cheat and that won’t be undone overnight because they found love.
This idea that when you fall in love with the right person, everything will just magically fall into place and you’ll live happily ever after is a bit deceptive, ok really deceptive. Happily ever after is possible, as long as you keep #3 above in mind. It is possible to find a really great partner, commit to a long term relationship and live a happy life together. But all that “happily ever after” happens because you work at it, daily. Good relationships require, communication, understanding and the belief that you and your partner are on the same team so even if you hit a rough patch it’s not the end of the world.
Life is quite a bit more complicated than in the movies. Healthy worthwhile relationships take effort and work, but the good news is this kind of love is far more satisfying then movie fluff. So go ahead and keep watching those rom coms, just take them with a grain of salt. But when it comes to real love, it has high and lows, bumpy awkward moments without comebacks and allows for a few mistakes along the way.
Cija Black is a love & dating expert, author of Modern Love: The Grownup’s Guide to Relationships & Online Dating and the creator of the online class Sorting Your Love Baggage and upcoming Love Bomb podcast. Her dating and relationship expertise comes from 20 years of in-the-trenches experience safely using personals both on and off line. She is dedicated to helping people sort their relationship baggage, find real love take responsibility for their own happiness. For more information visit modernloveguide.com
It didn’t take me long to become discouraged, frustrated, even bored of the first-meet-date/interview with on-line suitors. The pattern was fairly similar each time. After e-mailing and perhaps exchanging phone numbers, he would ask about meeting in person and we would make plans for coffee or dinner. Conversation would flow, questions and comments about family, career, education, hobbies, etc. And since I do enjoy a good meaty conversation so much more than the small-talk niceties, I found these interviews moved towards a deeper, more serious tone rather quickly.
Which made me feel like we were moving further and further away from that fun, flirty feeling of the early dating stage…
…when what I wanted was to laugh and have some fun! It was the middle of summer. There were so many things to do and places to explore in and around this city that I was new to. There were laughs to be shared, jokes to be told, initial touches to enjoy, off-hand compliments and flirty banter to be flung. Where was the fun part of this on-line dating thing?
Unfortunately, my first attempt at suggesting something a little different resulted in being stood up.
Not to be discouraged, after receiving a weekend “good morning” text from a new on-line suitor, I spontaneously extended an invite to meet for breakfast. In 30min. Granted we were at first still sitting across a table from each other, talking. But then we walked down by the water, and listened to some live music. The pressure to “interview” didn’t seem so heavy. We even laughed and flirted a little!
So what made this first-meet-date different? How do you move from the on-line e-mailing to the fun and flirty?
I don’t really know. Except that the spontaneity of the plans left little time to analyze and anticipate possible conversation. The physical activity, walking side-by-side rather than sitting face to face, and the live music all removed some of the pressure to keep talking. Yet I learned so much through conversations inspired by the activity and changing scenery that I likely never would have learned sitting in a coffee shop. Enough to know I wanted a second date!
I sometimes think about those early dating TV shows (like Blind Date or elimiDATE) where the men and women were sent to fun, physical, romantic activities or settings for their initial meetings. How, though often ridiculously amusing, the individuals seemed to relax into themselves fairly quickly, and enjoyed the time together… some of the time.
I wish for a first-meet-date similar to that. A date that breaks free from the coffee/drinks/dinner mold and offers something a little different based on mutual interests discovered on a profile or over e-mail – a fun activity in a relaxed setting for the flirty banter and romance to flow. Where we can learn about each other while we play!
Beth Ann is an aspiring relationship counsellor and closet romantic. Broken, bruised, and blessed by love; continually seeking to re-discover hope for herself, her friends, and future clients!
Single, looking for a match and doing the online dating thing in Ottawa?
If yes, then we cordially invite you to be our guest on January 14th, 2014 at 10fourteen!
The event: a focus group discussion on what you want in an online dating service, with drinks, snacks and then a mix and mingle with great Ottawa singles!
Dating is hard! It takes a lot of time, courage and effort and sometimes it turns out that the people you took a chance on aren’t exactly all they cracked themselves up to be. We are working on a service to help you navigate through that big sea of fish to find the best catches and we call it MateCheck.
OK, so, what’s the deal?
We want you to try MateCheck out, give us some feedback and in return you get a fun night out with some drinks and apps, meet some cool singles (we are planning a 50/50 girl/guy split), chat about the dating scene, inlfuence the future of online dating in Canada and get a MateCheck profile free for a year!
So, what does MateCheck actually *DO*?
Have you heard those horror stories where people are scammed out of money from people they met online or found out they were married after the fact? Or that they had a criminal record? MateCheck is an online dating identification verification service, we verify that who you are considering starting that relationships with is who they say they are, live where they say they live, that their divorces are final, if they have a criminal history and if they have previously declared bankrupcy. Our service helps you get those tough questions and conversations out of the way that most singles are afraid to tackle.
It is much easier to say “Can I see your MateCheck profile?” than it is to say “How do I know you are who you say you are? Do you have a criminal record? Have you ever gone bankrupt? Is your divorce finalized?” It is great for providing your future partner peace of mind, showing you are one of the good ones and shows you are serious about finding a great match with a great person.
Sign up and we will send you a free MateCheck membership to try, then join us on January 14th with a bunch of other serious singles in Ottawa to discuss what you liked, what you didn’t, what you would like to see in a service like ours and do it all over drinks and snacks!
Then, after the focus group feedback on MateCheck mix and mingle with some great Ottawa singles!
Find us on Twitter @MateCheckCan
Like or message us on Facebook MateCheck.ca
As the last strains of Auld Lang Syne fade and a hangover from a little too much New Year’s cheer lingers you find yourself on the first day of 2014 with a pile of resolutions waiting to be resolved. Perhaps a lack of a certain special someone to share a New Year’s Kiss means one of those resolutions is to find a partner in the coming year. And like many others you’re looking to (or back to) online dating as the means to meet that special somebody but finding the process of setting up or freshening up your profile a little daunting.
Maybe you created a profile 3 years and 2 relationships ago. Perhaps you’re reactivating an old account after having been off the market for a bit. Or maybe you’ve got a current account but it’s not getting the attention it deserves. No matterNw what your circumstances taking a critical look at and planning out your profile is the first and most important step and this can leave many feeling like Bambi walking on ice for the first time.
Fear not! Creating a killer (not literally) profile need not be an exercise in grim introspection and self-analysis. Nor need it be a painful writing chore fraught with writer’s block and doubt. Instead get your new or renewed dating career off on the right foot with these profile tips.
This is your dating life you’re dealing with, not a YouTube comment. Everybody gets that writing a profile is tough and staring at a blank screen waiting to fill it with all your wonderful attributes can cause you to feel like a deer in the headlights. However, resist the temptation to leave things blank or fill them in with nonsense. Somebody may appreciate a single quirky sentence but nobody likes a lazy date: a picture of your fish, “I’ll fill this in later” or “THEYSAIDINEEDEDTOFILLTHISIN” is a universal turn-off.
A good sense of humour goes a long way, especially in the online realm. You don’t need to be a standup comic, but a bit of self-deprecation can take the edge of of things and show people you’re a good sport and a fun companion.
It’s good to have goals and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to find your soon-to-be soul mate. However, the opening paragraph of your profile is not the place to describe your boundless quest to find true love and the laundry list of details which comprise your Mister or Miss Right. You’re trying to get an invitation to the ball not see if the glass slipper fits (that comes later!) Remember you’re looking to meet people not size them up for an arranged marriage.
We’ve all been in relationships, we’ve all had breakups, and we all know that exes suck. We also don’t need to hear about your tale of misery or why your ex or exes were such terrible people. Stick to the positives and your profile will glow with the light of good karma and lead you to dating nirvana.
To people browsing profiles a stale account stands out like a pair of bell bottoms on 90’s retro night. Keep your profile fresh by referencing a current event, upcoming festival/concert/monster truck rally, or seasonal activity. It creates an opening and maybe even sets up a possible date plus it tells people reading that you’ve been online since Clinton was in office.
Keep your mind out of the gutter—we’re talking about profile length. What’s the right length? That’s highly dependent on who you are and what your personality. Maybe you’re a quiet introvert who loves books or a brash extrovert known for your crazy stories. In general give people an idea of who you are and what you want while still leaving a bit to the imagination. Remember, your profile is the cover blurb on a book or the series summary on Netflix: you want to entice people to read/watch more without giving away all the spoilers.
This should go without saying…but here were are. We can pretend that looks aren’t important but in the online dating world a picture is worth a thousand words. Or maybe more. So you need current, good photos that show the world the best you have to offer without being over the top.
Don’t have any good photos? Too bad—your potential partners are expecting them and without a captivating snapshot will breeze right by your corner of your chosen dating site. Luckily, everything has a digital camera on it today and it should be easy to take a few selfies; better yet, enlist a supportive friend to snap a few new shots that put you in your best light. Give people a few shots, preferably in different settings and angles. Avoid mirror selfies, ducklips, and of course, old mug shots.
Online dating is not a free lunch (although it’s nice if someone offers to pick up the bill): you get out of it what you put in. And sometimes that means you’ll have to do a bit of work to get the results you want. Don’t be afraid to keep updating your profile based on what’s working or drop things that aren’t making people click hither. Change things regularly and don’t be afraid to try new things.
Most importantly: have fun because online dating can be crazy and there will be a few dead ends and false starts. But at least you’ll have some stories and with a bit of luck and a little work crafting your profile you can find gold.
Ottawa dweller. Marketing consultant. Dad. Handyman. Gadget guy. Photographer. Coffee Drinker. Scotch sipper. [Not necessarily in that order] Blogs at www.davidhicks.ca and spends too much time on Twitter
Have you ever Googled “bad online dating profiles”? It’s a minefield of mistakes – all of which are easily avoidable. Here are 8 tips to help you steer clear of a profile faux pas this year. If you like these tips, please share on Facebook and Pinterest! And for more dating success in 2014, sign up for MateCheck.
Better yet – ask someone to read over your profile. Bad spelling and grammar are instant turn offs.
Oh you like movies? So do 99% of people. Tell us which genre of movie you like best.
Mentioning “long walks on the beach” is a waste of your word count. Find original ways to express your interests.
Sure, we all have a “perfect” candidate in mind, but often the right person ends up surprising you.
…or self-deprecating in your profile. Humour is an asset, but so are confidence and positivity.
You’re allowed to dislike girls in Ugg boots, but there’s no need for judgment or criticism on your profile.
Even if you’re “desperate” and “sick of the hunt,” maintain a positive attitude towards dating on your profile.
Give enough info to grab someone’s interest, but save some details for the first date – and hopefully the second!
Have more tips? Add them in the comments!
Remember when you first signed up for that on-line dating site? The “fresh-meat” status often results in an in-box over-flowing with prospective suitors. I was so overwhelmed the first week that I almost deleted my account before responding to anyone! It feels good to have so much attention; but it also takes time and energy to sort through, distinguishing between those of interest based on a few words and photos.
Eventually the messages became more manageable. I e-mailed with a few different guys, went out on a few coffee dates. And quickly became discouraged by one of the pros of on-line dating that I have now come to view as more of a con: multiple options.
I wasn’t much of a dater before. I’ve been in a few relationships that seemed to just happen. But this time, I wanted to be “wined & dined” a little! I wanted to feel special, interesting, impressed.
I wanted a reason to not check the messages in my profile in-box when I got home.
Maybe that’s a steep request or expectation for a first date with someone met on-line. But I always made the effort – doing my hair and make up; trying on different outfits; re-reading his profile and messages; anxiously wondering what we’ll talk about; if he’ll be as cute in person as in his pictures; as witty and charming as his profile.
Because I wanted to give him a reason to not check his messages when he got home!
Unfortunately what I found sometimes was much less effort on my date’s part. One in particular who lived in a different city changed the location of the date last minute so that I ended up driving further than half-way to meet him. And he still showed up 20 minutes late, wearing ripped jeans and a hoodie. He texted his neighbour about playing pool later, before we had even finished our drinks; and after talking all night about how successful he was, asked “So you, uh, wanna split the bill?”
I can deal with the fact that this guy maybe realized early on that he wasn’t interested. But what about the seemingly lack of effort put into appearance and punctuality? Or the other reflections of little effort put into the first impression that I had disappointingly come across in some of my dates?
There seems to be a general thought that if this date doesn’t go well; if I don’t like this one, or this one doesn’t like me, no matter. There are always more options. Plenty of fish in the internet sea, if you will! Which sounds like, and is to some extent, a fantastic upside to on-line dating. But I have to wonder if so many options have made us somewhat apathetic about the first impression we give?! And therefore, if this pro has actually become a con.
First impressions are so important, and you really only get one chance. For me, a lack of effort shown in that first date is a sign that there may be a lack of effort put into a relationship going forward as well. It doesn’t impress me. I’m less likely to say yes to a second date, and you will likely find me on-line right after we say good night.
But put some effort into your first impression, and… well if I am on-line after we say good night, it’s probably to see if there’s a new message from you!
Beth Ann is an aspiring relationship counsellor and closet romantic. Broken, bruised, and blessed by love; continually seeking to re-discover hope for herself, her friends, and future clients!
December is a magical but hectic month, especially if you add online dating to the mix. Here are 8 tips to help you navigate the holiday dating scene with class, dignity, and a second date. If you like these tips, please share on Facebook or Pinterest! And for more dating success in 2014, sign up for MateCheck.
Click on an image below to start the December dating tip slideshow!
In hindsight, I used to give far too much weight to the “story.” It seemed that, the crazier the story was about how I met a guy, or the more challenges in our way, the more I thought it was meant to be. It was very exciting that two people, alone in Vegas, on the same night, at the same pub, found each other. It was also fantastic that the whirlwind romance that followed, was exactly what we each needed at that time. But, a fairy tale does not a relationship make.
Enter Will. No big story there. We met online. We went for drinks. We had a nice time.
I was heading over to Will’s place for our third date, home-cooked meal and movies, and although this sounded delightful, I approached his door with lead butterflies weighing me down. My palms were sweaty and I was trying as hard as possible to put out of my mind what was about to happen. In just a few hours I would have to…break up with Will.
Why? No idea. Well, maybe because at the time I was still thinking that moving across the country to pursue unrequited love was the better option. Years later, I don’t remember what excuses I was able to put together, but I remember that Will wasn’t buying any of it. His response was six words: “I’m going to call you again.” He knew we had something really good together and he wasn’t about to let it walk away for no good reason. I had tried to run away from something real and genuine (not to mention a mere 15-minute walk away,) thinking I wanted the drama of marathon long-distance phone calls and whirlwind romantic vacations. Within 24 hours, I knew I had made a mistake and I retracted my break-up. It’s Will that is my happily ever after.
Will and I recently traveled to California with stops in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Both are amazing cities with so much vibrancy and interesting things. It made us wonder what life would be like to live in these cities. Is life automatically so much more exciting living here? Or would we settle into our usual selves, and usual routines once we had been there for a while? Looking back to the pre-Will years, I know I was just trying to inject excitement into my life through the kind of love that I think only Hollywood can make happen, instead of living my life and creating adventure on my own. I’m lucky to have Will joining me on that adventure now, but the way we met won’t determine what’s in store for us. It’s up to us to use the years ahead of us to write an interesting story.
It’s not particularly hard to get completely confused in the movie Inception, am I right? Imagine how lost you would be if you spent the whole movie concentrating on sitting as far over as possible in your seat so as to not give your date even a sliver of an interested signal. Needless to say, I quite enjoyed watching it over again on my big comfy couch, feet propped up on the knees of my loved one, Will. It made me wonder why I ever agreed to see such a lengthy movie on a first date. What made it all worse is that I knew within a minute of meeting this guy that it wouldn’t work with him. I just knew.
We met for dinner and drinks at a fun pub known for its lengthy beer list. As we sat at the bar waiting for a table, my stomach sank lower and lower. We had had great conversations online for nearly two weeks. He was tall enough and had an interesting and creative job. My stomach pretty much dropped on the floor when we were seated at the cosiest of tables! How could I make my body into a big, red stop sign when I was forced to sit close enough to count the stubble hairs on his face? I spent the meal thinking of ways to escape going to the movie, but I couldn’t go through it. He was nice! He was normal! He didn’t deserve being ditched mid-date.
Your gut feeling is different than butterflies, and it’s not quite anxiety. It’s hard to describe, but impossible to ignore. I’ve lost count at the number of times my gut has left me feeling hopelessly frustrated. You come across a guy who is perfect on paper… er, on screen. His profile is well done. Communications with him are easy and friendly. And finally you meet him in person, gut says “no.” The date itself might even go very nicely, too! Conversation flows well, he makes you laugh. But still, gut says “no.” And of course, he calls you two days later to ask you out again. Gut says “no.”
The hardest part of dates like these is that you really want to like him. If you could only just learn to like him, this would obviously be a perfect relationship! But you can’t force a connection where there isn’t one. Our insides aren’t psychic. Sadly, there is no course we can take to hone that sixth sense and avoid heartbreak. But your gut can tell you if this person is someone you really want to be with or not. Listening to it — no matter how frustrated it makes you feel or how awful it is to reject someone — will save a person from being led on and it will save you many hours of discomfort.
Dating as a single parent is fraught with a daunting quantity of risk. Because if you find yourself fortunate enough to meet someone with whom you wish to form a relationship, it’s not just you that’s getting into it, it’s your kids, too.
Children add so many layers of complexity to post-marriage relationships. But these layers can be really good at filtering out riffraff.
I have kids. And they define a large part of my identity. If a guy doesn’t have kids, doesn’t like kids, or isn’t at all interested in kids, there is zero chance of any kind of relationship. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many single parents actually contemplate getting involved with people like that.
Time is hard to find when you’re a single parent. It’s very hard to get out and meet people when you are the sole caregiver. Gone are the pre-kid whirlwind romances where you spend a ton of time together and get to know each other fairly quickly. It’s hard to get to know someone when you can only escape once a week. This ups the ante, too. A guy has got to be a pretty solid contender if I’m going to allocate that precious chunk of time to him. The last time I was dating, I invested a lot of time corresponding with people before I braved an actual meeting. Not very many men made the cut. Most guys want to meet in person right away to see whether they 1) want to have sex with you and 2) might get to have sex with you. The ones that are willing to put the effort into communicating tend to be the ones looking for something more.
There are only so many dates one can go on before the next step involves coming to your house, and I don’t see the point in hiding all evidence of children, au contraire. I don’t need to apologize for how I live. When you have kids, you have to navigate some very un-sexy things like the pile of muddy shoes in the entryway or the globs of red toothpaste in the sink or the small zoo of stuffed animals in your bed. If a date doesn’t find that stuff endearing, there is just no hope.
Eventually, it’s time for the kids to meet the guy. If I’m not excited about this prospect, that’s a pretty good sign that it just shouldn’t happen, and then what’s the point. When I introduced my last partner to my kids, I was very very sure that I was in the relationship for the long haul, and I was confident that the meeting was going to go well, and it did. My total experience at introducing boyfriends to my children is 1, so I can’t compare and contrast, but I can say that my kids absolutely adored my partner and he adored them. The same was not true of my ex-husband’s now ex-girlfriend, unfortunately.
I love my kids and they are my #1 priority. That will always be the case. So if anything happens in a relationship that I feel threatens their well-being, or threatens my relationship with them, then it’s over. End of story. Sometimes it takes a long time for these things to surface. But when they do, swift action is necessary. It’s excruciatingly hard to extricate yourself from a relationship that your kids are invested in too. Especially if they are still dealing with the grief of parental separation. And it’s really easy to point fingers and say, why did you put your kids through that?
Better to put my kids through the pain of another parental figure abandonment, than to continue in a relationship that is an unhealthy model to them. I’m only human. People are complicated. It takes a long time to get to know someone. I can’t keep my relationships and my kids separate forever, it’s just not possible, or wise, even. What I can do is show them that I deserve love and respect, and so do they. If it’s not there, it’s ok to say goodbye. And it hurts, and you learn from it, and you move on. That’s life.
I’m writing this not because I’m ready to date again, but because I’m contemplating the grief my children are experiencing and whether it’s fair for me to ever potentially inflict that on them again. But it’s like buying another pet after one dies. The prospect of future grief doesn’t eclipse the decision to open up to the possibility of loving and caring and being loved and cared for again, when the time is right.
Navigating the perils of dating as a single parent has been great inspiration for the study of people—single men, not so single men, and of course, of my own self.
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