Shannon Hunter


The love bug

By Shannon Hunter
This article was originally published on October 19, 2012

I think the worst time to be single is when you’re feeling sick, when all you want in the world is for someone to bring you soup, take care of you and love you regardless of your clown nose and fevered rants. When you’re sick it feels almost impossible to be the strong, fearless and independent lady that you are.

This week, I’ve been feeling pretty sick. I’ve spent a lot of time in my favourite VS Pink sweats, I haven’t bothered to put on makeup and I’m pretty sure I now own stock in the ginger ale market. Having only dated for a month, I really didn’t expect much from Mr. Unexpected, but he’s been there for me every night this week without question. He’s delivered take out when I didn’t want to leave the house, he’s watched countless episodes of the bad TV that I love, and he has not complained once.

I wouldn’t call him a boyfriend, not yet, but he certainly acts like one when I need him to. There is a quote that I’ve seen passed around on Facebook countless times:

Find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot, who calls you back when you hang up on him, who will lie under the stars and listen to your heartbeat, or will stay awake just to watch you sleep… wait for the boy who kisses your forehead, who wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats, who holds your hand in front of his friends, who thinks you’re just as pretty without makeup on. One who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares and how lucky his is to have you…. The one who turns to his friends and says, “that’s her.”

Mr. Unexpected is the kind of guy who walks into my room when I’m clutching my Sonic doll, clad in a hoodie and my sweats and proceeds to tell me that I look adorable: “like a cute hooded bandit.” He doesn’t care that I’m not wearing makeup this week; he doesn’t care that I refuse to put on real clothing and he doesn’t mind that all I feel like doing is sleeping and trying to get healthy.

Any boy who is willing to sleep next to you for comfort when he knows full well that sex isn’t even on the table is a boy worth keeping around. Sex is of course an important element of any relationship but, the real test comes when you take the sex away. Does he stick around? Is he still there when you look nothing like the beautiful woman he fell for? Is he willing to be your safety blanket when you feel weak? Does he see all of you instead of the made-up version of yourself that you present to the world? If he is, then maybe that quote is right, maybe it’s time to stop accepting good enough and start demanding excellence; if you wouldn’t recommend him to a friend then he isn’t worth your time.

While I may not have picked Mr. Unexpected for myself; he’s not my type not even a little, but, he cares about me in ways that I had forgotten were possible. And, when it comes down to it, who doesn’t want a boy who will lie in bed with you and watch Vampire Diaries all day?

The talk

By Shannon Hunter
This article was originally published on November 8, 2012.

We were going to talk, we were going to lay it all out and figure out where we stood. I swear we were. But we didn’t and I’m OK with that.

Sunday came and went and instead of forcing the awkward conversation I’m not sure I want to have we enjoyed ourselves. We went on one of those really great dates that starts in the early afternoon and bleeds into the next day. We went to the Designing 007 exhibit at the Lightbox, we had dinner and discussed the merits of unicorns versus Ninja Turtles, then we went to see Wreck-It Ralph and when I finally fell asleep in his arms none of the words I had wanted to say seemed to matter.

At first I was upset. I like to plan things and I follow through on those plans; I had our talk all laid out in my head, I was prepared for any outcome.

I thought that not having the “where is this going” chat would leave me full of uncertainty; I thought that I’d be a mess of a human being constantly questioning what we were doing, but I’m not.

Actions speak so much louder than words and talk or no talk I know that he’s mine. He holds my hand as we walk down the street, he takes the time to see me and unlike all those that came before he doesn’t leave me questioning his commitment to me. I feel safe with him.

Mr. Unexpected is not who I would pick for me but he’s right for me.

It has taken me a long time to realize what I need from the man in my life. I’ve put up with bad behaviour, I’ve made excuses for broken promises and worst of all I’ve let myself be an option rather than a priority.

Mr. Unexpected cares about me and he shows me almost every day. He doesn’t try and keep me at arm’s length, he doesn’t let me get away with being evasive and he accepts all of me whether that is the weird nerdy girl, the workaholic or the sex columnist he takes me exactly as I am.

While there are parts of me that still want to have that talk I think that his actions speak volumes, the problem wasn’t that he didn’t want to talk it was that he’s been saying it to me the whole time and I haven’t been paying attention. He surprised me on a Sunday with movies and an ice capp, he sat with me for a week while I was sick and trying desperately to feel better and he never made me feel like it was a chore.

Sometimes we spend so much time talking that we forget to listen to the people around us. Mr. Unexpected didn’t force the conversation on Sunday because we were having a blast together and there was no need to talk that out – we were already living it.

Valentine’s Day pressure: Why go for roses when a night on the couch is all you need?

We were at a party recently with a bunch of friends and someone asked Boyfriend and I what our Valentine’s Day plans were; which is funny because it’s not even close and why are you trying to stress me out? Except that it’s closer than I thought and to be honest we do have plans.

Here’s our plan, we’re going to watch House of Cards on Netflix while cuddling the dog, we’re going to order Chinese food, I’m going to drink wine and he’s going to have a Coca-Cola. It all sounds so terribly lame, except that to me it sounds perfect. After telling our friend what the plan was he joked that Boyfriend’s smile was a ‘I’m winning’ smile and I guess he probably is winning but so am I.

Tomorrow night we’re going to go out to a big dinner and celebrate some huge news for Boyfriend in his career, we’ll have a lovely dinner and then we’ll go see a movie. We always make a big deal out of personal wins, anniversaries or real-life-genuine holidays but making a big deal out of Valentine’s Day means making a reservation weeks in advance to pay for a prixe fixe meal that I’ll probably hate while being surrounded by the kind of couples who insist on sitting on the same side of the table. I hate those couples. Do you know how hard it is to talk to someone while they’re sitting on the same side of the table as you? You’re going to get a crick in your neck and at least one of you will spill something on the other; you are the height of forced romance and awkwardness wrapped together in a giant pink and red bow.

I love Boyfriend but I don’t know why I have to show him on one day more than any other that my feelings are real. The way we celebrate Valentine’s Day goes back to the agreement we made when we first started dating, neither of us ever do something just because the the other wants to. Boyfriend doesn’t watch hockey games with me and I don’t play D&D with him; we have things that we love to do together but we never force the other to do something as a trade off for some future activity. So on Valentine’s Day what do we both want to do? Sit at home and enjoy each other’s company. To be honest I wouldn’t mind going to dinner, but I have a loud voice and I don’t think the same-side-of-the-table-couples would like my witty diatribe with their duck confit.

So this year my Valentine’s Day will be all about diving into the sick and twisted minds of Francis and Claire Underwood while downing glasses of red and making out with Boyfriend. It’s perfect and I recommend you try it. Find the thing that you love doing together and do it; don’t just go out because you have to and don’t force your man into a monkey suit because Cosmo told you that Valentine’s Day is the most important and romantical holiday of them all.

LOVE & TECH: It’s time to give up Facebook stalking our exes

Are you a Facebook stalker? I am.

Sometimes I get bored and I check up on the former loves of my life. I tell myself it’s because I’m curious, but it’s not. I wish it was, but it’s really because I want to know that my life is better. It’s sick and a little twisted, but I know I’m not alone here — or at least I hope I’m not.

I actually looked up the Big Ex just to see what his kid looked like. We broke up 3 years ago this spring and now he’s married to the woman he cheated on me with and they have a baby, so of course I was curious to see what was going on. I actually had the nerve to say that the kid was ugly. I mean, it looks like a wrinkly old man, but don’t all babies? Wrinkled and pink, babies resemble naked mole rats without the vicious teeth. Did I need to check in on my ex? No. Should I have? No.

Facebook has made checking up on your ex feel normal when in reality it’s creepy and strange. My life is going so well these days, I’ve got an adorable dog, an amazing boyfriend and a great new job; whether or not my ex is doing well is inconsequential to my happiness, but, like a car crash, I can’t look away. Except it’s not like a car crash at all, I’m not driving by his social networks, I’m Googling to find him. It’s only like a car crash if you regularly search for car crash videos on YouTube.


“Facebook has made checking up on your ex feel normal when in reality it’s creepy and strange.”

A picture illustration shows a man looking at the Facebook website on a tablet in Sofia


Facebook makes it easy to see who ‘won’ the break-up but in reality you’ve both won; neither of you are with the wrong person anymore, neither of you are wasting your time with someone who doesn’t love you, and neither of you are stuck with someone who is unhappy in their relationship. You both won. It doesn’t matter who initiated the break-up because even if he ended it, I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me.

Being loved and loving someone in return is infinitely better than being stuck in a relationship with someone who’s just there because they can’t be bothered to end it.

So one of my resolutions for 2014 will be to stop caring about what’s going on with my exes, to stop comparing my life to theirs, and to just enjoy the fantabulous life that I have right now.

The only good thing about seeing how the Big Ex’s life turned out is that he has all of the things I don’t want. I don’t want kids and he’s got one. I don’t want to get married and he’s married. I don’t want to live and work in the suburbs and he does. Our relationship never would have worked out. It was destined to fail and that is comforting.  In fact, looking back on it I wonder how we stayed together for as long as we did, it should have ended a lot sooner than it did.

Thank you Facebook for reminding me of how much better my life is now than it was before, but next time I try and look up someone that I shouldn’t how about you send me an electric shock right through my keyboard.


Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Domestic living

If you had told me a couple years ago that I would be happy going to the gym, swimming and making lunch with a boyfriend, I would have told you that you were insane. I probably would have said something about how I am a wild thing and I’m almost certain that I would have quoted Samantha from Sex and the City.

This weekend Boyfriend and I did just that though. We went to the market, we went to the gym, we made lunch together and then walked around the city in the sunshine and not once did I feel like I’d given up a piece of myself to be the somewhat domestic gal.

The thing that makes Boyfriend different is that I never feel like I’m losing myself in the domestic bliss, nor is it boring or typical. We go swimming in an effort to relax after a workout and he ends up tossing me around the pool and pretending he’s a shark. (Okay, I was the one pretending to be a shark.) We make lunch while I sing country songs and he makes fun of me for doing so. The little things that I thought meant the death of a relationship, the simple pleasures, make me happier than any deeply thought out and planned date with the Big Ex ever did.

It’s simple really: it doesn’t matter what you’re doing when you’re with someone that makes you smile. You could be skydiving or arguing over who gets to chop the vegetables for the salad, but as long as you’re with someone you love it’s fun.

Like most girls, I claim to hate rom-coms but I’ve seen my fair share of movies starring Katherine Heigl or Reese Witherspoon. And while I regret watching them after the credits roll, I go back to them like a piece of chocolate cake that I know is bad for me; the sugary sweetness is sometimes exactly what you need even if you know deep down that when you stare at that plate of crumbs you will feel terrible about yourself. Deliciously terrible. Rom-coms are sometimes exactly what I need: mindless entertainment with a happy ending, but the problem with that is that afterwards I’m always wondering why I don’t have a relationship like that. No man has ever told me he loved me via cue cards in the snow at Christmas; I’ve never been in a Thai prison, so I’ve obviously never been saved by a gorgeous British man from said Thai prison; and most importantly no man has ever said, “As you wish” to me, not really anyway.

So I’m in a relationship that will never be worthy of a rom-com, because just being happy without question is not the stuff great movies are made of. But I get to date my best friend and for that I am incredibly grateful. Besides, if life gets too easy and domestic I’ll just get a puppy and introduce that madness into our lives.

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.

Weekend Away

We finally got our weekend away and it was just about everything I had hoped for. Mr. Unexpected and I drove up to Peterborough on Friday and spent the weekend eating, exploring, getting frisky in the in-room Jacuzzi and ignoring our cell phones.

Viamede Resort is the perfect place for a romantic getaway. Two hours away from the city and right on the lake, we felt like we were in a different world a place that was slower, calmer and more natural than the urban jungle we spend most of our lives in.

We were really disappointed to find out that the spa was closed while we were there but pleasantly surprised when we returned to our room on Saturday afternoon, after a long hike through the woods, to find two massage oil bars wrapped in pretty blue foil sitting beside the Jacuzzi. It was a sexier version of the classic chocolates on the pillows. That evening after a beautiful meal and a couple of glasses of red wine we took full advantage of the massage bars and created our own version of the spa; it was slightly more naked and definitely more fun than what would have been allowed by the Viamede spa staff.

The whole weekend felt like a movie; the private room with a stunning view of the lake, two people in love and food that could convince anyone to break their diet for a weekend.

One of my favourite parts of the weekend, aside from the food, was the drive up and the drive back. I liked having a couple of hours to just talk and be silly. We talked about summer road trips we wanted to take: Montreal, New York and, of course, back to Viamede. Yes, we’ve already planned our return. With the pool, jet skis and the incredible lake in mind we’re set on going back; Mr. Unexpected hasn’t ever been to a cottage and I’d love to rent one for the two of us so he can get the full cottage experience at a resort that we already know we love.

On the way home I Googled Reid’s Dairy, a Kingston girl staple, and found a small ice cream shop in Pickering that serves Reid’s Dairy milkshakes. We stopped for the triple thick milkshakes that were such a wonderful part of my childhood – I loved being able to share that with him.

I wanted this weekend to be the weekend when I said that complicated four-letter word, but it wasn’t. We were in a happy place and as much as I wanted to say it the scenery and the romance put a kind of pressure on it that wouldn’t feel natural to us. In all likelihood the first time I say “I love you” will probably be on the couch while marathoning something ridiculous on Netflix. It won’t be planned, it will fall out of my mouth entirely by accident.

Dinner with the parents

It’s official: tomorrow evening my mom will be in town with her husband and Mr. Unexpected and I are joining them for dinner. What else is official? I’m nervous.

My mom is a lovely lady, she’s fantastic and I’m so lucky to have her in my life, but the last time she met anyone it was the Big Ex and he left me a clichéd pile of tears and Ben & Jerry’s six months later. I’m not worried that Mr. Unexpected will leave me, we’re solid. What I worry about is that my mom still doesn’t trust my taste in men, I worry that she thinks I’m still the silly young girl running off to the most Northern parts of Ontario and I worry that she’ll put all that pressure on him.

Is it even normal to freak out about introducing a new man to your family? Do most people just think of it as a typical part of the dating process? I wonder about these things pretty much constantly. Never having been the commitment type, a lot of the standard dating behaviour feels foreign to me.

The funny thing about all this stress is that the thing that will keep me most calm is the exact same thing that is causing me stress. Mr. Unexpected knows how to calm me down in almost any situation, just having him beside me makes me feel less stressed out and more myself. He takes the edge off better than a shot of tequila.

I’m sure that mom will love him. In fact, she’ll probably start planning the wedding by dessert—not because she’s pushing me to get hitched any time soon but because she’s never seen me date a “nice boy.” According to my dear mom I have a bad habit of dating emotionally unavailable, damaged, broken and rebellious boys. Actually, I think whenever I tell her about a new boyfriend she pictures me on the back of a motorcycle in some kind of black leather get-up. Or maybe I’m exaggerating her strong dislike of everyone I’ve ever dated. But I’m probably not.

A friend of mine told me recently that I seem like a calmer, less high-strung version of myself lately and she attributed that to my relationship with Mr. Unexpected. While I’d love to take credit for the person I’ve become over the course of the past seven months I think she’s probably right. While I’m still the loud, slightly strange, sometimes crazy always moving lady that I’ve been since forever, I don’t let things get to me the way they used to. I don’t try as hard because I’ve found someone who likes me for my quirks rather than liking me in spite of them. According to him he’s learning to speak, “Wild Shannon.”

When tomorrow comes, after a glass of wine, I’m sure I’ll be fine because he’s not just another guy in my life, he’s not just another fling, he’s something real and the woman who knows me better than anyone will surely be able to see that. I hope.

Relationship resolutions

We started dating in 2012 this is our second year together and while that isn’t a monumental moment for most people, for me, it is. So I want to start the year off with resolutions, not for me, but for us.

This year will be the year we talk seriously about living together, instead of just fantasizing about moving to L.A. where it is sunny, sandy, and warm and people never wear parkas just to make it to work without getting frostbite. We’ll talk about the realities of living together and what that would mean for us instead of dreaming about a big house that we’ll buy with his TV monies and my book monies. We’ll discuss if it should happen this year or if we should wait until 2015; because 2015 is a nice round number and 3 years is more than enough time to know if we’re in it for the long haul.

This year will be the year that I stop being afraid to say exactly what I’m thinking. I will stop saying, “I’m fine.” Because I know he’ll just make me tell him what I’m thinking anyway. I will stop worrying that if I say what is on my mind he’ll leave me; he’s proven more than once that this isn’t the case and I owe him the honesty he wants. I am saying goodbye to the, “never minds”, the “I’m fines”, the “no big deals” and the “it doesn’t matters”. My feelings matter and Boyfriend wants to hear them, which is awesome.

This is the year where I surprise him. Boyfriend is the BEST at presents, if there was an award for best gift giving abilities he would win it annually; this year I want to surprise him, I want to knock his socks off, I want him to know how much I care. Also I want to win. I’m a fairly competitive person and I have yet to beat him in the gifting category so this year I’m going to do it.

At first I thought the idea of relationship resolutions was a silly one but after writing them down and thinking about them, I still think they’re silly. But silly or not relationships require work, thought and effort and if you don’t have any goals in mind how can you ever get to the place you want to be? I’ve never met anyone like Boyfriend, he’s my person and he deserves the best possible version of myself, even if that means I have to write ridiculously silly lists about relationship resolutions.

If I had thought more about my relationship with the Big Ex I might have ended it long before the lying and the cheating started, I might have thought about the fact that I wasn’t happy and I might have saved myself months of confusion and tears. Relationships don’t just magically work, although that would be nice, you get out what you put in and Boyfriend is worth putting the work in.