A Trump presidency is a terrifying prospect, but the apocalyptic mushroom cloud may have a silver lining: it could make your love life (or lack thereof) slightly more interesting.
Canadian Girlfriend is a new online dating site that aims to match anti-Trump American men or lesbian women with suitable Canadian babes. (If accents are your thing, the site just recently included left-leaning Britons reeling from Brexit, too.)
Marketing hook aside, the service is trying to fill a legit gap in the dating market. Good men are hard to find, says site founder Sofi Papamarko, a Toronto yenta who also operates Friend of a Friend Matchmaking.
“In my years as a matchmaker, my biggest challenge has been getting equal numbers of men and women registering for the service. I get a lot more women interested and it’s really tough to maintain gender parity,” she says.
Good Canadian women, however, are as common as Trump blunders: “We have a lot of ladies that are single and amazing and if we can import more people who appreciate them that would be great.”
We talked to Papamarko about what makes her dating service different from others, the frustrations of online dating and how to find love in a lonely city.
You’re a matchmaker. How exactly do you match people?
It’s really simple: If I think two people can and should be friends I set them up. I think, ‘opposites attract’ isn’t really a good long-term strategy. Maybe they do attract, but people with similarities—similar senses of humour, education, backgrounds, values [fare better]. Canadian Girlfriend is truly easy and natural because the people who would be wanting to leave their countries, be they British or American, they’d be more left-leaning in their value systems so you already have a really huge and integral thing in common.
How does the site work, exactly?
You need to fill out a very short application form—your name, your location, and a brief description of who you are: what your interests are, your values, what you’re looking for, and your age. Then you email that to me and send through a payment [$50]. I have a searchable database with all that information [that I use to match people]. So, if someone really loves hockey, for example, I’m going to match them with a person that loves hockey across the border.
What’s the response been?
I have a lot of Canadian women interested—and a surprising number of American men, too. They seem to be from the more democratic-leaning states—California, New York. There aren’t a lot of people from South Carolina or Texas. And a couple of Brits have shown interest as well as a German national, which made me wonder if everything was OK over there!
How does online dating work long-distance?
I think a lot of people have been in long-distance relationships in the past. My hope is that there is always an end in sight. If not, that’s when long-distance relationships fall apart. People who [sign up for Canadian Girlfriend] are legitimately going to be planning a move. They don’t need to know which city, but I think it’s helpful to have a crush in Toronto or a crush in Montreal. I would hope that they would visit a few times and then if it’s right, start that life together. Or not even necessarily plunge right in, maybe just make a friend or network which makes a transition to a new city easier.
Online dating is frustrating for a lot of people. How do you work within those frustrations?
Online dating is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. If you know the kind of person you’re looking for and a certain personality, it’s hard for a computer to tell you, for example, that this guy is super-funny and kind. It’ll tell you that he likes Pavement or is 5’8, that kind of stuff. So, there’s a big difference between what a computer thinks is good for you and what a real live human breathing person thinks is good for you. There’s an intuition that computers can’t share. I think a lot of online dating sites will send you matches but how meaningful are those algorithms? They can’t really sense who you are as a person and what your vibe is or really who you are at all. I’m still a proponent for online dating, though. Any way to meet people in a really difficult city is great but it does take a lot of time and patience.
Why is it so hard to find love?
It’s a tough thing, especially in big cities. We used to have smaller towns and communities and there were church socials and families meeting other families and introducing their children. It was a lot easier when the world was smaller and there was kind of a monoculture. But now we have all kinds of people from all over the world living all sorts of different kinds of lives, and that’s amazing and vibrant and great but it makes it a lot trickier to zero in on the kind of person who gets you. In a city of six million sometimes it feels like there’s no one here for anyone!
What’s your advice for single women who truly want a partner?
I hate it when people blame themselves or get blamed for being single. So much of it is luck and timing. Whether you met your high school sweetheart and got married at 22 and are living a perfect life, or you’re still single at 42 and haven’t had a boyfriend or relationship in a decade, it’s not that you’ve done something wrong; it’s just the way life shook out for you. I do think that women can increase their luck by expanding their social network, whether that’s from online dating or meeting new friends or switching jobs. Join meet-up groups, or take a class. You may not meet that person there, but you might meet their friends. It’s all about not staying at home all the time and not going out with the same girlfriends…you need to get out. I hate the term ‘put yourself out there,’ but you need to meet new people.
When I was single I thought, I’m going to go where the men are! So I went to sports bars even though I hate sports and don’t watch sports! I should have been going to book launches and literary events and libraries because that’s what I’m interested in. That’s where my heart is and that’s where his is going to be. Live your life. Don’t go out of your way to do different things that you aren’t interested in just to meet a guy.
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