Shannon Hunter


RELATIONSHIPS: When ya know, ya know

This column was originally published in spring 2012.

Country Boy and I have been playing the waiting game all month and, while I’ve been patiently waiting for our reunion, I’ve also been painfully aware that this break might be a break-up in disguise. As it turns out, that is exactly what it was: a break-up.

At the end of last week I sent Country Boy an excited message that game day was only a week from Tuesday. His response was first to cancel because he has a playoff game of his own on Tuesday and then came the blow a BBM message that ended 6 months of dating: “When ya know, ya know. Ya know?”

After six months, all I got was a barely legible text message that reminded me of the Sex & The City post-it note, “I can’t. I’m sorry. Don’t hate me.” With my romantic life reduced to a sitcom-worthy ending, it would be safe to assume that I consumed an entire bottle of wine and wept. But I didn’t. Like learning how to skate, the only way to find the good relationships is to stand up from the fall, brush yourself off, and move on.

So, I’ve got a date with a charming, intelligent and talented city boy who has spent every day of the past week reminding me that I’m beautiful and cute – apparently he thinks I’m adorable, even when I’m being weird.

After I got the most juvenile text my phone has ever seen, all I could think was, I’m too old for this. I’ll be 25 this year and with that realization came another; I want a serious relationship. I want to be with someone who wants a future, I want someone who is looking for something real, but most of all, I want a partner.

It is high time for the games to end; I can’t be dating a 30-year old man who thinks that a break-up via BBM in 7 words is an acceptable way to end a relationship. I can’t keep getting involved in dead-end relationships with boys who wouldn’t know chivalry if it slapped them in the face.

I have a great career, an amazing apartment, and wonderful friends, but I’ve let my love life slack. I’ve stayed in relationships that weren’t what I wanted, because I thought I was enough to make them change their non-committal ways.

But Country Boy was right; when ya know, ya know. Ya know?

Onto the next adventure …


RELATIONSHIPS: I’m all growed up

I’m feeling like a genuine, for real, totally grown up adult these days; even though I’m not at all done learning or growing up. Boyfriend and I have been planning our Thanksgiving weekend and this year we’re doing both my family and his which feels like a thing that grown-ups do in sitcoms but I’ve never actually done in real life.  So tomorrow we’re taking off to visit my mum and on Sunday we’re driving back to the city to see his parents, there were car rentals and planning involved, big stuff for this little girl.

I know we’ve been committed to each other for more than a year now but there’s something very real about spending holidays together and something even more surreal about spending holidays with each other’s families. I’m not sure exactly when I grew up or when families came into play but when Boyfriend’s mom asked if I would be coming for Thanksgiving it gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling, like hugging a stuffed creature, and suddenly it was as if I realized that there are other people invested in our relationship, other people who want us to work out just as much as we do.

I’m not concerned about breaking up, not even a little bit, but I wonder how much harder it must be to break up with someone who you love when you love their family and friends too. Does that make ending things even worse? Maybe that’s why I’ve stayed away from anything serious for so long, because I knew the next time it would be real and until last year I wasn’t ready for that, I wasn’t ready to be all in if it meant that it could end one day.

So my mum loves Boyfriend, I love his family and tomorrow Boyfriend will meet my little brother for the first time; Boyfriend insists that they will tag team the mocking and by the end of the weekend they will totally be friends forever. I would say that I’m nervous but I’m not really I’m actually excited to include Boyfriend in all the family activities, mostly the turkey eating though because turkey is awesome.

I still feel like I’m playing house a little bit, I’m not the girl who goes home for Thanksgiving let alone going home with a boyfriend, I usually spend turkey day drinking wine and catching up on the TV I’ve missed in the past week it’s a long weekend that I enjoy because the pressure to go home is limited until Christmas comes around.

I don’t know that being a fully fledged grown up lady will ever feel normal, maybe I’ll always feel like I’m 6 years old walking around the house in my mum’s heels pretending to be a fabulous twenty something before I even knew what that meant. I don’t know how I’ll feel in a year or two from now but for now I like this game of dress-up.

RELATIONSHIPS: Cutesy couples are insufferable — until you’re in one of them

You know those lists, the ones about the 14, 25 or 36 worst things that people in relationships do? Well, I’m pretty sure Boyfriend and I do all of them or at least most of them and I don’t care. We’ve been together for just over a year now and we do it all, pet names, ridiculous inside jokes and PDAs (within limits).

But the thing is when you’re in it; you don’t mind the adorkable behaviour because it always brings you back to a good moment. For our anniversary Boyfriend made me a ‘Zombie Boyfriend’ doll; which sounds a little dark but I once told him that I loved him so much that if he ever became I zombie I promised to shoot him in the head and in that moment ‘Zombie Boyfriend’ was born. Dating someone you really love is a little like dating your best friend and we’ve all got those inside jokes with our friends and just because you also happen to have sex with your partner shouldn’t make it suddenly less acceptable to be a massive dork.

Does anyone else understand why Boyfriend calls me a Wild Shannon? Probably not, it’s a Pokemon reference, a short joke, and a nerd joke all rolled into one and I’m not sure where it started but I do know that I love it, despite how much I want to die when I realize that we’re one of those couples. But we’re happy and we can be happy anywhere as long as we have each other, last night we walked across the city laughing, dancing and talking about everything and nothing we were home in an hour but it felt like minutes because we spent most of the walk laughing.

All of those terrible things that couples do? They aren’t really so bad when you’re in on the game and while we definitely look like giant tools from the outside we’re totally and completely in love and because we don’t also suck at life I have never once made out with his sexy face (there’s another one) in public.

I’m not the girlfriend I thought I’d be, I’m not even the person I’d thought I’d be, I thought that by twenty-six I MIGHT be in a serious relationship, I thought that I’d be tough-as-nails and never really let anyone in again but more than anything I thought that I was above all the cutesy couple crap; it turns out that I was wrong. Boyfriend and I might have a more nerdy secret couple language but it’s ours all the same and despite all of the things I thought and planned I’m a big sap who would rather spend a Saturday night in with her Boyfriend and Netflix than go out and pretend I give a damn what anyone at the club thinks of me. So go ahead and mock me, you won’t be saying anything I don’t already know, put me on your lists, I can take it; I’m the happiest I’ve ever been and part of that is all the stupid couple crap I’ve somehow become a willing participant in.



Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.


Check out:

How not to react to a text message breakup after two dates

LOVE & TECH: Should you de-friend him on Facebook after the breakup?

RELATIONSHIPS: An ode to nerdy boys

RELATIONSHIPS: The double standard of talking about the future

RELATIONSHIPS: An ode to nerdy boys

It all started with an ad for Manhattan Mini Storage in New York that a friend of mine shared on Facebook, “Dear action figure collection, We’re really glad you’ve come to stay with us. Now maybe your owner can get a date. Love, Manhattan Mini Storage.”  To which Boyfriend replied, “Jokes on them! My action figure collection is on display in my living room, AND my girlfriend and I just had our one year anniversary. EAT IT, MANHATTAN MINI STORAGE!” And while the ad is obviously a joke, this is a sentiment that I’ve gotten tired of hearing, nerdy boys aren’t the drooling, disturbing, underwear selling men of John Hughes movies; in fact they’re actually kind of hot look at Elon Musk, he’s a real life Tony Stark and that’s awesome.

The cretins who live in their mother’s basements are no more, today’s nerds are the inventors, the writers, the film buffs, the directors, the comic book writers and the tech gods; today’s nerds create and build and invent.

Every night with a nerd boy doesn’t have to be a massive party, sitting at home with Netflix and a beer is a totally acceptable evening activity, playing Cards Against Humanity with a group of equally nerdy, equally hilarious friends happens regularly and you never have to worry about having someone you can just sit and read with.

Being a nerd just means you’re passionate about something and that’s awesome. Do you really want to date a guy who drives a car he can’t afford, works on Bay Street and reminds you ever so slightly of American Psycho? No, of course you don’t. So my word to the folks at Manhattan Mini Storage; I’d rather date a passionate, fun, video game playing, comic book loving super nerd than a dude who takes longer than me to get dressed in the morning or a dude who uses the word bro in a less than ironic way.

I don’t want a bro; I don’t want a guy who looks at me funny when I wax poetic about the latest issue of Morning Glories or when I fan-girl over Joss Whedon’s latest anything or when I spend an entire day watching a mix of cat videos and Dr. Who.  Today’s generation is the generation of nerds where internet is king, video game sales consistently beat movie ticket sales and the men we look up to are Zuckerberg, Musk and Dorsey. The men who built the world we live in now are the nerdiest of the nerds and you know what? They’re hot, they are the architects of our world and that is very sexy.

But the best thing about being girlfriend to a sexy nerd boy is the sex. A lot of them went in small minded high schools that didn’t recognize their Seth Cohen adorableness or missed out on their brilliant mind and now they’re grateful to be with a woman who loves them not despite their nerd tendencies but because of them. It’s pretty great.


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.

Mourning: Don’t mistake grief for relationship distance

I thought Boyfriend deciding that I shouldn’t join him at the funeral meant he didn’t need me, I thought it meant that he didn’t want me around when he was most vulnerable and that worried me — but that wasn’t the case.

Some people grieve differently, I know that, but as the child of a broken marriage, as a young woman who has zero contact with the majority of her family I cannot understand why you wouldn’t want someone you love holding your hand when you need it most; but Boyfriend has a family and that day he was the one doing the handholding, he was the one acting as the rock for his family. He wasn’t able to be weak when everyone else needed him to be strong. When he did need me was the night before as he lay on my chest quietly talking about his hero, explaining that he didn’t want to go to the visitation and trying his best to share everything that made his grandfather so great with a woman who had only met him once.

There in the darkness on the night before that was when he needed me because that was when he let himself give in and be the one who needed people.

Our relationship isn’t perfect; I’m stubborn, neurotic and afraid to let myself be honest with the people I care about most because losing them isn’t an option he’s intense, silent and dorky but we work together and after this I’m convinced that we can make it through anything. This summer he watched me break down when my Mum got sick, he watched me cry because my Great Uncle is sick and my father kept me away from my Mum’s family for so long that I feel like just as I get to know all the wonderful people in my life they are leaving and he watched me start a new job after losing what I thought was my dream job. Through everything Boyfriend was my rock and this time it was my turn; this time I had to be strong so that he could be sad.

I thought I was losing Boyfriend last week, I worried that not wanting me to be at the funeral meant that he didn’t need me but he really did just want me to meet his family under better conditions and if I was there he would have been able to break when he needed to be strong. Today I know that we can look to the future, stronger for what we’ve been through and for the first time in months looking at happy things on the calendar instead of worrying that tomorrow will bring another disaster.

Today I learned that when you love someone you need to take them at their word, people who love you won’t lie to you in a dire situation they will be heartbreakingly honest with you and if you can take that if you can be with them in the way that they need you’ll have a real partner.

Tomorrow is a new day and there is a lot to look forward to this month, including my first anniversary since the Big Ex.

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.



Vacations and weddings

This column was originally printed in fall 2012.

So, I’ve been seeing the new man for about a month now and I’m still full of butterflies and nervous energy every time I think of him, which is a lot.

On our second date over drinks and dinner he threw me for a loop when he asked me to go on vacation with him this summer. Moving fast, much? But instead of getting freaked out and running away like the commitment-phobe I tend to be when I’m only mostly into someone new; I got excited and started planning the whole trip out in my head.

I’m excited about the idea of vacationing with a manfriend; I’ve never been on the kind of couple trip that has the power to make all of your friends hate you and your incessant Facebook photo uploads. The “Oh, how cute” photo comments drip with jealousy and sarcasm, what we wish we could write is, “Do you ever work? Why are you always sunning yourself in a tropical paradise with your boyfriend? Did you rob a bank?” But that would be inappropriate. It’s my turn to inspire a little jealousy.

Before we can run away to a tropical paradise to make love on a beach and drink umbrella-covered cocktails, I have a question I need to ask him and, in all honesty, I’m more than a little terrified to ask it.

Next month I’m the maid of honour in a friend’s wedding and I’m supposed to bring a date. Initially I was planning to bring a friend, but now that I’m staring at May 25th on my calendar the new manfriend is the only one I want to bring with me. But, in order for him to join me, I’ll need to ask him first. Wedding dates are notoriously pressure-filled and I don’t want him to feel like I’m trying to move things too quickly.

Considering that he asked me to fly away with him to another country on our second date, I feel as though it isn’t at all inappropriate to ask him to join me as my date to a wedding. But, that doesn’t stop me from worrying that a serious invite will scare him off and cast me in the role of “crazy girl” before we even have a chance to figure each other out.

I’m happier with the new man than I have been with anyone else I’ve been with in the past year. He doesn’t play games like Waiting Man and he doesn’t disappear for days on end like Country Boy – he’s a man and he says exactly what he means and does exactly what he says he will. It’s this happiness that scares me most; I’m afraid that the wrong move will ruin something wonderful.

I’m not going to let the fear hold me back from doing something exciting. If he can jump in feet first on our second date, I can do it on our fifth. If he says no, at least I know that I didn’t let the fear hold me back. Knowing is definitely better than not knowing.


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.