Modern Sex

ONLINE DATING 

& HOOKING UP

The pandemic got you feeling like a shut-in? Single and ready to mingle? Craving bit of excitement in your life?

Ah we know the feeling... all too well 😑

Chatting online can be one great way to meet new people and talk about what you’re into. These days, there’s literally an app for whatever you’re looking for (from hooking up to dating, to finding a new friend or a long-term partner).

A word to the wise: You must be 18 years old or older to be on dating and hookup apps.

While there’s lots of ways to connect with new people, if you’re thinking of using an app, check out the awesome info we’ve compiled for you below, including a list of 8 safety tips from some trusty app veterans.

Safety First
Check in with yourself. Try to understand what your expectations are before using meetup apps and what you’re hoping to get out of them. Really take the time to reflect on your emotional state. Using hookup and dating apps can be a very different experience if you’re feeling bored, lonely, sad, or rejected, compared to if you’re feeling horny, confident, or happy.
Take it at your own pace! Finding your way around apps and figuring out the app that works best for you can take time. Remember, this is supposed to be fun, and there’s no rush or pressure to get physical with someone you’ve met from an app, unless this is something you both want to do.
People sometimes use code words on apps which you might not know (for example, DTF, play party, or golden shower). If there’s ever a word someone’s using that you’re unsure about, we recommend looking up the meaning before continuing the convo. This way, everyone knows what they’re getting into 🤓
You don’t have to talk to anyone if you don’t want to. If you feel uncomfortable or have a bad feeling about someone, trust your instincts and don’t engage with them any further #blockandbye. (P.S. Knowing what your boundaries are can be really helpful for this.)
Be careful about sharing personal information with people you don’t know yet, like your address, school, place of work, or even your banking info (yes, some people ask for that!). You don’t have to give out information to anyone if you don’t want to. You may decide to exchange social media with someone from an app just to confirm that they are who they say they are. Or, you might prefer to use anonymous chatting apps like Kik when communicating.  Ultimately, it’s your call to do what you feel is best for you and your safety!
Consider having a video or phone call before meeting up. Sometimes, it can be hard to figure out what someone’s really like when you’re only messaging with them back and forth. If you’re on the fence about meeting someone irl, consider having a video or phone call first to get a better sense of them. Trust us, these calls can be very enlightening – and they can be fun and sexy! And like #4, if you’re not feeling it after the call, trust your gut and end communication with that person.
Think about ‘going public’ when meeting up for the first time. If you do decide to take the plunge and meet someone in person—and let’s be real, that’s what the apps are for!—think about meeting somewhere in public first, like a park, local coffee shop, or your favourite bar. This way, you can check them out in person in a safer environment where there are other people around. Plus, it’s always helpful to get to know someone better when we see them in the wild!
Let a friend know! Regardless of where you meet up with this new person, it's best to tell a friend where you’re going. Text your friend the address or share your location with them. You can even agree on a time for when they should check in on you, or when you’ll let them know how things are going (either by text or a phone call). We ❤ supportive friends!

Sending Nudes?

Sexting can be fun and hot (whether you're on apps or anywhere in cyberspace)! Here’s some useful info to keep in your back pocket so you can feel like 💯 if you’re doing it!

When sending pics or videos to someone, it’s a good idea to talk about what’s okay and not okay for them to do with what you’ve sent them. The unfortunate reality is that any picture, video, or sext you’ve sent is no longer in your control. The other person can save it, share it, send it, or post it wherever and to whomever they want. It’s NOT okay for them to do this, and there are some criminal implications if a sexual photo or video of a minor (i.e. anyone under the age of 18) has been shared or distributed. If you’re a minor and have or have had a sexual picture or video uploaded to the internet and are looking for help, check out NeedHelpNow.ca.
Let’s turn the tables, what if you’re on the receiving end of sexts, pics, or videos? Well, you have the responsibility to respect the other person’s privacy and wishes, and ALWAYS ask for permission before showing them to others. #ConsentCulture
Btw, just a tip if you’re sending nudes: consider sending faceless pics, covering your tattoos or any other identifying features!
For more information on sexting and the law, check out this great article by the Ontario Women’s Justice Network: Sexting and the Law about Sharing Intimate Images.

A Sex Ed Quickie

What if you’ve transitioned from app messaging to in-person meeting?
If things are heating up when you're with each other irl, don’t forget about your sexual health! Oftentimes, hooking up with someone from an app means hooking up with a stranger. This can be super exciting if this is something you’re into. To keep the experience positive for everyone, think about things you can do, say, or ask with this new partner to have safer and more pleasurable sex!

For example, if your messages were getting hot and heavy leading up to the irl meeting, consider bringing condoms. If you’re worried about initiating a convo about safer sex in person, you can always discuss this stuff when chatting online, before meeting. You can talk about the last time each of you got tested, what practices you prefer to be safer, etc. There are so many prevention methods you can use, from practicing open communication to using condoms and lube to getting tested regularly and taking PrEP or PEP. Knowing what all your options are will help you to choose the prevention methods that work best for you and your new partner(s)!
Sometimes, we can build it up in our heads that talking about safer sex with a person we've just met from an app is hard—and it can be intimidating, especially if you’re not used to doing it. But being able to ask for what you want can take your sex life and dating game to the next level so that you and your partner(s) can enjoy it more! And if the person responds poorly, it might be a sign for you to really consider if you do want to sleep with them. Your sexual health is important, and you deserve to be respected.

To help you out, here are a few ways you can start the conversation:
  • "It would make me feel good if we used condoms. I love the [insert your favourite type of condom].”
  • “When was the last time you had sex?” They reply and you say: “That’s hot, have you been tested for STIs and HIV since then?”
  • “I’m on PrEP and I get tested pretty regularly, what about you?”
  • I want to be prepped and ready for you, so I like to use lube. Will you put it on me?”

Using Apps: Level 10000

In addition to talking about safer sex, you can use chatting online as an opportunity to share what you’re into sexually and the types of things you’d want to do with the other person(s). Being open and honest about what you like can help ensure that everyone involved knows what they’re getting into and enjoys the experience.

Plus, it might inspire some fun dirty talk!  Below are prompts you can use to move your messaging into the pleasure zone 😉 (fill in the blanks as you choose!):
  • “I’ve always wanted to try___, what do you think?”
  • “I really enjoy it when my partner ___.”  
  • “I know a lot of people like ___, but it really isn’t my thing. How about we try ___ instead?”
Just so you know, some people may put their HIV status on their profile, like being undetectable or that they take PrEP. This is pretty common on the app Grindr, which is popular among the gay community. Check out this dating app storywhere a person living with HIV reflects on their experiences of disclosing their HIV status on Grindr.

Getting Real about Apps

Not everyone you chat with online may respond well to conversations about sexual health or be open to talking about stuff related to pleasure, but don’t let this stop you! Taking care of your sexual health is your right and a big part of being safer when using dating apps.  

Unfortunately, the internet can bring out some hurtful behaviours in people. Unhappy people will sometimes make nasty comments about other people’s bodies, profiles, race, height, or anything else, really. Just remember, it’s usually a reflection of their insecurities or internalized shame.

If you’re being trolled or bullied, you can report that behaviour to the app and reach out to resources like Kids Help Phone or LGBT Youthline if you need support.


You have the right and power to make the call about whether or not you continue talking to the person. Most of the time, the best thing to do is to just block these trolls and move on.

At the end of the day, apps are supposed to be fun and help you meet new people. If you start realizing that that’s not what you want, maybe it’s time to take a break and find other ways to connect with new people.

DATING Stories

By “The Gift of Ghosting”

#LessonLearned

Six months into quarantine, I was starting to get hit by loneliness. I was about to turn 19 and my only romantic experience up until then was a boyfriend for two months when I was 14.  So, I started an online dating profile. I wasn’t really looking for a boyfriend, I just wanted a nice conversation and see where things could go from there. My first match was this guy I thought was the most handsome of my matches. Our first video call lasted 3 hours, and I thought we clicked. Maybe I had hit a home run on my first try! The next video call lasted 5 hours. The next, 6 hours. But I realized by the fourth call that we never went past menial small talk. It had been a month and I couldn’t envision us going anywhere. I didn’t know how to bring it up. It wasn't that there was something wrong, I just didn't want to be in a relationship with him. But I kept talking and talking and talking... It was all for naught though, as he ended up ghosting me. I had never felt so relieved. I regret not ending the situation earlier—it would have saved a lot of time and honestly, unnecessary effort, on both our parts. Now, if I don't see a future with any of my matches, I'll let them down straight away.

The next video call lasted 5 hours. The next, 6 hours. But I realized by the fourth call that we never went past menial small talk.
By “The Gift of Ghosting” #LessonLearned

By “The Softie”

#HardToGetHard

I couldn't wait to get it on with this amazing girl I met on Tinder. It was going to be my first casual hookup. I never shared a bed with someone I had only known for 24 hours. The idea excited and frightened me at the same time.

After we chit chatted for a couple of minutes, we started making out. We removed our clothes one by one, and when she reached for my dick, tragedy struck. "What's wrong?" she asked me. Then she realized my erection was gone and my penis had betrayed me the moment I needed it the most.

Thousands of voices started playing in my head. "I’m not good enough, I’m a failure, I’m not a 'real' man." It crushed my self-esteem and made it even harder to get hard in the moment. I was ashamed of myself. I didn't know what was wrong with me. I thought maybe I had erectile dysfunction. But I was hard when we were making out. It didn't make any sense to me.

At the time, I didn't know this was a common thing. It could happen to any person of any age. If you get too anxious during sex, all the blood that’s supposed to go to one head (your penis), ends up going to another head. (That might not be the most scientifically accurate reason why that happens.) However, the girl was very nice about it. We talked and cuddled all night till we fell asleep. The next morning when we woke up, we started getting it on again and this time, my erection stayed. It worked because I let go of the pressure to perform and decided to go with the flow.

This experience made me realize the danger of judging my worth by my sexual prowess. It puts way too much pressure on your performance. I judge my worth based on how I am as a person, not on my penis performance. So, when my performance does waver, I don't feel like a failure anymore. I remind myself, it’s just biology.

Now tinder casual hookups don't scare me at all. If a girl reacts badly to my erect or non-erect penis, it’s a reflection on her, not me. It’s the perfect filter to weed out people that don't deserve me.

... my penis had betrayed me the moment I needed it the most.
By “The Softie” #HardToGetHard

By “The Lifelong Learner”

#PozitiveConnectionsOnly

I've been using apps to meet guys since I was 18. As a digital native who came out as gay in my teens, websites and apps have been a significant part of my sexual and romantic life. They've led me to one-night stands, long-term relationships, seasonal flings, mentor-mentee relationships, and friendships spanning several years. As I'm sure many can agree, they've also caused me heartbreak, frustration, and confusion as a young person growing up and learning about my sexual identity, how to assert my boundaries, and figuring out who I am in bed (… or the kitchen, or the park, or the public bathroom) as well as figuring out who I am as an individual and member of the queer community.

Ten years and an HIV diagnosis later, I'm still always learning. Testing positive definitely changed my experience using apps. When I was first diagnosed, I went back and forth trying to decide if I wanted to include my serostatus in my profile. When my profile indicates I'm poz, I get way fewer messages and replies from other guys than when it used to say 'negative' or if I simply leave it blank. I also get intrusive and ignorant questions and comments (everything from "Who did this to you?” to “Are you suing the guy?" to "Sorry, disease-free only" and "Ew, no"). But there are also benefits to indicating that I'm poz. For one thing, it automatically weeds out the guys who don't want to message me because of my status (chances are I won't be interested in them either). I also find that guys who are non-judgmental of my status, who I do end up connecting with, are better at having open and frank discussions about sexual health, identities, and pleasure, and this is where I've found the best connections and experiences.

I've been using apps to meet guys since I was 18. As a digital native who came out as gay in my teens, websites and apps have been a significant part of my sexual and romantic life.
By “The Lifelong Learner” #PozitiveConnectionsOnly

By "The Boundary Setter”

#IDontWantToGetPeedOn

Online dating is... weird. Sometimes guys be messaging you with an opener of “Hello, can I pee on you?” At least he asked. Sometimes you gotta rap battle on bumble. Sometimes you don’t reply in 10 minutes and they call you a “fucking bitch.” And then there are those times when older men message “Hello (name)” and send you a picture of a lovely bouquet of flowers on the beach. And then they disappear into the sunset as gently as they came, and you never hear from them again.

Although I still haven’t found love, through these experiences I’ve learned to set boundaries and have a better idea of when to set a boundary and move on from a conversation. I don’t actually need to keep responding to someone who won’t take no for an answer when I’m really not interested in being peed on. I don’t need to stay around managing other people’s feelings, practically strangers, afraid of their reaction or feeling guilty for being honest about what I want. I’ve also learned that I can have someone blow up on me (a great fear of mine and why I resort to pleasing others and feeling guilty) and still keep myself safe and healthy.

Maybe one day, someone won’t want to just pee on me, they’ll want to take me out on a really nice date that involves mutual respect and nice gushy feelings. I’ve learned that not everyone is a heathen (I use this in jest heh heh) and that if I can keep my boundaries, I can experiment with being vulnerable and opening up while remaining true to myself at the same time.

Online dating is... weird. Sometimes guys be messaging you with an opener of “Hello, can I pee on you?” At least he asked.
By "The Boundary Setter” #IDontWantToGetPeedOn

“The Homebody’s Dream”

#TrustYourGut

I really wasn’t the type of person who would lock eyes with a stranger sitting across the bar......

... I’m still not. So, a few years ago, after a particularly painful breakup, I resorted to online dating. Meeting people from the comfort of my own home, without having to leave my bed! It felt like every homebody’s dream. But what I loved the most was that I felt more in control of who I got to talk to and go on dates with, because I could do my research before I met them in person. This was very empowering, as I’ve always found it quite difficult to reject or ignore people in real life, mostly in fear of their potentially violent reaction. Online, ignoring people was made simple with the ‘block user’ button.

I had just moved to the UK when I met my current partner on OkCupid. I wanted to meet new people to explore what my new home had to offer. On our first date, we walked around the city for hours and hours, discovering new places in the city together. In the dates that followed, we had a lot of fun, and more importantly, I felt safe and comfortable. We ended up moving in together, relocated to Canada, and have been together ever since.

But not every date I had went this well. Not every message I received online was pleasant. Ranging from fetishization to threats, there were so many moments that made me feel angry, scared, and discouraged.

If there’s anything I learned from my online dating experiences, it’s that dating should be fun. It should feel good! You deserve to enjoy yourself when you’re on a date, feeling happy and flirty and comfortable. If there’s anything – especially your gut feeling – telling you something feels even a little bit wrong, remember to trust yourself. If you’re willing to take some precautions and work up the courage to dive in, online dating can prove useful, fun, and rewarding.

I really wasn’t the type of person who would lock eyes with a stranger sitting across the bar... I’m still not. So, a few years ago, after a particularly painful breakup, I resorted to online dating.
“The Homebody’s Dream” #TrustYourGut

By “The Opportune Educator”

#WhenToDisclose

When to disclose? After being diagnosed with HIV, I took a break from sex and dating. Once I decided it was time to come back, I quickly realized I had a new element I had to present to any prospects, regardless if the encounter was gonna be a walk or straight to the bedroom. At first the plan was to get to know them, and then tell them when I started to have feelings for them or when I sensed the time was coming for us to take off our clothes. Sometimes it was a polite "thanks for letting me know, I don't have a problem with it" (and then they stop texting and are never seen again). Other times, it was "all good, i'm positive also" or "I'm on PreP." I guess I'm lucky that I don't have any horror stories where someone freaked out or was an ignorant prick.

My other approach was to tell them while chatting prior to meeting. This worked well cause if they were okay with it, the date would happen and if they weren't, it ended there. My goal was to be upfront and honest (and not get my feelings hurt or have an uncomfortable conversation in person). People can get really awkward when you tell them something they're not expecting or know nothing about (and that's totally okay).

My approach now: it's in my profile bio. I usually write u=u to hint at my status. Most of the time people know what it means. I also bring it up in conversation to assess the situation. If they don't know what it means, it's a good opportunity for education.

It's important to find what works for you and remember that there's someone else receiving the information so it's not all about you. Be brave but also be compassionate if someone needs a minute to take in what you've told them.

When to disclose? After being diagnosed with HIV, I took a break from sex and dating. Once I decided it was time to come back, I quickly realized I had a new element I had to present to any prospects...
By “The Opportune Educator” #WhenToDisclose
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