Show some PDA: It’s International Kissing Day

by Lia Grainger



Getty Images/Dan Kitwood A young couple kiss on day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2012 in London, England.



Are you a fan of the PDA?

Friday is International Kissing Day, and a new survey from the matchmaking website has found the vast majority of Canadians have no problems puckering up in public.

Of the more than 1,163 Canadians surveyed, a whopping 93 per cent confessed they were fine with public displays of affection. Women are ever so slightly more modest than their male counterparts: 51 per cent of the ladies responded said that public kissing in moderation is fine, while 61 per cent of the fellas said anything goes.





“The high numbers of people that are okay with PDA is indicative of our easygoing tolerance and acceptance – qualities that are consummately Canadian,” says Toronto etiquette expert Karen Cleveland. She says that attitudes towards kissing in public have softened over the years, but is quick to warn there is still such a thing as going too far.

“A good rule of thumb is to avoid doing anything you’d be embarrassed to do in front of your grandparents,” says Cleveland. “That means no groping and no tongue.”

Dating consultant Shannon Tebb says location matters. “If you’re on a subway car or in a doctor’s office – anywhere confined with other people – it’s probably best to avoid big displays,” says Tebb. “If you’re on the street, it’s more acceptable.”

If you’ve decided to go for the public smooch, why not make your partner happy?

According to, most Canadian men prefer sensual kisses on the lips, while the majority of women like the so-called French kiss. Those with female partners should be extra observant of what their partner enjoys, as most women say being with a good kisser is important, while men are less concerned because their partners “may be better at other things.” We’ll let you ponder that one for yourselves.

(First published in Metro, July 2012)


Revealing your new single status online can set Facebook ‘friends’ buzzing


by Rosemary Counter

“The heart was meant to be broken,” Oscar Wilde said famously. Then again, he wasn’t on Facebook.

As if breakups weren’t bad enough, Facebook puts another nail in the coffin: A little red broken heart icon that advertises your new “single” status to 500 of your closest friends.

When 27-year-old Laura caught her boyfriend cheating, via Facebook no less, she promptly changed her status — online and in real life — to single. But it wasn’t as simple as checking another box.

“It was bad when people like your 53-year-old aunt have to see personal stuff,” says Laura. “They’re just there to keep in touch and see photos, not be witness to my drama.”

Worse was feedback from the peanut gallery. Convinced they were reveling in I-told-you-so’s, Laura received a handful of unwanted notes.

“Married women from high school were telling me to not worry, someday I’ll find someone,” she fumes. “We haven’t talked in five years and now you decide to contact me?”

This story has all kinds of Facebook faux pas, says Karen Cleveland, an etiquette expert in Toronto. “There’s a handy little tool that removes your relationship status altogether, so you’d never have to contend with this issue,” she says. But if broadcasting your bedfellows is important to you –which for some people, particularly women, it is — follow this simple rule: “If you wouldn’t talk about it a cocktail party, don’t post it online,” says Cleveland.

And for those sitting on the status fence, consider this: Starting in 2010, Facebook plugged your heartbreak into a large-scale study to analyze when your relationship is most likely to heat up and sizzle out.

For the romantics, expect a relationship spike on Valentine’s Day (with 49% more new relationships than breakups) and Christmas (a close second at 34% more hookups). April Fool’s Day also sees an odd increase, though April 2nd sees an instant reversal (hilarious, you guys).

And for the cynics, some breakup stats: It seems Fridays and Saturdays are peak breakup days, as is the entire summer season. So after a boozy long weekend in August, expect a slew of sad broken hearts in your morning newsfeed.

“Emoticons cheapen real emotions,” says Cleveland. “That nasty little icon can’t possibly capture someone’s feelings,” she says, and your casual e-response isn’t helping. Resist a sad face, a dramatic “OMG!” or, even worse, “liking” their breakup. “If you know the wounded well, respond offline. Call them up or send them flowers,” advises Cleveland. Otherwise, zippit.

For those craving the silent treatment, try 25-year-old Briar’s breakup trick. “Because we had a hundred mutual friends, and I didn’t want to make a scene, I discreetly made my status private. Two months later, after a buffer to tell people myself, I was ready to be “single” online,” she says. These days, now that the breakup news has sufficiently made the rounds, she’s back to keeping her status private for good. “No one needs to know anything. It’s nobody’s business.”

Hear that, social media gossips? Even treading carefully, Briar still got awkward messages of people wanting dirty details (quit doing that, folks!). She resisted both the urge to vent and to tell people to butt out, as there’s good etiquette for dealing with Nosy Nancys too.

“Respond when you’re ready, as you feel comfortable. Appreciate their concerns, but don’t feel obligated to say more,” says Cleveland.

But if a genuine friend reaches out to you, by all means take up their offer for support. Breakups are always tough — even tougher in a public medium — and some in-person friend time might be just the thing. Over wine, just like Oscar Wilde would.


(First published in the Toronto Sun, Winnipeg Sun and 24 Hours Vancouver, April 2012)


Hot valentine’s date etiquette

Manners are sexy! Whether you are going on a date with someone on Valentine’s Day for the first or hundredth time, some helpful tips to up your game.

• Valentine’s Day is a packed night for restaurants so a reservation might be a great idea. If you’re going somewhere that doesn’t take reservations, or you’re just meeting up for a drink, try and get there early so you can beat your date there, and nab seats.

• A menu of aphrodisiacs can feel a bit contrived and often subtly is sexier.

• Bad table manners are a massive turn off. Keep those basics in mind, such as napkin on lap, not inhaling your meal, not talking with mouth full and treating the wait staff kindly.

• You want your date’s full attention (and they want yours) so keep phones away. If it is out of site, you will be less tempted to check it.

• If you are checking out a new place, give some thought to details to keep you punctual, like how you’ll get there and where you’ll park.

• When the bill hits the table, there’s nothing more awkward than a drawn-out exchange of “I’ll get it”, “no, I insist, I’ll get it”. If someone really wants to treat you, let them, and graciously thank them. If you want to contribute and the night is going well, you could offer to carry on somewhere else for dessert, coffee or a drink as your treat, or offer to pick up the bill for your next date.

(First published on She Does the City, February 2012)

Don’t kill dating potential with bad social networking

by Constance Droganes, entertainment writer,

Many people today use social media technology to hook up — or break up. But even social networking pros can commit huge dating faux pas — just check out the new movie “Textuality,” starring Jason Lewis, if you don’t believe it.

The film’s plot revolves around two people trying to embark on relationships through social media. That catch, however, is that they are also using the same technology to free themselves from multiple existing relationships.

That, says Toronto etiquette expert Karen Cleveland, is a major dating no-no.

“When you’re dealing with social media, we tend to multi-task almost to a fault. It’s one thing to BBM someone when you’re in bed at the end of the day. It’s quite another when you’re endlessly texting or tweeting at a party in front of friends or potentials partners,” said Cleveland, a marketing and branding consultant at St. Joseph Media in Toronto.

Cleveland launched her etiquette column, Finishing School in 2007. It was shaped, in large part, by experiences in the branding world.

“For me working with brands and thinking about etiquette and manners connected a lot of dots,” Cleveland told

“Today’s technology is so wonderful and nimble. You can communicate with people 24/7. But in terms of relationships, some old conventions still apply.”

It all boils down to showing respect to the people you are around, as well as the people you communicating with in social media networks.

“I think the problem many of us face today is that social networking makes people passive. You can put your convenience, and your gutlessness, ahead of facing the music and dealing with another person’s feelings, especially if you are breaking up with them,” she said.

“Remember that ‘Sex and the City’ episode where Carrie gets dumped via a Post-It note? What we’re dealing with today is along the same continuum. But a relationship is still a relationship,” according to Cleveland. “You can’t get off scot-free, especially when it comes to ending an affair.”

Cleveland offers these tips to keep your image and your social networking style in top order on the dating scene.

1. It’s so easy to vent nowadays. But keep your dirty laundry off Facebook or Twitter. “If it’s on the Internet it’s out there forever. Don’t use those platforms if you’re really upset about something and if you’re not comfortable with the boss reading about your broken heart,” said Cleveland.

2. Social networking is very quick and nimble. But technology like this can’t replace or eliminate real, face-to-face interaction. As Cleveland said, “When you’re at a party and you turn your back from the people in the room to text and tweet several others that sends the wrong message. It’s not polite. Not by a long shot.”

3. By the same token, you’re always glancing at other people’s phones when you are out with friends or dates people break the habit. “That tells people that the phones and the tweets are more important to you than them,” said Cleveland.

4. A human connection is a connection. So if you click with someone, you’ll probably like they way they sound in person or in a text. “A person’s tone always rings through,” said Cleveland. “Technology is a great supplement. But it’s no replacement for that special quality we convey in face-to-face communication.”

(Originally published on CTV, April 2011)

On ETalk talking social media etiquette


I was thrilled to be interviewed on ETalk, Canada’s number one entertainment program. A film, Textuality, prompted some interesting discussion about the role our smart phones play in our romantic lives.

Spoiler alert: I advise that it is really offside to break up via a text message.

On ETalk, discussing the film Textuality and the etiquette of texting.