A Toronto Transformation

dating

Where to go on a Date in Toronto

Southern Accent Toronto

Mirvish Village’s charming Southern Accent Restaurant boasts amazing eats and an in-house psychic!

As much love as I have for Toronto, I will acknowledge that “love” is not the first thing you might associate with our skyline.

Somehow the CN Tower’s silhouette, while impressive in its own way, just doesn’t lend itself to romance the way, say, the Eiffel Tower’s lacy and intricate structure does.

That said, this time of year, the cold brings with it plenty of excuses to cozy up to some lovely someone in the city.

With that in mind, and the help of some of my trusty Toronto advisers, I’ve come up with a list of places to take your sweetheart that will surely help you see the city in a different light.

Escape chilly northern nights at Southern Accent, a sparkling, mysterious treasure box of delicious spicy Cajun food to get your blood pumping. They have amazing cocktails AND an on-site psychic, if you dare to find out what the future has in store for you and your lovebird.

For thrill-seekers with $175 to spare, the CN Tower edge walk would definitely make for a memorable date.  Plus, if you’re one of those Torontonians who has no fondness for the image of our iconic sky-scraping structure, look at is this way: if you’re dangling from the edge of it, you don’t have to look at it.

For a slightly less terrifying, but equally spectacular view of the city, Emily recommends swapping your jumpsuit and harness for some fancy duds and popping up to the Panorama Lounge at the top of the Manulife Centre for a romantic cocktail or two.

Take your beloved bookworm to BMV Books – Not your typical date spot, I grant you, but someone who knew I was a reader once took me there on the way to dinner and insisted we run around the giant used bookstore and pick out a book each that the other person then had to read. It was a fun way to break the ice a little before dinner and I really appreciated that he had obviously paid attention to my interests and put a little creative effort into our date.

Cozy up with tea or hot chocolate in the (fairly ostentatious) sumptuous purple dining room and treat your honey to a little box of beautiful bonbons to take home from the sparkling, jewellery shop inspired chocolate boutique on your way out the door of Moroco Chocolat in Yorkville.

Though she acknowledges it isn’t situated in a particularly romantic area, Emma says lately she swears by bistro cafe Zocalo for a cheap and cozy (and flatteringly lit) date spot. She also says, and I quote: “There is also an outrageous hipster tea shop across the street, so if the date doesn’t go well and you need a confidence boost, just pop over there and you’re guaranteed to be hit on by half a dozen toque-wearing bearded men who will try to tell you about their performance art. I’m not exaggerating.”

So. there’s that.

Step inside the Sultan’s Tent to feast on seriously incredible Morrocan food and be entertained by equally incredible belly dancers.

For the Goth couple, a stroll through the gorgeous and historic Mount Pleasant Cemetery is the perfect way to while away an afternoon (or for the really goth couple, an evening).

The Distillery District (another Emily recommendation) is terribly charming in a cobblestone sort of way. There are plenty of galleries and shops to poke your head into, and it’s also host to an annual Christmas market. Mulled wine by an outdoor fireplace anyone?

For adventuresome winter dates, pack a flask and a thermos of hot chocolate, and go tobogganing either in High Park or at Riverdale.

And for the super successful date, Emily also suggests breakfast at Aunties and Uncles.

Also, if you’re an app-y sort of person, this week, Toronto is the featured city on Spotted by Locals and they are offering a free app download of our fantastic city guide, so be sure to take advantage of that while you can!

Do you have a go-to great date spot? Have you ever been on a really unique, memorable date? You know I want to hear about it in the comments! 

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Dealing with Rejection

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Once upon a time, I had a friend who was stewing over a young man she was dating and wondering if he was ever going to call her again after a sudden and drastic decline in the enthusiastic communication she’d been receiving from him until that point.

I told her that if she didn’t hear from him she, being smart, hilarious and gorgeous, should naturally assume that he had either fallen down a terribly deep hole or suffered an injury that caused memory loss or had all of his fingers burned off and can no longer use a phone or computer.

I said she should banish him to the Isle of Men we Forget About.

I told her this in part because that unless you have some serious personality defects, trying to puzzle out why someone might not want to see or speak to you again is a particularly futile form of self-torture.

Since then I have unfortunately had occasion to banish a couple of fellas to that barren and boring isle myself. I like to picture them all there together, weeping and shivering around a bonfire by night and trying unsuccessfully to build rafts from the debris that washes up on their less-than-idyllic island home in an effort to sail back to me by day.

The nice thing about romantic rejections is that unlike professional rejections, often the reason you’re being rejected has nothing to do with you or your skill set or talents at all.

So much of romantic relationships just comes down to timing and chemistry.

I know this to be true not only because I think I’m a pretty awesome person to date, yet still have faced rejection, but also because I’ve had to reject perfectly cool, fun, nice guys based on something as frustratingly intangible as a nagging feeling that something was missing, though I’d have been hard-pressed to pinpoint exactly what that something was.

It’s freeing in a way, to know that there’s not much you can do beyond being kind, being yourself, and of course leaving your house once in a while to find someone who might like to spend significant amounts of time kissing and getting to know you.

One thing I have learned from rejections big and small, is if someone tells you they aren’t interested, aren’t ready, aren’t sure of the wonderful, dynamic and gorgeous creature you are, either with their words or actions, for pity’s sake, believe them.

Don’t try to change their mind or convince them of your worth, no matter how great you might think they are. Odds are it won’t work, and, if by some miracle it does, well, as I’ve said before:

The worst kind of love potion is the one that works.

What I’ve learned from rejection is that you should be with someone who is thrilled to bits to be with you.

Because you, my friend, are goddamn fabulous.

How to tell them there won’t be a next date

You know, I've never actually hoped I would get food poisoning before...

You know, I’ve never actually hoped I would get food poisoning before…

Dating can be such an exhausting endeavour.

It takes time and energy and sometimes money.

Of course, with the right person it’s also thrilling and fun and oh so worth the time and energy required.

But what do you do when that’s not the case?

I was recently chatting with an acquaintance who had just come from a date with a woman he’d seen a few times. He liked her well enough but didn’t see a relationship in the cards for them and wasn’t particularly interested in seeing her again.

“I’m considering… just sort of phasing her out…?” he said.

I think I just shouted the word “Horrible!” in response, before remembering that I barely knew this guy, and that some people don’t like it when strangers make judgmental proclamations about their life choices.

Whoops.

Still, I get where he was coming from. No one wants to have to tell someone you don’t think they’re fantastic enough to take up any more of your time.

It’s easy to argue that unless you’ve made some sort of verbal or written commitment (and hey, I know some folks who’d argue it even then) there’s really no need to let someone know that you’re no longer interested in seeing them. It’s easy to just avoid that awkward mini-breakup all together. I’ve had that argument with myself.

Most of us who have been on the receiving end of that kind of disappearing act by someone who seemed keen enough to spend some time with us would agree: we’d rather just be told that we shouldn’t expect a call, than to wait by the phone, working our way through a field of daisies playing he/she loves me, he/she loves me not.

So, in the end, I decided that my policy for extracting myself from nice-enough-but-not-for me men’s lives would be to be as clear and honest as possible. Treat others the way you want to be treated, no?

As far as I’m concerned, if you’ve only been on a few dates, it’s perfectly acceptable to get the message across with something as pain-free as a thoughtful, well-crafted, and above all, clear, text message or email. If you’ve been dating for a few months and communicated primarily by phone, then a phone call might be in order.

In fact, allow me to craft one for you now:

“Hey there,

I just wanted to thank you for a couple of lovely dates. I thought I should let you know that I’m not really feeling a romantic connection, but I’ve really enjoyed getting to know such an interesting/funny/clever/handsome-faced/hot-bod-ed guy/gal.”

The end.

If you actually would like to hang out with them as pals, say so, but don’t throw it out there as an insincere bit of pity. It might feel kind, but it’s not really.

Of course, if that’s too much for you, you could always just tell them you have a skin irregularity in a very delicate area.

What do you guys think? Do you have a strategy in place for letting someone know there won’t be a next date?Also, if you have a better caption for the photo above, why not hop on by facebook and tell me all about it? on.fb.me/18Pc4dU 

Mystery (Method) Man

As I waited, bedraggled, sunburnt and sandy-haired for the streetcar on my way home from the beach this weekend, I was approached by a young man on a bicycle.

“Excuse me,” he said. “I just saw you standing here and thought I’d have to kick my own ass if I didn’t come over and try to talk to you.”

I looked up, startled, and eloquently replied, “Haha..Oh?” unwittingly opening the door to the most bewildering conversation I’ve had in quite some time.

Looking back, it felt for the most part, more like an interview than a conversation.

He asked my name and where I was coming from and if I lived in the area. I answered vaguely and when he rolled his eyes and made motion for me to elaborate, I shrugged and pointed out that I wasn’t about to give him my address.

He told me he liked my purse, that it reminded him of a ninja turtle. He asked how old I was. I told him and asked him how old he was. He oh-so-charmingly asked me to guess, apparently having mistaken me for an old-timey county fair employee. He was quite baby-faced despite his beard, so I guessed 24, I think he said he was 23.

“Have you seen the movie The Grinch?” he asked.

“…who stole Christmas? Yes, I’m familiar with it. Why?” I asked, eyes sliding past him to search for the streetcar, which was naturally nowhere to be seen.

“You remind me of Cindy Lou.”

“The Who?” I laughed, despite myself, and possibly because slight heatstroke and the sinus medication I was taking were making the whole encounter feel quite surreal. “Because of my adorably perky nose?”

“Nah, you’ve just got it,” he helpfully explained. “So what do you do?”

“I’m a writer.” I practised. “I write a blog and I have an extra gig writing for an online travel guide”

“What about you?” I asked before he could quiz me about my blog.

He said he was a writer too. A poet.

“Of course you are” I thought, as he ran a hand (with red lacquered nails) through his hair.

“Are you a bit of a daddy’s girl? I get the feeling you probably are.”

I stared at him.

“I’m not really sure what you mean by that. It kind of seems like an insult.” I told him. “I get along really well with both my parents.” (how much do I wish I’d said, “I’m nobody’s girl, thanks. I’m my own damn woman.”? Ah well, next time) “Do you get along well with your parents?”

He said some nonsense about being “polarized” with them. He may have been taking some poetic licence there.

He asked where I was from and then said he hated my hometown before admitting he actually had never been there and didn’t know anything about it. He told me my high-waisted, patterned pants were a bold choice.

I started to wonder if I was hallucinating him and the whole bizarre situation.

Then he told me I seemed adventurous and that I should go on an adventure with him. He said we should have sangria and watch Beauty and the Beast.

I thought that was actually a great idea. Minus, you know, him.

“I want to do a personality test on you,” he proclaimed, holding out his hands for mine. I reluctantly put my hands in his as he asked, “Do you trust me?”

“Nope”

“OK, well you have to close your eyes.”

“Oh I’m definitely not doing that,” I said, reclaiming my hands.

He laughed and told me I was the worst. Then he asked me for my phone number.

I squirmed uncomfortably and told him I wasn’t really sure I wanted to give him my number, that I was, in fact trying to take a hiatus from giving guys my number.

He persisted, refusing to take no for an answer, until finally, getting a little anxious for him to leave, I gave it to him.

I know.

I know. I really am the worst. Not only did I give my number to someone I have no desire or intention to see again, out of stupid politeness, but I totally reinforced the idea for this guy that wearing women down is an effective way to get their phone numbers. Why did I put this strange young man’s comfort before my own? I should know better, but it’s not the first time I’ve done this. I need to be quicker on my feet at thinking up fake phone numbers. Or, hey, grow a spine.

Ugh.

At least it did wrap up the baffling interaction leaving me to wait for the ttc in peace, though not before he opened his arms for a hug, my flat refusal of which he took as a signal to ask for a kiss on the cheek instead.

Yeah, no.

“We’ll go on an adventure!” he said, as he hopped back on his bike.

“Maybe…if I feel like it.” I replied.

“We will!” his misguided confidence exclaimed.

It was only as I boarded the streetcar a couple of minutes later that I realized what had just happened.

The backhanded pseudo-compliments, the unnatural un-flow of the conversation, the personality test, his painted fingernails? I’d been a target of the goddamned Mystery Method.

This guy was a walking, talking Pick Up Artist forum. I honestly thought these guys only existed on the internet, but here he was, in the flesh, using the same creepy cheat sheet he’ll undoubtedly apply to countless other women, because of course we can all be manipulated in the same ways, because we’re just a bunch of clones walking around just waiting for an opportunity to sleep with any guy who is vaguely weird and rude to us.

What really disturbs me about the whole thing is that it’s not much of a stretch to think that guys who feel like wearing down a woman who is clearly uncomfortable after she’s said she doesn’t want to give you her phone number is ok, are going to be the kind of guys who think it’s ok to try to wear her down when she says she doesn’t want to have sex.

Dude texted me today.

I won’t be texting him back.

I probably will drink that sangria and watch Beauty and the Beast though. Maybe with some girlfriends.

Have you guys ever encountered this kind of thing? How do you handle politely extricating yourself from situations where you know you have no intention of ever seeing someone who wants to take you out again? 

Diamonds and Ice

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Photo Courtesy of the Australian (how perfect is my sweater?)

This weekend I decided to take my own advice and embrace the ridiculously cold weather we’d been having in the city. So I attired myself in multiple layers of leggings, sweaters, and socks, topped it off with a fuzzy hat and dragged some wonderfully game friends down to Harbourfront for one of their DJ Skate Nights.

We were all a little apprehensive. I think I might have been the one with the most skating experience, just from going to the rink a lot as a kid: working my way up from bob skates about as soon as I could walk (how Canadian of me) to pushing around a traffic cone or a chair (although I liked it better when I got to sit on the chair while my dad whirled me around the ice) to racing around with the hockey players on elementary school trips. However, I hadn’t actually laced up a pair of skates in a good nine years. I just hoped it would all come back to me.

Fortified with hot chocolate and baileys and the insanely delicious lamington cake the Australian brought along for her somewhat unorthodox Australia day, we brave souls tentatively helped each other on to the ice.

Almost immediately I was wishing for that chair, or heck, even a traffic cone. But slowly and steadily we made first one, then another lap around the rink, losing track of, then finding each other again, laughing at our own ineptitude and trying to resist the life-threatening urge to dance to “Run the World.”

By about the tenth lap I had pushed through the nostalgic shin pain and was having a grand old time zipping around and chatting away with one of my friends when suddenly the motion of the rink changed. Everyone (and there were a lot of us) slowed down and then actually stopped. I raised a questioning eyebrow at my friend and she pointed to the centre of the rink, where, sure enough, a man was down on one knee, proposing to his girlfriend.

While I doubt it would ever be considered viral video material next to all of the crazy and elaborate stunt proposals that are out there, and from what I could see, there were no friends about, taping the whole thing for youtube posterity, let me tell you, this moment was electric. Every damned person on the rink held their breath until that man got up, kissed her crying face, and victoriously (and mercifully) announced, “She said yes!!!”

I may have screamed a little (and nearly caused a complete domino collapse of every skater out there with my excited wiggling and jumping about).

I stopped wiggling as the ghost of another harbour, another ring, another nervous and hopeful man superimposed themselves over the scene. But I pushed them away.

One day, I’ll get there again, I told myself, gliding and weaving my way through the crowd, and breathing the frozen lake air, grinning as the exhilarating feeling of finding my balance and hitting my stride and that need to just fly around the rink took me over.

And it will be scary at first. It’s always scarier after you fall, but the thing about falling on the ice is that if you stay down, you’re in danger of, at worst, being run over by people with blades on their feet, and at best, freezing your ass off. And who needs that?

So you get up, and you try again, and sooner or later it will all come back to you.

He’s perfect, but…

Whenever the two of you spend a night in, he insists on wearing absolutely nothing except, inexplicably, a t-shirt.

Seriously, think about how absurd that looks. Just walking around the house with everything hanging out, yet, for some reason, shoulders modestly covered.

Oh, and he keeps all the lights on and blinds open in the evenings, so that passersby may get a bizarre eyeful as well.

Could you still find him un-ridiculous enough to be attracted to?

First Date

For many people (many people in long-term, monogamous relationships and/or crazy people), the thought of a first date brings up a fond nostalgia . Images of hope, anticipatory butterflies and infinite possibility float around in their heads.

I have a theory that this is caused by the same kind of magical cloud of forgetfulness that allows women to be convinced to bear more than one child, because when I’m staring down the barrel of yet another first date, the only thing floating around my head is a vague sense of nausea.

Since entering the realms of the (allegedly) available, I’ve been lucky enough to have some perfectly lovely gentleman offer to feed and/or entertain me for an evening.

In theory? Love it.

However, While I’m crazily optimistic about pretty much every other aspect of life, my attitude towards dating of late has been somewhat, well, the exact opposite.

I don’t know how I can possibly be this jaded so early on in my single lady career.

For example, while preparing for a first date with a perfectly nice, funny and handsome guy, my question  to my BFF was not “Ohmigod do you think he’ll like me? What should I wear? IMSOEXCITED!!!”

Instead, our consultation went a little something like this:

“Is it rude to wear sweatpants on a date?”

“Oh yeah! You have that date tonight!”

“I want to stay home and eat cookies.”

“ Where are you going?”

“Some Comedy Club. I’m not optimistic. Also, my eye is twitching. And I kind of forget what this guy looks like.”

As it turned out, BFF was actually at the club I was headed to (we have a bizarre habit of attending each-other’s dates – mostly by accident) and the (cuter than I remembered) gentleman in question actually bought me a delicious cookie while on the date, so my night picked up considerably.

Still, even with some decent experiences, the thought of a first date just leaves me somewhere between mild irritation and utter exhaustion these days and I’m at a loss as to how to change that.

Am I just not dating the right people? Should I just not be dating at all?

Or, and I’m kind of leaning towards this option, should I just start wearing cookie-crumb sweatpants and being slightly ornery on my dates?

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