Love in the Time of Bunz

The time has come again — It’s Valentine’s Day! For me, it’s an excuse to buy enough chocolate for two (except it’s just for me) and to listen to Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’ on a loop while I drunkenly cry in my bathtub. But why dwell on the bad when you can read about other people’s love lives instead? This year I decided to interview six sets of Torontonians who found love through Bunz to show that relationships that start on the Internet don’t need to stay there. From adopting pets to finding romantic partners, these interviews show that the online world can be much more than a vortex of bad news and mediocre Tinder hookups — check it out!

Alex and Laura

Alex (right) and Laura (left), photos by Christina Tanel

What are your signs and what do you do for work?

Laura: I’m a Pisces and a visual merchandiser at Forever21.

Alex: I’m a Sagittarius and a barista at Starbucks.

Laura: It’s the best because we work across the street from each other and Alex is the world’s best barista… I’m not biased.

Tell me your story! How did you meet?

Alex: So we actually met like five years ago!

Laura: Alex was my barista, I went to Ryerson and I had a little crush — I only knew her from the waist up.

Alex: We always kind of noticed each other and then last year I think we started noticing each other’s posts on Bunz and have both admitted to creeping each other on Facebook — Laura was dating someone at the time.

Alex: And then I made a post in a Bunz Zone after a shitty night. Laura commented saying how when she used to come into my Starbucks she would be very depressed and I would always make her day and I was like “awww”. I totally knew who she was and then we just started really interacting with each other’s posts. And then she asked me out in this really dorky way and I said, “yes please.”

Laura: We’ve seen each other every day since then.

Photo by Christina Tanel

Were you expecting to find each other through Bunz?

Alex: No and it’s funny because I posted in Bunz Dating Zone twice and dated someone but it didn’t work out.

Laura: It was funny too because a month before I started talking to Alex I was talking to my mom on the phone and I was like “I’m so sick of online dating, I wanna meet someone in person and have a cute cashier or something,” but it’s kind of both! And we both really love Bunz and Toronto.

*NOTE: Alex loves Bunz so much that she reached out to us a while ago to have a “Bunz Mitvah” birthday party.*

Photo by Christina Tanel

What’s your fondest memory of each other?

Alex: We just finished having really good sex and she went outside and was like “I really need a cigarette”. So we went outside and it was one of the first nights it was actually snowing. Then she grabs me by the hand and says “We should go inside before I say something that’ll scare you off.” We went inside and I knew she was going to say it and she was dancing around it, and eventually she said it and I said it back.

Laura: And then we kissed and the church bells rang because it was 7 o’clock! I said “Did you hear wedding bells?” and then she gagged.

Do you have Valentine’s Day plans?

Alex: I work until nine!

Laura: I’m going to clean my apartment until nine.

Alex: We’re going to get takeout and we made each other cards!

H and M

Photo provided by H — “from our ‘gaycation’ in Canada!”

Tell me a little bit about yourselves!

M: I am a student of Gender Studies in the Netherlands. I am writing my thesis right now and afterwards, I plan to find an internship related to social justice either in Berlin or Montréal. Intersectional feminism is a huge part of my life — in my academia as well as my activism. I also believe strongly in community living (sharing food, dinners, sharing spaces intentionally) — with the possible dream of starting a community in Berlin or on the Spanish countryside — and have a very strong connection to my friends that I met in a squat in Maastricht but who now live all over Europe. Other than that, I am a huge cinema fan (especially Italian, French and Danish films), and I love reading (mostly poetry and non-fiction), hitchhiking, biking, and I think I rarely go an hour without music in my life.

H: I’m a 30 something queer polyamorous cis femme white settler, born and raised in Canada. In terms of some of the hats I wear, I’m mother to a child in kindergarten, wife to her dad (married and living together almost 10 years), and I am a student, researcher, and educator in public health. My studies and work align with my passion for equity, and intersectional feminism. I am a voracious reader of non-fiction, lover of the outdoors (nature inspires my meditations), a relentless audiophile (I love finding the right music for the situation), and into finding ways to move my body that feel good like yoga, hiking, biking, and ecstatic dance.

How did you come to be in each other’s lives?

M: I was having a particularly rough weekend when I posted in Bunz to find friends. I had been very lonely in Toronto for the first 1.5 months and found it hard to find community and friendships. I had gone on several failed dates which made me feel even worse. I had [been on] Skype with a friend on a Saturday night and she told me I should look for friends instead, and to post on a forum or Facebook group rather than go on dating sites. And so I did, and H responded and we started chatting and decided to meet up for an event that was organized as part of the Queer Orientation Week at UofT. It’s very ironic that me trying to find a friend resulted in falling deeply in love, but I am so incredibly grateful and happy that it happened the way it did.

H: M posted on Queer Bunz expressing her interest with meeting fellow queers. I messaged her because I liked the way she expressed herself and wanted more queer femme friends too, and figured that I could, at the very least, possibly suggest some groups and events to check out for her to meet new people. I was forthright about my situation, i.e. being married and polyamorous but definitely NOT a dreaded “unicorn hunter” and when we met up at a queer student event, I thought she wouldn’t have any interest in anything more than friendship. We really hit it off, and when she happened to mention that she was solo polyamorous and had even dated women older than me, well I took a risk of flirting a little bit and asking her on a “real” date, and it paid off!

Were you expecting to meet a partner through Bunz?

M: Not at all. I was really, really not looking for dating, let alone falling in love/starting a relationship with someone from Canada while I live in the Netherlands. Even when we met for the first time, I had no idea that this relationship would become something so impactful and important in my life.

H: Nope but I was open to the possibility. I’m so grateful for Bunz. We would not have met otherwise! She is younger than my dating age range on the dating app we’re on and given both the stigma about any form of non-monogamy and the age difference, I reeeeally doubt I would’ve “made a move” even if we had spotted each other out somewhere. Thanks Bunz!

Since meeting, how have your lives changed?

M: I’ve been able to receive her love in a way that I am rarely capable of romantically. She has changed my life sexually. And she has challenged me so much in getting rid of some nasty patterns that I had learned in previous relationships through encouraging open and honest communication.

H: Oh wow. Well, when she was still in Toronto, we spent a lot of time either in person or being in touch by text, etc. This wasn’t something that either of us had with other partners past or present! So that was a shift and it has made me be more mindful in being present and negotiating my time and commitments. Our relationship has definitely helped me to become a better communicator in general. M inspires me to be more in touch with my feelings, to trust and be vulnerable. Again, this has rippled out into my other relationships in really good ways. We have amazing chemistry and, thanks in large part to the trust we built through a mutual strong commitment to enthusiastic, ongoing consent, we’ve shared/co-created some REALLY incredible sexual experiences. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these experiences feel pretty life changing, honestly.

What are some ways you make each other feel loved and valued despite the issue of distance?

M: There’s a small surprise on its way to Canada! Other than that — we have amazing Skype sex (TMI?) which makes me feel very close to her, haha. Overall, we try to Skype — especially when we have to discuss more intense or emotional issues — rather than chat/write.

H: Messaging and Skyping whenever possible. Sharing things that made us think of the other person. Being a listening ear or a cheerleader. Even our Skype sex is surprisingly amazing and definitely makes us both feel connected. I still can’t believe our chemistry! And Skype just in general, especially for important stuff (other than sex).

Craig and Pam

Photo by Christina Tanel

Tell me about yourselves!

Pam: I protect buildings, I protect old buildings. I’m pretty much a pencil pusher [most of the time], but it all goes towards a better cause protecting old heritage buildings and cemeteries, and doing a lot of research, and outreach to the community and helping them to be more aware about the city’s history.

Craig: I work in IT at a services provider down the street, so kind of doing all the computer things for all our clients. We’re basically an IT department for like twenty different companies. I’m also a partial stand up comedian, I’ve been doing it for two years but I’ve really only actually done it like twelve times so I need to get off my ass and do more of it — and I’m a DJ!

So how did you guys meet? What’s the story?

Craig: Well my side of the story… So I was doing all sorts of dating after a break up of a long term relationship, and was doing a lot of dating over the year on Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, avoiding Plenty of Fish. I was actually still dating someone else for about a month when Pam made a post on BDZ, I forget what her post was about — it was an ISO post (in search of), and she mentioned some musical tastes and mentioned both Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode, and I had this amazing mashup of Precious and I forget the other song, but I sent that to her and we started talking about music and stuff. But I was dating this other person so this wasn’t me expressing interest in [her]. But then a week later I broke up with [the woman I was dating] and went back to her post and was asked if it was too late — we went out like six days later.

Pam: On my side, I had just come out of a long term relationship and then had dated a few people. I tried which was ridiculous because I thought if you pay for it then you get better people and get rid of all the trash — no, no, it’s worse. So then after having some really awful experiences from match, I was like I’ll try this on Bunz and do the ISO post and put myself out there. Then I got the message from [Craig], and I wasn’t sure what he meant by it cause he messaged and never really followed up. So I wasn’t sure if he was interested in me and then I got the message after asking if it was too late and I said that it wasn’t.

Photo by Christina Tanel

Were you expecting to meet a partner on Bunz?

Pam: No, I was looking to just slut it up for a year or two and I was having a lot of fun and then I met this guy and he ruined my whole plan.

Craig: That sort of swings both ways, I was in the middle of doing the same thing. I was dating around and over that year and a bit, I was dating some people I went out with for like a week and one or two people that I went out with for like two months and I was fine with that.

What’s your fondest memory of each other?

Craig: First time we fucked — you can put that in there as long as we have a chance to answer seriously. But I actually think it was the first week we lived together. We hadn’t put the bed together so we were just sleeping on a mattress on the floor and it was really nice to have our own place.

Pam: When we went for our friend’s birthday I think it was at the Gladstone or the Drake? They have karaoke and a live band and he was thinking of doing karaoke — so I paid for him to go up and he sang smashing pumpkins and that was the first time I heard him sing. He just seemed so happy and in his element. That was the same night we said “I love you” to each other for the first time.

Photo by Christina Tanel

Do you have any Valentine’s Day plans?

Craig: It kind of just fell together, we weren’t really planning because I don’t care about Valentine’s Day too much, but I found these Travel Zoo coupons for a saké tour. We both love saké so I bought them and then realized it isn’t offered on the weekends, only 3:30–5:30 on weekdays, so we’re taking Valentines Day off!

Pam: We’re also checking out the light exhibit in the Distillery District!

Word association! What’s your favourite thing about each other? First thing you think of?

Craig: Warmth.

Pam: Sense of humour.

Craig: That’s three words.

Vivian, Maria, and Shiloh

Photo by Jillian Hamaguchi, provided by Vivian and Maria

Tell me about yourselves and about Shiloh!

Vivian: I work at a book store that focuses on mental health in the city, and my wife, Maria, is actually in school for community mental health so it’s pretty cool. He’s named after the Neil Diamond song, he came with a set of instructions that was like thirteen pages long. He’s a lovely grey tabby, really really big — he used to be chunky but he’s like super suave now. We got him when he had just turned ten so if he continued that way he would’ve gotten diabetes and we couldn’t afford that. He’s the love of our lives and he’s a big scaredy cat.

How did you and Maria meet Shiloh?

Vivian: Someone put out an APB on Bunz Helping Zone and they were like “Oh, I’m moving in with this person that’s severely allergic to cats and I love my elderly cat to death but if I put him in a shelter no one’s going to adopt him — can somebody take this cat?” and there was a picture of him — we always joke that if cats had Tinder this would be his tinder picture and we were just like “YES!” We figured out a day and she showed up and was like “he’s special needs, whoops!” and we’ve had him for two years now. We got him on Canada Day, so now it’s Shiloh’s Adoption Day!

Were you expecting to meet your cat-son on Bunz?

Vivian: I wasn’t! I wasn’t expecting to like cats at all, I just know that my wife really wanted a cat at the time when we were engaged, and I was like “I kinda think this would be a good idea, he looks lovely and he needs a home.” So we got him in and he kinda gels with us because he’s so calm, but the moment something moves he runs away. He’s a really big pacifist and I don’t know how he became a pacifist but if you’re chasing him around he just ends up sitting.

What’s your favourite thing about him?

Vivian: How he’s so forgiving. Maria really likes to pick him up but he hates being picked up and he doesn’t do anything except struggle and goes “whyyyyyyyyy” but then two minutes after he runs away he comes back and just wants to love you!

Christmas card courtesy of Vivian and Maria

If Shiloh could be a celebrity or character from a movie, TV show, or book, who would he be?

Vivian: Jacob Two-Two. He was the youngest child in a really big family full of strong personalities and he would always have to say something twice to be heard, that’s why he was called “Two-Two.” Throughout the series he starts to grow into himself and becomes a more charismatic and courageous person, like Shiloh did. He’s also Courage the Cowardly Dog — he’s so scared of everything but he braves it out, and you can always tell he’s trying his best. Like when we take him to the vet, I have to rent a car and drive him up and you can always tell he’s so scared and just like, “just get it over with.”

Trisha and Adrian

Photo by Christina Tanel

Tell me about yourselves!

Trisha: I work for a software company.

Adrian: I do my own entrepreneurial stuff — I build furniture and teach kids.

How did you meet?

Adrian: She knows all of this!

Trisha: We don’t know exactly which group we met in… it was either Helping Zone or Dating Zone. I just started noticing him commenting on stuff, I noticed because his last name is the same as some of my family (by marriage) so I figured he must be West Indian so that’s kind of why I noticed it, we also had mutual friends!

Were you expecting to meet a romantic partner on Bunz?

Adrian: Definitely not. Online relationships are a little weird to me. People are more spectres than they are flesh and blood, so it’s interesting getting to know people outside a physical form, but combining the two can be a little weird.

Trisha: Yeah, it was the same for me. I wasn’t really looking to meet anybody in that way.

Photo by Christina Tanel

What’s your fondest memory of each other?

Adrian: Well ok, so while I think our first date was me coming to see her sing (I cleared my schedule a month before to be there to see her perform), she thinks it was when we went out the week after and it was a really, really awesome night. We went to this pizza joint, Descendants, and then we went to this jazz club where she sang at an open mic, and then we went to see a Stevie Wonder cover show.

Trisha: We had a great time, I mean he talked so much, so it worked out.

Photo by Christina Tanel

Do you have any plans for Valentine’s Day?

Trisha: He hasn’t asked me to do anything.

Adrian: I don’t really subscribe to that stuff.

Trisha: That’s why I actually really liked him — he was very vocal about being against capitalism and racism and what have you.

What’s your favourite thing about each other?

Adrian: She makes me laugh.

Trisha: He makes me think.

Kate and Trinket

Photo provided by Kate

Tell me about yourself and Trinket!

Kate: I’m pretty boring, to be honest! I work at LUSH and I have a 5 year old kiddo, so that takes up a lot of my time. Fun for me is snuggling with Trinket. She just turned 2 in January! She’s such a lil puppy and loves to play and chew EVERYTHING. But when she’s not bouncing off the wall, she’s sleeping!

Tell me about how you found each other!

Kate: So, I had joined Bunz Petz Zone when I started getting puppy fever. I wanted to look at all the pups that other Buns had. In December of 2016, I came across a post with a picture of her saying that the second family that was slated to adopt her had fallen through. She was 10 months old and her ridiculous ears made me smitten. I immediately messaged the person who posted, and got in touch with the rescue. Trinket (named Chaparita at the time) was found on the street in Mexico when she was 4 weeks old. She had been with the rescue since then. I put in my application for her and that was that! She was supposed to come home that January, but she had a virus which prevented her from traveling. She finally arrived on April 19th, 2017.

How has Trinket changed your life?

Kate: Trinket is hands down the greatest pup I’ve ever had. She has so much personality and she is SO SMART. Having her has allowed me to teach my 5 year old about treating animals with respect and given me an amazing friend. I suffer from PTSD and while she isn’t a certified support animal, she has gotten me through some rough times. She and I have a very unique relationship and she has amazing intuition when it comes to my emotional well being. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

What does a day in the life of trinket and Kate look like?

Kate: Trinket and I LOVE to be lazy. As I write this, we’re cuddled up on the couch. We could sit like this for hours. At bed time, she sleeps behind my head! I have an extra pillow for her, it’s her special place.

Trinket in her natural habitat (photo provided by Kate)

What is your favourite thing about Trinket?

Kate: ALL OF THE THINGS. She is the perfect dog for me. She’s a lazy potato, she cuddles, knows when I’m sad or upset or anxious, and is SO TOLERANT OF ME SQUISHING HER (she’s SOOOOOO SQUISHABLE!). Also, her ears are perfect. Like, they’re not even real, they’re just so ridiculous and perfect.

Special thanks to Christina Tanel for taking amazing photos of some of our interviewees! Did I change your mind about the Internet? Still think it’s a shit pile? Let me know!

Illustration by Mimi Lin.

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