Single folk, you're probably sick to death of smug couples setting you up on dates with the dregs of their social circle, but how about a little professional advice?
Granted, there is only so much you can do if there are slim pickings around, but we asked dating experts Eden Blackman who runs www.WouldLikeToMeet.me and Mairead Molloy who runs dating agency Berkeley International to explain why it's tough to meet The One. Or even A One.
Eden says: "For those people who say that they never meet anyone, there are opportunities to meet ‘the one’ everywhere. From coffee shops to train stops, potential dates are everywhere. Perhaps it’s just a case that you’ve not been interested in them or haven’t felt brave enough to spark a conversation.
"If you still feel like you’ve been single for forever and want some help to fix it, here are some possible reasons why you may be single and how you can fix it."
"Guys," says Mairead, "a girl wants someone who will devote time to her, so it’s important to have a good work-life balance. It’s not a bad thing to love your job and have ambition, but make sure you are leaving enough quality time to get to know a new lady that might be in your life so as not to push her away too soon."
You’re still hung up on an ex
"Allow yourself enough time to get over an ex," says Eden, "if you’ve recently broken up with a partner and the break up has left you in a bit of a pickle. Like any process this can take time and sometimes feels never ending, but until you are fully over the break up, your eyes aren’t fully open to see new dates."
Forget about your ‘type’
Eden says: "It’s been said that finding ‘the one’ is akin to the old ‘needle in a haystack’ phrase but many make the search even more difficult by reducing the parameters of a potential date. For example currently on another dating site I’ve seen lines like “I’m looking for a man 6ft 2+, with blonde hair, blue eyes with at least a masters degree”…this profile has been live for over a year! My advice to her? Move to Sweden!
"Of course chemistry, personality and physical attraction are all key ingredients in a relationship. However, these come in all different shapes and sizes and there’s never been any rule saying that you can only be attracted to one specific type of person. By having a checklist of features you want in a partner, you’re limiting yourself a lot and make it much harder for you to let ‘the one’ in when you meet them.
"Be open-minded, your past type hasn’t been working for you so maybe it’s time to open your mind to new types of people. You never know, it might just work."
Take care of your appearance
This is tough love, says Mairead, but if you’ve been single for a while it might be time to take a look at yourself and see what you can do to improve what you see. "Maybe you could stand to lose a couple of pounds, quit smoking and cut down on the drink? All these are very unattractive qualities in a man, especially when we live in a world obsessed with health. Men who look after themselves and take pride in their wellbeing and appearance are instantly more attractive to women."
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Let it happen naturally
"Don’t drive yourself insane by constantly asking yourself why you are single," says Eden, "it’s doubtful you’ll find an answer to that yourself. That kind of self questioning and doubt translates into how you stand, communicate and come across in day to day life…when you could be meeting and putting off a potential date!
"Go out, have fun, flirt and spend time doing things that you enjoy. There’s nothing more attractive than someone who is happy with their life and people naturally gravitate towards them making it a whole lot easier to meet people. If you like pottery, go to a pottery class, if you like dancing, start salsa… whatever it is you like, spending time doing that activity will also open you up to meeting potential dates who share that interest with you."
Guys, leave the crap jokes at home
Here's a tip: women are never, ever going to laugh at sexist jokes. "Today women work as hard as men," says Mairead, "and some even harder - which is fantastic - but this often makes it harder for men to woo them because women are so fiercely independent these days. Luckily for the ladies, men are attracted to strong women, but its how you go about perusing them that’s key, don’t be arrogant, don’t try and out do them because you feel intimidated and never make any “funny” chauvinistic remarks!"
Shake up your routine
"Try to extend your social circles," says Eden. "This is the best way to meet new friend and dates. If you go to the same bars week in week out and only socialize with the same small group of people you’re greatly reducing the chances of meeting someone new."
Mairead agrees. "We've turned into a culture who goes for dinner. You're never going to meet someone if you're with your friends in a restaurant so widen your circle a bit."
Perfect on paper isn’t always perfect in person
Eden says: "Try not to give yourself what I call the ‘my perfect date’ syndrome. Trying not to work to a preset default idea of what your ideal partner as it only restricts and hinders the chances of meeting someone new. You may have an idea what you think you want but chances are you’ll find someone that doesn't fit into that box but has many more things to offer that you’d not even accounted for. Keep your needs fluid."
Mairead adds: "Maybe they’ve stayed single for so long because their expectations are too high and they will only settle for what they consider to be “perfect”. This is dangerous because as soon as you create a “shopping list” to find the perfect human the search becomes near impossible. No one is perfect the first time you meet them so it’s important not to make snap decisions which could ruin your chances with an amazing woman."
Do go on a blind date
Don't dismiss it, says Eden. "If someone says they know someone you should meet, do it. Your friends and work buddies probably know you better than you think you know yourself so go do it! If it didn’t work out try not to let that rule out the chance of doing it again if someone suggests another person…trial and error and all that!"
Nerves are good. They show you care
Dating can be nerve-wracking, but don't let that put you off from putting yourself out there. "When you are on a first or early date remember it’s okay to be nervous," advises Eden. "Chances are your date is too even if they don’t appear to be. It’s impossible to be in the early days of dating and not have some kind of butterflies (even the guys)."
Don't dismiss online dating
Eden says: "With nearly two-thirds of the UK single market using it to find love you’re actually in the minority if you don’t at least give it a whirl. It’s also the most popular way to meet a new partner, so what are you waiting for?"