We sincerely hope that you do not get turkey dumped (but if you do, you know who to call).



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The first week of September, I overheard a conversation between some international students on U of T campus. They had all just met that day and were sharing basic information about themselves, sweetly and tentatively building new friendships.

“My boyfriend still lives in Korea,” offered one of the fresh-faced freshmen. “We know it will be difficult, but we’re going to stay together.”

Oh, honey.

Maintaining a long-distance relationship over four years isn’t impossible. But it is highly implausible, especially when you’re a teenager and are still figuring out who you are.

In my university experience, the students who arrived romantically attached to someone from their hometown were single again after Thanksgiving long weekend.

Known widely as the “Turkey Dump” or “Dumpsgiving,” it’s the phenomenon of first-year university and college students, immersed in their new academic and social lives, ending things with their high school sweethearts the very next time they see them — usually Thanksgiving weekend. When the end of a relationship is dealt with in unhealthy ways, it can impede student success for a semester — or even threaten the entire school year.

Digital media specialist Adrienne Friesen, 25, is an admitted turkey dumper. When she moved to Toronto for school, she and her high school boyfriend tried to make it work. Unfortunately, the relationship lasted about as long as a slice of pumpkin pie set in front of Uncle Bill.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko
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Dating can sometimes feel like a game. Between profiles stating “I’m not into games” to the “Keep Playing” button from Tinder’s earlier versions and books that instruct singles how to play The Game by The Rules, you’d think our love lives were rendered in 32-bit.

Thankfully, you can take a break from the frustrations of the dating game and play actual games about . . . dating. We’ve come a long way from Dream Phone and furtive sessions of Leisure Suit Larry on Tandy demo computers at the local Radio Shack. Several popular videogames right now are dating simulators — or dating sims — that aim to boost players’ confidence and social skills.

This summer’s No. 1 indie game smash hit is Dream Daddy, a funny and charming dating simulator in which you are a single father seeking love and friendship within a community of handsome — and refreshingly diverse — single daddies.

“Dating sims are a great way to explore relationships in a safe, fictional space and they can also help you feel less lonely,” says Leighton Gray, the 20-year-old co-creator of Dream Daddy, which has been downloaded 180,000 times since its launch last month.

This kind of virtual social exploration is especially beneficial for those who lack real-life dating skills and experiences.

Read the rest of the article here

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

Bookstore shelves creak under the weight of self-help books devoted to healing after a divorce or a breakup. These books generally have two things in common: 1) They feature predominantly pink covers with broken heart graphics and 2) They focus on grieving the loss of an imagined future with your former romantic partner. Were I to write a book on breakups, however, I’d probably call it, “Your Friends Were Cool and I’m Really Going To Miss Your Mom.”

We tend to focus exclusively on the loss of that one important person in the aftermath of a breakup. What is rarely discussed is the loving community we lose as part of the package. The warm and generous parents? Gone. That adorable niece you babysat and nurtured and watched grow into a real little person? Bye. The delightful and close-knit group of friends? See ya.

“Breakups suck for all of the expected reasons,” says Toronto psychotherapist Matt Cahill. “But if you were really close with the family (and friends), you’re losing that on top of your partner. It can actually be a pretty intense situation.”

It is possible, however, to override the awkwardness of a romantic breakup and maintain bonds and connections to the family and friends of former romantic partners.

Read the rest of the article here

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

“You have to put yourself out there if you’re going to meet anyone” is perhaps the most annoying phrase you can say to a single person. Unfortunately, it’s kind of true.

If you’re interested in meeting new people this summer, be a joiner. No matter your interests — sports, dancing, comics, art, comedy — there are clubs, meetups and events just for you. You might even meet someone who will change your life for the better.

I spoke with several Toronto couples who met their forever-partners while pursuing their hobbies and passions. The best part? Most of them didn’t even see it coming.

Toronto Kickball

(Torontokickball.com, Sundays in Alexandra Park)

In 2011, separate friends encouraged Elizabeth Robichaud, then 22 and new to Toronto at the time, and Saajid Motala, then 26, to join Toronto Kickball — a recreational soccer-baseball league that meets in Alexandra Park most Sundays, in order to meet new people. Motala says he was immediately drawn to Robichaud and sought out excuses to get to know her, such as taking her photograph for their annual fundraising calendar, but it took a while for their romance to blossom. “We met sometime in June or July, but didn’t start talking to each other until November of that year,” recalls Robichaud. The pair has now been together for five years.

“Group sports are a great way to meet new people and push your comfort zone while being active,” Robichaud says.

Read the rest of the article here

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

"It was pretty terrifying, honestly."

That's how Christie Gray felt about her first experience with online dating.

She'd been married prior to that first login on a dating site.

She'd met her husband in the late 90s. They'd met the old-fashioned way, in person, via their university social circle.

But seven years later, the marriage ended and Christie Gray found herself single, looking to meet people in the rapidly expanding world of online dating.

Missed the show? Listen online here!

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

Let me tell you about the proposal of my dreams.

We are somewhere near or on the water. It’s sunset. The man of my dreams — or a reasonable facsimile thereof — takes my hand and gets down on one knee.

With limpid eyes of indeterminate colour, he’ll look straight into my own and say, “Marriage proposals are a sexist and outdated tradition, but it’s clear we want to be together for the long haul. Let’s have an honest conversation about what that might look like for us without bending to societal pressures. Will you do me the honour of splitting a poutine with me?”

As long as the poutine is the real kind, made with squeaky Quebecois cheese curds, and the gravy’s not too spicy, I will say yes. Thus beginning the rest of our lives.

I’m (mostly) kidding, but can’t deny complicated feelings about marriage proposals.

On the one hand, tradition is nice and proposals are romantic. But marriage proposals are also a holdover from an era when women were considered chattel — to be passed from a father’s household to a husband’s. Engagement rings can be traced back to Ancient Rome and signified claiming a woman as property, essentially. (Hands off, Octavius — she’s mine!)

Not to mention, if I had a penny for every woman I’ve known who’s had a birthday dinner, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day or romantic vacation end in dashed expectations of an engagement (and a few tears), I could comfortably retire yesterday.

Why are marriage proposals even necessary? Shouldn’t couples decide if and when to get married — together?

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

So you think you can be a matchmaker?

It’s thoughtful and considerate to engineer romantic happiness for your single friends. But if your formula for setting people up is no more sophisticated than “They’re both single and seem to smell OK,” you need to fine-tune your strategy.

Here is the honest truth about set-ups: most people are bad at it. This is partly because most people are not very good romantic fits for each other.

Human beings: complex.

Finding love: hard.

Having been on the receiving end of some nightmarish set-ups and hearing horror stories from friends and clients, I know for a fact that setting up the singles in your life is something of an art. It requires intuition, logic, faith, finesse and a whole lot of luck.

Read the rest of the article here

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

There are few things in life as satisfying as spring cleaning. Purging belongings, digitizing media collections and unearthing your crisper drawer takes time and effort, but the end results can boost both productivity and happiness. (Marie Kondo built an empire on this idea.)

While it may not be as scary as your long-neglected garage, dating can still be pretty messy. Spring cleaning can be applied to your dating life — sometimes you need to carefully sift through everything to decide what’s worth keeping, what needs to be shelved and what needs to be burned in a colossal trash fire.

“I’ve had clients bring up the question of how to approach dating in an efficient and effective manner,” says Clare Kumar, a productivity and organization coach and an expert at the art of streamlining

Having applied her knowledge as a professional organizer and declutterer to the world of online dating, Kumar has offered up some insights that will help any online dater save time, effort and serious frustration.

Read the rest here.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

Four years ago, I launched a supremely weird little business.

Today, I am celebrating its continued success/existence and our recent expansions to Hamilton, Burlington and Ottawa with some Peak Frean cookies on a bus to Edmonton (where I will be spending some time with the very first couple I ever matched -- and their two little boys).

I am so grateful to everyone who has supported Friend of a Friend Matchmaking Inc. over the years and especially to my amazing yentas, Lee-Anne, Joanne, Claire and Ceilidhe.

Also, May 22nd is important for another reason: the birth of Steven Patrick Morrissey 58 years ago today. Happy birthday, Sir Moz! Have some cake on us, you gloomy old romantic weirdo!

"Come out and find the one that you love and who loves you."

xo,

Sofi
 

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

After a relationship ended, I made a conscious decision to take the fall and winter off from dating. I needed time to reflect. Plus, cocooning with a good book on a Friday night is always preferable to making awkward small talk with a stranger at an overpriced wine bar.

When I felt ready to get back out there, I downloaded the popular dating app Bumble, which differentiates itself in the market by only allowing women to make the first move.

I was immediately impressed by the calibre of men on Bumble. It was a seemingly never-ending parade of interesting, successful and handsome men. Lawyers and creative directors and CEOs, oh my! Some seemed almost too good to be true — and I started to suspect they were.

Online dating has a rich and sleazy history of fake profiles. When it was revealed 70,000 female Ashley Madison users were actually fembots and actual women were a rarity on the adultery-friendly dating site, it was no real surprise to anyone (except to male Ashley Madison subscribers). With the surge in popularity of mobile dating apps, there came a surge of fake profiles migrating from websites to apps; suddenly, pornbots and scammers were just a smartphone swipe away, hoping to part you with your money, personal information, confidence, swiftly fleeting youth/beauty/fertility or all of the above.

They sure come in pretty packages, though.

Less than a week into my dating app adventure, I Bumbled across a dreamy man. We’ll call him “Jake”. This tousled Brad Pitt lookalike stated in his profile that he was the corporate director of large Canadian firm I won’t name — an impressive title for a 33-year-old who looks like he’s spent far more time on a beach than in a boardroom.

Suspicious, I got in touch with their head office. They had a few different corporate directors, they told me, but nobody by his name was found in the company’s global directory.

Jake — or at least the version of Jake profiled on Bumble — did not exist.

Read the rest of the article here.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

A favourite pastime of mine is posting rental listings of beautiful, character-filled apartments in other cities (Pine floors! Crown moulding! A fireplace!) on Facebook, flanked by weeping emojis.

Finding an above-ground apartment in an urban neighbourhood in Montreal, Halifax or even Chicago for under $1,000 a month is a breeze.

In Toronto, it’s practically the stuff of fiction.

Things are financially tight for many in this city, but single people — especially single parents — are at a serious disadvantage. The average rental cost of a one-bedroom condo in Toronto is nearly $1,800 per month. Finance gurus suggest spending only 30 per cent of your total income on rent. Sticking to that rule, a single renter would have to be earning upwards of $65,000 a year. According to Statistics Canada, the average annual income for individuals living outside of an economic family (i.e. a single person) in Toronto in 2014 was approximately $40,000 before taxes.

“Young and single tenants face a terrible situation in the city right now,” says Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations. “A low vacancy rate means that people are struggling to find any place to rent, much less an affordable one. It puts them into debt or unsustainable living situations. Many young folks don’t know their rights and single folks have few others to lean on for support.”

Read the rest of the article here

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

Frustrated singles rejoice -- there’s a new matchmaker in Ottawa!

Friend of a Friend Matchmaking, an affordable and accessible boutique introductions company founded by relationship columnist Sofi Papamarko, has expanded to our nation’s capital.

“Ottawa is one of the most beautiful cities in Canada,” says new Ottawa matchmaker Ceilidhe Wynn. “I’m so excited to introduce you to your perfect match to explore and discover the art, nature and culture of this vibrant and romantic city.”

Ceilidhe (pronounced Kayley) Wynn is an accomplished writer. She is a deeply intuitive and understanding people person who considers herself a true romantic at heart.

Friend of a Friend Matchmaking is set to fill an important niche in the Ottawa area; a personalized matchmaking company that is as financially accessible to a queer undergraduate journalism student at Carleton University as it is to a Cabinet Minister.

“We pride ourselves not only on financial accessibility, but also on inclusivity,” says Friend of a Friend Matchmaking Founder Sofi Papamarko. “Everybody deserves love – not just wealthy heterosexuals and executives. We welcome singles of all genders, sexualities, ages, ethnicities, lifestyles and abilities.”

Most matchmaking companies cater to wealthier clients, often costing thousands. Friend of a Friend Matchmaking costs approximately the same as a year on Match or eHarmony.

"Dating today is harder than it's ever been," says Sofi. "Online dating sites and apps like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr and Scruff have long since lost their novelty and appeal. Singles are looking to make real connections with real people who share their interests, values and outlook on life. Living, breathing matchmakers are far more capable of making authentic matches than a computer algorithm.”

Friend of a Friend Matchmaking Ottawa officially launches on May 1st, 2017.

Read more about Friend of a Friend Matchmaking at www.friendofafriendmatchmaking.com and get to know our new matchmaker at http://friendofafriendmatchmaking.com/meet-the-matchmakers/

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

Do you suffer from Tinder Thumb (like tennis elbow, but caused by furious right-swiping instead of ground strokes)? Does the thought of asking yet another person, “So…what do you do?” send shivers up your spine? Do you feel like you’ve already gone on a mediocre date with every eligible bachelor/bachelorette in the city — twice?

You might be suffering from dating fatigue.

“Dating fatigue happens when a single person goes on a rapid series of dates or constantly looks for dates online and doesn’t meet anyone they are interested in,” says dating expert Julie Spira, author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating. “As a result, a person with dating fatigue gets disillusioned. (They might come to) believe there are no great single men or women out there.”

Communications professional Alexa Giorgi, 37, is athletic, intelligent, sociable and gorgeous. She has been single for all of her 30s. But her lacklustre love life wasn’t for a lack of trying.

“I’ve been online dating since Lavalife was cool and (have tried) Match, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid and Coffee Meets Bagel,” Giorgi says. “I’ve tried matchmaking, speed dating, singles events, Meetup, blind dates — everything!”

Read the rest of the story here.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

“I’m open to dating women of all backgrounds,” he tells me. “Except for black women.”

“I’ve just never been attracted to Asian men,” she says.

Uncomfortable yet? Unfortunately, the vast majority of singles I’ve worked with have clear racial preferences and biases when it comes to dating. Now that I’m four years into professional matchmaking, I’ve seen clear patterns emerge when it comes to race and attraction.

White men: congratulations! Women of every racial background seem to strongly prefer dating you. Asian and Latin women are most popular with the gents. Black women and Asian men are the two groups most notably at a dating disadvantage. They are the hardest singles for me to match, because they tend to be excluded from the match searches of the majority of clients. Men seemingly open to dating “anyone and everyone” eventually include a “no black women” addendum. Women who state they only want to find a nice, kind, man say that they have no real physical preferences … as long as the man in question isn’t Asian. Non-starter, that.

The online dating world is also stacked against black women and Asian men. According to Christian Rudder’sOKCupid blog, stats from 2014 show that 82 per cent of non-black men on OKCupid show some bias against black women. Similarly, Asian men’s dating profiles are consistently rated the lowest by single women using online dating sites. But why?

“Attractiveness is a very haphazard dish that can’t be boiled down to height or skin colour, but Asian men are told that regardless of what the idyllic mirepoix is or isn’t, we just don’t have the ingredients,” television host Eddie Huang recently wrote in the New York Times.

“The structural emasculation of Asian men in all forms of media became a self-fulfilling prophecy that produced an actual abhorrence to Asian men in the real world.”

Pop culture is a window into desire. Consider the male Asian characters in movies you’ve seen in the last several years. What were their roles? When was the last time you saw a North American film where a desirable Asian man played the romantic lead and didn’t know martial arts?

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

Maybe you intended for it to be a compliment. Maybe you’re fishing for gossip. Or maybe you believe the only acceptable route in life is the one that closely follows the marriage-mortgage-babies road map.

And so you ask: “Why are you still single?”

Please understand this is not a benign query.

It is as intrusive and judgmental a question as “Why are you still married?” The implication being that something is broken.

If you’re wondering why someone is still single, wonder no more! I’ve chatted with well over a thousand singles over the past four years in both a professional and personal capacity and they’ve laid it all out for me.

If you’re single, I’ve done the work for you! Simply clip this article out and hand it to the next person who asks the offending question before skipping away and living your best life.

I am dealing with some personal issues and am not in a good place right now.

When dealing with illness, grief, ailing parents, a challenging child, addiction and mental health issues, alone or in combination, some people deprioritize dating.

I’m not ready to date after the end of my last relationship.

Whether their last relationship ended three months ago or three decades ago, it’s entirely up to each individual person to decide when they’re ready to move on and make themselves emotionally vulnerable to someone new. Don’t pressure anyone to “get back in the saddle” before they’re ready. That’s a recipe for broken hearts and bad decisions.

I don’t want to settle. . .

. . . But if you’d rather I get married as soon as possible to the first person who will have me and don’t mind one bit that we have nothing in common, that they never contribute to the household chores or ask me about my day and I am desperately unhappy and cry into my pillow while they’re out carousing at all hours with God-knows-who and we get divorced after the kids come along, then by all means keep telling me I’m too picky and to just latch onto some warm body already because tick-tock! The external pressure will wear me down eventually. See you at the wedding!

Read the rest of Sofi's column here

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

Bad poetry. Mix CDs. Postcards from Sedona, Ariz. Postcards from Berlin. A freezer-burnt wrist corsage. Tiki mugs. An electric can opener.

These are a few of my favourite things that old boyfriends have given me over the years. I still have most of these objects. (The electric can opener did not survive a particularly stressful move, not unlike the relationship itself).

Call me sentimental, but I just can’t seem to part with the material reminders of people I used to love. Just because a relationship is over doesn’t invalidate all of time we spent together and the memories we shared.

Not everyone wants to hang onto souvenirs from ex-partners, especially if the breakup is a fresh one. Everyday objects can be extremely painful reminders of a difficult time.

“It’s difficult to throw away or give away objects that have a lot of sentimental value,” says Alexis Hyde, director of the Museum of Broken Relationships in Los Angeles, which takes in anonymously donated post-breakup memorabilia. “There is no ritual that we have yet that can honour a relationship adequately. No funeral, if you will. This is a place that you can lay it to rest, along with other stories from all over the world, and know that the relationship had merit.”

It’s interesting that Hyde mentions funerals. The end of a relationship often feels like the death of something — future plans, a parallel life in which you were going to be with this person for the long haul and, above all else, the death of a friendship (in most cases). So it makes sense that we ritualize our grief in the face of such endings.

Read the rest of the story here.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

I love you.

There. I said it. That wasn’t so hard, right? Those three little words — three syllables, really — are among the most coveted and most difficult words to say in the English language. (Surpassed only by “I forgive you” and, the most difficult phrase of all, “I’m sorry.”)

Context: I’d been having some trouble coming up with an idea for my Valentine’s column this year and wrote my editor in a cold panic.

“EMBRACE THE LOVE!” she exclaimed in all-caps.

I tried. But throwing my arms around a Hallmark holiday felt disingenuous. Not unlike the holiday season, Valentine’s Day can be a painful and lonely time for many. So instead of embracing February the 14th and all associated ephemeral trappings of romance (fancy chocolates, flowers, marriage certificates), I’m embracing Pollyanna. I’m embracing patchouli. I’m embracing the free expression of love itself.

And so, I love you.

When training my matchmaking consultants, I play them the Sloan song “The Good in Everyone.” I ask them to internalize the lyrics about being a person who sees the good in everyone because that makes our jobs easier.

Not everyone is going to be your cup of tea, but you have to pinpoint what’s lovable about every single person you meet. That’s what good matchmakers do. That’s what the best people do, too.

You can usually find something — often multiple things — that are amazing in every person you meet. A genius sense of humour, maybe. An aching vulnerability. Self-awareness. Intelligence. Loyalty to friends and family. Optimism. A strong work ethic. The best of intentions.

I love you, reader. Whoever you are. Not romantically, but emphatically. I love you, even though I don’t know you.

I love you because you are a person with a past that may not have always been kind.

I love you because you have worries that sometimes keep you up at night.

I love you because you’ve read a poem or a short story or heard a song or seen a piece of art or experienced natural beauty that has buoyed your heart or broken it.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko