Looking for love beyond the keyboard

man and woman holding hands
What does 'meeting someone' even mean anymore? Two 25-year-old single journalism students — LC Kemp and Shelby Morton — wanted to find out. Pixabay.com

People often complain that it’s so hard to meet people nowadays. This can be especially true of young singles looking for love.

But what does ‘meeting someone’ even mean anymore? Modern dating has become a minefield of options: Tinder, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish, Match.com, eHarmony, the list goes on — all of them digital, happening from behind a  screen.

How do we sift through the myriad options and the millions of profiles featured on them?

For instance, how does one decide that *Joe* age 28, with the golden retriever and the affinity for camping is right for you?

And you, too, have to create a profile highlighting all your best qualities and omitting the worst.

How much can you really learn about someone after reading a resume? And once you decide a person may be worth getting to know, you then have to make sure you’re texting the wittiest and most interesting version of yourself.

How much can you really learn from a conversation held through a cell phone?

Unfortunately, we’ve been conditioned to think that meeting someone in person is obsolete.

What happened to the good, old-fashioned face-to-face meet and greet?

Well, two 25-year-old, single journalism students, LC Kemp and myself, Shelby Morton,wanted to find out.

LC and I walked arm-in-arm toward a little downtown Asian restaurant and peeked inside. Very dimly lit, there were five women sitting at strategically placed, two-person-sized tables. Two men sat at a larger table nearby. I immediately said “No, no, I can’t do this.”

LC said, “Don’t worry, there’s a bar.”

We walked in with moderate hopes hoping to find singles live in the flesh at a  Toronto speed dating event recently.

How were you feeling leading up to it?

LC: Leading up to the event I was extremely nervous. I could not stop telling Shelby how embarrassed I was to meet a bunch of men all at the same time. It is definitely scary when you know that you are not only meeting new people but are forced with having to sit down with each and everyone of them. We took the subway there and during our ride Shelby was discussing speed dating and I kept telling her to ‘shhh’ because I was freaking out.

SM: I actually felt excited until we walked up and I saw how few men there were. I immediately felt shy and embarrassed. I’ve always known there’s a sort of stigma against unconventional ways of meeting people, but I never felt like it was truly a negative thing, until that moment. I needed a drink, stat.

What was your plan of action?

LCK: I wanted to act calm, cool and collected. I’m very talkative by nature so I really wanted to listen more and talk less.

SM: To be completely myself. To lay all my crap on the table and see how it goes.

What was your first impression of the event?

LCK: I had to force Shelby to walk in, which is funny because I was the one freaking out on the ride there. Right away we were handed a grading sheet. Basically you write down the person’s name as you meet them and you check a category next to their name. The categories were basically: I like what I’m seeing; I’d go for a drink, maybe;  Not my cup of tea; Never mind, thanks, or Not in a million years. And then when it’s all said and done, you have to rate them from best to worst. Seeing this made me nervous.

SM: All the women were attractive. And I wasn’t loving any of the guys who were walking in. I found that odd. There were seven tables in all, so my initial hope was that more people would show up and there would more than one go-a-round. There ended up being six men and eight women in all, so, alas, only one. I had envisioned more options. But I decided right then to just go with the flow and stop overthinking it.

Describe your feelings as the dating began:

LCK: I was sitting at the bar and it all kind of happened really quickly. Before I knew it there was this guy sitting in front of me asking what I did for a living.

SM: I felt slightly nervous. But that’s because I had to wait and watch at the bar while the first round happened, because there were too many women there. I chatted with the coordinator of the event and took a snapchat of the daters. During this I learned that each date is five minutes long. Five minutes to meet your soulmate!

How was your first speed date?

LCK: Michael was not my cup of tea. He just seemed completely disinterested in what I was saying. I felt like I was pulling for conversation. And he wasn’t my type. Not a great start.

SM: Five minutes goes by quickly. John immediately gave me a really enthusiastic high five. It actually helped to put me at ease. He was a large Australian bloke with a lot of personality. The conversation mostly stuck to his move to Toronto and his life in Australia, but he seemed genuinely eager to meet new people. Unfortunately, I wasn’t attracted to him.

Notable dater?

LCK: Irish Deacon. He drew a penis-shaped map of Ireland on my score sheet.

SM:  Michael. My last one. The conversation flowed really well. And he was highly sarcastic, which I’m always a fan of. But I think he was like 45, which is about ten years past my age maximum.

Plan of action follow-through?

LCK: So my ‘play it cool’ plan failed. Instead I was a chatty mess. My nerves got the best of me and I think I acted way too interested in what they were saying. I said “awesome” a lot, as if welding was the most awesome hobby I’d ever heard of. The problem was that I was painfully aware I was being graded and I honestly wanted to get a high score. I guess I’m more of a people-pleaser than I thought!

SM: I feel like the journalist in me came out and I asked so many questions. I know that most men like to talk about themselves so it might’ve worked to my benefit. I don’t think the plan to be myself panned out, though, except with my last date. You automatically feel like you’re being interviewed and you have to lay your best self out on the table, especially because there’s a score sheet staring at you from across that table. So I definitely smiled and pretend-laughed a lot more than I ever have in my life.

Any matches? 

LCK: I got an email from two of the guys, including Irish phallic Deacon. I don’t know why though, because I scored him really low. So I guess they just give the guys all the women’s emails and see who bites. But I did get an email from this guy Jamie who the cutest of the bunch. I’m considering emailing back.

SM: I got an email from four of the guys, three of which I put ‘not my cup of tea’ for. You’d think they would only give emails to the guys you’re interested in. Oh well. Either way, I don’t think I’ll respond.

Final thoughts?

LCK: I think based off of what I’ve said so far that it seems like it wasn’t a good experience, but it was. Most of the guys were pretty nice and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. Even the guy who drew a penis on my sheet was funny. I still put ‘never in a million years,’ but at least I enjoyed myself. And even though I wasn’t attracted to most of them, for some reason I still wanted them to like me. With online dating, you can just swipe left or not respond when an unattractive guy is interested in you. But it’s a whole different story when you’re face-to-face with someone. I liked it though, it forced me to consider something and someone new that I might’ve immediately overlooked otherwise.

SM: None of the guys were attractive to me. The majority of them were well into their 30s or 40s with the exception of one, but that was still a no-go. But I don’t think a lot of people know that speed dating still exists. Every person I’ve told that I went speed dating has been like “What?! That still happens?! I’d be so down to go!” Maybe if there was more exposure to it and less stigma, there would be a better, younger selection of men. Yes, it’s still a slightly unnatural way to meet someone, but it definitely forced me out of my social media-obsessed comfort zone. And made for a great story.

(Note: the names used for the daters in this article have been changed)

Want to know where to go to find dates? Find out below:

Speed Toronto Dating:

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How did the company originate: Originally established in the UK and was later moved to Canada and the United States in 2007

Clientele: 22- 39

Company Mission: Speed Toronto Dating aims to bring together sophisticated and classy singles to provide them with a setting to have the best date possible. Unlike other matchmaking services, it allows daters to provide their dating parameters — the singles can sit back and prepare for their dates, while the company takes control.

Location: Various locations throughout Toronto

Advantages compared online dating: Brings together a sophisticated crowd of singles where they are able to meet in person in a low key setting and see if a match is made.

Single in the City:

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How long has it been established: 2002

Clientele: 25- 47

Company Mission: Two women with a background in event planning decided to put together a dating service where singles can experience adventure and fun, while finding someone to possibly share their life with. This service is different than the rest as they provide speed dating, matchmaking, as well as date coaching.

Location: 300 North Service Rd. W #60044, Oakville

Advantages compared to online dating: With more than one option provided by Single In The City, singles are able to take a step back from their computers and engage in various forms of dating!

Match Me Canada:

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How long has it been established: Since early 2009

Clientele: 30- 65

Company Mission: This matchmaking service is geared towards establishing connections between single career professionals. By filling out the match making questionnaire, The matchmaker will then find someone who seems to fit your romantic desires.

Location: 100 King Street W. Suite 5700

Advantages compared to online dating:  Match Me Canada enables older singles to find an easier alternative to meeting a potential match, rather than having to figure out the realm of online dating. Online dating is known today to be more of an easy access culture, where the younger generation can find love, however, lately it has been used for more one night stands.

It’s Just Lunch Toronto:

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How long has it been established: 1991

Clientele: N/A

Company Mission: To provide an intimate setting where classy professionals can get together and try to build a lasting connection over lunch.

Location: Various

Advantages compared to online dating: It’s Just Lunch is a worldwide company which enables you to meet singles anywhere from Toronto, New York and Los Angeles. Instead of sitting in the comfort of your home, you are able to get dressed up for a night out on the town and have the possibility to connect with someone in person instantly.

About this article

By: and
Posted: Nov 23 2015 12:31 pm
Edition: Toronto
Filed under: Special Reports Arts & Life Opinion