In the matchmaking world, dating apps are definitely vilified. I get it. Dating apps can be dangerous. And they can be a massive waste of time. Plus, some people are just too sensitive to deal with the exposure and rejections. So, yeah, there are a lot of downsides to dating apps. But the truth is, most singles are using them. And I know from my own personal experience, as well as the experience of my clients that it is still possible to meet someone on apps. I’ve spent literally thousands of hours on apps recruiting potential matches for clients, so at this point, I basically have a PhD in dating apps. But why do some people seem to rock dating apps and always find a relationship, while others are just wasting their time? If you’re interested in learning how to find a relationship on dating apps, read on because I’ve broken it down for you in 6 simple steps.
1) Know What Your Dealbreakers Are
To get what you want, you first have to KNOW what you want. It’s amazing to me how many singles I talk to who literally have no idea what they are looking for in a partner. I call this the spaghetti method. They throw a bunch of spaghetti (or swipes) at the wall and just go with whoever sticks around.
This is not an effective strategy for finding a long term partner and it’s the number one reason you and all of your friends are burned out from dating apps.
To actually be successful online dating you need to be laser focused on what you are looking for. I know a lot of people haven’t really thought about dating this way and are probably scratching their heads. If you have no idea what you’re really looking for, the easiest thing to do is to start with what you don’t want.
Let’s start backwards. Think back on your last relationships. Why did they end? What didn’t work? What are the aspects of those relationships you are absolutely not under any circumstances bringing into your next relationship? These are your dealbreakers, Know them. Own them. Do NOT bend on them.
Some examples of dealbreakers might be:
-Poor relationship with money
-Lack of work ethic
-No passions or dreams
Now do your list!
2) Be Honest About What Your Want
A huge trap I find women falling into is that they want a relationship but they don’t want to own that fact. When did it become uncool to be honest with people about what we want?
This is what I see happening. A woman knows she wants a relationship. She does not ever tell the guy she is dating this fact, assuming that he knows what she wants and that he feels the same way. Eventually, she stops seeing other people. Friends ask her if they have had the talk about exclusivity. She says, “No, but I know we are serious and he isn’t seeing other people. Why would we need to talk about it?” He is, in fact, seeing other people and has no desire for a relationship.
Broken heart ensues.
Here’s the thing, we are all adults. And dating apps are a mixed bag. If you want a relationship, you need to be honest about it. And you need to actually ask people what they want. Personally, I recommend having this discussion before you meet someone. A lot of singles tell me that is too awkward. Sometimes being an adult means pushing through awkwardness in order to be true to yourself and get what you want. If the person you are chatting with is also looking for a relationship, they will be honest and you can move forward with more comfort. If they are not, they will be honest and not go out with you.
If someone decides not to go out with you because you aren’t looking for the same things, don’t look at it as rejection. They just SAVED you time and potential heartache.
Another trap women fall into is they want to date someone but that person does not want a relationship. The woman for some reason thinks, “Oh, well if we start having sex he will eventually want a relationship with me.” No, he won’t. And you will end up heartbroken, having wasted more time & energy on a dead end.
The truth will always come out in the end, so let’s set the tone for all of our relationships and start being honest up front.
3) Don’t Try To Impress Anyone
Oh man, I was sooo guilty of this in the past. Some of us treat every date like a job interview. We are on our best and most polished behavior. Sure, we blur the lines and fudge details a bit, but who doesn’t in a job interview? We smile, nod, fake laugh, then go home hoping we get an offer.
But wait, where was our real personality? Did we take the time to figure out if we even want the job?
So many women see a relationship as the end goal and will do anything to get there. But being so focused on their goal, they forget to play the field. They forget to test the water to see if they could actually be compatible and happy with the person they are on a date with.
You aren’t trying to impress anyone here. You’re trying to see if your authentic selves can create joy and harmony in a relationship. Pretending to be someone you are not will not lead to a lasting connection. When the truth comes out, it will just leave both parties confused and disappointed.
4) Keep An Open Mind
While having no deal breakers or standards is a huge problem on dating apps, the opposite can be just as much of an issue. I have worked with a lot of clients who had obsessively specific requirements and absurdly high standards.
“Must be 5’2 or below, brown hair, brown eyes, dark skin tone, Jewish, good sense of humor, works in medical field, size 2 or below, great in bed.”
“6 foot or above, makes more than 300k a year, lives in the city, but prefers country living, eats all organic, prefers to eat at home, but also appreciates fine dining, likes to cook, but lets the woman do most of the cooking, must have a spiritual practice, but not a religious background, only flies first class, works remotely, philanthropist, aware of current events, does not hunt or own guns, no strong political leanings, but still follows politics.”
There is more wrong with both of these list than the fact that they are obsessively specific. The main issue is that these attributes have nothing to do with whether this person with make a good partner. Both of these lists are so specific and focused on the superficial they will inevitably rule out great matches who are partner material.
Both of these people will be disappointed by anyone they meet and are likely using their absurd requirements to cover up an avoidant attachment style and pain from previous relationships. I mean really, how many people can actually meet these standards.
One of the dangers of dating apps is that it’s easy to rule people out based on the superficial. But those aspects do not tell you whether or not this person will be a good long term partner for you. Focus your energy on getting to know people and what they bring to the table as a life partner. Sure, maybe he is 5’8, but he also invests his money wisely, has a great sense of humor, works on himself, and will make a devoted father. What is more important to you?
For more on putting together an authentic, soul based list, check out my article here.
5) Be Willing to Walk Away
So you’ve invested a few dates, or even a few months in someone, only to realize they aren’t really what you are looking for and violate one of your deal breakers. What do you do? Without hesitation you walk away. Saying no to what you do not want is a huge step towards manifesting what you do want.
So why do singles struggle with this step so much?
For one they are already emotionally involved. Attachment happens just through spending time with someone, but if you’ve already had sex your bonding hormones have kicked into overdrive and are telling you to stay put. It’s one of the major reasons I tell my clients to wait to have sex until they have established exclusivity. The reality is, it’s harder to walk away once you have had sex. But if you are serious about finding a long term relationship, you have to walk away from anything that does not serve you.
6) Set Boundaries
Yes, of course with the people you are dating. But I also mean with yourself. If you are on dating apps for hours every day and responding to messages whenever they pop up, you are going to get burned out. Plus answering messages after 10 pm starts to send the wrong message to potential suitors.
One tool I recommend in my free ebook, Mindful Dating in the Digital World (download here to learn more on how to find a relationship on dating apps) is to set office hours for when you are available on dating apps. Limit yourself to one hour of swiping a day. And while you are using the apps, actually give them your full attention. There’s nothing worse than watching a movie or grabbing a coffee with a friend only for them to spend the whole time swiping and responding to messages. That’s just shortchanging your friends and the guys you are messaging.
Set aside limited time to swipe and respond to messages. Trust me, this will help keep you focused on the task at hand, i.e. finding a partner, rather than using dating apps as a way to fill your time when you’re bored or make you feel good about yourself when you’re feeling down. Both of those things are tempting distractions that will get in the way of finding a relationship.
How to Find a Relationship on Dating Apps: Making it Work for You
It might seem like I’m laying out a bunch of rules here. And trust me, I know there’s already hundreds of books and articles filled with rules for dating. But the main point I’m trying to make here (and in all my work) is self worth. All of these rules are about putting yourself, your needs, and your heart first. When dating, it’s easy to put your desire for a relationship before everything, but that will never work when it comes to manifesting in a high quality, serious relationship on dating apps. That’s how you end up losing yourself in a relationship.
Put your needs first, set clear boundaries and communicate them, take the time to learn about yourself and figure out your needs in a relationship. Be a person who values themselves. Be honest. Be authentic. That’s all you really need, despite the hundreds of books out there.
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Have you ever wanted to talk to an ex after a breakup to get “closure?” I’ve heard a lot of women say this, and while I don’t believe you should rely on another person for closure, speaking to an ex (after much healing and time apart) can be helpful in your own healing journey. But when it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, they will never change or mature, so it is absolutely imperative that you find a sense of closure within yourself, without your ex’s participation.
So what is closure and how to you get it when breaking up with a narcissist?
Closure means the wound has healed. Maybe not perfectly or completely, but enough that your energy isn’t pouring out of it on a daily basis. That takes work! The word closure actually comes from an Old French word meaning barrier, fence, or boundary. When it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, closure has a lot less to do with healing face to face conversations and a lot more to do with creating boundaries that keep you safe so you can find healing within yourself.
Closure comes from within. If you are relying on someone else to get closure, it’s likely never going to happen. Image someone stabs you and you have a huge bleeding wound. You know you should go to the doctor to have it sutured, but instead you say you are going to wait until the person who hurt you goes through medical school and learns wound care before you get medical attention. That’s kind of like what relying on your ex for closure is like, especially when that ex is a narcissist.
Narcissists often use “closure” as an excuse to reenter your life, so it’s important to have a plan in place for your safety, healing, and closure. Read on for a detailed 5 step plan for getting closure after breaking up with a narcissist.
Go No Contact
When breaking up with a narcissist, it’s important to understand closure and what it really is, because your illusion of closure can easily be manipulated by your ex to keep the door open on your relationship.
One of the aspects of narcissistic abuse that makes the relationship so exhausting and damaging, is that narcissists are experts at getting you to let them back in, no matter how much they have hurt you.
Remember in the beginning when they bombarded you with love and gifts? When you thought, wow s/he might just be the one. When you were bragging to your friends about how you were dating the most romantic person ever? That was the fairy tale before the nightmare. But when it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, they will pull out all the stops, and then some, to get you to let them back in. They will tell you they are addressing all their flaws, they’re in therapy, they will tell you a sob story about their childhood trauma. They will promise to never hurt you again and threaten to kill themselves if they do. They will say all of these things and more all while buying you expensive jewelry and making you the most romantic dinner you’ve ever seen.
But how did you end up back at dinner with your narcissistic ex? Maybe they wore you down. Maybe they begged. Maybe they said something like, “I don’t want to get back together, I just want to talk. I’m in therapy and my therapist thinks we could both use some closure.”
That makes sense! Closure is healthy, right?
When it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, you need to know that closure is an illusion. Closure is the crowbar they use to pry open the door back into your life. Closure is something you are going to have to find on your own.
That’s why it’s so important that the first step of getting closure after breaking up with a narcissist is going no contact.
Set Up Safety Precautions
Think of it this way. A narcissist is an addict, validation is the drug, and you are the supply. Have you seen the crazy things addicts do when they are cut off from their supply? You need to think of the narcissist as a dangerous junkie who wants to use you to get their fix. It is important not to downplay the fact that leaving a narcissist and going no contact can become a dangerous situation.
It’s hard to focus on closure and healing when you are afraid for your safety. You need to put safety measures in place for your peace of mind, as well as your physical and emotional safety. Here are a few suggestions.
–Change your number. Even if you block a narcissist, they will find ways to contact you. They will buy burner phones or have friends reach out. To really cut off contact, you might need to change your number completely.
-Set all social media to private and change your handles. The narcissist will create new profiles to digitally stalk you and leave hateful comments on your posts. Set everything to private and don’t approve people you don’t know. You may also want to change your handles so the narcissist can’t find you and continue to keep tabs on your life. Also keep in mind geotag usage. You don’t want to tag yourself at a location if you are still there and you don’t want to tag yourself at the same place multiple times. The narcissist may start hanging out at that place hoping to run into you there.
-Alert security. If you live in a neighborhood with security or an apartment building with security or a doorman, let them know. Share with them that you have an unstable abusive ex. Show them the person’s pictures. Ask that this person not be allowed in under any circumstances. Many security professionals have dealt with this situation before and may have some added insights or security precautions they can recommend.
-Get an alarm system. Easy, not very expensive, and will help you sleep better at night. You can also ask the alarm company if they have any additional recommendations.
-Move. I’m not saying you should sell your house and move to a different state, although some women do end up doing that. But it may be possible to move. If your lease is up, don’t renew. If you live in an apartment community you may be able to move to a different unit. Ask your management company if this would be possible. Explain the situation, share any documentation including letters from your therapist and paperwork from the police. They may be able to help you out and let you move into a different unit.
-Consider a restraining order. You will need to work with the police on this and you will need evidence. Do not delete any messages your ex sends you, as tempting as it might be. A restraining order is not a foolproof strategy, but it will set a very serious tone to your ex and provide the evidence you need to carry out some of these other strategies. It can also enrage your ex and cause them to lash out, so please be sure to have security measures already in place.
These strategies may seem time consuming and even expensive, but you can’t put a price on your safety or peace of mind. You have been making the narcissist the center of your world; it’s time to put your wellness and safety first in a concrete way.
Work With A Domestic Abuse Center
You may think that sounds dramatic and unnecessary. Maybe your ex was only emotionally and never physically or sexually abusive, so why would you go to a shelter? It’s a misconception that abuse shelters are just for those who have been physically abused. A domestic abuse center assists men, women, and children, gay or straight, who have dealt with any kind of intimate partner abuse, whether that be physical, emotional, or sexual.
Contacting your local abuse shelter or domestic violence help center is a huge step towards getting closure. Having been abused by a narcissist, you likely have been gaslighted. That means there is a small part of you that may still be wondering, “What if I am crazy. What if he really is just trying to love me?”
Talking about your situation with a professional is going to be one of the most validating experience of your life. It will knock that self doubt right out of your head. When I was trying to leave an abusive relationship with a narcissist, a friend’s mom put me in touch with a counselor she knew at our local abuse shelter. The counselor called me and asked, “Does he tell you he loves you to death?” “Yes.” “Then you better believe him.”
Never before had someone voiced and validated my fears so clearly.
Her saying that changed everything for me. She then walked me through how to leave, the plan I needed to make on how to escape, and how to do so with the least amount of risk to my safety. I truly would not have been able to leave without this support.
Your local domestic abuse center is also going to be able to recommend resources to you for your physical safety, as well as emotional healing and closure. Most can provide therapy with one of their counselors in house, often at a free or reduced rate. But if they are unable to do so, they will be able to recommend the top experts in your area.
If you are unsure of who to reach out to or are unsure if you are experiencing abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Again, this comes back to validation. Validation is such an important part of the process because being in a relationship with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a profoundly invalidating experience.
Educating yourself, whether that be through reading, working with a therapist, or attending a 12 step group, will help you close the door on this relationship by creating space between your emotional involvement and your psyche. By understanding NPD through a clinical lens, the next time your narcissistic ex tries to use a classic tool of manipulation, you will be able to recognize this behavior as a symptom of his/her disorder. You will have the insights of renowned experts and therapists validating your experience. You will be able to breathe and seek out one of the tools you learned through your research, rather than getting sucked back in. This isn’t a perfect practice, but overtime you will be able to use your research to shift your perspective and your response.
Educating yourself isn’t just validating, it is also going to help you better understand your ex, yourself, and your dynamic. When you really integrate the understanding that your ex isn’t just manipulative or flawed, but actually suffering from a personality disorder that most therapists agree is incurable and nearly impossible to treat, I promise it will be a lot easier to have compassion for the both of you and walk away.
I recently put together a list of books I recommend to my clients who are breaking up with a narcissist. You can find that list here.
Go All In On Healing
One of the most important aspects to getting closure after breaking up with a narcissist is learning to put yourself first. The narcissist likely demanded your undivided attention, guilted you for having friends or hobbies, and made their emotional outbursts the center of your universe. Your relationship with the narcissist has likely robbed you of your relationship with yourself.
Maybe the most healing thing you can do right now is vow to fix that. Take a moment to promise yourself to put your wellbeing first now, no matter what.
I have seen women who due to a lack of awareness, education, and healing have dated narcissist after narcissist. Truth is, I have been that woman. And if your attraction to a narcissist stems from unresolved childhood trauma, there is a real risk that could happen.
That’s why the moment you realize you are in this dynamic you have to go all in on your healing. Many women are pulled into this dynamic with a narcissist due to childhood trauma. Many were raised by a narcissist or co-dependent parent. Sometimes people who tend to be more empathic are easily drawn in by a damaged narcissist. The point is, you not only have to heal from the trauma of this relationship, you also have to be willing to turn inwards and find out if there was any trauma that drove you to this relationship.
By no means am I trying to blame the victim here. What happened to you was horrific and not your fault. What I am saying is that the process of self discovery and healing that can come after leaving a narcissist can be deeply empowering especially after such a disempowering experience. It may be painful, but looking inward with ultimately free you from this dynamic and open up space for life altering healing.
Ultimately, the tools you use for healing will vary depending on what works for you and it will take a lot of experimenting. For me, I found hypnotherapy, Theta Healing, and homeopathy to be my go to strategies.
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The truth is, more women than I would like to admit are recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship. Sadly, some of these women don’t even know their relationship was abusive. Too many women are left with the emotional wounds of abuse and PTSD, but don’t understand what’s happened to them. It’s not their fault; too often abusers make the victim believe they are crazy, dramatic or even the perpetrator themselves.
All breakups are hard, but ending an emotionally abusive relationship can leave you feeling like you have lost your sense of self and sanity. You may be feeling completely broken with no idea how to recover because you have completely lost trust in yourself. You may be wondering if you are crazy, if you were wrong to end the relationship, or if it would be easier to just give in to your ex’s demands.
As women, we are woefully uneducated about emotional abuse. So when it comes to recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship, the first step is awareness and education. You need to learn everything you can about emotional abuse not only to reclaim your sanity, but also to heal the patterns so it never happens to you again. That’s why I recommend these five books to all of my clients who are recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship.
This book is an epic game changer for ANYONE, but if you’re recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship, it’s required reading. Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that causes you to question your own sanity. The seeds of gaslighting are usually sown slowly overtime, encroaching on your sanity inch by inch until you find yourself completely doubting your memory and experience of reality.
For example, your partner constantly flirts with other women in front of you. When you confront him, he blows up, berating you with examples of your “pathological jealousy” he tells you you are weak, needy, crazy, and destroying your relationship. “You are sabotaging our relationship with your jealously because you can’t handle being happy.” A gaslighter will use yelling, aggression, and below the belt insults until you are willing to accept their version of reality, which is that you are crazy and they are always right. It may get to the point where you are quite sure he is cheating, but you convince yourself you are wrong, it’s just your irrational jealousy and fear of being happy.
Being gaslighted can make you a zombie completely controlled by your abusive partner, making it near impossible to leave the relationship. This book will not only help you identify all forms of gaslighting, it will also give you step by step guides for facing gaslighting in all aspects of your life. In short, it will help you recover from the emotional abuse and reclaim your relationship with your self.
Not only is the book so well written you’ll want to binge it in an entire weekend, it’s one of the best you’ll find about understanding narcissistic abuse. Not all emotionally abusive men are narcissists, but many are. If you aren’t sure what narcissistic abuse is or if you think your abusive ex might have narcissistic tendencies, you can read the first chapter of Dr. Durvasula’s book here.
Dr. Durvasula, one of the top experts on Narcissistic Personality Disorder, categorizes a few types of narcissists. But the thing they all have in common is a pathological lack of empathy. Infidelity, stalking, gaslighting, and love bombing often go hand in hand with narcissistic abuse as well.
Everything starts out great with a NPD partner. They’re charming, treat you like a princess, the sex is great. It doesn’t hurt that they are usually handsome, well dressed, and successful. In the beginning, your relationship will be the envy of all your friends. Which is part of what makes it so hard to admit that you’re living in a nightmare and leave once the narcissists shows their true colors.
I highly recommend diving into Dr. Durvasula’s book, but if you can’t wait for your book to arrive, check out her fantastic episode on Red Table Talk.
If you’ve been in an abusive relationship of any kind your boundaries have been systematically violated, worn down, and dissolved. Maybe your ex insisted on having all your passwords and access to your social media account so he could keep tabs on you. Eventually, you got so sick of the fighting you just gave in and let him have your passwords and anything else he wanted. Now, you can’t even remember the last time it felt safe to say no to someone. Maybe saying no has never felt safe to you.
The problem is, we don’t really teach children healthy boundaries. We are taught sacrifice=heroic and that putting others before ourselves is how we show love. As adults many of us don’t have a healthy understanding of boundaries. Narcissists and other predatory or abusive personalities almost have a sixth sense for women with poor boundaries.
Developing healthy boundaries is not only the first step towards severing the ties between yourself and your abusive ex, it’s going to help you create healthy relationship dynamics in the future. Side effects of healthy boundaries include: more energy, higher income, more free time, healthier partnerships, richer friendships, greater compassion for self and others.
Education is one of your best weapons when it comes to healing from an emotionally abusive relationship. But if your education doesn’t include better understanding yourself, it’s falling short. The fact is, abusive men, psychopaths, and narcissists are attracted to certain personality types. They tend to be drawn to empathic women, women who are sensitive, giving, and often don’t have the best boundaries. Introducing the highly sensitive person (HSP) a term sometimes used interchangeably with “empath.”
HSPs have sensitive nervous systems which makes them a target for abuse. They will often quickly cave to the demands of their abuser because they can’t handle the stress and drama of fighting. HSPs are often shy, struggle with intimacy, and feel they may never find someone. This makes them particularly vulnerable to the “love bombing” so common at the begging of emotionally abusive relationships.
Turning to the empath side of the highly sensitive person spectrum, empaths identify strongly with the feelings of others, often losing themselves, their needs, and their own perspective in their partner’s. As a result, they find themselves putting the needs (or demands) of their partner above their own. This means far too many empaths end up in toxic or abuse relationships.
If these dynamics sound familiar to you, you might be an HSP or empath. This book will not only make you feel seen and understood, it will give you the tools you need to create healthier relationship dynamics in the future. You can also check out, The Empath’s Survival Guide by Dr. Judith Orloff.
Are you a caretaker or people pleaser? Do you have a need to be needed? Do you have a history of being romantically involved or friends with emotionally vulnerable, needy people? Alternatively, you might feel that you need someone to take care of you, feeling totally lost and vulnerable outside of a relationship. If so, you might have codependency issues and those issues might be a reason you ended up in an emotionally abusive relationship.
Codependency often goes hand in hand with emotional abuse. The codependent finds it almost impossible to walk away from a relationship, especially one where they have taken on the care taking role. That’s why codependents tend to stick around longer than is healthy or safe.
Codependency usually comes from a place of low self worth. You may feel that you are unworthy of love and therefore caretake others. If they need you, they can’t leave you. The problem is that makes you vulnerable to people who will take advantage of your care taking, lack of boundaries, and empathy. These people will leave you depleted (& far worse) then manipulate you into staying in the relationship.
Codependency is a pretty common dynamic, not just in romantic relationships, but in family dynamics and friendships as well. Codependent no more will go a long way towards helping you develop healthy relationships in all areas of your life, while helping you to make yourself a priority.
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As a matchmaker, I plan 25-30 dates a month for my clients. Having planned literally hundreds of dates, I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a good date spot, and what definitely does not. I can’t guarantee that every date I set up is going to be a home run; chemistry is difficult to predict! But I can guarantee the date location is going to be great.
One of my favorite things about my job is planning dates. I have clients all over the country, so I feel like I get to explore all the cool nooks and crannies of new cities while I hunt for the PERFECT date spot. Seriously, I’ve been so surprised by which cities have it goin’ on.
Which brings me to Hotlanta. Turns out there’s more happening in Atlanta than filming scary TV shows, sweating, and eating brunch. Including good fucking food and cute ass coffee shops, making Atlanta date planning paradise for me!
Here are the tops picks!
Read Shop by the Merchant
Not all of my clients agree on this, but I am a big lover of a bookshop date. Sitting across from someone at a bar or restaurant can seem like a lot of pressure and quickly turn into a job interview rather than a date. Not sexy.
Bookstores make for a slightly more dynamic date without too many distractions. Plus strolling through the stacks is weirdly relaxing if you have anxiety and it takes the “who is going to pick up the tab” stress out of the equation. I tell my clients to pick out a book they think the other should read and buy it for them. Super cute! And don’t get me started on the importance of supporting independent booksellers.
Read Shop is hip and trendy in a minimalist way, with plenty of weird indy books to keep you intrigued and test your date’s taste. They also serve coffee and treats so you can transition into a more traditional sit down date if you find you have enough to talk about. Read Shop is located in Vinings Jubilee so there’s plenty of other shops and eats around to explore if you want to keep the date going.
Are you bougie af, but also like to help people? Then 1. same and 2. boy have I got a restaurant for you! Staplehouse is a bit hard to describe. An upscale, reservation only dining experience with a cause, in homey digs about sums it up. 100% of profits after taxes goes to the Giving Kitchen, a non-profit supporting restaurant workers facing hardship.
Staplehouse offers an acclaimed tasting menu experience in their main restaurant, if you’re really trying to knock someone’s socks off. But if that seems a bit too intense for a first date, they also have have a killer cocktail bar, Paper Crane Lounge, that can be found above the restaurant. Really kick ass cocktails.
Queen of Cream
I personally am not a huge fan of ice cream. What I am a fan of is the casual day date. So much less pressure and no need to get alcohol involved. Seriously, why do we assume alcohol has to be a part of every date or social encounter?! I digress.
Meet your date at Queen of Cream for coffee or ice cream. Their ice cream is made totally from scratch with locally sourced dairy, so it’s delicious and sustainable. Grab a scoop of lavender honeycomb and take a stroll with your date. I promise walking around eating ice cream will make your date feel a lot more natural. Because that is the most stressful thing about going on a date, being aware that you are on one.
Do you like fancy cocktails? Do you like farm to table eats? Do you like pretending to be a wealthy stockbroker taking your mistress out for oysters circa 1928? You can have all this and more at Kimball House.
Kimball House is a creative old timey cocktail bar with a raw bar, locally sourced dinner, and absinthe service. When I hear a place is going for that vintage aesthetic, I think, “Ugh, not another speakeasy.” But that’s not the vibe at Kimball House at all. It’s comfortable and kind of homey, like your favorite pub, but with incredible food, Old World level service, and one of the best cocktail programs in the city. So if you’re looking for a more traditional date with light bites and killer cocktails, this is your place.
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This past week, I’ve seen sooo many post on Facebook to the effect of “There are no good men out there!” “I don’t know any happy couples!” “Finding the right person is a matter of luck!”
Well, if you know me, you know I think all of that is BS. Finding the right person takes work. Being the right person takes work. Being in a relationship takes work. Having the life of your dreams take work. Welcome to planet Earth!
No, I don’t mean your life or relationship should be a struggle. The kind of “work” I’m referring to is working on yourself, being emotionally honest with your partner, taking big risks, being brave enough to love unconditionally. These things aren’t necessarily easy, but personally, I think doing your self work is a whole lot easier than playing the victim.
Anyway! The fact is trauma is real, depression is real. I know when you’re in the pits it can be hard to visualize a better relationship or better life for yourself. But it’s important to get your imagination moving in the direction of the life you want. And I think the best way to do that is by hearing the stories of real people who have accomplished beautiful things. That’s why I’m doing this series on real travel couples. That’s right. Couples who like each other enough to commit AND travel the world together. Wowza.
This week I had the pleasure to interview a Canadian couple Shawn and Steph. They are happily married and hold down “real” jobs, while still making the time to travel the world together and collaborate creatively. Follow them on Insta here for daily #relationshipgoals inspiration.
Their interview also reminded me that the real beauty of traveling with your partner isn’t the awesome shots for social media or even the incredible places you’ll visit. It’s in the experience of slowly uncovering deeper and deeper layers of intimacy with your partner. This interview is seriously beautiful guys!
Read on for their amazing story and awesome insights into love, life, and travel!
1) What has travel taught you about love? About intimacy?
Each and every time we travel together, we always come home with a deeper love, and deeper connection for one another. We think this is because it tones down the stresses and anxieties of our everyday lives, and allows us to be grounded and present to truly focus on each other. It gives us more time to be alone, emotionally, and physically & allows us to reconnect, especially if we’ve lost track due to the business of the real world.
When traveling together you get to see and experience all of the raw moments of another person’s life. Their insecurities, their fears, their excitements – there is no hiding it when you’re with a person 24/7. This is the true test. If you love them after seeing all of them, I think the relationship could be amazing. I’ll never forget bursting into tears because we were in an area of extreme culture shock and discomfort, and looking at Shawn gave me that sense of “home” I needed in that moment. That’s what love is.
2) How has travel shaped your relationship?
Each time we went on a trip together while we were dating, those were the moments that solidified myself wanting to marry him.
I always thought, if we could get along for x number of days, and enjoy each others company, AND have fun while doing it, then I want this for life! What could be better than a life travel partner and a best friend all wrapped into one?
However, travel really does teach you if you are well suited for each other. Our interests and wants on a trip have always aligned and I think that helps immensely. I’m sure everyone can name a friend that they know they absolutely cannot travel with. We are by no means an athletic couple – so we opt for the shorter hikes. We LOVE food & drinks – so we always research neat places to eat etc. Discussing what you want out of a trip before you go, will really make it that much more successful.
3) How did you know you wanted to travel together?
We didn’t, but we thought we’d give it a try! With Shawn, it always came naturally. I was the anxious planner, and he was the relaxed, laid back type. I think we really compliment each other well.
We’d just finished university (where we met), and had been dating for about a year. Our first big trip together was to Western Canada- to see Banff & Jasper. I remember thinking, if this goes well, he could be the one! (Spoiler: we got married last August!) It ended up being a very successful trip and one of our favourite memories together! If you’re hesitant, take the risk – it will either make you a stronger couple, or teach you what you need to work on together – either way an amazing learning experience.
4) What has it been like collaborating creatively with your partner?
We definitely have our parts when it comes to collaborating creatively. Shawn is more of a behind-the-scenes camera man. He takes the majority of our photos for us. I like to do the research for finding cool places to shoot, and the editing. He’s very supportive and definitely brings positivity, even when at times I get down on myself comparing our work to others and thinking its not “good enough.” He’s like our little cheerleader, always reminding us that we started our account for a reason – to share our love of travel with the world & inspire others to step out of their comfort zones – not to care about how well or not well a photo does on Instagram.
5) How do you balance working full time with travel?
So I am a teacher, and Shawn is an engineer. I have a very strict schedule for when I can travel – Canadas education system has fewer breaks than other countries. I have July & August off, 2 weeks at Christmas, and 1 week in March. This is when we travel. It also happens to be the most expensive time to travel, which is the only downfall to the time I get off.
Shawn has 3-4 weeks off a year. So while working, we save up as much as we can so we can go on our next adventure! Seems manageable but it is a struggle sometimes. It is VERY hard to produce content during the week. We come home exhausted from work and don’t want to film stories, or edit and post photos. We do the majority of that on the weekends.
One thing that REALLY helps us, is that we focus on creating and producing date nights and date ideas to share with others aside from just travel. We choose 1 weekend a month to explore or go to places near our hometown of Toronto. This gives us more content to share when we aren’t traveling, and allows us to go on a date – win/win!
6) What’s Your Next Adventure?
Our next adventure is happening in July – we are exploring France/Italy for 3 weeks! I’m Italian and have been to Italy once, but Shawn has never been. We are even staying with some of my family that I’ve never met before, so it will be quite the experience.
We are starting in Nice, France & ending in the Amalfi Coast. I am definitely most excited to explore Cinque Terre – it has been on my bucket list FOREVER!
If you want to follow us on our adventure, be sure to check out @thethompsontrotters for all of the pasta and bread and wine anyone could wish for!
Image creds: @thethompsontrotters & @durandstudios
“Why are you still single?”
A client once fired me for asking him this question
I know this questions can be painful. And it’s definitely loaded.
Loaded with shame for not being “coupled.” Loaded with the pressure of family, friends, people from high school. Fuck, even Facebook ads might be subtly letting you know it’s time to get married.
But here’s the thing, why ARE you still single?
I mean you’re probably a total catch, right? I’m sure your friends assure you the right guy will magically come along eventually. It’s just not the right time yet!
I’m sorry to tell you this, but your friends are wrong. The right guy is not going to magically appear in your life “when the time is right.”
The right guy will only appear in your life after you have done the hard work to love yourself and to heal beyond the patterns that are keeping your trapped in chronic singledom and toxic relationship patterns.
“Why Are You Still Single?”
To manifest your dream relationship, you need to seriously ask yourself this right now.
“I’ve been busy.” “I haven’t met the right person.” “Maybe when work gets less crazy…”
These are not acceptable answers.
The answer I want, the answer that will lead you to your dream relationship, is in the place where you don’t want to go. The feelings you’ve been trying to outrun.
What if I told you that the relationship of your dreams (and your emotional freedom) are in the parts of yourself that you are afraid to visit. The memories you’re afraid to touch. The parts of yourself you really really don’t like acknowledging. What if everything you wanted was behind the door you’re most afraid to open?
It is. That’s what healing your way to love is.. going where you don’t want to go to bring healing to the part of yourself you have been trying to ignore and outrun.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” FDR
I know your triggers are extremely visceral. I know trauma is probably living in your body and unconscious. I know you have good reason to be sad, angry, wounded…
But you don’t have good reason to stay where you are. From where you are you will just keep reaching for relationships and finding the same dysfunctional patterns instead.
You do have good reason to face your fears and do the hard work to heal.
The path to your soulmate starts today.
But it doesn’t start on dating apps, at a bar, with a makeover, at the gym… it starts in one place and that is in the moment you decide you love yourself enough to admit that it’s time to heal.
And that you may need some help to get there.
It starts with loving yourself enough to ask the one question you’ve been avoiding all this time.
So why are you still single?
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