The dating game is fun and a great adventure for some whilst others can find it a hard game of cat and mouse and a real struggle! To make this process easier you need to follow a few basic principles. Firstly, understand what you are looking for, what type of person, and do not settle for any less. Secondly, be open to meeting potential dates in a variety of places and be confident enough to pursue what you want whilst being honest with the people you meet. Lastly, when you are on dates make sure you look the best you can, listen to what they have to say, stay off your phone and most importantly have fun!

List your needs and wants in a partner

So, firstly really understand what it is that you’re looking for. Communicating this openly and honestly will ensure you don’t waste your own time or anybody else’s. I am not saying tell a guy you want five kids as soon as you meet him but if you do want kids at some point then I would say so!

Decide what are absolute musts are and what would be an added extra bonus. For example, it might be an absolute must that they have an active interest in sport and a bonus if it is football. Try to focus on personal attributes and interests over lots of physical features as you will need a meeting of minds as well as finding someone physically attractive. Establish if you are looking for something casual or serious in order to find someone like minded. Be realistic, if you are are overweight and smoke it is unlikely that you’re going to date a personal trainer (unless you are loaded, and they are digging for gold!)

How to find dates

  • Do an online dating profile. My number one place to start would be togo online because you have such a wide catchment area- you can go worldwide if that’s what you want to do – time and money permitting of course. When I was single I had so much fun talking to people on these sites, I actually met my husband on Tinder! We even had all the tables at our wedding named after dating sites and had a Tinder top table! The top dating sites include Match, eHarmony, Elite Singles, OkCupid, Bumble, Happn, Hinge, Badoo, Plenty of Fish and Tinder. There are also dating sites aimed at religions, for example Muzdate for Muslims, Christian connection, Jdate for Jewish singles and shaadi.com which is a wedding service primarily aimed at the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh religions.
  • Approach someone in a bar. If you would rather meet someone more naturally and you have the confidence to approach someone you don’t know then meeting in a bar or club is ideal. Be careful it’s not a drunken hook up though.
  • Go speed dating. I did this once and it was so much fun! Obviously, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but if you are outgoing and you fancy it then what have you got to lose?
  • Join a club. For example, there are clubs for running, hiking, cycling and many different sports teams. Even if you join an all-female team and you’re a straight woman it doesn’t mean this wouldn’t lead to meeting someone to date. I play for two netball teams and there are plenty of socials where other players friends and family come along. If you enjoy reading look for a local book club.
  • Take a class. If you find that you are more creative then active, there are classes such as photography, art, and cooking which you could sign up to.
  • Join an arts group. For example, a local theatre or film group.
  • Volunteer for an organisation, a charity, or a rescue shelter. Pick something that is close to your heart, so you meet others with similar interests. There is so much you can volunteer for; there is something for everyone from charity clothes shops, helping the homeless to being a community responder for the ambulance service.
  • Mutual connection. Ask friends about any available friends or co-workers that they think you would be a good match for. My brother met his wife through mutual friends, and they have been married for 14 years.
  • Be open to meeting anyone anywhere. The ready meal isle of supermarkets is a supposed to be a good place to meet a partner! Apparently, the relaxed atmosphere and clear light of day facilitate an easy approach where someone can help to pass groceries or offer advice about what they are browsing at! So, make sure you put on some nice aftershave or perfume next time you go to do your big shop!

Be open to meeting anyone anywhere. I am sure that the ready meal section of supermarkets is a good place to meet a partner! Apparently the relaxed atmosphere and clear light of day facilitate an easy approach where someone can help to pass groceries or offer advice about what they are browsing at! So make sure you put on a some nice aftershave or perfume next time you step out for a loaf!

How to approach and talk to a potential date

I know its daunting trying to create conversation with someone you are attracted to. First of all, you don’t even know if they are single. This is why the online option is ideal because you already know that they are both single and looking for a date. It is also much easier to send a DM then it is to walk over and start a conversation. Even if you don’t want to approach someone you can look approachable and inviting by smiling and making some eye contact. Here are some pointers on how to make small talk:

  • Ask open ended questions relating to the environment. For example, if you meet someone at a cooking class ask them what got them into it or what their favourite food is.
  • If you are meeting in person talk about the present moment. For example, if you are at the cinema looking at the different showings perhaps say, “have you seen any of these films already? which one are you going to go for?”
  • If you’re meeting online look at their bio and tell them why you are contacting them, for example “I’ve seen that you’re a keen Liverpool fan and so am I! Do you ever go to the game?”
  • Keep the conversation going by relating to what they have said. For example, if they are saying they can’t wait to go on holiday you could say “I know what you mean I wish I was on the beach right now.”

Keep open minded whilst being selective

The trouble is Mr Right is not going to have a neon sign over his head telling us that he is the one, and for most people it’s like finding a needle in a haystack! So, my advice would be to stay open minded, particularly on the looks front but obviously you must find them physically attractive. If you are meeting online, then really consider their profile to see whether you have anything in common or you like their sense of humour or moral values. If you are at a party, try to get chatting to lots of different people to make some connections. This way you might meet someone you wouldn’t have picked out initially, but you could have a lot in common and get along with them really well. Show interest and ask for their number to help with their business or whatever it is that you have been chatting about.

Be able to laugh at yourself

No one wants to be with someone who takes themselves too seriously. So, if you trip up a step or try to pay for a coffee with your Tesco Clubcard laugh at yourself and make a joke of it. Play it to your advantage; we all enjoy a giggle so take the opportunity for a joke and some fun. This way you will be glad it happened rather than feeling embarrassed or flustered.

Going on a first date

  • Ask them out. If you feel your interactions have gone well so far and you want to go out on a date to get to know them better then as them out. If you’ve been talking about how much you love the outdoors then you could ask them if they want to go for a walk somewhere or if you’ve been talking about how much you both love a certain restaurant or type of food then suggest you book a table. However, there is a lot to be said for keeping first dates less formal and lighter in cost and time like a coffee or drinks. This way you can establish whether there is a good romantic connection before investing more time and money into your date. If they say no then be polite and try not be offended, its good they are being honest with you now if they don’t feel there is any kind of romantic spark.
  • Meet in public. Let’s face it you don’t know this person particularly well so meeting in a well-lit public place with lots of people around is definitely the way forwards.
  • Look good! We don’t all scrub up like Kendall Jenner, but it is so important to make the absolute best of what you have. You may not have the most perfect body but wear clothes that fit well and that are appropriate for the occasion. Being well groomed will go a long way especially in terms of initial attraction which is needed whether you are looking for something casual or long term. Smelling good is also a big turn on so don’t forget to clean your teeth, use mouthwash, and put on your favourite aftershave or perfume.
  • Be respectful. Give your date your full attention, use good manners and be considerate. Most importantly you need to stay off your phone. If I were on a date with a guy who spent lots of time on his phone, I would consider it extremely rude and there would not be a second date! If you are finding out about something important like a job offer, then say at the beginning of the date as these exceptional circumstances would be understood.
  • Do not dominate the conversation. No one wants to listen to someone who talks about themselves continually, especially if it is in a boastful way. Do not divulge personal information particularly about finances or past relationships. No one wants to listen to their date talk about their ex. Equally avoid asking about their dating history. Instead talk about hobbies and passions and listen carefully to what your date has to say.
  • Keep the chat light and fun! Avoid any talk about emotionally difficult topics and talk about fun things like how you met or tell a joke or a funny story.
  • Its OK to ask for a kiss if you feel the date is going well but you must respect your dates answer. Even if they don’t want to kiss you on a first date it does not mean they are not interested. Everyone has a different pace they want to move at so respect that. If you are both looking for something casual then two consenting adults can do as they please, however if you want this to blossom into a lasting relationship I would recommend that you do nothing more than kiss on the first date.

Dating: Moving forward

  • Let them know that you like them, and you would like to go on another date. However, do not appear needy by messaging straight away, give it a day or two so your date can assess how they feel and if they want to move things forwards with you.
  • Avoid pressuring the person or situation. Do not continually message someone as it looks desperate and it is not attractive. Instead, be patient and trade a message for a message. If your date decides you are not for them then be courteous and respectful.
  • Spend more time together. This will enable you to show more of yourself and your desirable qualities, and in turn you will learn more about them.
  • Trust. Mutual trust is the foundation to any long-lasting intimate relationship.
  • Nurture the relationship. Invest time and attention into the relationship so the candle doesn’t blow out.
  • Resolve conflict in a mature way without degradation or humiliation. Be fair and explain what you’re not happy with or what you disagree about and don’t insist on being right, then listen to what they have to say.

Dating: Rejection is inevitable

At some point you will decide someone is not right for you and likewise someone will decide you’re not right for them. Handle this gracefully, there are billions of people on the planet so relax and do not take it personally. Acknowledge your feelings of disappointment and feeling a little hurt – this is normal. But don’t dwell on this, stay positive and do not waste time worrying about it. If it is because of the way you have behaved, then learn from the experience. Spend some time reflecting and perhaps work on how you relate to others.

Dating: Look out for red flags

If you are getting a bad vibe from someone or they divulge information which you know that the people who care for you wouldn’t like, then it’s a sign to get out of the relationship! Do not waste your time! If you witness any kind of violence or threatening behaviour whether its towards you are not, then leave. Red flags are anything that make you feel as though dating this person will not flourish into long lasting love. Examples of red flags to be mindful of are:

  • Controlling behaviour. One person wants to stop the other from having their own thoughts and feelings as well as having a say in where they go and who with.
  • Jealousy. Where one doesn’t like the other spending time with friends and family as it is taking him/her away from them.
  • Actions. If they are more interested in their phone or the TV.
  • No commitment. For example, they tell you they do not want a relationship, you don’t go on real dates, they disappear for days or weeks without telling you where they are going.
  • Alcohol/drug dependant. Steer clear!
  • Exclusively sexual. When there is no quality time together getting to know each other and the relationship is purely based on sex it is unlikely to develop further.

A healthy relationship is one that has mutual respect, honesty, and trust. There should be fairness, support for one another, good communication and most definitely fun and playfulness.

Common dating misconceptions

  • You can change the things you don’t like in a partner. The only person who can change them is themselves and they will only do it if they want to. You can’t change them.
  • Conflict in a relationship is a problem. I actually think it is healthy, you are never going to agree all the time, I would be more worried about people saying they hadn’t disagreed in years. Conflict does not need to be negative – it can be an opportunity to grow together as a couple when resolved fairly and amicably. I was speaking to an elderly man recently who had been married for 60 years and I asked him what the key to a long lasting marriage was and he told me it was falling out because then you make love when you make up 😊
  • I can’t trust a guy because I have been cheated on in the past. I was once cheated on by a previous partner who I lived with and one of my (then) friends so it is a miracle I can trust again! But with the right person it is possible. Keep your guard up, get to know someone and observe how they treat their family and friends. My husband is the most loyal and genuine person I have ever met.
  • Sexual attraction can appear over time. In my experience this has never happened. I think you know early on if there is sexual chemistry with someone.
  • I don’t want to try online dating because you don’t know who you’re meeting. Newsflash: you don’t know who you are meeting in a bar or at the supermarket either – you must always be cautious and sensible.

More dating tips

  • Don’t centre your world around finding Mr right! Yes, you would like to meet him but concentrate on your career, hobbies, health and your relationships with family and friends. You can still be on the lookout at the same time. Focus on yourself and your happiness and ultimately this will make you a much more balanced, well rounded partner for someone.
  • Trust your instincts! If you feel unsafe or you’re on a date with someone who is making you feel uncomfortable make your excuses and leave.
  • Be honest and communicate openly from the start. There is no point trying to be someone you are not, besides your date might actually like what you consider a flaw and they may also have that trait too!
  • Ask lots of questions. Find out who this person is and if they are right for you. Do their morals fit with yours? Do they have the same intrinsic values?
  • Do not talk about yourself all the time. It will come across as arrogant and selfish – not qualities people are usually looking for in a partner.
  • Concentrate on the present moment fully. Listen to what your date is saying and observe their behaviour. This will help to combat any first date nerves and it will help you get to know the person quicker, which will enable you to decide if they are right for you.
  • Avoid playing games. Anyone decent will see through game playing and it will put them off. If you have read a text and you have time to reply, then do so. Do not wait for 4 hours each time! Equally, do not overload someone’s inbox with several messages before you have let them reply to one.
  • Put your phone away!! No one wants to be on a date with someone who is always on their phone. It is rude and disrespectful, so never accept that kind of behaviour.
  • Don’t make too many future plans. You don’t want to seem controlling or as though you haven’t got a life outside of the relationship. Do not try too hard. Relax and take it easy, enjoy the ride!
  • Do not have sex straight away. If you want the relationship to go have longevity getting down and dirty right at the beginning will give it the kiss of death!
  • Have fun! Be playful and enjoy the dating game! This is easier said than done for some people as they are shy, and others find speaking to a potential partner high pressured. Try to relax, this is an experience to be enjoyed. Shift your focus from finding ‘the one’ to having fun. Use this time trying out new hobbies you fancy doing as it is a good opportunity to meet new people in new environments who share similar interests to you.

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