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Old flames

I started talking to City Boy again recently. You know, the boy that I was supposed to fly off to Shangri L.A. with last summer, except that definitely didn’t happen and I met Boyfriend a month and a half after I didn’t fly anywhere.

I’ve thought about what this would be like, because I was so incredibly into him and he broke my heart, but we fell into conversation like we hadn’t missed a day and for once it didn’t bother me that we didn’t work out. There was a little flirting and I know he misses me, but we weren’t good for each other and I’m so much happier now than I ever was trying to make a long distance relationship work.

Before Boyfriend I worried that I would carry a flame for City Boy forever because we never had any closure, it was over as quickly as it began and nothing felt dealt with; but after talking to him I feel like maybe we can be friends.

When you find someone you can love, really love, the old relationships and hurt and broken hearts don’t disappear but they suddenly matter less because all the ones that came before weren’t right you just didn’t know it at the time. I’ve fallen for many men before and I still wonder about the Big Ex or what would have happened if my first love hadn’t died, but the pain that used to accompany those memories is faded and distant now.

The best part about finding that perfect person for you is that he’s perfect for you. He could be strange and weird but he’s strange and weird in a way that matches your own strangeness. City Boy was always too into work to ever really be with me and even when I thought the Big Ex and I would work out my friends knew better.

I wouldn’t trade all the second chances with old flames in the world for the happiness I have now. If City Boy told me he wanted to try it all over again I know I’d say no and do so happily. Maybe there wasn’t any closure to that whirlwind romance but I don’t need it because I have something better: I have someone who makes me a priority instead of an option.

It’s taken me a while to get to this place, it’s taken so long for me to find something that is healthy for me and makes me happy that sometimes I think it’s a dream.

I’m not one for giving advice, because I’m a bit of a mess of insecurities and craziness myself, but if I could offer anything to the single girls out there it would be this: don’t settle, it isn’t worth it. Find someone who doesn’t make you wait forever, someone who doesn’t think all important conversations should happen over BBM and someone who doesn’t fly off without telling you. There’s someone out there who won’t make you want to pull your hair out… at least not in a bad way.

The age old question, can men and women be just friends?

Can men and women really be just friends?

Last weekend Boyfriend and I went to see The F Word at the Lightbox and while the film was excellent, really out of this world hilarious; it brought up the question first (I think) addressed on the silver screen by When Harry Met Sally, “Can men and women be just friends?”

I feel like this question is a little played out. Of course men and women can be just friends — in fact most of my closest friends are men. But I’m not single, so does that play into the equation? Can I be friends with so many men because I’m in a monogamous relationship? Say that out loud and just try and tell me it doesn’t sound ridiculous. Unless you start out wanting to get hot and sweaty with someone and accept friendship as an unfortunate consolation prize you can be friends with whomever you like regardless of their genitalia.

“The core argument of the men and women can’t be friends idea is that all men want to sleep with all women”

I’ve always liked hanging out with the boys. They’re fun, they don’t mind when I make a totally offside joke, they like gross-out humour, and they don’t judge me for watching endless hours of nerdy television on Netflix. Also they drink scotch with me, and that’s awesome. But when you spend a certain amount of time with someone you develop an almost familial relationship and the idea of boffing your pals is about as appetizing as sitting through a 12-hour documentary on the dung beetle. No offense guys, you’re hot but you’re just not for me.

The core argument of the men and women can’t be friends idea is that all men want to sleep with all women; so if men and women are friends the guy will always want to sleep with the girl. I’m not sure that we can reduce all the men in the world to what’s hiding in their pants, expect for maybe John Hamm. Men deserve more credit than that; I’m 100% sure that despite the size of the canons I carry around on my chest none of my guy friends are looking to shack up with me and not just because I’m taken. Nine times out of ten sleeping with a friend ruins the relationship and for most people it isn’t worth it to lose one of your best pals over an orgasm.

I have one friend that feels the need to remind me that I have a boyfriend every time I talk to another guy; I’m actually thinking about getting a t-shirt with Boyfriend’s face on it so that all of the menfolk know about my relationship status. Having a boyfriend is not something I forget any time a cute guy talks to me and talking to a man doesn’t mean I’m trying to cheat on Boyfriend, in fact all it means is that I’m a social person who enjoys meeting new people. It’s about time we all acknowledged that talking to a member of the opposite sex does not mean you’re trying to take them home.

Give yourself and the men in your life just a little more credit.

Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Finding your perfect fit

Relationships don’t mean compromising who you are

Before I met Boyfriend I was constantly trying to fit into someone else’s’ vision of the perfect girlfriend; I didn’t get angry, even when I should have, I didn’t fight and I was never controversial. But I also had no idea how lonely I was, I wasn’t single all the time but I was always lonely because I was never with the right person.

When you spend so much time trying to fit into someone else’s idea of perfect you end up broken and twisted. The mold wasn’t made for me and every time I tried to fit into it I had to twist up another piece of myself just to fit; it hurt but I thought that I was compromising, I didn’t know that I was compromising myself.

I’ve been thinking about this idea of loneliness a lot this week; I’ve seen a friend end a relationship because he couldn’t compromise anymore he had tried everything but he couldn’t break or bend any more, it was just too much. I’ve watched another friend end her fascination with her ex because she’s finally found someone who fits with her, really fits. Whether it’s a break-up or a new beginning I love seeing people in that moment when they realize exactly what they need and go for it.

Before Boyfriend I was a shadowy version of myself desperately trying to be what the person I was with at the time needed, but it never worked out because they never knew me, not really. When you find someone who gets you, who accepts and embraces all the quirky strange things about you the shadows fade away and you start to sparkle. I’ve noticed that when I see someone I haven’t seen in a while they always comment about how confident I seem or how happy I look, which is awesome, and I think it’s because the happiness starts way down in my toes and doesn’t stop.

My life isn’t easy, I work in a tumultuous industry, my finances never seem to get settled and my family life is really messy but all of that is easier to deal with when you’re in love. It’s not just the love I get from Boyfriend that makes the difference it’s that he has reminded me of all the things I love about myself and I can’t put a price on how valuable that is.

I may be head over heels in love but the more important thing to me is that I’ve found someone who fits with me, a custom made designer Boyfriend. My life is better not because I found a man but because I found a partner; someone to keep me company in this crazy world. I’m not lonely anymore. I’m not worried that if I say the wrong thing he might leave me, I’m not worried about being anything other than the girl he fell in love with which happens to be, me.

Everyone deserves their perfect fit. So next time you find yourself compromising again and again and again, ask yourself; is it really worth it?

Let’s get real

Reality is something I’m normally good at: I’m brash, bold and am often told that I could use a mouth filter, which I’m almost positive is code for duct tape. But when it comes to boyfriends, reality and honesty is a little bit harder for me.

Earlier this week Mr. Unexpected and I were hanging out and he did something that put me off; when he asked why I was acting weird I shrugged and told him to leave it alone. Leaving things alone is not his forte. He’s a fan of honesty and if he wanted someone for emotionless sex he’d get a booty call, so ignoring issues and not talking about the hard stuff doesn’t count as an option any more.

Everyone has things in their past that they don’t like talking about, things that we put away in a box that we never look at. But boxes are imperfect structures and sometimes the bad things leak out at inopportune moments and we have to deal. For me the dealing part has never been that difficult, but sharing all the parts of me, even the less-than-pretty parts, is really difficult.

When we first talked about making our relationship official Mr. Unexpected wasn’t sure that I was ready for a relationship, and to be honest neither was I. Now that I’m in it I’d hate to lose him, but how do I share all the parts of me without being a self-conscious mess?

I don’t think there’s an easy answer. It’s one step at a time. I started with my slightly crazy alarm clock neurosis (I can only set my alarm clock to an interval of 3), then I talked about the exes and finally I got to my family and that is where things got tough and my desire to hide under the covers and only share the shiny parts of myself kicked in.

One of my favourite things about Mr. Unexpected is that I’m not allowed to hide, I’m not allowed to only share the superficial bits and he has no problem telling me that.

Maybe what I’ve been looking for all these years isn’t just a manfriend or the perfect bed buddy; maybe what I’ve been looking for is someone who isn’t afraid of me, someone who doesn’t take my shit, someone who doesn’t let me hide or evade questions. Maybe what I needed is someone as opinionated and strong as I am.

It’s really nice to have someone who tells me to cut it out and be real; it’s kind of amazing that he won’t put up with the number of evasion tactics I’ve come up with over the years.

It’s about damn time I had a man that won’t let me walk all over him and won’t try and walk all over me. It’s about time I had someone who refuses to let me hide behind my emotional make-up.

If I didn’t think it would give him an even bigger ego I’d thank him for always making me talk things out.

 

Three little words

I’ve wanted to say those three little words for months. I’ve felt them for as long as we’ve been together and last week after a lot of waiting I said them: I told Boyfriend that I love him. Actually what I said was, “Because I love you, you big jerk.” A little romcom cliché but it’s what I said.

After an evening of TIFFing I called Boyfriend to talk and as we talked I got more and more upset. Not saying how I was feeling was driving me insane. I was afraid and I didn’t know how to do it. The last time I told someone I loved them it was the Big Ex and he didn’t say it back. If Boyfriend didn’t say it back it would break me and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stay with someone whom I loved if they didn’t love me back, that’s not something I’m willing to do again.

So I said it without knowing what he’d say back, hopeful and terrified all at once. And you know what? He said it back. He said, “I love you too, Shannon Hunter.” It was as if someone lifted a weight off my shoulders and breathed air into my lungs all at once. No more guessing games. I don’t know if I waited too long or if I just waited as long as I needed but saying it felt more right than anything I’ve ever said before—except when I told my mum that I would rather stay home on Saturdays and watch Ninja Turtles than go to ballet… that was probably equally right.

When I was little we used to play he loves me, he loves me not with flowers and as I waited for him to either say it back or break my heart I could see the petals falling in my mind. The last one would determine everything that came next.

So for the first time in five years I know I’m with someone who loves me, I know I’m with someone who will always be there for me and I know that I have a chance at the future I want. I’m happy when I’m single, I’ve never been the type who needs a boyfriend to feel whole, but when I’m with someone that I really care about I do turn into a bit of a girl. I imagine living together, I imagine walking a puppy that we picked out together, I imagine falling asleep and waking up to the same person every day. Life with someone you love doesn’t have to be boring, I want puppies not babies, I want adventures not a wedding, but more than anything I want someone who I know loves me the same way that I love them.

Maybe it took a little longer than I thought it would but a week before our anniversary I know that I am loved. No more guessing games, he loves me he really loves me.

WATCH: This TIFF short about Facebook will make you hate your computer

This unique Canadian short film, Noah, explores something we don’t see in too many other movies: just how much our online lives have supplanted our real interactions.

“In a story that plays out entirely on a teenager’s computer screen, Noah follows its eponymous protagonist as his relationship takes a rapid turn for the worse in this fascinating study of behaviour (and romance) in the digital age.”

The film by Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg explores the concept of isolation in a world where we are so connected to everyone around us all the time and has the added benefit of making you want to disconnect from Facebook and throw your laptop out the window.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Is the strange girl on Chat Roulette right to think that Facebook is destroying our lives? Have you ever done the not-so-unthinkable and hacked your significant other’s Facebook account to get dirt on them?

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Serenity now

This past week has been one of the hardest Boyfriend and I have ever had. On Sunday we were having dinner and joking around, ready to watch the third episode of Breaking Bad, everything was good and then the phone rang. Boyfriend’s grandfather had taken a turn for the worse and he had to leave for the hospital right away.

We’ve spent the past week communicating through Facebook, text and the occasional phone call. Unsure of what to say or do I tried to be the bright spot in all the badness. I cracked jokes, sent pictures of puppies and GIFs of playful corgis because that’s what he needed. Inside, however, I was dying. He was in so much pain and all I could do was send memes to make him feel better? I felt weak and powerless.

I know everyone grieves in their own way but it hurt me that I couldn’t be there for him, physically. He didn’t want me at the hospital and yesterday after his grandfather finally peacefully slipped away he told me he didn’t want me at the funeral. I want so badly to be there for him and planning to bring him ice cream and pizza after a funeral feels like something a roommate would do, not a girlfriend. He says that he doesn’t want the rest of his family to meet me at a funeral, he wants me to meet them when they are smiling and acting goofy, but I can’t stop this helpless feeling. Shouldn’t I be there to hold his hand? Isn’t that what having a partner is all about? A partner is supposed to be someone who is there to hold you in the cold, in the dark and when you feel like the world is falling apart.

I know it’s selfish to question his grieving process, I know it’s irrational and he needs me to be there for him in the way that works for him, but I hate feeling useless. I’m a fixer, it’s what I do and I want to fix this situation however impossible that sounds.

I know that we’ll get through this, I know that the bad is almost over and even if it isn’t, bad is part of life and I didn’t sign up for a fair weather relationship; I’m here for the long haul.

I just don’t understand why he doesn’t want me there. If I lost a family member or a friend I don’t know that I could do it without him, I would need him by my side. The fact that he doesn’t need me now breaks my heart.

I’m trying to put my hurt feelings aside and just be there for him in the way that he wants and needs but it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds. So I’m choosing to focus on the future. I’m choosing to plan our anniversary, trips out of the city and a visit to my family, which hopefully will help me shake this nagging feeling that we might be coming to an end.

 

 

Nearly a year later

It will be a year next month. Boyfriend and I will have been together for a whole year of our lives, which probably sounds like nothing to couples who have been together for five years or a decade or more, it probably sounds like we made it through the honeymoon phase. But having never really made it through a whole year in a row this feels like a moment worth celebrating. I know, I probably sound like a teenager, but it’s kind of amazing to be here staring down the barrel of a year for only the second time since I was actually a teenager.

I spent my first half of my 20s pining for a dead love, dating someone who spent our first anniversary with his ‘other’ girlfriend and sleeping my way through agencies and sports bars. It wasn’t a good start, if I’m honest. But I had a lot of fun, I got drunk with many an Irishman, I danced around kitchens baking brownies, I fell in lust and I never worried what would happen next because when it did go south it just meant that I would have a great story to share. So what if he broke up with me in seven words, most of which were the same. Who cares if he declared his deepest darkest secrets to me last night, he’s sober this morning. Everything was a story to tell my friends over drinks.

Bad dates are practically a rite of passage in any major North American city. Toronto gets a new Tumblr every other week completely dedicated to how ridiculous dating in this city can be. Does he live North of Bloor? Yep, that’s not happening. Voted for Ford? Not a chance in hell. Does he pronounce the second ‘t’ in Toronto? He’s basically a tourist. Does he work on Bay Street? Definitely not, I saw American Psycho. We’re picky because there are so many options, but with over two million folks living in our ‘mega city’ it’s really easy to pick wrong, a lot, which I did like it was my job.

Am I happy that I’m not dating anymore? Yes. But it’s not because of the craziness that comes with being single (that was actually pretty fun), it’s because I finally don’t have to pretend anymore. I was always myself with the guys I dated, sure, but it was like a diet version of myself. With Boyfriend I’m learning to stop apologizing for being me, I’m learning to speak my mind and not just in a way that I think people will find entertaining, and I’m learning that love looks a whole lot like falling asleep in someone’s arms on a Friday night after marathoning the latest Netflix original series.

Is a year a long time? No. But at almost 26 this relationship is the first I’ve ever been in that’s built on more than just a desire to tear each other’s clothes off on a semi-regular basis and that is worth celebrating.

Things get worse before they get better

I’ve heard that things always get worse before they get better, but really? Just when things were starting to get better we found out that Boyfriend and I both have close family members who have been diagnosed with cancer. You’d think that after all we’ve been through the universe would give us a break, but as it turns out that isn’t in the cards yet.

So we hold each other, we love each other and we try to support our families as they deal with what comes next. But despite all the pain this summer has brought with it Boyfriend still manages to make me smile, he still manages to make time for me and he still makes me laugh in that totally embarrassing out loud knee slapping kind of way.

I wouldn’t have made it through the summer of 2013 without him; I couldn’t have picked a better partner to stand by my side and I only hope that I give the same thing to him. If I can give him half the strength he gives me we’ll be in a good place because he needs me now and I want to be the one to support him.

I know that we’ll make it through all of this drama a better couple; we’ll make it through stronger and more together than we’ve ever been. But you get to a point where you start to wonder how much more you have to deal with before life gets easy again. At least I wondered that before I remembered that life isn’t easy and that the ‘easy’ relationships I’ve been have never been good; easy isn’t good it’s just easy.

Being with Boyfriend isn’t hard, but life is. When you’re really with someone, I mean committed we’re in this for the long haul with someone, you will inevitably deal with drama, heartache and loss, but you’ll deal with it beside someone you love and that is what makes the bad nights tolerable. I’d really like it if we had a couple of weeks where all we got was good news but life doesn’t often work like that.

Even if things do continue to get worse I’m going to focus on the positive. In the words of a great friend, I’m going to choose love, because I do love him and no matter how hard things are for either of us we make each other better, happier, more sunshine-y people.

I chose Boyfriend almost a year ago. I chose to let go of my fears and commit myself to someone who was worth committing to and I’m lucky that I did because without him this summer would have been nearly impossible to get through. So life, give me whatever you’ve got because I’m walking through life hand-in-hand with my favourite person, because I’m strong and he makes me stronger but mostly because when you choose love you can do anything.

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