Dating around the world

By Karolina Weglarz

We all know that dating is complicated. What am I going to wear? What will they think? What do I do if they ask me back to their place? Thoughts race through your head at a mile a minute – possibilities of love, possibilities of heartbreak. Things get even more complicated when you’re living abroad, where customs and expectations are different than your usual norm. Even if you’re in a metropolis, a date with a foreigner brings a set of new expectations and new customs you might not be used to.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, George Eves of Expat Info Desk, offers some valuable tips of what to expect from dates around the globe:


Chivalry is dead. Think again. If you don’t want to offend your Russian date, keep your wallets in your purses and be prepared to have your doors held open for you. Don’t worry though; for the most part he’s not expecting anything in return. And, never take the word “casual” too seriously. Be prepared for make-up, heels, and sexy outfits on the regular.


Terrified of the truth? Like flattery instead? Forget about dating a German man. If you’re not ready to hear the truth about your weight, new outfits, or friends, don’t bother asking. Don’t say anything you don’t mean either – Germen men take what you tell them quite literally. Skip on the small talk or he’ll consider you superficial.


Don’t bail if an Italian man won’t stop talking about his mother. For many, she is considered sacred, and though he probably thinks no woman will ever compare, refrain from criticizing. Don’t take flirtatious comments as an invitation to date either. Comments that some might consider sexual harassment are common practices in both social and work environments.


Ditch your day planner when setting up a date with a French man. Rarely organized as “official,” dates are quite informal and often take place in groups. A word of caution when leaning in for that goodnight kiss: kissing means serious business for the French, so unless you intend for him to be your boyfriend, forget about it!

United States

Don’t believe in casual, open relationships? Make sure you’re straight up with your man. Don’t be surprised if he’s seeing other women on the side. Until you make it known that you want to become exclusive, it’s common for him to juggle several partners to assess their strengths and weaknesses before settling down and making a decision for good. The upside? You’re allowed to do the same!

Middle East/Islamic Nations

Forget about PDA when you’re in the Middle East. For most countries in this region, it’s illegal to have sex before marriage and touching, kissing, and cuddling are better kept behind closed doors.


If punctuality isn’t your forte forget about dating a Japanese man. Being late on a date is considered extremely rude; you’ll be lucky if you ever hear from him again. If you find he talks a little too much about his salary during the first date, don’t stress, he’s just showing that he can care for his mate.


If you like your man to take charge on the first date, forget about dating an Australian. It’s not unusual for women to ask men out and pay. Don’t be surprised if your man asks you out via text message.


Flowers, chocolate, and romantic restaurants are just a few things your date will have in store for you on Valentine’s Day. In China, Valentine’s Day is observed religiously. Singles in China tend to live with their parents until they get married, so don’t resist an invitation to meet his parents promptly after your first date.



Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.


RELATIONSHIPS: The double standard of talking about the future

When men reveal their secrets, I listen carefully. After all, it isn’t everyday that they’re willing to break the code and allow a woman into their mind. So when I found out about the double standard that may actually be responsible for sending men packing early in relationships, I knew it had to be shared.

I found out this tidbit on a first date of all places. We were talking about relationships over dinner. Ok, the fact that we were on a date and talking about past relationships is bad form, I know. But that’s how it usually goes when they fall into the friend category right away.

He’d asked me about my last relationship. The good girl in me said, avoid the topic. The realistic girl said, he’s the friendship guy so it’s ok to get his opinion. Since my breakup was still raw, I was all too eager to spill the details.

The future was responsible for the breakup, I confessed. Apparently I’d talked about the future too much and it put pressure on my former beau. Mr. Friend asked for details so I complied.

It was early on in the relationship, I’d explained. The stage where infatuation was at its peak and new couples, drinking from the same cup of amour, fantasized about being together forever. Could this be it? Could the long, search finally be over?

So when my past boyfriend talked about kids and homes together and trips we could take, I figured it was ok to jump in and reciprocate. Besides, a girlfriend told me, if he wasn’t serious about you, he wouldn’t talk this way! Men don’t say these things so early on unless they were serious. Uh huh. Words of wisdom from a woman’s point of view? Take heed ladies, this is not the case.

But as soon as I joined in the future talk, I saw the eyes widen. I saw the fear rise and I watched my beau turn and duck into the cave. His reason? I was rushing things. It was too much pressure.

I stood there, stunned, running over the conversations in my head. Didn’t he ask me on the second date if I wanted kids? What about the nice houses that he wanted us to look at? And the colours for the rooms…what was that all about?

I poured out my confusion to Mr. Friend and saw his eyes widen and palms rise as he shook them, jazz style, singing, “No no…NEVER talk about the future! Never mention the future to a guy who you just started dating!!”

But, I stammered. I was following his lead! It doesn’t matter, Mr. Friend said. You just don’t do it. Men live for the moment and they say what they feel at the time.

Ohhh, so it’s  a double standard?

Yes, Mr. Friend confessed. It was and it will always be that way. Accept it.

I shared this interesting revelation with my girlfriend. When men talked about the future, they didn’t really mean it. They were living in the moment. Ah ha! The secret revealed!

Weeks after I’d found out the secret, I had a chance to test this theory. The former beau poked his head out of the cave and looked around.  He wanted to live in the moment he said. Uh huh. I agreed. No talk of the future. Ok, I admitted that maybe I did talk about the future and it wouldn’t happen again.

But as time went on, and euphoria set in, the future talk resurfaced. I listened, I smiled and I nodded. I made no plans. I did not reciprocate and I did not build on it. I smiled and I lived in the moment.

My girlfriend, amazed at the theory, tried the tactic with her new boyfriend. When he talked of living together, she smiled and nodded. She said it changed her whole way of thinking because no longer was she that woman who jumped too far ahead in a relationship when men lived in the moment.

No, it’s not fair. In fact, it’s downright annoying! But at the end of the day I realize that it’s not about fair. It’s about understanding the difference between men and women so we can walk though this uneven playing field with grace.

So the next time you have a date with a man and he starts talking paint colours for the bedroom, smile, nod, and change the topic. Never bring it up again until the day you actually move in together. Only then will he be ready to paint together.



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.

The ‘dating contract’ is something that actually exists

Dating is hard, especially around Valentine’s Day when single sounds like a dirty word and every date comes with the added pressure of the Hallmark holiday.

Recently, while having dinner with a group of friends, I received a call from one of my best girlfriends who needed to see me for drinks immediately. Assuming that something was wrong, I invited her to join us.  After she ordered a very large glass of wine and a piece of cheesecake, we had the pleasure of hearing about what was possibly the worst blind date … ever.

Blind dates are never a good idea, but when a friend sets you up with someone you go in confidently knowing that a friend would never put you in an uncomfortable situation. For whatever reason, this was not the case on that particular evening.

My friend arrived at the date with high expectations, hoping for, at the very least, a fun evening. What she was met with was a clipboard and a ‘dating contract.’ She was instructed by Mr. Clueless to read and sign the two-page, six-clause document before the date could begin. Knowing that this date had gotten off to a bad start anyway, the lifelong Torontonian had met Mr. Clueless at a restaurant in The Rogers Centre for dinner. Even without the dating contract, he had lost points for choosing the most touristy possible location.

The best thing about the Dating Contract is that my friend had to agree to indemnify the woman who had set them up, which I imagine is good for their friendship.

As I read through the contract to our friends at dinner, it was met with a mix of shock and disbelief. How could a man living in Toronto actually be this clueless? How could anyone that has ever been on a date try this on someone? Did we accidently stumble into some real-life sitcom? Friends hasn’t been on the air for years, but I’m pretty sure this would have made an excellent plot line.

Page 1 of the dating contract © Shannon Hunter

Dating is hard enough without forcing someone to sign a contract that outlines every step of the relationship, including who pays for what, what terms you’ll use to describe your relationship in three months’ time, and mandatory disclosure of any and all “bizarre religious beliefs.”

To her credit, my friend managed to stay with Mr. Clueless all the way through dinner and she even went with him to the top of the CN Tower, which for a lifelong Torontonian is also cheesy and forced, but when he tried to get her to stand on the glass floor despite her fear of heights, she called it a night.

To his credit I’d like to thank Mr. Clueless for providing me and several friends with an evening of laughter; but if I could give you one piece of advice, Mr. Clueless, it would be this: don’t try so hard. Deciding how you’re going to introduce someone to your friends over the course of the next three months is a bit much, especially when it comes before drinks.

This article was previously published on February 16, 2012.

Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

The worst date ever: I’m sorry, you want what?

Sometimes a girlfriend calls in a friend favour and even though you’ve taken off your make-up, put on your PJs and are cuddled in bed ready to watch the TV you’ve missed this week, you get dressed and go meet her. It’s just what you do.

A couple of weeks ago one of my best friends called in a friend favour and had me meet her at boy’s house for a couple drinks. She had met this boy a few weeks prior to that and they had hit it off instantly. He was gorgeous, smart, funny and he had abs you could grate cheese on; he seemed to be the whole package.

We arrived to cold beers and Gold Rush on the TV, a solid start to any evening. But within minutes we found out that his small town friends would be arriving and so would his dealer. The evening took a turn after that. We were happy to have a couple of beers and chat but neither of us were interested in putting anything up our noses.

I left around 1 a.m., citing work as my excuse. I offered to take my friend with me, but she was willing to stick around and give him the benefit of the doubt.

It wasn’t until the next day that I heard how her evening ended over several bottles of wine; it was just one of those stories. My friend popped by my apartment after work with two bottles of white and what I’ve come to recognize as her what-the-hell face.

After I left my girl and the Charlie Sheen wannabe had retired to his bedroom. About halfway into what might have been the turning point for their evening he asked her a favour: “Would it be OK if my friends came to watch?” Her response was simple, “Not a chance.” At which point our leading man stood up to leave—not because he was angry or disappointed but so he could go to the living room to tell his friends that unfortunately she wasn’t interested in putting on a show.

I think the best and worst part of the story is that he had assumed that she would say yes. He had so much confidence that she would say yes that he had pre-arranged everything with his friends. I’ve been on a lot of terrible first dates and a few terrible second dates, but never has a man assumed that a second date meant a closet show for his friends, because that is insane. Isn’t it?

Has being in a relationship changed my perspective? In the four months that I’ve been with Mr. Unexpected, have men started asking women for their wildest fantasies? Perhaps in anticipation of tomorrow’s apocalypse men have decided that they might as well swing for the fences. That has to be it, right?

Find love for a good cause before Valentine’s Day


I normally use my weekly column to share my relationship fails, successes and drama; sometimes I share my friend’s stories too, but mostly I use this space to talk about the love in my life. Today I want to share with you an event that I’ve been running for the past four years, #LoveAHeart. Love a Heart is a bachelor/bachelorette auction for the Heart & Stroke Foundation. So if you’re single and need a date or if you’re taken and need something interesting to do the night before V-Day, then come out, have a drink or two, and support a great cause.

Love a Heart was born in a coffee shop four years ago. Our first year was a smashing success raising over $8,000 for The Heart & Stroke Foundation. Since that first year we’ve raised over $30,000 for the HSF and I like to think that we’ve saved at least one life. This year I’m dedicating the money from the event to my mother’s brother, Christopher “Chris” Charles Francis Masterson. He died of a heart attack on November 3, 2013 at 55, which is far too young to die of anything let alone a heart attack. So the money that we raise will be donated in Chris’ name as a small tribute to the uncle I barely knew and the mother I love dearly.

We’re upping the ante this year: our attendees will be treated to wine samples, cupcakes, and a photo booth from Snapshot Magnets that prints out magnets that you can take home with you. I imagine I’ll probably chug back a glass of bubbly and a cupcake before the whole thing starts and I stop having time to do anything but run around.

Two of my favourite women in the world will be hosting, Nat & Marie, these social media rockstars are going to bring the fun in. Together these powerhouses have hosted some of Toronto’s most exciting events, interviewed some of the most important people on the Internet including the fine folks of Epic Meal Time and Erik Martin (the General Manager of Reddit) and made my world just a little bit better by being in it. I look up to Nat & Marie, who are stunning, talented, intelligent women engaged to the loves of their lives and doing everything they set out to do. I aspire to be like them and I couldn’t be more proud to have them involved in my event.

If you need a Valentine’s Day date this year all of my bachelors and bachelorettes come with a date package, so the planning has already been done, and I personally guarantee that every person on the auction block is amazing in every way. We’ve got actors, reporters, social media unicorns (no gurus), singers, dancers, cheerleaders and so much more!

Love a Heart hasn’t had a serious love connection in the years past, but there’s something great about the idea of telling your kids that you met their dad when you bought him at an auction back in the day. Or maybe you go with the online dating story instead?

Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

DATING: Breaking all the rules

Whether I’m in a relationship, starting a new one, or just dating someone, I tend to have rules, a lot of them. Rules keep me grounded; they help me feel in control and, most of all, they are there to protect me from getting hurt.

Last week I went on a date with a new man and I broke almost all of my rules. Don’t date someone who is friends with your friends, it leads to drama; I broke that one when I said yes to dinner. Don’t sleep with someone new on a first date; I broke that one, even though I told him I wouldn’t. Don’t constantly text and talk at the beginning of something new, leave a little mystery; I broke that one as we’ve been speaking daily since Saturday and have plans to see each other again in two days.

Someone wise, or really foolish, once said that rules are made to be broken and even though I have a rule for almost every situation, I find that my rules are more akin to guidelines; if I make it a rule, I have to think before I act.

So, I broke all of the rules with the cute, charming and oh-so-sexy City Boy. But, instead of being reckless and impulsive, I thought about what I was doing and I made a conscious choice to throw the rules out the window.

My rules are there to stop me from getting hurt, but, if I’m honest with you, I don’t believe that life or love happens without a little bit of pain. The good things are always worth fighting for, the great things don’t come freely, and the best things require so much of yourself that, if they end, it will hurt, a lot.

Is this new man going to be it? Maybe. Maybe not. But, if I bothered following all of the rules just to keep a little mystery I’d be doing myself and him a disservice because he’d be dating a diet version of me, toned down and with far less flavor.

I’ve always been a little wild and a lot impulsive, so my rules serve as a series of checks and balances – a reminder that I need to think, just a little, before I jump headfirst into something. But I don’t want men to fall for the me when I’m acting like someone else – the girl who doesn’t date certain people because it would be inappropriate, the girl who doesn’t embrace her sexuality, the girl who doesn’t fall in love on a regular basis. That girl? She isn’t me, she’s boring and she doesn’t know what she really wants.

I know what I want, I know who I am and I love that about myself; so I stop and think about my actions occasionally, but  I almost never follow the rules – after all, they were made to be broken.


Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shanninigans.

Meddling parents make for most frightening Craigslist personal ad ever

And you thought your parents were bad.

We got a hold of this example of a weird set of meddling parents who last year took to the internet to find a “suitable girlfriend” for their grown son. Sure, just like how your mom keeps trying to set you up with that nice young man who works in your father’s office. Except these guys are set that their son doesn’t even like his girlfriend and only dates her because she has an apartment downtown he can sleep over at to avoid morning traffic. I think mom and dad here have a pretty skewed idea of what takes place when a man and a woman have a sleepover.

The kind of lady who would scheme with a guy’s parents to swap out an old girlfriend probably isn’t the classiest of classy ladies, FYI.

As for the current girlfriend, this girl has “loose morals” and must be stopped before any “accidents” happen.

Yikes. Here’s hoping that their “looker” of a son chose the right people to break up with.

Click the image for full size.

Follow Travis on Twitter: @travmyers