News / Toronto

What singles love (and hate) about dating in Toronto

18 romance-seekers on their experiences trying to find a match in the Big Smoke.

Eighteen Toronto singles — including the four pictured here — shared their dating stories.

torstar news service

Eighteen Toronto singles — including the four pictured here — shared their dating stories.

This ain’t your grandma’s dating game. With the proliferation of dating apps and websites, today’s singles are increasingly turning to screens for hookups, dates and long-term love. One swipe can hand you an instant ego boost or the promise of a future meet-up with a cute stranger, but navigating a world of nude texts, fake profiles and “Netflix and chill” can also feel exhausting, demoralizing and never-ending.

We asked 18 singles for their take on playing the dating game in Canada’s largest city. Here are their stories:

All photos Torstar News Service.

I signed up for OkCupid and Tinder because I guess that's the thing to do and a lot of my friends have had success, but all I get are really old guys and weirdos. I don't really want to find someone online, but I stay on OkCupid because sometimes you need that ego boost of seeing the all the messages from guys and having them call you pretty.
Basically, I'm not really looking, because I do like my alone time. But do find as I get older and all my friends are getting married that it does get scary thinking I might die alone with a million cats.

Megan Fraser, 33, makeup artist/comedian

I signed up for OkCupid and Tinder because I guess that's the thing to do and a lot of my friends have had success, but all I get are really old guys and weirdos. I don't really want to find someone online, but I stay on OkCupid because sometimes you need that ego boost of seeing the all the messages from guys and having them call you pretty. Basically, I'm not really looking, because I do like my alone time. But do find as I get older and all my friends are getting married that it does get scary thinking I might die alone with a million cats.

Dating in Toronto is great! I recently moved here after working for a year in Australia. Toronto guys aren't as laid back as Aussies, but they're still friendly. It seems every time I go out to a bar, I'm approached by pretty standup men. One guy was a doctor who took me to a Leafs game — it was like a movie.
I don't have any dating apps at all. I don't really like the idea of it. I prefer to meet people organically, in person, and I believe our paths will inevitably cross if I'm doing things I'm already interested in.

Clare McNeil, 24, studying for a master's in business

Dating in Toronto is great! I recently moved here after working for a year in Australia. Toronto guys aren't as laid back as Aussies, but they're still friendly. It seems every time I go out to a bar, I'm approached by pretty standup men. One guy was a doctor who took me to a Leafs game — it was like a movie. I don't have any dating apps at all. I don't really like the idea of it. I prefer to meet people organically, in person, and I believe our paths will inevitably cross if I'm doing things I'm already interested in.

I prefer meeting in real life to Tinder. Online dating just feels like another form of detachment and I don't need another reason to check my phone. I typically meet women at bars but am always interested in chatting with strangers in coffee shops, parks, wherever.
I totally disagree that Toronto is a hard city to meet people in — meeting new people is the easiest thing in the world. If you're feeling like a creepy guy infiltrating groups of women at a bar, try somewhere else more relaxed. I'm actively looking for something serious but I'm not going to commit unless I'm sure we have a real connection.

Mikey Ehrenworth, 26, vice-president of operations at a sports marketing company

I prefer meeting in real life to Tinder. Online dating just feels like another form of detachment and I don't need another reason to check my phone. I typically meet women at bars but am always interested in chatting with strangers in coffee shops, parks, wherever. I totally disagree that Toronto is a hard city to meet people in — meeting new people is the easiest thing in the world. If you're feeling like a creepy guy infiltrating groups of women at a bar, try somewhere else more relaxed. I'm actively looking for something serious but I'm not going to commit unless I'm sure we have a real connection.

Toronto's dating scene is one big disappointment. I'm a Disney girl at heart and I really thought I would find my Troy Bolton (Zac Efron's character in High School Musical) in high school. When that was a bust, I said university ... That was a bust too. Now, living in Toronto, I find when I meet someone I can do one Google search or Instagram lurk and I instantly have enough dirt on them to be turned off.
The fact that we live in the era of “Netflix and chill” doesn't make things any better, either.Now, don't get me wrong — I'm not bitter — but I'm certainly waiting for chivalry to make a comeback. Forever a recovering hopeless romantic, I suppose.

Aisosa Eholor, 24, works in public relations

Toronto's dating scene is one big disappointment. I'm a Disney girl at heart and I really thought I would find my Troy Bolton (Zac Efron's character in High School Musical) in high school. When that was a bust, I said university ... That was a bust too. Now, living in Toronto, I find when I meet someone I can do one Google search or Instagram lurk and I instantly have enough dirt on them to be turned off. The fact that we live in the era of “Netflix and chill” doesn't make things any better, either.Now, don't get me wrong — I'm not bitter — but I'm certainly waiting for chivalry to make a comeback. Forever a recovering hopeless romantic, I suppose.

How do I meet people? The Internet. I feel like that's the only way to meet people outside of my circle of friends. I've actually made really good friends off OkCupid. Tinder is an interesting experience. It's a good time sink, it's kind of fun just swiping through.
For me, as a woman of colour, it does sometimes feel like I have a limited appeal. It sounds ridiculous to say but I just assume I attract a certain type of man. I'm pretty forward but I would maybe not approach certain people because I assume they wouldn't be interested.

Taycia Chaplin, 24, works at an ad agency

How do I meet people? The Internet. I feel like that's the only way to meet people outside of my circle of friends. I've actually made really good friends off OkCupid. Tinder is an interesting experience. It's a good time sink, it's kind of fun just swiping through. For me, as a woman of colour, it does sometimes feel like I have a limited appeal. It sounds ridiculous to say but I just assume I attract a certain type of man. I'm pretty forward but I would maybe not approach certain people because I assume they wouldn't be interested.

I feel like dating in Toronto isn't all that different from dating anywhere else. Everybody's using online dating apps and it's not weird or taboo anymore.
For me, the online side of things has made meeting new people really easy, especially within the more niche subcultures out there. Looking to meet a woman who wants to binge-watch Battlestar Galactica and dance to seapunk music? No problem! Right now, I'm cool with being single.

Ryan Blanchard, 24, works in public relations

I feel like dating in Toronto isn't all that different from dating anywhere else. Everybody's using online dating apps and it's not weird or taboo anymore. For me, the online side of things has made meeting new people really easy, especially within the more niche subcultures out there. Looking to meet a woman who wants to binge-watch Battlestar Galactica and dance to seapunk music? No problem! Right now, I'm cool with being single.

I love to be alone. I'm really independent and I always travel solo. But I've also taken the dating scene by storm. My roommate and I do

Jillian Szacki, 24, works in advertising

I love to be alone. I'm really independent and I always travel solo. But I've also taken the dating scene by storm. My roommate and I do "parallels" — Tinder dates where we go out with two guys to the same place and pretend not to know each other. Even if the date's awful, we still have something to laugh about. I've been the ultimate single girl for four years but I'm also a romantic who trusts her instincts. If I don't feel a connection right away, I don't waste my time.

Dating is exhausting — all my

Heather Purdon, 23, works in radio and TV

Dating is exhausting — all my "me time" is gone. I typically meet guys at bars or through friends or, sometimes, off Instagram. The "explore" tab on Instagram shows me friends of friends and then if you see someone you like, you can like their photo, follow them, start chatting via direct messages and go from there! I try to limit my casual dating to two guys at a time. I don't have Tinder. It terrifies me. I'm scared I might see someone I know and I've heard horror stories from friends who were bombarded with aggressive messages. Right now I'm looking for a partner. I'm too tired to keep doing this.

Dating has become insubstantial. It's too casual. It feels like you're flipping through a catalogue of women. I do have Tinder but I find it's filled with webcam girls. It's also too appearance-based. Good looks are nice but you can't have a meaningful conversation with sweet abs or nice boobs.
The whole notion of substituting technology for human interaction — it just doesn't work in my mind. I wish I could go back to my 20s, to the pre-smartphone era. I've wanted to get married since I was 18. But dating in this city is hard.

Jeff Maynard, 36, freelance senior digital project manager

Dating has become insubstantial. It's too casual. It feels like you're flipping through a catalogue of women. I do have Tinder but I find it's filled with webcam girls. It's also too appearance-based. Good looks are nice but you can't have a meaningful conversation with sweet abs or nice boobs. The whole notion of substituting technology for human interaction — it just doesn't work in my mind. I wish I could go back to my 20s, to the pre-smartphone era. I've wanted to get married since I was 18. But dating in this city is hard.

My thoughts on the dating scene in Toronto: I want to love it, but find it really frustrating. I used to live in Montreal and Tokyo and found them to be much better dating cities. In Montreal, love and relationships seemed to be a high priority — but in Toronto, it seems like a career is more important.
I go out often and I have a love-hate relationship with Tinder — at this point I consider it to be a necessary evil. Deep down I am old fashioned and hope I'll meet a man in the real world.

Piera Savage, 33, law school graduate, currently articling

My thoughts on the dating scene in Toronto: I want to love it, but find it really frustrating. I used to live in Montreal and Tokyo and found them to be much better dating cities. In Montreal, love and relationships seemed to be a high priority — but in Toronto, it seems like a career is more important. I go out often and I have a love-hate relationship with Tinder — at this point I consider it to be a necessary evil. Deep down I am old fashioned and hope I'll meet a man in the real world.

Online dating is hollowing people out. It robs us of our humanity and turns people into commodities. You might as well be shopping on Amazon. I've shut down my OkCupid profile, deleted Tinder, and am trying to focus on real-life interactions as a way of connecting with people. 2016 should be the year of dating off the grid.
I was previously engaged to a woman but that relationship ended a while ago. Since then, I've spent time doing things that make me happy, volunteering, meeting new people and doing yoga. Now, I'm casually dating. I do want a family some day — and I don't want to be an old-man dad.

Jacob Goldfarb, 36, small business owner

Online dating is hollowing people out. It robs us of our humanity and turns people into commodities. You might as well be shopping on Amazon. I've shut down my OkCupid profile, deleted Tinder, and am trying to focus on real-life interactions as a way of connecting with people. 2016 should be the year of dating off the grid. I was previously engaged to a woman but that relationship ended a while ago. Since then, I've spent time doing things that make me happy, volunteering, meeting new people and doing yoga. Now, I'm casually dating. I do want a family some day — and I don't want to be an old-man dad.

As a young gay man, if I wanted to find a sexual encounter it's extremely easy thanks to apps like Grindr and Scruff. It's much more difficult to find someone to actually date. Don't get me wrong, I've had my fair share of relationships and dates over the years. But I've recently found it's becoming harder to meet high-calibre people with similar intentions.
I've met many great guys who advertise that they are looking to date someone but then claim to be too busy for a relationship and can only offer sexual encounters. At the end of the day, I'm just going to continue focusing on having adventures with my friends and hope I eventually meet someone worth my time.

Peter Perri, 26, studying for a master's in neuroscience

As a young gay man, if I wanted to find a sexual encounter it's extremely easy thanks to apps like Grindr and Scruff. It's much more difficult to find someone to actually date. Don't get me wrong, I've had my fair share of relationships and dates over the years. But I've recently found it's becoming harder to meet high-calibre people with similar intentions. I've met many great guys who advertise that they are looking to date someone but then claim to be too busy for a relationship and can only offer sexual encounters. At the end of the day, I'm just going to continue focusing on having adventures with my friends and hope I eventually meet someone worth my time.

I don't mind being single and I definitely don't need a relationship to be happy. But everyone wants to find that somebody. Dating in Toronto is a bit frustrating and with online dating, I just think that it lacks some intimacy. But it's still fun, you can easily meet a lot of people.
At this point, I know what I'm looking for in a guy. If I go on a couple dates with someone and I think we'll break up in three months, I don't go out with them anymore.

Lauren Philp, 32, doctor

I don't mind being single and I definitely don't need a relationship to be happy. But everyone wants to find that somebody. Dating in Toronto is a bit frustrating and with online dating, I just think that it lacks some intimacy. But it's still fun, you can easily meet a lot of people. At this point, I know what I'm looking for in a guy. If I go on a couple dates with someone and I think we'll break up in three months, I don't go out with them anymore.

I come from an Indo-Muslim background and dating hasn't happened in my family in the past 1,400 years. What's interesting is how similar modern dating is to the Indian arranged marriage market. In those cases, someone's profile indicates their height, profession, interests, etc. The online dating medium today is so eerily similar.
As for myself, I date men and I date in waves. I'll go on a bunch of dates for two months, then take a three-month hiatus. I'm currently on hiatus.

Vizarath Ali, 28, works in health care communications

I come from an Indo-Muslim background and dating hasn't happened in my family in the past 1,400 years. What's interesting is how similar modern dating is to the Indian arranged marriage market. In those cases, someone's profile indicates their height, profession, interests, etc. The online dating medium today is so eerily similar. As for myself, I date men and I date in waves. I'll go on a bunch of dates for two months, then take a three-month hiatus. I'm currently on hiatus.

I'm in no rush to meet someone. I don't have any big complaints about dating in Toronto but I used to live in Ottawa and I do find it differs from the dating scene there. In Ottawa, people seem more relaxed. In Toronto, they seem more rigid.
I typically meet women at pubs, trivia nights and through friends. I'm not afraid to chat with someone if they catch my eye. Why am I single? Maybe it's because I wear too many old man cardigans.

Harry Dearden, 23, studying for a master's in digital media

I'm in no rush to meet someone. I don't have any big complaints about dating in Toronto but I used to live in Ottawa and I do find it differs from the dating scene there. In Ottawa, people seem more relaxed. In Toronto, they seem more rigid. I typically meet women at pubs, trivia nights and through friends. I'm not afraid to chat with someone if they catch my eye. Why am I single? Maybe it's because I wear too many old man cardigans.

My complaint about dating in Toronto is I often find I have to prove I'm not like the last creep she went on a date with. There are tons of horror stories out there and people have a right to have their guard up ... but I don't know if I've gotten more second dates because of my charm or just because I've proven I'm not a murderer.
Long term, I want more than attraction and Netflix compatibility. I want someone who pushes me to be the best I can be and challenges me to do the same for her.

Justin Zoras, 28, documentary filmmaker

My complaint about dating in Toronto is I often find I have to prove I'm not like the last creep she went on a date with. There are tons of horror stories out there and people have a right to have their guard up ... but I don't know if I've gotten more second dates because of my charm or just because I've proven I'm not a murderer. Long term, I want more than attraction and Netflix compatibility. I want someone who pushes me to be the best I can be and challenges me to do the same for her.

Dating has always been really hard for me. I recently lost nearly 100 pounds and I'm still working on shedding the low self-esteem I used to have. I'm trying to change that mentality. I want to date someone who has a balanced lifestyle but it's hard to find a person who isn't either a gym rat or who is totally sedentary. I want to go out and eat wings, but I also want to be active.
I identify as queer and I like meeting men and women at sex-positive events around the city. I don't like Tinder — everyone's either posing with a drugged tiger or a freshly caught fish.

Georgia Fourie, 27, barista

Dating has always been really hard for me. I recently lost nearly 100 pounds and I'm still working on shedding the low self-esteem I used to have. I'm trying to change that mentality. I want to date someone who has a balanced lifestyle but it's hard to find a person who isn't either a gym rat or who is totally sedentary. I want to go out and eat wings, but I also want to be active. I identify as queer and I like meeting men and women at sex-positive events around the city. I don't like Tinder — everyone's either posing with a drugged tiger or a freshly caught fish.

People here have this

Jahmal Gittens, 22, marketing executive

People here have this "Toronto attitude" where they're not interested in talking to new people. It's like Drake's No New Friends song. I'm pretty sure people here just live vicariously through Drake's lyrics. I'm happy being single right now — I like to do my own thing and I'm busy with work. The right person will come along when they do. I can get married when I'm 30. What am I looking for now? Nothing really: a woman who eats chicken wings and drinks beer.

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