How far would you go for love?

TTC subway train

Last night, I was supposed to meet a date for dinner in the Junction. I live on the other side of town at Church and Wellesley. When I found out my date lived in the Entertainment District, a 15 minute bike ride from my place, I suggested we meet at a restaurant in his neighbourhood instead.    After all, this is Toronto where – if you live, work and play downtown like me – you typically don’t need a car. The Junction, however, isn’t downtown or on a subway line. To get to there we would need to take a bus. And, in my world – where everything I need is a short walk or subway ride away – any place I have to take a bus is considered “far.” My downtown-dwelling date agreed.

Over dinner we joked that, although cool, the Junction was like a black spot on our mental map of the city. He even admitted he once stopped dating a girl who lived there simply because it was too hard to get to. I couldn’t judge him on that one.   I once had a perfectly lovely evening with a man I met online. Despite him being attractive, polite, funny, intelligent and successful in his field, I never contacted him again.

The reason? He lives in Brampton.

 Other than family and friends, I simply don’t want a relationship with anyone it will take more than 30 minutes by public transit to get to.

Is this lazy dating?

Yes and no. According to the proximity principal, the closer two people live the more likely they are to bond.  But it’s not just convenience. Neighbourhoods are typically populated by people with similar values. (That’s why you often hear of couples who fall in love later in life, amazed to learn that in their youth they lived just a few blocks from each other but never met.)

I have more in common with urban-dwelling members of the creative class than I do with blue-collar factory workers in Oshawa – although I do have a thing for men in jeans and hard hats (yum!). And, maybe, this is where my own self-imposed boundaries are limiting me.

What if there’s a hot construction foreman in Scarborough who not only loves country music as much as I do but also has a passion for big blockbuster musicals and isn’t gay? Granted, this is highly unlikely but stranger things have happened – we elected Rob Ford, for example.

Speaking of which, as a downtowner I rarely visit Etobicoke or North York any of the parts of Toronto that elected him. Yet, as anyone who saw the shirtless jogger yelling at the mayor on Canada Day might have noticed, there are some seriously hot men in them ‘burbs!

I recently worked with dating coach Barbara Katz from Flirt Factor on creating a new online dating profile. Her questions forced me to think hard about what it is exactly that I’m looking for and where I am willing to look for it. I realized that, just over a year out of a marriage, I’m not ready to settle down. I won’t be until I feel that I’ve done my due diligence in exploring what’s out there.  

One of my goals for this year, therefore, is to date outside of my comfort zone. But, if the Junction – a neighbourhood filled with urban left-leaning people like me – is “too far” how will I ever find those types I’m not so familiar with.

On Tinder, a mobile dating app where you can state how geographically close you want potential matches to be, I’ve set my proximity to 10 kilometres.  I’m thinking it’s time I raised that number. Who knows? Maybe hidden behind that blank spot on my mental city map is a fantastic guy… or several of them!

At the very least, I’ll learn something about how the other half lives. And in Toronto – a city divided by north, south, east and west – we could all use a little more of that.

What do you think? How far would you go to date someone? What are your geographical dating limits? 

4 thoughts on “How far would you go for love?

  • March 29, 2015 at 3:31 am

    I am so curious to know what you think of long distance relationships

    • March 29, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      Long distance relationships can work if there is already a strong history together to begin with and the couple is able to connect regularly by Skype or some other means where they can see and hear each other (military personnel come to mind here). It's much more of a risk if you've met someone online and have never met them in person or if you only met them once or twice under exceptional circumstances, like on vacation.

      A friend of mine recently told me how he spent three blissful days with a woman from Denmark that he'd met at a resort in the Caribbean but when she came to visit him in Toronto, they were unable to reproduce the magic they'd felt on the beach and the relationship fizzled.

      That said, I met someone on a cruise last month who is coming to visit me in two months and I fully expect us to have an amazing time. The key here is I have no expectations for any sort of long-term committed relationship (LTCR) with this person after he leaves. Rather, I enjoyed his company once and am looking forward to enjoying his company again, regardless of what happens afterward. If, after our long weekend, I find that I still like him and he likes him me, then maybe we'll make plans for another visit. If not, I never have to see him again. But, I'm not going to stop dating other people or pin all of my hopes on someone who I've only spent less than 48 hours with in person.

      If you are looking for LTCR, to get to know someone new you really have to spend time with them in person and see how they actually are in different circumstances, not just how they tell you they are. Distance, and a relationship based on texting or messaging alone, makes this difficult to assess. This isn't to say a future together is impossible for two people currently living in different parts of the world. It's just that it's the exception rather than the norm.

  • May 27, 2018 at 4:16 am

    I know this article was posted a little while ago, but I just read it and it made me asking question or two. The article covers it well from your big city point of view, but I am curious to know your comments about love and distance in a rural, small town or suburban context. There are obviously more opportunities to meet someone near you when your neighborhood population is often larger than all the folks in a town or a region. What would you do in the latter case?

    • June 1, 2018 at 3:47 pm

      Agreed. If you live in an area where the population is less concentrated (and most people already have cars because you need one to get around) you may need to travel further afield to meet people. When you live in a rural or smaller community I also recommend getting involved in that community as a way to meet people that you might not otherwise (of course, if it’s really small you may already know everyone). Your dating strategy is going to factor in where you live, for sure. Ultimately, it comes down to finding someone with similar values to you.


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