Shannon Hunter


SET UPS: Does being in a relationship mean we know what’s best for our friends?

I set a friend up last week. For real, I did that. As a girl in a real life, almost grown-up and totally kind of serious relationship I feel as though it is my duty to introduce my single friends to each other because I don’t want to be alone and in a relationship. I want my friends to meet awesome people so we can talk about how crazy and ridiculous our Boyfriends are over martinis.

I don’t know when someone decided that being in a relationship automatically made you a matchmaker but someone did and we’ve been listening to this anonymous voice ever since, even though it makes no sense; those of us in relationships feel as though it is our duty to introduce our single girlfriends to our single guyfriends and vice-versa. I’m not sure who started this trend — and I’m almost positive that they have since been hunted down by single girls — but it’s a thing now and we all seem to embrace it.

One of my close friends is single. After a long, and pretty atrocious, relationship she is out in the world once more looking for her person and it isn’t easy so I thought I’d set her up with a guy who fits her needs: single. Do they suit each other? A little bit. Do I have any right setting anyone up? Not really.

I met Boyfriend in line for a TIFF movie with one of my favourite friends, the one who swears he planned the whole thing for us, even though I’m certain it was a fairly natural meeting. And because we’ve been inseparable ever since, am I an authority on dating practices? Having a person who likes me that I also happen to like doesn’t make me a matchmaker. Just because one boy happens to want to see me naked on a regular basis does not mean that I’m a real life version of E-Harmony. I’m a girl who against all odds found a boy that makes me happy; but when my own relationship feels like a crazy fluke should I really have a say in who my friends date? Really?

So while I’ll likely continue to set up my girlfriends with guys that I think they might kind of get along with I should probably stop, we all should. But it’s hard to be with someone, alone. It’s hard not to want your friends to be just as happy and in love as you are, it’s hard to understand why they don’t want to meet your boyfriend’s friend’s cousin who is totally awesome and probably really cool.

The truth is until we’re married, and maybe even then, relationships are precarious and the idea of going through them alone is hard because until things are mostly for sure he’s just another guy and we need our friends to hold our hands in case it doesn’t quite work out.

Fortunately, friends are good like that and even if you don’t set them up with the white Taye Diggs or the black Channing Tatum who is totally cute and not at all like a character from a Tarantino flick they’ll be there for you. Promise.

When I need someone to stand by me the comfort of love is incomparable

I’ve never been good at dealing with loss. Losing someone just doesn’t make sense to me; how does someone go from being there to just not existing anymore? I’ve never been able to reconcile myself with that feeling. I’m 26 and, fortunately, I’ve only lost three people that really affected me, that changed me.

When I was in high school my friend was hit by one of the trains that snaked behind our subdivision, it was Christmas time and I remember it because we were at my grandparents house and my mum had to wake me up and tell me in a room that wasn’t mine. I remember walking home with him from school two days before that and I couldn’t understand how someone could walk home with me one day and be gone the next.

When I was 20, six years ago this June, I got the news that my first love had passed away. I remember getting the message from Jamie, I remember thinking that she was playing some kind of joke and I remember the exact moment when I realized it was real because I stopped being able to stand. My chest felt hollow and all I could think was how badly I wanted to call him one last time. People you love aren’t supposed to stop existing, they just aren’t.

So this week when the news came that a close family member had passed away after a long battle with cancer that feeling came back. He’s not supposed to die because people you love are supposed to stay. I texted Boyfriend the news in a kind of numb haze his response was perfect, “OK, I’ll come over after work and we’ll cuddle doge.” I didn’t ask for anything but somehow he knew that I would need him and that I wouldn’t be able to ask.

Boyfriend let me cry it out, he let me watch the terrible TV that he hates, he helped me walk the dog and he insisted I consume something other than wine; not everyone agrees with my theory that since wine is made of grapes it’s basically a liquefied fruit salad that is totally good for you. I’m usually self sufficient, I usually know what needs to get done and I do it but there is something about the finality of death that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to handle. I wish I believed in heaven or a god, that would make things so much easier but unfortunately all I believe is that people come into your life for a reason and they leave because we don’t all get to stay as long as we like.

At the end of the night as I lay with my head in Boyfriend’s lap I tried to get him to promise that he would let me die first; I realize how morbid that is but I don’t ever want to have that empty feeling about him. Maybe that’s what love really feels like, realizing that you’d like them to outlive you so that you never have to live a day knowing that they aren’t there anymore.





Sometimes you have to plan ahead to make time for love in your fast paced life

Life hasn’t been any less busy the past couple of weeks. I spent five days in Winnipeg and as of today I’ve been working for 13 days straight — and then there was that business with How I Met Your Mother, which basically destroyed me emotionally for a day and a half. I’m feeling the same-city-long-distance bug again and I’ve gone from frustrated to irritated to tearful and back again several times in the past couple of weeks (although I’m still blaming the tears on How I Met Your Mother, seriously).

So I’ve decided to be plan girl. I’m going to fill up our summer months with things to look forward to, weekends away when I’m not travelling for work, cottages, beaches and if everything goes my way jet-ski races. With a lot of work travel in the summer months I have to plan everything if I ever want to see Boyfriend for a substantial amount of time and that’s what I’m doing. It may sound crazy to plan everything out for the next four months of my life but I love summer and after the drama of last year I plan to make this summer as fantastic as possible and Boyfriend is a huge part of that.

I miss when love could be beautifully spontaneous and there was always time for a date, when my calendar wasn’t so full that I had to schedule time to eat and breathe, when getting a night to myself was a weekly rather than monthly occasion but that isn’t the life I’m living anymore. I’m twenty-six, successful, completely in love and so exhausted I stare blankly at my barista before realizing that it’s my turn to order.

Sometimes we have to put our relationship second, but by putting our relationship second we’re putting each other first

When Boyfriend and I first started dating, he’d spend days on end at my house and whenhe wasn’t sleeping over he’d meet me most nights after work. It’s amazing how life can change in just a year and a half. That’s what I signed on for, though. I found a man who respects my dedication to my work and he found a woman who would respect his, and as a result we sometimes have to put our relationship second. But by putting our relationship second we’re putting each other first, I care more about Boyfriend being happy and successful than I do about seeing him every other day and he cares more about my dreams than he does about spending Saturday mornings in bed together.

We’re in the latter half of our twenties and it just isn’t time to slow down at work, Boyfriend wants to have a TV show on the air within the next couple of years and I plan to run social at an agency before I’m thirty, I want to finish my book and start a travel blog. With big dreams come big sacrifices but having someone who supports you even from a not-so-far-away-distance is priceless and one of my favourite things about our relationship.



Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Baking midnight treats makes for the best date

Last Saturday was quite possibly the best date I’ve ever had, knocking a date I had on a boat when I was 17 out of first place after seven years at the top.

I met the boy after his family dinner on Friday night around 10:30 p.m. with a plan to watch movies and keep it relaxed and easy. We didn’t manage this for even half an hour before tackling each other – come on, we hadn’t seen each other for a whole week! After that we decided to walk over to the grocery store in search of brownie ingredients and breakfast fixings.

There is something about grocery shopping with a man that is so deliciously domestic and different for me. I’m rarely at home, so the food I keep there is limited to alcohol and condiments. My breakfast is usually limited to a coffee on the way to work, so the idea of waking up to a real breakfast, that isn’t needed to cure a hangover, was too tantalizing to pass up.

Returning back to his loft, I unpacked the groceries I needed to bake some heavenly gluten-free brownies and he put away what would be breakfast the next morning and the ice cream he’d insisted on buying.

As I mixed and stirred and poured he fed me ice cream on a spoon, which was actually cute rather than disturbing. I’m a fiercely independent woman and I can say confidently I’ve never had a man feed me, not even when I was sick and my ex was taking care of me in the hospital, but there was something sweet and intimate about being in his kitchen, cooking, and sharing dessert.

As the loft filled with the smell of chocolate, I curled up next to him on the couch to watch the movie and wait for my midnight treats to be done.

I’ve never been the kind of girl to curl up next to someone. I don’t bake unless I’m stressed out and I never let people feed me; I have my own hand, thank you. But this particular guy has me wrapped up in him. He’s brilliant and funny and challenging and he makes me want to be domestic, at least a little bit.

Maybe I’m growing up. He’s away for the next week on business and I find myself wanting to tell him everything, wanting to share my stories, and wanting to have him around; it’s a strange feeling to want someone just to be here. To be honest, I’m a little freaked out; the idea of an honest and open relationship that isn’t completely centered on the sexual chemistry is foreign to me. The sex is wonderful, but I had completely forgotten how amazing all the other pieces of a relationship could feel.

So, after seven years of wandering through relationships, stopping for one that broke my heart into a million little pieces, I have a real date with someone I actually enjoy being around with my clothes on. It’s about time.

Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Busy relationships in Toronto can feel like long distance in the same city

Toronto is a city of neighborhoods, and as wonderful as this is when you live in a fantastic community like King West it can sometimes make seeing people who live in different parts of the city nearly impossible. I haven’t seen Boyfriend in almost two weeks and a part of me feels like we’re in a long distance relationship even though we live within 45 minutes of each other by transit.

The past couple of weeks have been busy for me at work and Boyfriend has been working on his new short film which means that as much as we’ve wanted to see each other it just hasn’t been possible. When I finish work I rush home to walk the pup and then I’ve always got something to do; whether it’s my unbreakable date with my boys on Monday nights, my Wednesday night workouts, work events or social media events – it’s been BUSY.

We’ve got a date scheduled for Friday night but after that he has to run off to a monthly meeting of the minds for those trying to make it in the film and television industry; this meeting has proved lucrative for him in the past so I can’t ask him to skip it any more than he can ask me to skip out on something for my work.

I realize that I’m basically complaining about being too young, too successful and too in love with my partner, I really do; and it’s not that I’m ungrateful Toronto has given me opportunities that I could have never imagined before I left Kingston for bigger and better things. I see friends on Facebook who have quiet lives in the small town I left behind and while they seem happy it just isn’t something I’d ever want for myself. I wanted my career to be the number one thing in my life and I’m not ashamed of that, not even a little, but sometimes it’s hard to fit everything in.

This is how people fall into the Toronto trap; this is how couples move in together too soon and it’s just easier to see your partner when you know they will be waiting for you at home. I see myself starting to think this way already thinking that it would just be easier if we got a place together and then it wouldn’t feel so much like I was in a not-so-long-distance-relationship. If we’d just move our relationship faster everything would be easier but that’s not the answer. I’ve always said that I wanted to wait until we’d been together for two years, I don’t want to move fast just because I get lonely at night sometimes, I don’t want to push us before we’re ready. Yes, I want to live with Boyfriend in 2014 but it’s going to have to wait a little longer before we’re emotionally and financially ready.

Thinking about all of this moving in stuff sure ages a girl suddenly I feel like an actual real-life grown up.

Parental seal of approval

Last Friday I finally made the parental introduction. Mr. Unexpected and I joined my mum and her husband for dinner on King West.

As we walked from my condo to the restaurant I could feel my heart pounding; I’ve never wanted my mum to like someone so much in my life and I honestly didn’t know how it would go. But when we arrived at the restaurant all of my nerves and fear melted away as Boyfriend fell into an easy rhythm and immediately got along with both my mum and her husband.

At one point Boyfriend looked at me and just said, “Get over it,” in reference to something silly. It made my mum howl because according to her if my brother ever told me to just, “Get over it” I would probably deck him. This is mostly true except that my little brother is about 9 inches taller than me and a rugby player and I’m about 100% sure I’d lose that fight.

A lot of our dinner conversation revolved around a new job that I’ve recently accepted and the support coming from both my mum, her husband and Boyfriend made me feel like I’ve finally got the family I’ve always wanted. Because my mum only remarried last year we don’t refer to her husband as our stepdad, but he’s more loving and supportive that my birth father ever was and I think that stems from his deep love for my mother. Their relationship is the kind I want for myself. I never once looked at my parents and thought “I want that,” because things were never that good, but looking at my mum and how happy she is now I finally understand what people with happy parents were saying – I want what they have.

But the best part of the whole dinner was the email that came from my mum a few days later letting me know how happy she was, how proud of me she was and how nice it was to see me with someone who is good for me and good to me. Boyfriend and I complement each other but because I’m in it sometimes I forget that, so it’s nice to hear from someone on the outside that we work well together.

I was nervous for nothing, I was afraid for nothing; I was a complete spaz for nothing because in the end introducing someone I love to my mum felt good and right. I wanted her to love him and she does – because according to her he’s lovely, kind and charming none of that was relayed to him though; I don’t want him to get a big head.

Now that he has every possible approval necessary, my best friend, my mum and boy bestie I think it’s time that I start calling him Boyfriend here officially instead of Mr. Unexpected. He was unexpected in October, he was a complete surprise, but now he’s earned the Boyfriend title. And while he still surprises me daily mostly I just realize exactly how lucky I am to have found someone who isn’t perfect but is perfect for me.


Last week I went to see Lady Antebellum with a girlfriend, for those of you who don’t know Lady A is a country band that sings about honey bees, sex, drinking and dancing and they are one of my absolute favourites. I ran into the ACC sporting my cowboy boots and a flannel shirt, which just goes to show that you can take the girl out of the small town but you can’t take the small town out of the girl. The day after the concert, still on a country high, I saw Boyfriend but he left my place around 7 so that I could watch the Leafs game, really.

On Monday I started to worry that maybe opposites don’t attract, maybe you couldn’t get past completely different tastes in everything. Maybe my obsessive love of country music and my tendency to scream epithets in the direction of any television playing a hockey game will one day be too much for my nerdy Boyfriend. But when I asked him if we were too different he laughed, guffawed even, and turned the question back on me asking me if it was an issue for ME. It’s not, not really, I like having someone to tell stories too and since we don’t always do the same thing I always have someone to regale with my stories of two stepping with strangers and that time I traded a bottle of beer for a tent at a festival.

Sometimes I hate that Boyfriend won’t come with me to a hockey game and I don’t understand why he doesn’t want to dance around to Eric Church while slamming pints at an outdoor festival, I really don’t. But at least our lives will never be boring, we’ll never grow tired of each other and we’ll always have a new story to tell.

I don’t know if the old adage about opposites attracting is true but I know that dating someone who is just like me would be infuriating, I’m loud and abrasive and sometimes wild and I don’t like to be told what to do; if I dated someone like me I’d probably hate them. Boyfriend is calmer than me; he brings me a strange sense of peace and calm that I don’t get from anyone else.

I dated the Country Boy, two of them in fact, and in the end they both made me miserable. There’s a big difference between the men we think we want and the men we actually need; Boyfriend has been what I need from day 1. Instead of just being the country girl like I was in the past I get to be the weird, country loving, Doctor Who obsessed, tech geek with a passion for all things hockey and a love of Irish whisky. I get to be all of me and if some of those things don’t line up with what Boyfriend likes to do it’s not the end of the world; I’ll just call him up and drunkenly sing country love songs to him when I get home.

Can you be friends with your exes?

Whenever a relationship ends, one part of the former pair insists on remaining friends, even if they don’t mean it, they somehow feel necessary to pretend that their now ex-partner will remain in their lives. But can we really be friends with our exes? Should we?

I don’t speak with the Big Ex; he cheated on me and broke my heart. My friends don’t lie to me, they don’t take advantage of me, and they don’t leave me crying on a couch wondering what I’ve done wrong. Sometimes relationships end amicably, sometimes two great people just realize that they don’t belong together and they go on to be great friends who once upon a time used to have hot sweaty naked time together. But more often than not, a break-up happens because of something more severe and at least one person is left with a broken heart and a bruised ego.

A couple of weeks ago I was out with a friend of mine who recently left his partner after two years; I asked him very calmly if he planned on being friends with her in the future or ever getting back together with her. I did this because you never know and what I had to say about this person could not be taken back; I then proceeded to use a four-letter word that happens to start with a ‘c.’ There were some other words that my inner feminist would not approve of, but sometimes you just need to get your feelings out and this self-righteous woman had all of it coming. That’s the most difficult part about being friends with an ex: once you’ve done something really terrible most friends have picked a side and if your behaviour was bad enough, that side likely isn’t yours. How can you ever be friends with someone when everyone who knew you together now thinks that you’re the worst kind of person for one reason or another?

Boyfriend and I are at the point in our relationship where we have a lot of mutual friends. My pals are becoming his and I love that, but if we broke up tomorrow, it’s easy enough to know who would pick my side and who would pick his. After a break-up, terrible things are said, tears are shed and promises are made; but it’s your best friends who hear the absolute worst about your former love and asking them to just forget about all the bad things is asking the impossible.

Maybe the couples who end things happily knowing that they’ve made the right choice can be friends, but there are some things that once said can’t be taken back; there are some things that once done can never be undone and as a result – friendship is impossible. Let’s all stop kidding ourselves and admit that being friends with an ex is almost as bad as sleeping with an ex; it’s never going to end well and someone is almost always going to have unrealistic expectations.

Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

The crush: real prospect or fun fantasy?

Last week I told you about the crush, the one keeping my thoughts from constantly straying to Country Boy. This week I’ve realized exactly why I’ve chosen this boy to crush on – because he’s completely inappropriate and nothing can ever happen there.

With Country Boy MIA for another 12 days I need someone to fantasize about, so that I don’t constantly wonder where Country Boy is, how he’s doing, and if I could be of more help as the supportive partner rather than the one giving him his space. The boy I’ve picked to fantasize about is one that I could never date.  He’s sweet and charming and he makes excuses to see me most days, but he’s not really available emotionally and he’s too in my life to ever be without drama — the perfect object of desire because, even if I wanted to act on my desires, the relationship would never work out.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this and the way I see my crush is very much like the way I see a celebrity crush, nothing could ever happen so I can go ahead and fantasize without ever risking my existing relationship with Country Boy. But, I also feel like, if in 12 days things don’t work out, if the break was less of a break and more of a break-up, I’ll be ready to move on, I won’t feel so lonely and lost because I’ll have been thinking about other boys in the context of a relationship, like a nicotine patch for love.

I’ve always had difficulty moving on. I’ve always been the what-if girl, running all the possible scenarios in which a former relationship could have worked out through my head; in the end this results in more heartache and pain, when you’re thinking about the what-if it’s almost impossible to commit to someone new.

At this point I’m not looking to move on, but I do want to prepare myself for all the possibilities. I don’t want to walk into our next date with a naïve sense of hope; I want to be smart and practical and let my head take the lead from my heart.

Practicality and logic have never been my strong suits; I’m a dreamer and a hopeless romantic who desperately wants to believe in the all-consuming power of love.  But love doesn’t always happen the way we want it to; sometimes we fall in love with a man who can’t love us back, sometimes we fall in love at the wrong time or with the wrong man — it’s worse than finding a needle in a haystack; it’s finding a soul mate on a planet with billions of people.

So, this time I’m trying to be practical. I’m accepting that maybe things won’t work out and I have to be ready for that. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on Country Boy, it just means that I’m planning for the best and preparing for the worst.

But in all honesty, 12 days from now I hope to have a sweaty, sloppy, kisses and butterflies kind of story to share with you.

This article was previously published on March 16, 2012.

Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Embracing country

I’ve been trying to keep busy while Country Boy and I have been taking our little break, which actually isn’t hard. It’s only been a week and I’m already losing it. It’s not hard for me to trust him; it’s not hard for me to believe that we’ll be back together in a few short weeks, but it is really hard to be without him.

I’m lonely and I want a little company and while there is no lack of men in the city, I just don’t want any of them. I want my Country Boy, with the deep brown eyes and curious smile, and no one else will do. So, what am I going to do if things don’t work out? What if the distance and work and life gang up on us and win? Well, in all honesty I hope that doesn’t happen, but if it does, I’ll do what I’ve always done: I’ll move on. But this time I’ll be able to do so with a better sense of what I want in a relationship and in a man.

I love Country Boy; everything about him makes sense to me and everything about him excites me. I need a man who listens to country, drives a truck, has a big family and values to go with it. I need a gentleman with small-town southern flare.

I am not the girl who can date a Bay-Street guy. I am not the girl who can date a lifelong city boy; it’s not me and it never was, but it has taken Country Boy to make me realize what really makes me happy.

When I was younger, my mother told me to stop bringing home the tall, skinny, artsy boys because they were all wrong for me. Ten years later and I realize she was right. She’s always known me better than I know myself, but I’m stubborn and I had to figure it out on my own. If only I had figured all this out when I was 15, life would have been so much easier.

I’m not giving up on Country Boy by any stretch, but there is a comfort in realizing that, for once, I know exactly what I want. I want the wedding (some day), I want the house in the country, I want the life in the city, and I won’t settle for anything less.

It may take a while to get everything I want but the best things in life are worth waiting for and the kind of boy who will take a drive to nowhere so we can fool around in the back of the truck while Eric Church blasts through the radio – definitely worth waiting for; but then again maybe I’ve already got that.

This article was previously published on March 1, 2012.