THE DATING GAME

Trying to jump back into dating after a long term relationship is not an easy task to take on. Especially when it feels like you’re about to dive face first into a never ending black hole full of “what the fuck’s”… It’s scary to say the least, and you never know when you’ll finally stumble upon something good, or just more darkness.

Being in a relationship for nearly six years really threw off my game.  Never knowing the right thing to do or say with these complete strangers. Was I supposed to be my dorky, sarcastic self, or pretend to be all polite and shy? It’s as if we don’t have enough going on in our lives to stress us out that now we have to worry about this too.

Am I dressed right? Is this shirt too revealing? Do I have something in my teeth? Why isn’t he looking me in the eye!? My shirt is definitely too revealing. All questions that never seem to stop.

Jumping back into the game of it all was not easy. I call it a game because that is exactly what it is. Dating has become an utter joke. Between all these stupid apps that literally have the EXACT same people on them; the new texting etiquette of not replying for hours but never actually calling each other; and talking to like 10 people at once because nobody is exclusive anymore which just ends in ghosting (what the fuck is that by the way?) if done wrong. Ugh, it’s exhausting.

People stopped just going out and meeting strangers, exchanging numbers or emails and going from there. It is all done online now. If you’re not on an App and getting random dick pics, are you really in a relationship? Think about how sad that is. 

A week after moving back home, an old friend had found out I was newly single and asked me out for dinner. What could go wrong? I already knew him and didn’t have to resort to online Apps to meet him… He’s been into me for a while, and actually made the effort to stalk me enough to ask me out 4 days post breakup.  It was an easy way to get back into dating and I really needed the distraction.

Getting out of my disgusting over warn PJs felt great, and I was finally feeling something other than sadness. Looking good really does make you feel good. Having a man’s mouth drop when he sees you feels even better. Single life was starting to look good, and I was ready to enjoy myself.

The date went as well as it could have. He was watching sports on the TV behind me, and I accidentally finished a bottle of wine on my own and found absolutely EVERYTHING he said while looking past me to be hilarious. This is when the game had begun. It was no longer easy – I had to work for his attention, and a few weeks later found out I had competition in the game too.

When we finally drove up to my house he leaned in and kissed me. Big, wet, juicy, moan filled (from him not me) kiss. That was the exact second I knew I jumped back into the game way to soon. Not only was I wasted and thinking about my ex, comparing everything to my first kiss with him, I actually let out a laugh… In the poor mans mouth. Not one of my finest moments…

You can imagine, a week later he told me he was seeing someone else this whole time and wanted to see where things were going to go with her. I don’t blame him – I laughed at him and lost to the competition but I didn’t mind it at all. I was a player in a much bigger game and I really needed to learn the rules now.

Key advice to anyone going through a break up. Don’t rush into dating again until you are ready for it. The game is brutal – and though you can meet the perfect guy within an hour of your breakup, a lot of the time you will need to kiss a few toads first.
Take your time and enjoy working on yourself first – you WONT regret it.

It was after my brutal fail of a date that I realized I needed to step back a bit. I wasn’t ready for the game and really needed to focus on myself for once. Do what made me happy- on my own and with my girls. Boys were my last priority, at least for a bit.

It wasn’t until another drunken night a few months later at a family weddingwhere I found myself up against a glass wall in a parking-lot making out with an old friend (not thinking of my ex this time at all! #winning) that I knew I was ready to start kissing some toads again until I found my prince charming.

Hooking up with a total stranger (or in my case an old friend) will do one of two things. 1. Make you realize you’re ready to date again because A. you are no longer totally pinning over your ex, or B. having someone that all over you is beyond empowering and you miss it! Or 2. Make you realize you need to stop getting drunk and kissing people.

Today marks the six months of my newly single life. It’s true what they say – time heals all. Though I’m still not completely over my past; I do know that I need to move on – and I am slowly becoming ready to. I think that’s the key to playing this whole game… Being ready for it all and what it actually means. 

I’ve met some really interesting guys throughout all of this. Some dates fun, some so awful they make for the best breakfast stories with the girls. Dating is definitely an on-going game, but I’m enjoying the ride of it – no pun intended.

Mr. Right, where are you?

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THE ART OF SELF AWARENESS

My first steps as a solo woman were messy. After the pathetic pity parties (yes there were more than one), were over I decided to branch out and keep myself distracted.

I figured the best thing to do was to just meet someone new and enjoy another persons company because being alone sucked and I didn’t want to deal with my own sad emotions anymore.

Who would have thought that SO MUCH could change in 6 years? What happened to meeting people in person, and why are there so many dating apps available with all the same people on each?

In less than a week I learnt that chivalry was indeed dead and I was so over it.

Since I was now in the mind set that all current single men were disgusting I needed a new plan and It was starting to look like I was going to be my own company for a while.

Having to learn to be completely alone with myself is one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn. Just when I think I’m finally getting the hang of it, I fall back into feeling completely awkward sitting alone at the coffee shop avoiding eye contact with anyone around me and staring deep into my computer screen… Seems to be one of those on-going lessons at this point. 

I figured that I needed to start fresh and rediscover who I was from scratch. I’ve changed so much since I last actually thought about what makes me tick and I wanted to learn it all again. What foods I liked (not having to compromise on food is amazing by the way!), movie & show genres, hobbies, etc. It was a whole journey full of experiments and to do lists.

You know what I’ve learnt so far? I’m a freaking catch.

I’m funny, an incredibly horrible chef, a major foodie, and a pretty good salsa dancer with enough tequila in me.

I let go of the wall I built, always needing someone else around and I’m learning to just have fun. Anxiety can’t hold me back no more! Taking that first step at falling in love with myself wasn’t easy. It took some time to let myself even believe that I was worth loving. That I was interesting enough, or fun enough. But at the end the day, nobody will love you if you can’t love yourself first – so start working on it.

Here are the Top Five Actions I took while learning to have more fun and getting to know who I was.

GO OUT & EXPLORE

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I was never much of a city girl. Going out and partying wasn’t my scene, and commuting the half hour drive downtown just didn’t feel worth it. I never learnt to use our very pathetic Toronto Subway Line and driving wasn’t always an option so me and downtown never really got to have that great love affair everyone deserves to go through at least once.

Living in the suburbs there wen’t to many places to go, and this turned me into a total home body. Don’t get me wrong – staying home is great, but it wasn’t what I needed right now. Going out more and more not only gave me the opportunity to meet new people, try new foods and activities, it also helped me with my fears and anxieties of being there in general.

In my mission to start fresh – my minor anxiety was the first thing that just had to go. I no longer had time or effort to deal with it, and I was determined to change my life for the better. For many people, moving anxiety to the back of their minds is an incredibly hard task to accomplish and it is something that must be worked on every singly day.

With this in mind, I forced myself to go out a little more each week, try out new places I’ve never been, and force myself to remember that I was safe and okay until I was no longer scared of it.

Now, go out, explore the city, be a tourist in your own home and let yourself have fun without any questions or concerns. Try that hole in the wall restaurant, get lost and explore new areas. You’ll never learn what you like and don’t like if you don’t at least try.

LEAVING TOWN

121516_best_road_trip_ideas_slide_0_fs.max-784x410As bad as it may sound – there is no better temporary cure for a broken heart than running as far away from the problem as possible. Leaving town at every chance I got saved me from myself. It was my way of literally running away from my own thoughts.

From road trips to the cottage, to road trips all the way to New York City – I took every opportunity I could get to leave, and it worked. Windows down, music blasting, screaming the lyrics to Bitch by Meredith Brooks on constant repeat.

Running away from your problems isn’t always the answer. But I did whatever I could to protect my own mental health and I highly recommend others do the same.

On these short and long trips I was able to just let lose. Pull over whenever I wanted to explore my surroundings, sing until my voice gave out, and just let my thoughts run wild. It was the only time I wasn’t thinking about the past but focusing on the future and what I was going to do when I arrived at my destination.

Open your windows, stick your arm out and let the wind blow through your fingers… That’s what I imagine flying would feel like – complete freedom.

I learnt that it’s in those moments when your mind is completely free that you see things so much more clearly. Maybe the breakup was a smart move after all. That new super last minute, walked into the shop and sat down without thinking tattoo actually looks great! Hooking up with a stranger – well 50/50 on that one still…

Leave town – take a mental holiday and just focus on what makes you smile again.

SHAKE YOUR BOOTY

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Dancing and music were always my safe haven. It is how I let myself go, stopped thinking, and just completely focused on the beat I was hearing in the moment. No matter the song – angry, sad, happy, or completely crazy – there was always a way to express my emotions by flailing my arms and jumping around.

Being shy, most of my sick dance moves were saved for dancing around the house in my underwear – until recent.

If you would have told me a year ago that I’d be going to clubs, or dancing on the beach with people watching all around I’d probably laugh in your face. But here I am – making changes and shaking my ass barefoot to the sunset.

Change isn’t always a bad thing. Stepping out of your shell can be terrifying, but also life altering. If you aren’t willing to risk your pride, you won’t ever have the chance to learn what makes you smile. Plus the memories at the end of the day are totally worth it – especially if you make a complete fool of yourself.

YOGA & MEDITATION 

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Unfortunately I am not someone who enjoys working out. I hate it. I’ve tried to stick to it – I get gym passes yearly, and cancel them just the same. I’ve done Pole Dancing and Pilates which are both incredible and highly recommend – but even with those I would take a break and never go back.

I always talked about taking up Yoga and with just the same motivation that plagued my life, I never did. I guess it was the lazy ass in me that didn’t wanted to try something new, but I’ve forced myself to change (typing this while perfecting my swan pose) and I love it.

For a few months kept searching for ways to clear my mind that didn’t involve going out every single night or pretending to be sick so I could take off work and drive as far away from home as I could… Then someone suggested Yoga and since I’ve been trying to get myself to start for so long I figured now was the perfect opportunity.

I found an event to do Yoga in the Park close to home and after a very wine filled evening with friends the night before, I decided we had to do Yoga outside in 40 degree weather. Though it was hot, and I was hungover, I never felt better. In that hour outside stretching, I was so focused on staying centred and listening to the sound of birds that I forgot about everything else going on in my head. Giggling with my also hungover best friend because we kept falling out of our poses really helped too.

Learning to clear your thoughts and just be present is tough. It is a practice and it takes a lot of work – but it is worth it. And until I perfect it – I’m okay giggling through my stretches. Yoga is the perfect way to stretch the stress out of my life and just enjoy the moment.

PHOTOGRAPHY

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For as long as I can remember I have adored taking pictures. Being on my phone, or a digital camera, it was how I saved every good moment I was having.

I would also always take it one step further and go print every digital copy of a picture I had so I could store the real versions in one of the hundred albums I currently have sitting on my self.

Last year my incredible sister blessed me with the most beautiful Rolleiflex Twin Lens Camera I have ever seen. She was the start to my film camera collection, growing a hobby I didn’t even know I’d love so much. I am now never seen without a camera near by clicking away at it all. I am no longer willing to lose sight of my life and will always focus on the good around me.

Next step – learning to develop the film on my own!

Finding what makes you happy is a process. You have to be willing to try new things and open yourself up to new possibilities which can be really scary for a lot of people. But take it from me – it is worth it. You can learn so much about yourself and what makes you  happy if you just stop and listen.

 

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