We're very firmly now in April, which means it's been three whole months (yes really!) since the start of the year and any resolutions that you made about dating when the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve. Whether your "New Year New You" dating resolution was to find that someone special in 2014, to cut down on your never-ending list when it comes to finding that perfect person or to update your profile picture from the one of you posing on holiday seven years ago, I think now is the time to take a look back and ask yourself whether you have followed through on those promises to yourself.
The statistics make for fairly bleak reading; studies show that only 8 per cent of people who make resolutions stick to them and most of them ditch them within a week. However, I think deciding to drop the booze, chocolate or cheese can be far harder than changing your ideas or outlooks when it comes to finding love or dating; be it whether you want to ask more people on dates or if you are trying to attract a different sort of person.
Between Boxing Day, on our dating site we saw a 56 per cent increase in online activity, with 45 per cent of our members saying they thought the holidays was a good time to focus on love, so we know many of these people would have made resolutions when it came to their dating lives. So why are we talking about resolutions now? If you believe you can only make changes on January 1 - the inherent message of New Year's resolutions - then you will have to wait a whole year before you get another shot. I hope by showing you that if you have stumbled along the way it is definitely OK - and possible - to start again at any time.
It's important to remember that unrealistic resolutions are fated to fail so it is important to have a plan in place. So if your dating resolution was to be more proactive, unless you have some ideas about how to go about it, undoubtedly you might spend a hour starring at your computer screen and then revert back to your old ways of hoping that someone you like will spot your ancient profile and get in touch.
Setting Achievable Goals
The word "resolution" comes from the Latin word resolution, which, loosely translated means "the process of reducing things to simpler forms". Instead of listing an abstract goal, like "I want to fall in love" think of specific small steps you can take, every day, to achieve that result, such as dating outside your "type"; saying yes to every date you are asked on, unless you are 100 per cent sure that person isn't for you; or opening up your social circle by reconnecting with old friends.
Having a solid support system can help you stay motivated. This will help you increase your chances of success or at the very least, reduce your nerves about the dating world, getting over an ex or meeting new people.
Remember that simply setting a goal can raise your chances of achieving that goal significantly. Did that guy you messaged email you back? So you finally had a chat with that girl at work who you've secretly fancied for ages? Brilliant. While it may not be love you've found, it's progress nonetheless. Be your own cheerleader; look for small signs and celebrate them.
Don't tie your success to a specific time and if you have a bad date, for example, brush yourself down and keep on going. Everyone gets in dating ruts from time to time, that is completely normal; the key to getting out of them is just moving on and when you are ready, to get right back into the dating game again. And when it comes to willpower, there is a growing body of scientific research that says it is malleable, and you have as much willpower as you think you have.
Finally, remember that dating is supposed to be fun. Go out with the idea of having a laugh, meeting new people and perhaps doing something different, and it may sound like a big cliché but it's true; love might show up when you least expect it. Good luck.
Brett Harding is the Managing Director and Co-founder of Lovestruck, an online dating site. He's happy to admit that he is still struggling with his resolution to give up Haribo Tangfastics.