7 Hinge Dates In 7 Days: How I Learned Toronto's Dating Scene Is A Hot Mess (VIDEO)
Surprise, surprise, I got ghosted.
This Essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Dating in Toronto is like shooting fish in a barrel, except 90% of the fish have been dead for two weeks.
A month ago, I was 22, freshly single and had never used dating apps in Toronto. Today I can confidently say I'm 22, still single and slightly jaded from dating apps.
My story starts in October 2021 when my boyfriend of four and a half years and I broke up and joined the onslaught of COVID-19 couples who called it quits during the pandemic.
Although our breakup was amicable and could be filed under the cliche of wanting different things, after a month or two of wallowing, I couldn't help but realize how pathetically behind I was in dating culture.
I had no idea how to online date (which is really the only option during a pandemic), and my friends wouldn't let me forget it.
So in January 2022, I downloaded Hinge and decided to set up seven dates in seven days after a few weeks on the app.
I sorted through hundreds of profiles, chatted with dozens of people, and gave my dates the heads up that, although their identities would be our little secret, the details of our date would be used in an article.
After finding seven willing participants out of the weeds of inappropriate messages and "house visit" invitations, I started my week.
First dates are full of promise and disappointment. After spending an hour getting ready, I headed over to Lavelle (my date's choice of location) to meet Peter.
Peter and I hadn't chatted too much on the app, but he had charmed me with his straightforward approach.
I arrived first and sat down at the table, and waited about 10 minutes for him to show up.
The conversation was slow, although he made an effort to ask me questions and did manage to get in a few zingers like, "You look older than 22 but not in a bad way," "Have you ever dyed your hair blonde?'" and "I thought your eyes were blue, not brown?" He followed the latter with, "I'll check when we're outside."
I regrettably ordered a salmon sushi roll, and with wide eyes, he asked me what I had ordered once the waiter had left our table.
He thought I had ordered an entire salmon and responded with relief when I clarified, saying he was glad I wouldn't embarrass him with a "fishy table."
To say the least, it wasn't a love connection.
My second first date was pretty picture-perfect.
John was a gentleman and definitely one of the highlights of my week. We had been texting for a while, and he had the rare trifecta of being polite, funny and smart.
We had banked on going to Jimmy's Coffee, but as I walked up Queen West, he let me know they had closed early.
We met up and braved the cold before popping into Union Restaurant and sitting down for a glass of spiked cider.
Although awkward at first, his warm personality put me at ease, and it felt like chatting with a new friend.
We finished our drinks and walked around Trinity Bellwoods before heading our separate ways, but despite our warm rapport, I didn't feel a spark.
The reality of COVID-19 sank in on date number three.
We had planned to go to Queen Mother Cafe, and after leaving embarrassingly early to get there, I waited around the corner for 45 minutes on FaceTime with my best friend before heading in.
As I walked in with hope in my heart for at least a steamy bowl of Pad Thai, if not a love connection, a server let me know they were only open for takeout.
I texted Mark, and we made a plan to meet at a pub down the street.
We met outside, but the patio was full, and every other patio in the area seemed to be closed.
After walking for about 15 minutes in the freezing snow, we got onto Baro's rooftop patio and ordered some appetizers.
We mostly talked about work and our interests, and after an average hour, we called it a night.
At this point, my social battery was so drained I felt like the shallow end of a kiddy pool.
I had made loose plans with Kai a week or so prior, and after an unanswered follow-up text, it was safe to say I had been ghosted and relegated back to the hot mess that is scheduling an online date.
After a good night's sleep, I was ready to meet Quinn. We met at Ideal Coffee and got along right off the bat.
He had a happy-go-lucky sense of humour and a quick wit that made the awkwardness of a first date slip away.
We both ordered chai lattes and aimlessly walked around Ossington and Queen West as he entertained me with a story of the erectile dysfunction commercial he was producing.
My faith in Hinge was slightly restored.
I texted Kyle in the morning confirming our plans, and he let me know he was waiting on a COVID-19 test result. Although he was pretty sure it was going to be negative, we decided to postpone until Saturday when he got his results.
It turns out Kyle's hunch was wrong. Unfortunately, his results came back positive, so we didn't end up meeting.
I got ready for my seventh and final date with Stephan, who I had just started chatting with that day after my OG date wasn't responding.
We met up at Jimmy's Coffee for an afternoon latte and walked up to the University of Toronto campus.
Stephan was curious and seriously charming, and although I still didn't feel an initial romantic spark after our date, I thought it might be worth a second to see if we could build one. So I shot my shot and sent him a text after filming my review video.
He very politely and kindly responded he wasn't interested.
What I learned
Online dating is tricky. There are so many people out there that you can almost feel overwhelmed by options — but despite the numbers, there are very few people you might actually feel a connection with, let alone a romantic one.
But the worst part of online dating isn't the slew of guys you may have to meet to find the one, it's dealing with yourself along the journey.
I was exhausted after each date, and despite the guys I met being lovely people, I found myself more reluctant to go on each one.
When you meet someone organically IRL, chances are you don't have expectations for the guy in the bar or the cute co-worker you flirt with at the water cooler. Instead, you allow the connection to grow over hours, weeks and sometimes months before you feel a romantic spark.
But in online dating, all you have is the expectation of a person you barely know.
I realized I was so focused on finding a spark or connection when that just isn't realistic in the first hour of meeting someone.
So my advice to single people in Toronto looking for love online is to go in with low expectations and be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed. Give people the grace of time.
Because even after seven mediocre dates, a great one could be just around the corner.
All names have been changed for anonymity.
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