By Claire AH

When you sign up for Friend of a Friend Matchmaking, one of the first things we ask you to do is to fill out a questionnaire. This is how we get to know you before meeting up in-person, thus saving us all of the small-talk and getting right to the in-depth personalized discussions that most benefit you (and us)! 

At the end of the questionnaire, everyone who signs up for Toronto matchmaking, Hamilton matchmaking or Ottawa matchmaking is asked to write a bio summarizing their entire essence in the third person.

Regardless of where you are, being asked to succinctly describe yourself is daunting. We've been told this is the hardest part of the questionnaire and we completely understand why. This is your calling card and your personal ad -- you want to put your best foot forward in your bio. And sometimes, the bios our clients submit fall a bit short.

The weakest bios we get back from our matchmaking clients tend to fall into four distinct categories:

Curriculum Vitae

People who write a CV bio (or a bio that reads more like a resume or LinkedIn profile) tend to take the act very seriously. They list their most marketable traits and accolades, itemizing things with clarity -- but perhaps a lack of warmth.

Class Clown

A solid sense of humour is an important thing to prospective matches, so it’s understandable that you might want to lead with something funny. That said, there’s a fine line between making a joke and sounding like you might treat the dating process like a joke.

Platitudes

You know that Meredith Brooks hit from the '90s? If your bio talks about your roles (mother, child, lover) then it may be a bit too vague. Ditto: loving to laugh, always looking on the bright side of life, having fun with your friends or taking long walks on the beach. People want to get a sense of you and your life -- they don't want generic sentences that could apply to most humans. Too many of these can make you seem like a stock character instead of the fascinating and complex individual we already know you are.

I can’t write it! You write it!

This is less of a bio and more of a statement. We can collaborate and find a bio together, but there is something to be said for seeing how you would describe yourself to a potential date. After all -- they want to date you! Not us.

So what should you actually do here?

All of the above -- but in the right measure

The ideal client bio mixes in some of your accomplishments, a little humour and perhaps a well-placed (or slightly recontextualized) platitude, plus maybe a little input from your friends or even your matchmaker. All of this leads to a well-balanced bio likely to give a pretty clear depiction of who you are and why you are definitely worth meeting!

PLEASE NOTE: when it comes to bios, do be kind to yourself and others. Bios are useful, but it’s good to avoid reading into them too much. Regardless of what people write, they’re not a complete picture and the style they choose doesn’t necessarily indicate much about the kind of person they are. If you’ve received an e-mail about them as a potential match, it was intentional and based on things that couldn’t possibly be captured in a few sentences, so don't say no just because their bio wasn't penned by Virginia Woolf or Ernest Hemingway. Some people are just better in person -- why deprive yourself of their wonderful company?

Write on!

Claire AH

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AuthorSofi Papamarko
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Apologies to my friends and family — you’re not going to be seeing much of me for the next little while. I’m a matchmaker and this is the time of year when I’m swamped.

Most service industries have their high seasons. July and August bring jam-packed patios and daunting lineups at trendy ice cream shops. And January is perpetually peak season for new gym memberships due to the cyclical optimism of New Year’s resolutions.

Similarly, the first of November signals the beginning of dating service season.

It seems counterintuitive, really. Surely spring should signal the start of high mating . . . erm . . . dating season. And yet, summer is a dead zone for professional matchmakers. It’s consistently the autumn and winter months — known to the Urban Dictionary set as “cuffing season” — when singles are feverishly using matchmaking and online dating services to get paired up.

I reached out to pre-eminent biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher, author of Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage and Why We Stray to ask her why matchmakers get slammed by client applications every November.

“November and early December is the highest time of year for male testosterone,” Fisher says. Testosterone is the hormone responsible for increasing sex drive and stimulating sperm production in men.

“From a Darwinian perspective, if you have a baby in August, that’s really the height of the fresh fruit and vegetable season,” Dr. Fisher says. “There’s a milder climate and more sunshine, so it’s easier for both the mother and child, in terms of survival. It’s less stressful.”

So if you’re feeling keen on snuggling someone right now, know that it’s more than just the inherent cosiness of sweater season making you feel that way. It’s been beneficial to the survival of our species for millennia that we get to baby-making in the fall.

Read the rest of the article here

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

Our Ottawa Matchmaker is in the news! Check our Yenta Ceilidhe's interview with Arti Patel in Global News today on why married women cheat on their partners.
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For a long time, infidelity was seen as a man’s game, a cliché story line of married business men hooking up with their secretaries. But the landscape for cheating in the last few decades has changed and experts say women are cheating just as much as men.

In her new book State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity, author and psychotherapist Esther Perel said since the 1990s, the rate of married women who have cheated has increased by 40 per cent, CNN notes. The rates among men, however, have not changed.

Ceilidhe Wynn, a matchmaker for Friend of a Friend Matchmaking and relationship expert based in Ottawa, says it’s not only that women are cheating more, but a lot more of them are talking about it as well.

“Women have the same opportunities [to cheat], but we are still told not to be sexual people and cheating is seen as a sexual act,” she tells Global News, adding at the same time, women are more open about the reasons they cheat on their spouses.

Read the rest of the article here

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

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.

Read the rest of the article here

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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