Readers Make Better Lovers

Literature is for lovers

It’s World Book Day! Did you know that online daters who talk about reading in their profile receive 21% more messages than those who don’t? When was the last time you updated your “Favorites” on your profile? Sure, you still love To Kill a Mockingbird, but what about that great new dystopian fantasy or biography you just read?

Even if you only have time for magazines, you're still a reader!

There are a number of dating websites that cater specifically to the literary crowd. The most popular and established site is alikewise, which currently connects single bookworms in Canada, the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Germany, The Netherlands, and Israel. You can search for like-minded lit lovers according to the usual criteria (age, location, height, etc.) or you can search for a particular title, and find other users who also cherish that book.

Facebook apps like WeRead, and other literary social networks such as GoodReads, are also great ways to meet people. While not specifically aimed at singles, there are still a lot of lonely hearts using them, and many a fine relationship has begun in such a setting.

Your local independent or big chain bookstore is another great venue to encounter single readers. It’s pretty easy to find common ground when you nearly bump heads with someone reaching for the same Jeanette Winterson novel! When Harry met Sally for the third time, it was because someone was “staring at you in Personal Growth,” after all. Libraries have long since evolved from being stuffy places of quiet contemplation, and many plan events for singles. Read Dating, a popular variation on Speed Dating, has taken off at the Vancouver Library, and I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be running a similar event at the Kitchener Public Library later this year.

If you need help completing your own literary masterpiece, aka your dating profile, be sure to get in touch with meGuelph’s own Cyrano De Bergerac – today!

Romantic partners make very convenient reading pillows

The Valentine Guide 2015

Lucy and I would never steer you wrong

No early Christian Martyr’s feast day has quite taken off like that of the hapless – er, make that headless – St. Valentine. The third-century Roman priest was supposedly executed on the orders of Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II, aka Claudius the Cruel, not to be confused with the one Derek Jacobi played). This bummer of a Claudius – convinced that Roman men weren’t joining the Imperial Army he was keeping busily engaged fighting foreign wars because they were too into their wives and girlfriends – banned all engagements and marriages in Rome. Valentine, a Christian priest, continued to perform clandestine ceremonies for young lovers, and was put to death for his treason. Legend has it that before dying, he left a note for his jailer’s daughter, with whom he had become friendly, signed, “From your Valentine.” The rest is considerably less bloody history.

So, how best to honour his sacrifice tomorrow? Well, other than buying lots of stuff – consumers in the U.S. alone are on track to spend a record $18.9 BILLION this year – or complaining loudly about the day’s observance or existence (please just STOP, you’re boring me) – you could:

It feels so good, you won't even notice my friend Ken taking your picture!

Grab your sweetie (or any willing participant) and make out! Kissing releases powerful hormones and brain chemicals – apparently even just puckering your lips for a smooch can remind you of blissful babyhood, and bonds you to the face you’re sucking. According to the clever YouTube channel It’s Okay to Be Smart, there are more links to the lips in your brain’s somatosensory cortex than there are to your genitals! Dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine and waves of endorphins boost your mood, and the longer you kiss, the less cortisol (stress hormone) you’ll produce. Check out this entertaining five-minute video on exactly why kissing is so awesome and get inspired!

Unless he's Dr. Arthur Aron, that is!

Forge a deeper connection with someone by asking the right questions. A very popular New York Times column, Modern Love, recently published this account of how a pair of acquaintances moved their relationship out of the “friend zone” one night by following the advice of Dr. Arthur Aron. I’ve already written about the SUNY psychologist’s work claiming that any pair of people wishing to fall in love with each other could do so by asking this particular set of questions before, and am happy to have my firm belief that there’s no such thing as “the one” (in a predestination sense) confirmed yet again.

I don't think being in the first half of the alphabet could help this guy

Give your online dating profile a makeover! According to a recent study, patrons of dating sites who choose a username that begins with a letter in the first half of the alphabet achieve more success than those closer to Z. While I am familiar with the concept of alphabetical discrimination, I am not aware of a single dating site that presents its search or match results in alphabetical order, so I’m inclined to disregard these “findings” entirely. I have my own thoughts about usernames, wearing red (do it!), and the three must-have profile pictures. If you’d like my help building a better profile, do get in touch.

Umm, does it have to be about an experience with YOU?

Turn bad come-ons into adorable Valentines! Still steamed over all the cheesy unsolicited messages your profile gets you? While my honest advice is to ignore them, if you need more closure than that, check out the excellent new tumblr Okay, Cupid. They’ll turn that embarrassing opening line into a sweetly primitive, hilarious valentine you can send to yourself, your friends, or even the doofus who thought that was a good approach in the first place!

Grab your single friends and have a swingin' party!

Focus on friends and family, or meet new people! This week the New York Times is reporting on the growing trend I like to think I pioneered back in my own single days in New York City two decades ago: the Valentine’s Day party! According to a recent article, New Yorkers “are taking back the day and reimagining it as a time to spend with friends and loved ones — plural — rather than one special person. They are hosting cocktail parties, informal gatherings… and even running happy-hour mixers masked as charitable events. While the prospect of romantic love is still likely to hover in the ether, many of these singles parties emphasize getting out, having fun and not fretting too much about one’s solo status.”

However you choose to celebrate (or not), remember, you’re all having a better February 14th than the good old saint for whom the day is named. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Mad respect for the good old patron saint of illicit love

The online dating gold rush begins RIGHT NOW!

Give yourself a real present this year!

Or December 26th at 5:18 pm, or the week between Christmas and New Year’s, or January 5th at 8:57 pm, or any time between December 25th and the end of February. Take your pick! No matter whose “expert” advice you decide to believe, it’s obvious that the end of the old year and beginning of the new is an important time for singles to be active online, because of the massive increase in usage. It’s also a great time to reflect upon what’s really important, and doing so can help put you in a better frame of mind when seeking and messaging potential dates.

Rather than fumbling to get a profile up with a hastily chosen blurry New Year’s selfie when the action really gets going, why not beat the rush and start now? It’s time once again for my annual “festive special!” This is the perfect opportunity for those who are eager to try online dating, but having trouble getting started – or those who haven’t been happy with the results they’re getting from their existing profiles – to get a taste of my most exclusive service for a fraction of the normal cost.

From now through the end of December, I’m offering a special $125 Holiday Matchmaking Package. You’ll get a one-hour consultation with me (in person or via Skype, depending on location), a brand-new custom profile for use on up to two websites, a half-hour follow-up dating coaching session, plus one good set-up for 2015! That means that I will be personally selecting and messaging the best possible candidate on your behalf, until it’s time to move off the dating site and into the real world. All of this is available for the low, low price of $125 – that’s $50 off what I normally charge for the Junia Express package without the set-up!

Interested parties, message me here or on Facebook. Consultation spots are filling up quickly, so act fast – and happy holidays to all!

Let someone else feed you cocktail weenies for a change!

So who’s single? The Total Package puts a number on it

I made this especially for you!

I’m excited beyond words to give my Canadian friends, fans, and well-wishers an extra special Singles Awareness Day treat this year! For the last several months, Alex Makes Apps has been working on a top-secret project for me: The Total Package, a shiny new Junia app for Android users.

Find out how many people actually exist who meet your terribly discerning dating criteria! As long as you’re not this guy – I don’t think anyone would ever be good enough for him.

Using relevant data from Statistics Canada, Health Canada, and the National Household Survey, The Total Package will calculate exactly how many people (living within as few as 5 or as many as 200 km of your home) meet your standards. Then this incredible app will astonish you further by projecting how many of them are already online dating!

Okay, so it is really just a nifty little reality check for those who have ever wondered, “is it just me?” If you’ve ever worried that you’re setting the bar too high, then this is your chance to find out. Maybe your friends are right and you’re far too picky. Or maybe you’re right, and you can triumphantly wave your phone in their faces to prove it! It’s also designed to be used over and over again, so you can amuse your friends, or simply adjust your parameters if you don’t like the numbers it’s giving you.

And if you need help choosing someone from all these possibilities, you know where to find me!

Perfect for everyone whose friends think they're too picky! Or not picky enough.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Alternative Valentine’s ecards for the last-minute lover

If this card doesn't make your whole year, you may have lost touch with your humanity.

Now that we’re all clear on the Correct Valentine’s Day Procedures for Couples and Singles, you know it’s only polite/mandatory to make sure that no one feels left out. As we all know, Valentine’s Day / Singles’ Awareness Day is the most romantic and drastically important holiday of the year, by which all of our worth shall be measured. If you fall short of societal expectations, let’s face it: you might as well start digging your own grave now. I’m sure someone will feel sorry enough to fill it in for you.

If you’re not ready to give up that easily, the best defense is a good offense. Here are some excellent ecard options you can proactively send to all your single and coupled friends, thus guaranteeing an onslaught of return greetings. Because people feel guilty about stuff like that. In fact, I recommend sending one to at least one of your least favourite acquaintances (or better yet, sworn enemies), just to confuse them and make things awkward. Doesn’t everyone deserve that experience?

For the DEEP OF THOUGHT:

"Nietzche." Get it? Get it?

Critical Theory Valentines! “Valentine’s Day is coming, and people everywhere will soon be bombarded with calls to engage in an orgy of consumption and heteronormativity. While some may prefer to rage against the machine and boycott the holiday altogether, even the most revolutionary of significant others will often expect some sort of spectacle to memorialize your affection.”

For the SAPPHIC SET:

If this doesn't make every single one of my lesbian friends spit their wine out all over their cat, I don't know what will.

Irreverent Lesbian Valentines! “Lesbian e-cards you can send to people on Valentine’s Day. They’re by Dattch. Dattch is a lesbo dating app where you could meet new lesbians if you had time for that kind of shit but you don’t. FOCUS. E-CARDS. These aren’t subtle, which is something I’ve always liked about you.”

For DIGITAL DUDES WHO LIKE DUDES:

Could this card be any more gay?

Classic Gay Men’s Valentines! “Send free unlimited Gay Ecards.”

For the PRAGMATIC PARTNER:

I'm pretty sure I had this exact conversation with my boyfriend the day before yesterday.

Depressingly Realistic Valentines! “17 Brutally Honest Someecards To Send To Your Valentine.”

For the HIGHLY ANIMATED:

My boyfriend hasn't seen this yet. Shh, don't tell him!

Singing Dancing Valentines! JibJab’s song choices this year include Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe: Cast the one you got in this hilariously retro and cheesy Starring You® ecard.” Paid site currently offering 25% off for a total of $18/year, which may be worth it if you know people who like this sort of thing (or have children). JibJab also features a healthy assortment of anti-Valentines, if you like that sort of thing!

For the HIPSTER WHO CAN’T COP TO REAL FEELINGS ABOUT ANYTHING:

I think we can all relate to this on some level. It doesn't mean I think you're special or anything.

Cute ironic valentines! “21 Awkward Valentine’s Day Cards for your Confusing Modern Relationship.”

Note: Some of these aren’t actually ecards, but considering that it’s probably too late to order the physical versions, you can always do what I do when I’m feeling cheap or under time pressure: rip them off and create your own version by hand; take a screen shot or right-click the image and “save picture as” to make your own ecard! And if you need some help working up the gumption to send a card or even just a message to somebody special, contact me at Junia Matchmaking Services – because I can totally help. Or even do it for you, if necessary.

Correct Valentine’s Day Procedures for Couples and Singles

In case you’ve just awakened from a coma, or have not had electricity for some time, let me be the billionth person to remind you that Valentine’s Day - also known as Singles’ Awareness Day – is this Friday, February 14. I know this can be a high-pressure occasion for many people, coupled or single, and so I’ve come up with a few tips to ensure a successful observance – or non-observance – of the day:

1. Be happy – you’ve got it good!

Someecards.com offers thorough selection of complicated V-Day sentiments


If you are part of a couple, take a moment to quietly savour that fact. The operative word here is QUIETLY. This is not “your special day.” This is a huge and profitable holiday, ranking second in spending behind Christmas and ahead of Mother’s Day in the U.S. A whopping $17 billion will be spent there this year alone. It’s an occasion that at least half the world marks and the other half has definitely heard of. It’s really not that special to you in particular. But if you’ve got someone who smiles at you when they haven’t seen you in a while, that’s some major warm fuzzy fodder right there. So go ahead and glow.

If you are not part of a couple, take a moment to quietly savour that fact. The operative word here is QUIETLY. This is not “it’s awesome / it sucks to be me” day. The world did not conspire to create this holiday so that you could gloat about how you don’t have to do anyone else’s dishes, and can kiss whoever you want, whenever you want, because you’re single. And if you do, those poor suckers who have to pretend to be excited about a short-stemmed roses from the grocery store that’ll be brown by Monday will simply tell themselves that you’re bitter and envious (ha!) Who wants to add to their smug (if delusional) satisfaction?

2. Be thrifty – get nasty!

66% of men and 30% of women would prefer sex to a store-bought gift

If you are part of a couple, and you don’t fancy feeding the retail monster just because the mall mafia tells you that’s what your partner wants you to do, but you’d still like to do something special, why not have sex? I’m not talking about making twee coupons you exchange for specific acts, or circus sex with props and costumes and special flavoured liquids. Just good old-fashioned, clothes-in-a-heap getting’ it on. Isn’t that why you’re part of a couple in the first place? Apparently that’s what two-thirds of men and one-third of women would prefer anyway, according to a recent survey. (I should note that I am personally slightly concerned about the big gender divide on this issue. Do you coupled-off guys need to brush up on your skills or what?)

If you are not part of a couple, congratulations! You don’t have to feed the retail monster just because the mall mafia tells you to do so. But if you’d still like to do something special, you can take even half of what the average coupled-off person expects to spend this year ($240!!!) and still buy yourself an extremely fancy high end sex toy. (For the record, I am NOT paid to endorse the Lelo brand – but I still very much do!) Or just go out to any bar – bars are NOT full of couples on Valentine’s Day, funnily enough – and enjoy the fire-sale atmosphere this not-very-important holiday creates. There’s sure to be at least a handful of very attractive, intelligent, charming people who have been had enough of scrolling through their coupled friends’ nauseating Facebook posts and just decided to hit the bottle hard. Why not take advantage?

3. Be Cupid – improve your karma!

Not feeling the love so strongly yourself this year? Pay it forward!

If you are part of a couple, and you know some single people who are looking for love, why not help them have a better Valentine’s Day? Throw a little party and invite them all (don’t tell them why – single people do not like knowing they are being set up). Encourage them to try online dating – OkCupid is a great free site that is also fun to use. If you don’t think you can project adequate enthusiasm for these tasks, send them my way!

If you are not part of a couple, and you know some single people who are looking for love, why not send them Valentines? Especially if you’re actually interested. V-Day was never originally intended for the happily coupled, incidentally. It was a day for secret admirers and clandestine couples (or wannabes) to declare their desires, not the “behold the happiness of my beloved and I, for it is majestic and overwhelming” parade that it is today. Everyone deserves a little love, even platonic friends, and no matter what anyone tells you, even an e-greeting is better than no greeting at all. I like someecards for its subtler grasp of the complex emotions these holidays elicit.

Still got a case of “the mean reds” about Singles’ Awareness Day? Here’s a personal inspirational tale:

In 1991, when I was living alone in NYC and kind of depressed at the age of 20 (I know – there oughta be a law) a friend sent me a dozen long-stemmed roses on February 14th. Once I got over the fear of being shot – nothing says “you’re about to die” quite like a giant Italian man pounding on your door unexpectedly, pointing a long white box at your peephole – I couldn’t have been more thrilled. In fact, I kept half of them and took the other six down to the rather legendary East Village bar that was right below my apartment, where another friend and I gave them away to total strangers and people bought us drinks all night. Until last year, when my boyfriend and I went to a dollar store and bought props to wear in the photo booth (total cost, including picture strips: $13), it remained my best V-Day ever!

The Gift of Love: Junia for the Holidays!

In honor of the fast-approaching online dating “peak week,” and your festive holiday of choice, I’m very pleased to offer a special Holiday Matchmaking Package for friends and followers of Junia. The absolute busiest time of year for online dating is the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, followed closely by all of January, and I want to make you and your friends as merry as possible!

These holiday packages are available for a limited time only, between December 16 and December 31, 2013. Each package includes: a one-hour Skype or in-person consultation (depending on area); the creation of a brand new profile, or relaunch of an existing one, on up to two dating sites of choice; a half-hour follow-up dating coaching session; and one good setup by yours truly in 2014! That’s a service usually reserved for my Elite level clients, by the way. I put together the best match possible using the client’s criteria, and communicate with that person on the client’s behalf until they’re ready to take it off the dating site and into the real world.

How, you may ask, do I get my hot little hands on this hot little deal? It’s very simple: all you have to do is follow me on Twitter (@juniamatch), like my Facebook page, or encircle me on Google+. If you’ve already done one (or both) of those things, you can skip that step. Then message me to arrange payment, and or a very lucky single friend will receive what amounts to a Junia Express package with an exclusive bonus for just $100! That’s $75 less than I normally charge for the Express package. If you’ve been considering this for a while, consider no further! I assure you that this is the best deal I offer throughout the year.

If you’re giving this as a gift, an E-certificate will be sent to recipients outside of Ontario. For those within 100 km of Guelph, ON, the gift can be delivered in a beautiful package with a Christmas ornament.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Hello, Dali: Why Mustachioed Men Make Better Lovers

The Dread Pirate Roberts may have grown the lip tickler, but Buttercup wasn't about to make Westley shave it off.

I’m often amazed at how many women of my acquaintance – both clients and friends – are particular about men’s facial hair. “NO FACIAL HAIR” is a fairly common dating parameter for people I know; “Goatee or scruff ok but NO STACHES” is practically universal. What on earth could be so offensive about a little bit of hair on the upper lip?

As a woman, I’m naturally aware that a pretty distressing majority of men feel entitled to pass judgment on women’s body hair, and this is one way for us to sort of even that score. But I’m still a little disheartened that we do it. Just as every woman who can’t be doesn’t care to shave her legs, underarms, or “bikini zone” isn’t a lesbian (or even European), a man with a moustache does not necessarily sport one to identify himself as a creep or a disco fan. (He could be either, or both, but so could the clean-shaven guy next to him.)

Movember is a totally fun idea to raise money and awareness for a very important cause, and if you haven’t already given to a “MoBro” you know, take some time to do that. But while you’re at it, do take note of any of the gents who actually look good – or better – with a moustache, and encourage them to consider keeping it after the month is through! A small part of me has quietly mentally objected to the campaign’s ironic adoption of a legitimate form of fashion expression for men – an area in which we as a society particularly repress boys from a young age – into something “kitschy” and only temporarily cool.

The faddishness irks me, as does the notion that we’ve already apparently decided as a culture that a moustache in conjunction with any sort of beard is perfectly acceptable – but a moustache solo makes you some sort of deviant. Why? As someone with a lot of bearded-and-goateed friends, I can tell you that it’s the bottom half of that follicular facial arrangement that takes the brunt of the leftover meal bits, not the top. My dad had a moustache for almost the entire decade of the 1980s. He was fastidious about checking and combing it after meals, and I never saw a crumb in it. (Can’t say that for some beards of my acquaintance.)

This – amongst many other mostly imaginary issues – is one of the reasons women claim to be distressed at the mere idea of kissing a man with a moustache. In support of the head of the UK Handlebar Club‘s claim that “kissing a man without a moustache is like drinking champagne without bubbles,” I can tell you that one of the best kissers I’ve ever encountered rocked a full-on waxed-and-twirled moz, and the many pleasurable sensations of kissing were actually heightened by its presence. My friend Nicole says, “I love mustaches! I have a hard time even making out with a “man” without facial hair; it seems so much more masculine to have a stache.”

Without further ado, then, here are several very good reasons to date a man with a moustache:

No damns given

HE HAS INNER STRENGTH: Moustaches are not the easiest organic accessories to grow, never mind maintain. Then there’s the constant ogling and even fielding of questions from strangers – those with large visible tattoos and pregnant woman can probably also relate to this – who seem to have no compunction about offering opinions on one’s appearance. Moustaches require patience, endurance (as any man currently growing a Movember ‘stache right now can attest) and most of all, strength of character. He frankly doesn’t give a damn what’s currently cool; he has a more timeless sense of self, which is always in fashion. A man with a well-groomed moustache is a man of substance, who embodies the qualities we admire in others.

HE HAS A STEADY HAND: Most moustaches aren’t just upper lip hair left unattended: they are shaped, combed, even waxed and sometimes dyed to match the hair on the head. (Yes, men know it alarms us when the welcome mat doesn’t match the drapes.) The tools to maintain a moustache properly are very tiny. Anyone who’s ever had a paper cut on their lip knows how sensitive that whole area is, and trimming and plucking and shaving around it is delicate work. A man who can do that and not end up lopsided, cut, or having to shave the whole thing off and start over probably has a lot of manual skills. And those come in handy for so many things….

Magnum P.I. (left); Magnum C.A. (right)

HE LOOKS SEXY WITH WHISKERS: This is basic biology. Men evolved to have facial hair to attract the ladies. Full stop. You can deny it all you want, girls, but we’ve all seen Tom Selleck without his signature flavor saver, and it just doesn’t work, does it? Men can – and do – grow moustaches for the same reason lions have manes, and peacocks are more flamboyant than peahens. While so-called hipsters have lived to regret the trucker hats and PBR fetish culture they unwittingly created, I’ve known more than a few of them who started off with a moustache they grew for a gig or a costume, and were subsequently unable to bring themselves to shave it off because they knew it looked good. There are plenty of unremarkable faces out there, but precious few unremarkable moustaches.

HE CARES ABOUT HIS APPEARANCE: On a related note, my boyfriend, poor sport that he is, ended up shaving off his Movember growth three weeks into the process last year because he was getting too many compliments on it. My personal theory is that he did this to avoid having to pay more attention to what he wears, because a moustache does demand that the wearer bring the whole look up a notch. Unlike his barefaced peers, a mustachioed man does not care to blend in with the crowd. A man with a moustache in contemporary North America is no more asserting his boring machismo than a man in a dress. He’s asserting his fashion sense!

HE CAN ADAPT: I don’t know any men (besides my dad in the 80s) who have had a moustache and never changed it. There are so many exciting variations to experiment with, and being generally more adventurous than most, men with tea strainers tend to change up their styles with more frequency than their clean-shaven contemporaries would even consider updating the hair on their heads. While I was researching this piece – yes, I take my job seriously – I came across this anecdote in a men’s forum, and I contacted the author for permission to quote him on the subject:

“I rock an awesome Clark Gable mustache. Once while in public a young woman suddenly addressed me saying, “Oh my God! I hate mustaches, I would NEVER date a guy with a mustache!” I regarded her calmly for a moment and then replied, “Well, that’s good information but ponder this. If I meet someone who I’m interested in, and the mustache kills it for them, I can excuse myself, find a restroom and a razor and come back in ten minutes mustache-free. If you meet someone who you are interested in and being an overly opinionated, over-sharing twit kills it for them, what are YOU gonna do?”

Eddie Murphy has never had any trouble attracting the ladies, has he?

HE HAS A SENSE OF HUMOUR: And he can laugh at himself – because if you’ve ever hung out with a (non-old) man with a moustache, you’ll quickly learn that he has to because the world does, all too frequently. This is not to be confused with jaded hipsterism, either. My awesome (and single) friend Robert, an artist, author and performer who has been mustachioed more of his adult life than he has not, was kind enough to share with me a brilliant essay he wrote on the topic not long ago. If I had the space I’d make you read the entire thing, but here he is addressing why he was first inspired to grow his:

“I needed an antidote to the drab, frumpy goateed 90s. The only other person that I knew with a moustache was under-rated musician Evan Symons who paired his un-ironically with a mullet. Moustaches were a rare breed: when they were sighted, eyebrows would arch.

And what of the phrase ‘ironic moustache’ that came to rise? Personally I have never been one to enjoy emotional distance; if I so much as veer towards such isolating behaviours, a chat with my therapist is in order. Perhaps there was a tad more irony in the early days. One should never misconstrue humour with irony. I wasn’t deadly serious about my moustache, but I wasn’t a deadly serious person. The moustache helped to visually define my tastes and personality.”

HE IS GIVING: Especially if he is doing this for Movember, which believe it or not, many people still know nothing about. (Not everyone is as cool as we are, what can I say?) But beyond the excellent fundraising initiative this month, a man with a moustache is doing it for your pleasure. Or so says my (male) friend Sandy, who is currently clean-shaven, but has sported some of the best moustaches the world has seen this century:

“It’s not simply a lifestyle choice, rather an accessory for the delight of others. It takes time and effort to grow a successful ‘stache, especially one that is kissworthy (i.e. trimmed so as to not obscure the lips).”

Touché, my friend! Whether or not you “celebrate,” enjoy the Movember display, for the plumage is gone all too soon. And as always, for help finding the man (or woman) of your dreams, please get in touch with me, or visit my Junia Matchmaking Services website.

Online Dating Basics: Know Your Rights

A lot of the people I talk to seem easily frustrated by their dating website experiences. I often think that’s because they’re worrying about matters that really should not concern them. In this yenta’s opinion, some clarification is needed around some pretty basic issues. I’m drafting an Online Dating Charter of Rights so that we can all stop wasting time on the unproductive behaviours that lead to internet dating burnout.

Know your rights, ladies! You too, gents.

You have the right to remain silent. Opinions on the matter vary, but I don’t write back to people who don’t interest me. Not for myself, and not on behalf of my clients. Even if they seem really really nice, or have clearly taken some time to craft their message to you. On the few occasions I’ve bothered to write a nice let-down message, it’s bitten me in the ass and fast. Unless you think they’d be perfect for someone else you know, just don’t bother. It’ll save everyone time in the long run, even the person you’re rejecting. You also have the right to refuse to answer any question that makes you uncomfortable. You can choose to ignore it, or you can simply say, “I’d rather not share that with you right now, if you don’t mind” and carry on nicely, if you like everything else that’s happened so far. But you are never obligated to respond, ever.

You have the right to know what you like. Do you prefer tall women? Are you utterly opposed to dating a police officer? Do non-drinkers make you as nervous as raging alcoholics? Have you got lots of male friends with goatees, but couldn’t stand the thought of kissing one? Well, go right ahead and say it! There is utterly no point to being coy about these things. But make sure that you say it nicely, and not in the threatening “you’d better not send me a message if” fashion that so many people seem to employ online. Stating your preferences as a warning, like a bitter Buffalo border guard on the graveyard shift, doesn’t exactly invite others to get friendly with you. In my work I have sometimes avoided messaging potential matches because even though my clients did fit their criteria quite nicely, the way the candidate laid out his or her parameters was simply off-putting.

You have the right to expect a picture. There is absolutely no reason, at this point in history, for anyone to be ashamed of the fact that they are online dating. If you are, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. I don’t care if the person promises to send pictures later on. You’ve got a picture up, why don’t they? (Please tell me you have a picture up.) Worried their mom/boss/neighbour/ex is going to see it? Well, just what are they doing there themselves? Seriously, the people who don’t have pictures online – or who only share pictures of animals, cars, or cartoon characters – are hiding something. I don’t know what it is, but I guarantee you won’t like it. Don’t bother with these paranoid Luddites because they’re probably married anyway.

You have the right to change your mind. After one message, after three messages, after twelve. (Please don’t let it get to twelve messages before you meet somebody though. See below for more clarification.) You don’t have to answer any questions you don’t like. You don’t have to come up with excuses as to why you didn’t write back immediately, or jump on the offer of a meeting. It’s really important to trust your instincts when it comes to online dating. It’s not “shopping for people,” but when you’re at the pre-meeting stage, you are allowed to hit pause, rewind, or erase at any point. Most dating sites have a “hide” or “block” feature; use it if the person doesn’t take your backing away well. While it’s preferable to be upfront about it and not just disappear on someone you’ve been messaging, if they’ve done something to upset or offend you, you owe them nothing.

You have the right to request a meeting. If you’ve been messaging back and forth with someone, and things are going reasonably well, then it does not make sense to keep playing pen pals. Three messages sent and three received is about as many as I feel comfortable with before I start to get antsy, and too much literary foreplay can result in greater disappointment if the real-life encounter is a bust. Why wait? Unless your schedules are mutually very crazy, there’s no reason to prolong that coffee (even though you know I don’t suggest coffee). You’ve all heard of the Catfish thing by now, right? Well, this is just how it starts.

You have the right to keep looking. There is no such thing as “exclusively messaging.” Anyone who tries to glean whether you’re also chatting with other candidates – on the same site, or others you may be using – is best avoided. Even after you’ve met in person. I advise all of my clients to avoid any suggestion of exclusivity before at least a couple of weeks (and several good dates) have passed. (Note: this is true no matter what you personally get up to on a first date!) If the person you’re seeing immediately expects you to disable your profile – or does this to their own – after a successful meeting, I don’t think that’s a good sign. I think it’s needy, impetuous, and demonstrates a lack of discernment that could lead to relationship problems in the future. You both need to approach the situation with care, and taking yourself offline every time someone turns your head makes you seem flaky. It’ll be noticeable to other users, too.

I’m now opening the floor to comments. What other internet dating rights (or responsibilities) do people need to respect? And as always, be sure to visit Junia.ca to learn more about my work and available services.

September Song: why “Back to School” is a great time to date online

Cooler temperatures increasing cuddling requirements come Autumn

The back-to-school season is huge in the dating world. I have a number of theories about this. Today I’ll use them to formulate a droll and convincing argument aimed at persuading you to join the masses of single people who have already recognized that it’s only 109 days until the new year, and decided to find someone they’d actually like to kiss when it happens. Apparently you internet people love lists, so here are three good reasons you should give your online dating profile a dust-off this fall. With accompanying music, because I’m not only a matchmaker, I’m also a DJ:

You’ll have a jump on the competition. The peak season for online dating is the week surrounding New Year’s Eve, according to a researchers at Match.com. A lengthy googling failed to identify exactly who these “researchers” were, or how that research was conducted, but I’m not going to dispute it. (Heck, even your postman would probably agree, if you asked him nicely.) My own time working at The Very Expensive Old-Fashioned Dating Network That Shall Not Be Named completely corroborates this idea. Huge numbers of new clients would appear immediately after January 1st, but we also dealt with a lot of angry people. Why? Because our office was actually closed for the entire holiday season – much to the distress of huge numbers of clients who didn’t really plan on being alone. Luckily, internet dating sites are “open” 24/7 – but don’t let that notion encourage you to drag your feet now. Because for every person who jumps on the New Year’s bandwagon, there’s another who’s disappeared because they’ve already found someone, or don’t want to be “seen” online during a time that should be filled with fellowship and festivity! And what if they’re THE ONE? (I know, I’m evil. Hee hee!)

September is the new year for many people. First of all, I’d like to take this moment to offer a belated Shana Tova! to my Jewish readers, and a happy 5774 to all. Why do you think that calendar has sixteen months in it, anyway? When was the last time you bought yourself a whole bunch of new clothes for the middle of winter? Back to school is the new year as far as our social lives are concerned. Everyone’s had about as much fun as they can with the friends they already have all summer, and it’s time for a change. Even if you’re not in school, chances are you’re taking on some new challenge. You’re at least ready to stop slacking off in some aspect of your life that you’ve neglected over the lazy, hazy, crazy weeks of July and August. Why take your romantic future any less seriously? Again, I’ll refer to my experience when I worked on The Love Boat, that sinking ship of broken and expensive dreams. We had our second-biggest rush of the year during September, and the same thing is happening online right now. When I’m looking for prospective partners for my clients, I often search by “newest user” rather than “last visit” to avoid seeing the same profiles over and over again. As expected, there’s been a big surge in new faces! And traffic on my existing clients’ profiles has at least doubled in the last couple of weeks.

Don't wait until the holidays to look for love! Untitled (Our prices are insane), 1987, by Barbara Kruger

I’m having a sale! Okay, so my last reason is a blatant plug. If you’ve read all this and thought, “So? More people online doesn’t mean mo’ better people. Online dating sucks, why would I want to do more of it? No one good ever writes back to me anyway,” you are the person who should be writing to me. That’s right, I’m having my own “back to school” sale between now and Canadian Thanksgiving – or Columbus Day in the U.S. – or Indigenous People’s day all over Turtle Island. Let’s just call it Monday, October 14th. I’m offering $25 off my thoroughly effective Junia Express Package. This one-time service involves an hour-long consultation with me (via Skype, telephone, or in person, depending on your location) and the creation of your new online dating presence for up to two websites. I’ll also follow that up with a half-hour coaching session to help you handle the increase in traffic on your profile. One new client who came on board just last week has already seen his profile traffic increase by roughly 400%, and gone on a very successful date with a woman who had ignored him the four previous times he messaged her! Yeah, I’m that good.

And if you think you’re fine on your own, then please enjoy one last song: a bizarre, yet endearing version of the titular Kurt Weill classic by the lead singer of Echo and the Bunnymen. Happy hunting, everyone!