Putting yourself out there romantically can be all kinds of scary. The simple act of asking somebody on a date can prompt sweaty palms, an elevated heart rate and other symptoms related to anxiety. Love is fight. Love is flight.

As a wise man once said, “shyness is nice, but shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to.”

It takes courage and some measure of self-confidence to ask somebody out. But what if you have neither?

Then you might just be love-shy.

“The Forty Year-Old Virgin” is a movie concept that supposedly borders on the absurd, but it’s astonishing how many matchmaking clients I meet in their 30s, 40s and beyond who have never dated. It’s not because there’s anything wrong with them; in fact, they happen to be particularly introspective, intelligent and sensitive people. It’s just that they’re too afraid of rejection to express romantic interest in anyone — ever.

Read the rest here

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

Can your smartphone find you love? There are so many dating apps out there that it can be confusing to know which to choose. For the luddites among you, here’s a quick primer on a few of the more popular ones. (We can’t help if you still use a landline, sorry.)

Grindr

The daddy of all dating apps. Released in 2009 for the gay community, Grindr forever changed the culture of dating and hookups. Harnessing the magic of geolocation, users browse profile pictures and exchange messages with other users nearby. Grindr is currently used in 192 countries around the world and boasts two million daily users.

Tinder

“Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a Grindr for, like, straight people?” hetero singles collectively sighed in 2011. Talk about wish fulfilment! Tinder launched in September 2012 and ignited like … well … literal tinder. Your Facebook profile provides the particulars (location, age, photos) and the app does the rest, offering a never-ending parade of dream girls and dream boys for you to judge based on looks. Swipe right to “like” them. Swipe left to reject without consequence. If you mutually like (or “super like”) each other, you can chat through the app and meet up IRL (that’s “in real life”). Tinder was initially considered a hookup app, but it’s since evolved into part of a balanced dating strategy. Tinder weddings and Tinder babies are far from unheard of and 50 million users swipe away on the app each month.

Read the rest here.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

A wise man or woman once said: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” (It was either Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Jessie Potter or Drake, depending on how well you Internet.) Want to increase your odds of finding a romantic relationship this year? You’ve got to change things up! Here are some practical dating resolutions that will increase your odds of finding love in 2017.

Ask around

Do your colleagues and neighbours and dog walker and lawyer and dentist and condo board and knitting circle know you’re single? Tell them! And ask if they know anyone who might be a good fit for you. Feel weird about it? You’d do the same thing if you were job hunting, right? Networking your way into a date or two isn’t desperate; it’s proactive and resourceful.

Do stuff

Do stuff. Lots of it. The more you do stuff (join clubs, volunteer, take classes, etc.) the more likely it is that you’ll meet people who also like to do the stuff that you like to do. Doing stuff also makes you a more interesting person with more conversational ammo when you do go on a date.

(Note: do not fall into the trap of doing stuff that you don’t want to do simply because it might offer you a chance to meet someone. If it turns out there’s no one viable present, you’ll feel like a chump who wasted both time and money. Now let us never speak of that recreational curling league again.)

Second chances are key

You’re on a date. They’re nice but they do not look like Tom Brady/Halle Berry. They crack a joke or two that makes you laugh and puts you at ease, but there are no firework or angelic trumpets in your heart. Do you go on a second date? Heck yes! Your former 2016 self probably would not have gone on date No. 2, but the 2017 version of you will.

Read the rest online here.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

This can be a lonely time of year for a lot of peopleespecially singles.

But no matter how badly you want to partner up, for those who use online dating sites to forge connections with potential mates, it’s important to give your head more credence than your heart. 

In other words: if the person you’re communicating with online seems too good to be true, they probably are.

In 2015, Canadians were bilked out of close to $17 million from online dating scammers. And those are just the reported scams.

Scammers attempt to earn the love and trust of their online targets before asking them to send money for seemingly legitimate reasons – a plane ticket or a family emergency, for example.

According to Borke Obada-Obieh, a graduate student in Computer Science at Carleton University studying security precautions taken by online daters, Canada is ranked the 7th country most susceptible to online dating scams. 

Desire to find an emotional connection with someone could make (dating site users) easily vulnerable to scamming,” she says.

We’re a nation of Eleanor Rigbys with money. This makes us sitting ducks to romance scammers.

According to Obada-Obieh’s findingsscammers reach out to people of all ages, but their targets seem to skew female.

Wende Wood, 47, has been approached by would-be online dating scammers at least five times. The Calgary-based woman lived in Toronto for 17 years. It was here where she was targeted by a man who claimed to be “Larry,” a Romanian-Canadian from Toronto who strung her along for nearly four months. 

Read the rest of the article here.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

 

The Hamilton-Burlington arm of Friend of a Friend is starting to pick up steam, which is very exciting. Some incredible people have signed up and now I’m (Joanne) working hard to find them their soul mates (or at least some great dates). 

We’re still welcoming women, men, and trans people of all orientations, but there are some specific people we can make matches for right away. Men from 30-70 who are interested in dating women in their peer group: we want you! If you have a volunteer spirit and love your family and the outdoors, we want you! If you love classic rock (and beyond) and comedy, oh boy, do I have a great date for you! Men who love to travel and enjoy the company of a smart, sophisticated woman, yes! And if you're a 40something to 60-ish creative, sensitive, cool, leather jacket and rock 'n' roll type, do we ever want you! 

Women who love the outdoors and keeping fit (especially cyclists) are on top of our wish list, too. 

We are offering a 50% discount for all men who sign up to Friend of a Friend Hamilton-Burlington until January 1, 2017. Join now!

Friend of a Friend Hamilton-Burlington was recently featured in the Hamilton Spectator.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

Thanks to reporter Emma Reilly for this lovely piece in the Spec:

In an era of online dating algorithms and swiping right to find love, Joanne Davis is relying on good, old-fashioned gut instinct to help fellow Hamiltonians.

Davis is the matchmaker for the new Hamilton branch of the successful Toronto business: Friend of a Friend Matchmaking. A self-described "yenta," her job is to meet romantic hopefuls, get a feel for their personalities, and – if all goes according to plan – connect them with someone in the hopes that sparks will fly.

"I know that people find love in unusual ways," says Davis who, coincidentally enough, met her husband of 20 years through a friend of a friend.

"I think I'm a pretty good judge of character, and I feel like I have a good sense of the kind of people that get along."

At first glance, using a matchmaker in the age of online dating may seem as anachronistic as churning your own butter. But Davis says it's a perfect fit for a wide range of people —including those who have tried dating websites and are sick of striking out online.

"I think for a lot of people it was fun for awhile, but it's not fun anymore," she said. "I think that people are also charmed by the idea that they have a matchmaker or a yenta."

Davis says the service is also useful for those who work odd hours, who don't want to have their face broadcast on an online dating site, or for older singles who may not be as comfortable with technology.

Read the rest of the article here.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

Thank you so much, Toronto!

I had no idea what I was doing when I started this weird little business and some days I still feel like I'm totally faking it, but this recognition feels really good. I've tried to run Friend of a Friend Matchmaking with as much heart, good humour and integrity as I can muster; it's nice to know that you lovely people have taken notice.

All of the love.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

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

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 on the Toronto Star's website or on StarTouch.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

Photo credit: Jennifer Rowsom

Hello! I'm Joanne and I'm thrilled to join Friend of a Friend Matchmaking as the new yenta for the Hamilton region. I have a background in journalism and love to sit down and talk to people, listen to their stories, and really understand what makes them stand apart from the crowd. It's those details, those nuances that will help me make good matches. I know that it's fun to scroll through pictures and imagine that the hottest babe will also share your hopes, dreams, and love of travel, cooking, and vintage motorcycles. But sometimes it can be disheartening to discover your would-be dreamboat loves ribs and Family Guy...but you're a Criterion-collecting vegan. That's where I come in! 

Every person who signs up to Friend of a Friend in the Hamilton/Burlington region will meet with me. We'll talk and it will be fun (I swear!), then I'll try my absolute hardest to find you a good match. It might be one date, but maybe you'll make a connection with someone so incredibly wonderful that one date turns into two, then... well, let's take this one step at a time. 

I don't think being in a relationship is the key to happiness, but if you'd like to see what Friend of a Friend can do for you, I'd be honoured to help you meet some new people.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

We need your help, Toronto!

Friend of a Friend Matchmaking is thrilled to be nominated by NOW readers as one of the Best Introduction/Dating Services in Toronto! Please cast your ballot (under Shopping & Services) to help catapult us to glorious, glorious victory! It only takes a minute or two and it could improve dating as we know it in Toronto. (Winning this award = higher visibility = more clients = more potential dates for EVERYBODY!) Voting closes on Friday.

Last year, OKCupid and Tinder won. Toronto deserves better, don't you think? 

PLEASE VOTE HERE NOW PLEASE PLEASE THANK YOU I LOVE YOU OKAY THANK YOU!

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

 

We're here! We're queer! We're Hamilton! We're Burlington! We're taking over!

Here's the press release we issued today. Feel free to share, post, tweet, write about us on your website or blog, talk about us at cocktail parties, send us flowers or bake us cookies.

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Friend of a Friend Matchmaking Expands into Hamilton, LGBTQ Communities

 

Frustrated singles rejoice! Friend of a Friend Matchmaking, a boutique introductions company founded by relationships writer Sofi Papamarko, is expanding its affordable and personalized services into two growing areas.

While always welcoming LGBTQ+ folks with open arms, Friend of a Friend has now brought on a dedicated LGBTQ+ "yenta" based in the Greater Toronto Area. Claire AH is a sex educator, public speaker and radio host who will be making inroads into Toronto's richly diverse queer community in the months and years to come.

“So many matchmaking services either have historically shut out LGBTQ+ people or have attempted to shoehorn them into heteronormative or even homonormative frameworks,” says Claire. “I'm going to be to learning from people about how they want to access matchmaking instead of defining goals and roles myself. Friend of a Friend has set up this culture of openness, so I'm excited to expand it further.”

Hamilton-Burlington is a vibrant region full of nature, art and singles, making it the ideal second location of Friend of a Friend, headed up by writer Joanne Davis.

"I'm looking forward to meeting the single people of Hamilton and Burlington," Joanne says. "There is so much to discover here. Let me help you find the perfect person to explore these cities with!"

Dating coach Lee-Anne Galloway has been brought on as a new Toronto yenta, bringing to the table years of expertise in the areas of love, dating, marriage and break-ups.

Founder Sofi Papamarko is looking to expand the Friend of a Friend Matchmaking brand into several other major Canadian cities in 2017.

"Dating is harder now than it's ever been before," Sofi says. "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. Human matchmakers are far more capable of making authentic matches than any slick computer algorithm. I predict you're going to see a huge resurgence in traditional matchmaking in the next decade, and Friend of a Friend wants to be at the forefront of the digital-to-analog dating revolution."

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

Request an interview by contacting Sofi Papamarko at sexytypewriter (at) gmail.com

L-R: Claire AH, Joanne Davis and Lee-Anne Galloway

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

I ask matchmaking clients personal questions. Sometimes, they’re uncomfortably personal. But there’s one personal question I’ll never ask because it’s none of my business: what’s in their bank account.

This rule has gotten me off the hook more than a few times. Like when a female matchmaking client requests to be matched with a man who pulls in no less than a six-figure salary. Or when a male matchmaking client expresses his discomfort at the mere thought of dating somebody who makes more money than him.

In such cases, I heave a mighty inward sigh and say: “Sorry, I don’t ask clients about their income.”

Money does matter, but personal finances should not be a factor in the search for lifelong companionship. Jobs come and go, careers are often in transition, smart (and/or terrible) financial decisions can sometimes be made. What’s important is how you and your partner handle your finances as a team through life’s inevitable ebbs and flows.

When Amanda Scriver first made the leap from 9-to-5er to freelance writer, her partner Simon Gilbert supported her emotionally and financially (Gilbert has steady work as a café manager).

A somewhat awkward period of adjustment followed.

Read the rest of today's article on the Star's site or download StarTouch.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko

It's been a seriously good summer.  

I traveled to Europe -- specifically London, Paris, the south of France, Amsterdam and Iceland -- and spent the rest of the summer swimming, writing, reading, drinking wine in parks, eating delicious frozen treats and doing friendship.

Professionally, Friend of a Friend Matchmaking had its best summer yet. We celebrated two of our couples' beautiful weddings in July and two more couples got engaged in August.

And now, it's sunset on Labour Day weekend. (Here is a photo snapped by craft artist extraordinaire Kalpna Patel on magical Toronto Island earlier this evening to illustrate this undeniable fact. More blog below the beauty! But take it in!)

Credit Kalpna Patel.jpg

Labour Day weekend always feels like the bittersweet end of something, but the day after feels like a new beginning. It's probably because the first day of school in September always felt like the true start of the new year -- so much more than any old January first. I still feel like the beginning of September is the beginning of all of the things.

Since I've been out of school (way longer than I care to admit), I've felt a little left out of the whole bakery fresh back-to-school newness that September brings.

Not this year.

In 2016 (that's this year, pals! That's right now!), Friend of a Friend Matchmaking will be celebrating an exciting new beginning in September. There will be an official announcement this week. Stay tuned to this space.

In the meantime, here is a really big clue (can you figure it out?):

More soon, I promise!

Happy September, gurls and boys!

xoxo,

Yenta Sofi

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AuthorSofi Papamarko