C/O Amazon, Andrew Mrozowski/Editor-in-Chief

True love is at the  heart of each and every one 

There is something that only true love can bring out in someone. That sparkle in the eye and a hope that one day, we will meet the one. The one that will sweep us off our feet and bring us our happily ever after.  

It may sound cliché but reading these stories reminds me of everything love means to me. It reminds me of that first love feeling, the one you can’t stop thinking about. It reminds me of the perfect love and endings one finds in fairy tales, stories where the world seems to fall into place. It reminds me of the imperfections that make love real. And it reminds me that no matter what, love is always worth fighting for.  

These stories I’m sharing with you are some of my favourite stories of love. I’ve read these books so many times and each time I do they are even more beautiful than the last time I read them. I hope you’ll find a story below that will pique your interest and remind you of everything love can be. 

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera 

Set in the heart of the city that never sleeps, this book tells the story of Arthur, a believer in fate, the universe and love at first sight and Ben, a universe skeptic with only heartache and a box of his ex-boyfriend's things. They cross paths at a post office, of all places. When a missing connections poster turns into a not-so-perfect first date with two do-overs, things don’t go as planned for the two. But somehow, they make it through. And in the end, no one really knows what the universe has in store. Maybe nothing, but maybe everything. Outing the most closeted romantics, this story will have you falling in love for what feels like the first time all over again.  

“I guess that’s any relationship. You start with nothing and maybe end with everything.” 

― Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, What If It's Us 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz 

Ari lives with a family that shows little affection and spends most of his time in his self-created world of doubt. Dante lives with two loving parents and is talented at almost everything he does. Two seemingly opposite individuals who somehow manage to transform one another’s life. Sometimes it takes someone special to uncover those parts of you that you never even knew were there. Sometimes it takes someone special to show you the world in an entirely new way. And sometimes you just need someone special to make everything feel right. In this beautifully and intricately woven story, you will find yourself at a loss for words as you rediscover yourself all over again. 

“I wondered what that was like, to hold someone’s hand. I bet you could sometimes find all of the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand.” 

― Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli 

16-year-old closeted Simon Spiers can’t believe his rotten luck when his secret emails with Blue, the only person Simon feels he can confide in, fall into the hands of the class clown, Martin. Now on the wrong end of blackmail, Simon’s whole world and identity are turned upside down. Being forced to choose between keeping his own sexual identity and his happiness with Blue a secret or betraying his closest friends, Simon will have to figure out who he is and what he stands for before the rest of the world chooses for him. Known to many as the award-winning film Love, Simon, you will be roped into this emotional roller coaster of a novel, being left in awe of everything true love can accomplish.  

“He talked about the ocean between people. And how the whole point of everything is to find a shore worth swimming to.” 

― Becky Albertalli, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda 

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston 

From the moment Alex, son of the first female president of the United States, met Prince Henry, heir to the throne of England, their relationship has been far from diplomatic, to say the least. After all, overly perfect princes can be such snobs. But when one argument gets out of hand, the very relationship of their two nations is put at stake and Alex and Prince Henry are forced to damage control. After all, how hard could forcing a few friendly smiles be? But sometimes there is a charming side to people the camera doesn’t always show and maybe Alex was too quick to judge someone he might have more in common with than he first thought. In reading this story that will have you grinning and laughing, there’s no doubt you’ll be left dreaming about your own happily ever after.  

“That's the choice. I love him, with all that, because of all that. On purpose. I love him on purpose.” 

― Casey McQuiston, Red, White & Royal Blue 

How an online dating initiative offered Mac students a chance at love. Kind of.

C/O Dan Gold

As Reading Week came to a close, we also experienced everyone’s least favourite holiday: Valentine’s Day. I am just joking, of course. After all, what is not to love about enviously eyeing a happy couple as you munch on your discounted Valentine’s chocolates and revel in your own loneliness?

Despite the seemingly impossible odds, it turns out that love is indeed in the air for both our single and “it's complicated” McMaster University students after all.

The Aphrodite Project, named after the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty, has made its debut to hundreds of hopelessly romantic McMaster students.

This mainly experimental and student-led initiative matches you to an algorithmically perfect soulmate or to a platonic friend if you so wish. This left me thinking about an interesting question regarding this project on our campus: will the Aphrodite Project be successful?

This left me thinking about an interesting question regarding this project on our campus: will the Aphrodite Project be successful?

On one hand, this opportunity seems harmless and too good to pass up, but on the flip side, there is the possibility of facing cold, hard disappointment. Personally, I hold the latter view, given my ever-growing disenchantment with online dating apps despite the current situation of students’ social lives.

The Aphrodite Project at McMaster was doomed to begin with given the uneven ratio of the sexes that have signed up, as well as how it did not play out as planned among other larger universities which even led to students even organizing their “post-Aphrodite project” dating profiles using other platforms.

So far, the student opinion regarding this initiative resembles the time-tested issues that are common with online dating in general. The Aphrodite Project, or otherwise presented at McMaster as “Match at Mac,” claims to use a Nobel Prize-winning algorithm, which happens to be the exact same algorithm already being used in other existing dating platforms such as Tinder: the Gale-Shapley algorithm for predicting stable marriages. 

However, there is a reason why all modern online love stories have not necessarily ended in long-term happiness in real life. The Gale-Shapley algorithm is proven to be heavily biased in favour of one sex over the other with the flip of a couple of variables but traditionally remains male-favoured as originally programmed.

The algorithm envisions a scenario where one sex is “married” to their top choice of partner, whereas that chosen partner is “married” to their last choice, proving its clear bias depending on how the algorithm was initially set up.

While the Aphrodite Project has not shared the specifics of its match-making technology for one to assess the exact impacts on the majority of the dating population, the outcome could not have been optimal at Mac given the noticeably high female participation rate compared to male.

[#1078] Any single heterosexual guys out there looking for some love? The aphrodite project closes tonight and there are...

Posted by Mac Confessions on Monday, February 8, 2021

Students were destined to lose out either way as the variables needed for projects like this were already skewed and do not foster an environment for the algorithm to have worked to its full potential. 

Thus, the clickbait of the Nobel prize-winning algorithm was slightly misleading and perhaps raised the hopes of many a love-lorn Mac student too soon.

I believe a further inherent problem behind such initiatives is that it gives whatever matches were made what seems like an already established connection. That way, participants feel even more disappointed going into interactions with their matches when enthusiasm is not reciprocated.

Regardless of its flaws, the Aphrodite Project provided an opportunity of light-hearted fun and possible love for Mac students stuck at home, which if anything, brought a smile to our faces in these dark times. If you did not find your soulmate through Mac’s Aphrodite Project, fear not, as a world of romance awaits you once our sexy campus is up and running again.

A guide to a cozy, stay-at-home date night

By: Tracy Huynh, Contributor

While you may not be able to be physically with your loved ones, there are still memorable ways to connect from the comfort of your own home. Whether you’re in a relationship, celebrating with friends or embracing self-love, we’ve got you covered. Here are eight ways to spread the love — and not the virus!

  1. Have a relaxing Zoom art night

What better way to spend date night than by making art with (and potentially for) a loved one! Grab some paint and follow along with an online class or Bob Ross tutorial. You can also get a pottery painting kit from Play with Clay Hamilton or a cookie painting kit from Cake and Loaf by curbside pickup or delivery.

  1. Enjoy a romantic takeout dinner 

Light some candles and get glammed up or put on your comfiest set of PJs for a romantic dinner over Zoom. For a bit of a twist, order each other’s meals so that whatever comes to your doorstep will be a surprise.

3. Get out into nature

Tired of screens? Go for a walk while on a call with your significant other or bestie. It’s a great way to get some exercise and enjoy some conversation. If you’re in Hamilton, Cootes Paradise and its picturesque trails are a great option!

  1. Take a virtual museum tour

Explore an exhibit, talk about your favourite pieces and learn something new. Check out these virtual tours of iconic Hamilton museums including Dundurn Castle, Whitehern Historic House and the Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology. You can also find virtual tours of world-class museums like the Louvre, NASA museum and the Smithsonian! 

  1. Jam out

Connect with your partner musically by having a virtual jam session. If you’re feeling extra creative, you could even turn it into a songwriting night. Even if you’re not musically gifted, anyone can sing karaoke!

  1. Have a one-on-one game night 

Escape into a virtual world with games like Animal Crossing and Minecraft or unleash your competitive spirit with classic games like chess and Battleship. Want to see how you work as a team under stress? Try a virtual escape room.

  1. Act out a dramatic scene 

Find a script of your favourite movie or a random play and be over-the-top silly! If you’ve got a knack for impressions, this is your chance to get a few laughs out of your partner.

  1. Get to know each other on a deeper level

This card game gives you conversation prompts to get past the small talk and learn more about your partner. For a free alternative, you can find similar prompts on this website.

For some, Valentine’s Day is imbued with feelings of romance. For others, Feb. 14 is just another day.

The holiday has always been marketed as the celebration of romantic love, making in an exclusionary holiday that often falls short of expectations.

Amidst the stresses of midterms and an astounding lack of love around the world as of late, you can use this holiday as an opportunity to spend some time with those we cherish in our lives.

Coupled with the fact that Hamilton has so much to offer, there is little reason not to celebrate all the different types of love in our lives.

If you’re unsure about what to do beyond the Westdale bubble, here is a mock-Valentine’s Day guide for you to either enjoy some alone time, reconnect with old friends or celebrate with significant others.

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By: Mitali Chaudhary

Why does love feel like literally being stabbed by cupid’s arrow? Be it a bout of infatuation or a full-blown deep and passionate promise, at every step of the game, love seems to hurt just as much as it brings joy. To make things even more complicated, there isn’t just one type of pain that it causes. Instead, we get to experience an impressive range of conflicting feelings that are difficult to name, much less describe. But for all the lovers out there, we have made an effort.

Let’s start with the one the makes you feel the most insane: infatuation. This is essentially when you’re crushing hard on someone you often don’t know quite that well. Maybe they are in one of your classes. A popular activity in this phase is the social media, shall we say, “reconnaissance work.” During your research, you come across a picture of your object of affection with a (attractive) friend that suddenly makes you feel hurt. This is an interesting mix of about 78 percent cold, hard, green jealousy, ten percent indignation, ten percent hurt and two percent guilt (you stalker). “How dare they?” you might ask yourself, until you realize that they are human beings allowed to have friends and that they are not in a relationship with you.

Now let’s fast forward to when you and your darling are dating, and you think you might actually be in love. When you’re together, you’re over the moon, you have stars in your eyes and all that mushy stuff. You’re so happy that it hurts. There it is again, but this time it’s a faint pain at the back of your ribcage. Yes you’re both here, yes you’re having the greatest time, but that just makes you think more and more that you can’t live without them. Which is equally amazing and terrifying: are they the one? This pain is a strange one, as it’s 80 percent a feeling of being overwhelmed (in the best way possible), ten percent fearful and ten percent trusting. It’s pretty messed up.

Of course, it’s all roses and pink stuff when your love is right there, but when they have to go home to get some work done on their assignment (which you have to work on too, by the way, but you’ve been ignoring it because OMG IN LOVE), you feel pained once more. This pain is actually the most famous of all the love-pains: even Shakespeare thought to comment on it, as he penned, “Parting is such a sweet sorrow.” This ache is more of a piercing sadness, with about 64 percent abandonment, 20 percent grief, 12 percent powerlessness and four percent embarrassment (because you know that you’ll be seeing them the next day). This is amplified approximately 300 times when you’re in a long distance relationship.

Unfortunately, this analysis does nothing to demystify the complexities of and connections between pain and love. But it’s amazing to think that the strange and deep feelings this relationship creates has inspired thousands of years of human art and literature. These, undoubtedly, are reassurances to those suffering from love that they are not alone, and are, in fact, not insane.

Photo Credit: Stephen Phillips

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Miranda Babbitt
Assistant LifeStyle Editor

Having a panic attack on Valentine’s Day? First up, breathe. Second, peruse through the following suggestions to some common problemos.

I’m the only one alone!!!
Even though you’re not someone’s “one”, you’re not “the only one” single. 40% of the population won’t be going home to a cuddle-mate. Unless you count your furry friends in the feline and canine world, in which case 56% of us are going home to a glorious night of adorable cuddles. Bonus, they’re not expecting chocolate anytime soon (as in they die from it, yes).

My movie life is bombarded by rom-coms.
Teary eyes on Valentine’s Day are only okay if they’re from ROFLing (but I get if that’s too much physical activity - LMAO is cool too). So ditch the “rom” and stick to the “com”, with the near-classic, Bridesmaids. Or get in touch with your inner cooties-believer and watch “Frozen”, which graced the Oscars so it’s worthy for our adult, cultured eyes.

People think I have no plans.
Well, here is the riskiest but perhaps the easiest: lie. Nothing too grandiose, like saying you’ve been asked by three tall, dark, and handsome men if you would accompany them to Hawaii, but a small, “A fella from my stats class asked if he could make me dinner. Can’t give up a cooked meal on V Day.” Then go on about how you both love food, because I think that’s a universal similarity between all humans on Valentine’s Day. Or, stay moral, and say you’re planning on rounding up a bunch of gals and hitting the clubs (clubs, as in a sleepover for twenty-somethings who love the Notebook).

General anxiety issues.
Let me hear you say, namasteeee! Throw yo hands up in the air! But only if you’re doing a sun salutation, because we want you in that addictive meditative state all yogis strive to achieve. Yoga has the ability to reduce stress and decrease physiological arousal (in terms of symptoms related to stress… yoga doesn’t harm your sex life), so you can walk away super calm and super cool.

I just want someone to buy me a drank.
Turn on some Beyonce and and get your hands dirty! A blood orange margarita promises that Valentine’s Day festivity without the potentially sleazy offer of that guy lurking on you from down the bar. Invite a friend or two over and you’re night is now flawless.

For Valentine's Day, we asked McMaster students to dish about love, relationships and how they manage it all.

Miranda Babbitt
Assistant LifeStyle Editor

Having a panic attack on Valentine’s Day? First up, breathe. Second, peruse through the following suggestions to some common problemos.

I’m the only one alone!!!
Even though you’re not someone’s “one”, you’re not “the only one” single. 40% of the population won’t be going home to a cuddle-mate. Unless you count your furry friends in the feline and canine world, in which case 56% of us are going home to a glorious night of adorable cuddles. Bonus, they’re not expecting chocolate anytime soon (as in they die from it, yes).

My movie life is bombarded by rom-coms.
Teary eyes on Valentine’s Day are only okay if they’re from ROFLing (but I get if that’s too much physical activity - LMAO is cool too). So ditch the “rom” and stick to the “com”, with the near-classic, Bridesmaids. Or get in touch with your inner cooties-believer and watch “Frozen”, which graced the Oscars so it’s worthy for our adult, cultured eyes.

People think I have no plans.
Well, here is the riskiest but perhaps the easiest: lie. Nothing too grandiose, like saying you’ve been asked by three tall, dark, and handsome men if you would accompany them to Hawaii, but a small, “A fella from my stats class asked if he could make me dinner. Can’t give up a cooked meal on V Day.” Then go on about how you both love food, because I think that’s a universal similarity between all humans on Valentine’s Day. Or, stay moral, and say you’re planning on rounding up a bunch of gals and hitting the clubs (clubs, as in a sleepover for twenty-somethings who love the Notebook).

General anxiety issues.
Let me hear you say, namasteeee! Throw yo hands up in the air! But only if you’re doing a sun salutation, because we want you in that addictive meditative state all yogis strive to achieve. Yoga has the ability to reduce stress and decrease physiological arousal (in terms of symptoms related to stress… yoga doesn’t harm your sex life), so you can walk away super calm and super cool.

I just want someone to buy me a drank.
Turn on some Beyonce and and get your hands dirty! A blood orange margarita promises that Valentine’s Day festivity without the potentially sleazy offer of that guy lurking on you from down the bar. Invite a friend or two over and you’re night is now flawless.

It was one year ago this Valentine’s Day that I found my grandpa’s body.

On an otherwise usual Thursday, I arrived home after an anthropology tutorial to find him laid down by a heart attack at the side door of the home we shared. He hadn’t made it inside.

A lot of things changed on that day. I lost my housemate, my grandfather and my friend. The world lost a scientist, a beer-connoisseur and a remarkable human being. As anyone who has lost loved ones will know, that day was the first day of a journey I didn’t choose to embark upon; one I didn’t even realize was in motion until long afterwards.

Such journeys, of course, are not without their ups and downs – some immediate, some down the road. I found out what it feels like to ride in the front of an ambulance in a state of shock. I know what it’s like to hold the hand of a person you’ve known your whole life, when their hand has no life left in it. I realized the inanity of the things we cling to, as I grieved the melting of the snow bank into which he had fallen.

I discovered what it is to have the association of an innocent object trigger a wave of uncontrollable sadness, and that this is inevitable as much in private as it is in public. I became anxious that I would lose more people that I loved suddenly, soon, without warning. I also questioned the fact that grandpa died on Valentine’s Day.

“Why did it have to happen on Valentine’s Day?” I repeatedly asked myself. I suppose I was worried that this celebratory day would be spoiled by sadness, or that the inescapable nature of such a heavily advertised day would be hard to bear.

I’ve discovered that neither is the case. In fact, my feelings are quite contrary.

I’m now glad Valentine’s was the day. For what other day of the year is entirely devoted to love? Behind the commercialism, superficiality and fanfare of February 14, the essence of love remains.

Valentine’s has become a reminder of my wonderful, supportive friends, of the strength of my family and the love I have for them, and of the romantic love I share with my partner. Valentine’s isn’t just for lovers - it’s for love of all sorts: friendly, familial and romantic. And it’s for the kind of love that lingers in my memory of a time, a place and a person who is lost but never forgotten – especially on Feb. 14.

Kris Knorr, Instructional Designer
"I am working on Valentine’s Day, but I plan to spend Valentine’s Day evening with my wife and daughter. We are going to decorate chocolate cupcakes with candy hearts. We are then spending the Family Day Weekend at our family cottage on Stoney Lake, near Peterborough."

 Hartley Jafine, Facilitator, Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) and Arts & Science Program
"Freestyle painting at the Paintlounge followed by a home cooked dinner and a cinnamon heart eating contest."

Benjamin Hamby, Professor, Faculty of Humanities
"My Valentine's day will be filled with poop. I figure I'll change three diapers loaded with 17-month old baby-girl dookie, pick up two sets of turds from each of my two dogs, and seeing as how it's February and life is generally awful, I wouldn't be surprised if I stepped in something getting off the bus on the way home from campus. But I love my wife. Hi Honey, I'm in print media!"

Steph Howells, Faculty of Social Sciences
"I hate Valentine's Day. I have never liked it. Much like Mother's and Father's day it's a consumer holiday. I like romance, but I hate Valentine's Day. This Friday is the ten year anniversary of the monthiversary of the first date with my husband. He made me steak and peas - the steak tasted rubbery. So, if we celebrate anything, it'll be that."

Alan Chen, Arts & Science Program
"I'll be preparing my next 2D06 lecture, of course! How's that for dedication?"

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