Those were the dates

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Six reasons why you need to change your outlook of dating

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. February 3, 2016

It’s been years since I’ve dated. If you dropped me back into the dating scene, I wouldn’t turn cool, confident, and desirable; I would become feral, become the creepy guy at the club, or become a loner who waits around until one of my other single friends calls me up to hang out. That’s because the term “dating” is scary.

I don’t know how to date. I never did. I never had an online dating profile or anything like that. I don’t believe dating, in the traditional dinner and a movie sense, is the way to meet people. At least, it shouldn’t be the origin of a relationship. Dating is like gambling. You are betting on a person, on a night, or on an event to turn out in your favour—which is selfish. Dating can be any activity, but dating itself should be invisible. It shouldn’t be quantified (ex. first date, second date, etc.).

Because of conventional thinking, dating garnered this negative connotation and it plants a bad seed in our minds, psyching us out. In this article, I’ll look at six different ways to look at dating that will give you a more positive outlook on your prospective love.

1) A relationship is a friendship, so start with a friendship. If you are having trouble even getting your friends to hang out with you, you need to reevaluate. There is nothing wrong with hanging out with a friend. Having someone loyal—even if they have put you in the friend zone—helps people understand you. Don’t look for a spouse, look for a friend.

2) New experiences offer new opportunities. Do what you want to do and invite people who want to join you. Don’t make plans around people; make plans for you. If someone wants to join you, they are more than welcome, but regardless, you will have an experience. If you go alone, you might even meet someone along the way.

3) Learn something and work together. Take a class or invest yourself in a project. A relationship is all about learning and collaborating together. By participating in an educational experience with someone, you can determine whether you can function together.

4) Find an anchor. Don’t be persistent; be steady. Romantic comedies have ruined many people’s understanding of romance. The never-say-die attitude is poison in a sprouting relationship. Romance, after all, is not something you commit 100 per cent of your life to. You have to steady your own ship before other people will hop on. Get an education. Get a job. Move out of your parents’. Focus on more than romance. If you are unrelenting with finding dates, you are merely pushing people onto your sinking vessel.

5) Be vulnerable. So often dating can seem like a job interview where we try to look our best. It’s not a job interview. You won’t lose anything for being genuine. Obviously, don’t end up weeping over your ex, but open up your world and be open-minded when your date does the same.

6) Make plans. Life is the moments you spend making plans. You can tell if you’ve found the one if the two of you are able to follow through with the plans you’ve made. Mortgage, marriage, vacations, or mundane things like a trip to the supermarket—these are the plans you’ll make while growing old together. A date is really just a plan that you kept, and it’s not so scary.

Don’t trap yourself with the bridges you burn

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Control your breaking point

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 27, 2016

Oh, the satisfying feeling of completely destroying something—like a relationship—that you don’t want to be a part of anymore. Whether it be romantic or professional, leaving something is never easy. Sometimes it happens through mutual understanding, and other times it occurs as a tug-o-war, pulling until the tether that binds yourself and your counterpart snaps.

There are many articles and forums out there discussing the positives of burning bridges. One reason offered is so that you will never have to return to that place, be if physical or emotional, ever again. By severing your ties completely, you can only look forward and not back. It’s always tempting to go back to a comfort zone, even if the comfort zone is most often uncomfortable, and at times painful. Many people who break up from a relationship find themselves back together again, going through the same turbulence as before—but the turbulence is comforting because it is familiar. Sometimes burning the bridge is the only way to move on.

By burning the bridge with your former employer, you can almost be certain you would not have to end up in that shitty job again. However, while this practice might have been true, and perhaps advantageous, in previous years, it is not anymore. When you burn a bridge with a company, you don’t just burn it with the boss, you let the entire team down. People talk and they will talk about your tactlessness and your true colours. You let pride get in the way of your job.

It’s a small world out there and people aren’t fixed to one job anymore. While you’ve left your previous employment in a smoldering mess, others might have exited graciously. These people might even be your former boss. These people might cross paths with you again—odds are they will, if you stay in the same career path.

The next time you decide to rip your employers and/or co-workers apart before exiting into hellfire, remember that you are not making any grand statement. You are trapping yourself into a persona. Whatever attributes you obtained during your employment will be erased. You will be the loose cannon who wouldn’t compromise.

If you have a choice, which you always do, you should choose to take the higher ground and bow out with class and dignity. Nobody will feel sorry for you or congratulate you for burning bridges and posting about how you stuck you middle finger out at your superiors on social media. Nobody cares about you if you don’t care about others.

Yes, burning bridges will help you eliminate options you don’t want, but it’s like a wildfire: you might destroy some opportunities you desire in the future. You cannot control how other people will view you after such destructiveness. You cannot stop people from being wary of you. You were a bridge burner. What’s to say you won’t do it again?

Give me give me

Illustration by Ed Appleby

What to do when you reek of desperation

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. November 4, 2015

We all want something. We all have objectives and goals. That’s good. That’s the fuel that propels us forward in life. However, there are times when we’ve been sitting idle or maybe even fallen behind. We end up thinking that good things will never happen, and that we’ll never get back to where we were or achieve what we want. It could be money, romance, competition, or personal pursuit—when we put all our chips down on the table, we can’t help feeling desperation creep up.

Our desperation is a response to our stress. It’s useful in a life-or-death situation. When we are desperate for food, for example, we would go to incredible length to feast. There’s nothing stronger than the will to live. But when it comes to being desperate in a social interaction, such as a job interview or a first date, our undeniable hunger may be incredibly off-putting.

Nobody likes being around people who are desperate. Nobody wants to work with someone who is on edge about every task, or go out to dinner with someone who has an agenda. Most of us want to relax and not feel our heart beating out of our chest. Now, I understand that simply saying “Don’t be desperate” is not the solution. It’s not a switch you can turn off and on. It goes deeper than that.

Desperation is rooted in fear. You fear that you’ll be in debt forever. You fear that you’ll be alone forever. You fear that all your hard work will be for nothing. To lose the smell of desperation on you, you need to wash the fear off yourself, and be reminded that what progress you are going to make will be gradual. Do people win lotteries? Sure. But you cannot bank on that. What you need to do is accept that you’ll have to take baby steps towards your goals. You’ll feel less desperate if your tasks seem achievable to begin with.

Alternatively, you can just forget about it. So you are single, and worried that you’ll be alone forever. You’ve gone on dates, but there’s no magic and it just didn’t click. Stop dating for a bit. Take a class. Go on a trip. Meet new people. Pivot away from the problem and work on something else for a bit. Build your confidence back up in something else and then dive back into dating after.

Nowadays, we are not faced with deadly situations. Our own fears are constructed inside our own brain, and that’s where they fester. When you wonder why you are striking out, it could be because the people around you can smell your desperation. Get clean, relax, and know that you’ll get many chances. But before you take another one, maybe take a break first.

When I was young versus kids these days: Technology for romance

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By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Feb. 3, 2015

Technology has always played an integral role in the way people communicate their affections, lusts, and desires. From the age of innocence and the composition of handwritten letters to the modern age of Tinder, PlentyOfFish, and Snapchat, we have always found ways to showcase ourselves in the most attractive manner. But times have changed our behaviour; online relationships are not what they once were.

When I was young MSN Messenger was at its prime, ICQ was nearing extinction, and personalized HTML websites, such as Nexopia, were starting to make an impression on youths. Technology was giving us hormone-overloaded kids new opportunities to flirt and establish relationships digitally. Gone were the days of calling a girl’s home, having her father pick up, and then awkwardly inquiring after her. I was a part of the first ever generation to enter high school with a cellphone—albeit my plan was limited to emergencies. Either way, we were living in a new age. Socializing occurred in classrooms and hallways, but it also took place after school, online.

During that time, the Internet was a way to present our persona, but more often than not, our vulnerabilities. Kids were marketing themselves in all the worst possible ways. We showed off our interest and begged for approval, but more often than not our efforts went ignored. The Internet became another playing field for popularity where only few can excel. Keep in mind that this is before the time of Facebook, and although connections with friends are common, as high school students, opportunities to expand our networks were limited and the risk of talking to strangers was high.

Kids these days have more communication choices than friends to talk with and the Internet infrastructure is now incredibly advanced. Apparently, with the right algorithm, you can fill out some questions and have a computer find a mate for you. Such technology is a little eerie to me. Although we don’t understand how it works, we are no longer afraid of it. Internet dating is no longer taboo—it’s big business. But that’s an adult service and I’m talking about the children. Won’t somebody think of the children!

With the improvement of technology, high school students are rejoicing in the convenience, but are also suffering from the danger. Cyber bullying and permanent blemishes such as nude images have taken the lives of numerous young people, and will continue to cause casualties. In my day, kids were limited to the word of mouth. Now, relationships and defamation are at the tips of your fingers.

When I was young I was a part of a popularity contest; the worst thing that could happen was indifference. Now, the effects can last a lifetime. Tech companies that focus on communication for a younger demographic need to find a solution, a means to regulate without interfering. But then again, growing up is all about making mistakes. Figure it out or log off.

The Report Card: Public Displays of Affection

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 Formerly published in The Other Press. Feb. 4, 2014

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Public displays of affection, or PDA as the kids like to call it, is scornful, repulsive, and shameless; at least that’s the current cultural attitude. Yes, PDA is as tactless as bragging about your good grades or wage. But why should showing your affection toward someone be condemned? Publicly displaying your affection for someone can be as inoffensive as a handshake or a hug—that is, if it’s done with class.

Pass: In social settings

Why should affection be confined to the bedroom? Romance should be breathable wherever a couple goes, especially in social settings. Every couple, like every individual, is different, and generally people behave differently in public than they would alone. Obviously not every couple will be the mushy-gushy kind, but if your significant other is too embarrassed to direct any emotional or physical affection in your direction when you’re with a group of friends, I would be wary.

I’m not saying that there needs to be a passionate embrace during all your social excursions, but a community that embraces the love of two people is one that will foster affection, instead of repression. If your relationship is strong, but your friend circle constantly criticizes the loving way you behave with your partner, barriers will be created and unwritten rules will be established.

Many foreign cultures embrace PDA as if it’s their birthright. European and Latin American countries are renowned for their romantic customs. It’s not uncommon to walk down a promenade and see a pair locking lips and holding each other passionately. There is nothing wrong with that, and the fact that North American culture sees a problem with two people in love outdoors is a real knock on our zeitgeist. And as meaningless as it may sound, we should reevaluate our “Get a room” mindset for the sake of love.

Fail: On social media

However, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are not the places for you to express your love towards another user. There are other platforms out there for you to communicate intimate thoughts, but social networking sites should not be one of them. Sure, there are the dating sites like, PlentyOfFish, OKCupid, and eHarmony, but those are designated dating sites with specific purposes. Still I would imagine those who’ve used dating sites would also eventually move to a more private means of corresponding.

Here are the reasons why I think posting lovesick statuses, tweets, and Instagram photos are a bad idea. First off, there is something artificial about social media. It’s a place where you show off the brightest side of you or a place where you vent. Facebook can often feel like one big circle-jerk, and by putting your affection online, many will see that as an attempt to seek approval. After all, it’s all about getting those “likes.” Your relationship is more than just others’ “likes.”

Secondly, love comes and goes, lust comes and goes, and blind infatuation comes and goes—but regrettable status updates and pictures last forever. You can delete them off the Internet, but you cannot erase your persona from people’s minds. You don’t want to develop a reputation as a psycho who is emotionally unstable and throws all their love successes and problems online. Facebook friends and Twitter followers aren’t your real friends—they can’t really help you, but they can sure troll you.

Lastly, you’ll put your partner in a strange and awkward position when you post about them. There is nothing worse than seeing an enthusiastic girlfriend’s status and the boyfriend with a lackluster response (oh, that’ll end well). Internet personas are different and they should not be confused with real emotions. Spoiler alert: real emotions are the ones you should focus on.