Friend of a Friend Matchmaking loves this body-positive piece by our friend Carly. We are re-posting it here with her enthusiastic consent.

carly.jpg

I celebrate not only the Gregorian new year, but the Jewish one, plus the all the new moons and witch holidays. I love an opportunity to reflect on how things are going, and to think about what I’d like to shift. I have planted my intentions with seeds, and watered them with wishing well water. I have written myself notes and ceremonially burned them. I have mailed myself letters for the future. I have gotten tattoos to remind me of lessons I am still working on learning.

All this to say that New Years resolutions should be right up my alley…but they’re not, because more often than not, the way the dominant (white, North American) culture approaches these resolutions is through stunning self-effacement.

I will erase myself and overwrite a better version of me (who I am is wrong)!

I will stop all my bad habits (stop employing my coping mechanisms)!

I will become better, faster, and stronger (suddenly demand more of my body than ever before, and expect it to cooperate without injury or protest)!

I will lose weight I will lose weight I will lose weight (I am too much)!

In truth, I believe in body autonomy over nearly anything else, so I actually think it’s fine to want to lose weight (or gain it! or change your body in other ways!); and you sure don’t need my permission to make a resolution for yourself.

What I want is for us to get value-neutral about body size and about food. I sometimes err on the side of YAY FAT because the opposite voice is so loud and omnipresent, but legit what I think would be the best is if everyone got to decide for themselves what felt right and good and healthy and hot for their own body, and we got to be less fettered by literal constant messaging that thin bodies are sexy/healthy/desirable/virtuous and that fat bodies are lazy/unhealthy/unloveable/a project that can never be abandoned. My body is not a problem to be solved. It is not a disease, and I need no cure. I’m just fat (and honestly, I’m kind of into it).

I do workshops about body image with young people at a TRULY AWESOME summer camp. As an opening exercise, I give everyone paper and a pencil, and I ask them to make a list, as long as they can, of things they love about their bodies. I give an additional prompt that folks can think about a) how their body looks, b) how their body feels, and c) things their body can do. Then we sit in silence for a few minutes and I watch these strong, smart, powerful, visionary youth struggle to think of something, anything, they like about their bodies (I promise the workshops get less depressing from there).

Here is a short list of a few of the things I love about my own body, to use as reference or inspiration in case you decide to try this exercise for yourself (and I recommend that you do)!

soft belly/ juicy butt/ impressive armpit hair/ truly amazing for being the little spoon/ summertime freckles/ cute little feet/ dexterous fingers let me knit fast/ my eyes change color/ multiple orgasms/ strong legs/ strong bones (never broken one)/ general sturdiness/ great lips (for coating in lipstick)/ soft skin/ cool hair/ tattoos/ being a shorty means I always have enough leg room on trains on in the backseat.

I could go on (it miiiiiight get a little more NSFW if I did).

At this time of year, it seems like there is a big, resounding WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER thing ringing through the air about disciplining our bodies into something different, and folks, I am not in this with you. This is not a universal project. It can be yours; but don’t you dare suggest that it should be mine.

This doesn’t mean I love everything about my body all the time. I sure don’t. But I want to love most of it most of the time, and I am way more interested in working towards that goal than towards the utterly Sisyphean one of making my body conform to the standards expected of me.  Not only is that unattainable, it’s not actually what I want! I have come to love the physical power that comes with living in a larger body, and I don’t want to give it up. My body is extremely well suited to standing firm, holding fast, and comforting people I love. These are precious gifts.

If you want, even as a tiny thought experiment, to try on body positivity or body neutrality, or whatever words you want to give to the deliberate shifting of how you evaluate and understand bodies (yours and other people’s), here are some ideas of ways forward. YMMV, and I support you in the struggle, however it goes.

1. If someone you care about announces that they have lost weight- instead of leaping to congratulate them, first ask- “how does that feel for you?” (or something like that) and listen to the answer.

2. Don’t talk shit about your own body. See what happens if for 24 hours, or a week, or a month, you don’t speak out loud (even when you are alone) a single disparaging comment about your body (it can hear you). You may even owe it an apology (or several million of them). Might that be delivered by a massage? A pie? A love letter to your abundant thighs? A thank you note for every orgasm you’ve ever had? A long slow run through a wooded area? Several glasses of cool water with lemon? Acupuncture? Doritos? A nap? What is your body asking you for?

3. Make whatever choices feel right to you about what you eat, but don’t then coat them in a veneer of virtue. Your food is not “clean” (my food is not dirty). Your food is not “good” (my food is not bad). Your food is right for you, and that is awesome. Avoid the “cupcake? I couldn’t possibly!”s and the “I’ll have to work this off later”s. Eat what you eat, don’t eat what you don’t eat, and don’t shit on someone else’s pulled pork sandwich.

4. Try taking an appreciative approach to your body. What are the things you love about it, and how can you cultivate those (rather than trying to erase or modify the things you hate). This might lead you to the same actions- for example – if you want to be smaller, you might decide to dance more. If you love how your body feels when you dance, you might decide to dance more. Even with the same result, I promise doing the thing will feel differently if you’re doing it from a place of cultivating love and connection with your body rather than punishing it for existing too much.

5. Fake it. Fake that you think you’re hot as fuck. Fake that you “can pull off” that dress. Faking is actually doing, in a lot of circumstances, and eventually it might not feel like faking.

6. Make a change to the kinds of images of bodies you are exposed to. Find a blog or an instagram account or a porno (or twelve) that shows different kinds of bodies (fat bodies! hairy bodies! genderqueer bodies! disabled bodies! bodies with scars! bodies with stretch marks! bodies like yours) like, having fun. Wearing cute shit and going to the aquarium. Wearing sexy things or doing sexy things. Doing sports or dancing. Notice your own judgements, and try to let them go.

7. Get mad! Get mad about little kids who refuse to eat because their fear of being fat is so visceral. Get mad about the multi-billion dollar weight loss industry that is SO INVESTED in us hating ourselves. Get mad about Oprah repping Weight Watchers. Get mad about the misogyny that is embedded in a deep societal hatred of bodily squishiness. Get mad about how much we could all accomplish if we spent as much energy learning Russian or ASL or solving mathematical equations or cuddling our small humans or making soup for our sick friends or starting a small business or dismantling the prison industrial complex as we did picking apart our bodies and planning their (partial) demise.

Good luck with whatever goals you set for yourself; I’m already proud of you.

Carly is a 32-year-old white genderqueer femme. She is a freelance workshop facilitator in Toronto, mostly working on community building, body autonomy, intersectionality, queer sexual health, trauma survivorship, and keeping people alive. She likes roasted vegetables and bitter foods, and hates cantaloupe and anything gelatinous. She thinks that leopard print is a neutral and that prisons should be abolished. She is also a tarot reader- think of it as single session therapy, with a witch! Find out more at http://www.tinylanterntarot.com

Posted
AuthorSofi Papamarko

 

 

Doritos.png

I just got an upsetting email from an online dating site I've used off-and-on (without much success, might I add, but I am an eternal optimist) for a decade.

"Before the new year, we’re removing OkCupid usernames. It’s starting with a test group and will soon be rolled out to everyone on OkCupid, so all users will need to update their profiles with their real names. We know, this is tough to hear — especially for StayingPawwsitive, Dootdootledootd0 and Britney__Tears. It’s because, like the recent goodbye we said to AIM screen names, it’s time to keep up with the times. We want you, BigDaddyFlash916, to go by who you are, and not be hidden beneath another layer of mystique. Even if that mystique is crucial to you and your dating life, unicorn__jizz."

Holy heck, OKCupid! You used to be so wise! What are you thinking?

I'm just as happy to say goodbye to hornyguy4u69 as anyone, but guess what, friends? hornyguy4u69 continues to exist on the site! hornyguy4u69 is secreted among us, but now that he is camouflaged as a Steve or a Dan or an Aloysius, how will I know not to spend precious minutes of my life engaging in conversation with him?

Maybe this is what OKCupid wants. More interaction and engagement between users. Even if those interactions and engagements are ultimately doomed to fail.

For me, usernames have been a quick and effective way of getting to know someone's interests, intentions and creative capacity. (I recently went on a couple of dates with a mister_spinster because I thought that was a cute and clever name. Turns out, he was a cute and clever man!) I often reach out to people with literary or cheeky names, confident that if they put some effort and wit into their usernames, surely they would put some effort and wit into their conversations and dates with me.

OKCupid's other bungle earlier this year was attempting to emulate Tinder by forcing users to participate in their horrible "Doubletake" (formerly known as "QuickMatch") function. Doubletake shows you user photos but not much else. This perpetuates the shallow nature of online dating and minimizes OKCupid's true value over apps like Tinder and Bumble -- getting to know another human being through their writing as opposed to images of their pectoral muscles.

As a woman with a weird job and a distinctively-spelled first name, I will no longer have anonymity on this dating site. I would even go so far as to say that I would fear for my personal safety, considering some of the vitriol I've been on the receiving end of when rejecting potential suitors (everyone's read the ending of Cat Person by now, so you know exactly what I mean by this).

OKCupid didn't think this through, so I'm through with OKCupid. After I hit post, I'm deactivating my profile for good.

For me and for probably many singles who aren't on board with this bizarre change, it's back to meeting cute and clever people the old-fashioned way: parties, bars, friends of friends and, of course, matchmaking.

Sofi Papamarko
Founder
Friend of a Friend Matchmaking Inc.

 

Posted
AuthorSofi Papamarko

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

Posted
AuthorSofi Papamarko
2 CommentsPost a comment


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

Posted
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.
***

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

Posted
AuthorSofi Papamarko

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



***

turkey-love.jpg

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

Posted
AuthorSofi Papamarko
vqepaysepymbglpdxvcd.jpg

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

Posted
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

Posted
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

Posted
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!

Posted
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?

Read the rest of the article here

Posted
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

Posted
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.

Posted
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
 

Posted
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.

Posted
AuthorSofi Papamarko