When you're single, lots of people want to offer their advice. Some may be helpful, some unwanted!
As someone for whom dating has become a career, what do I think are the five worst pieces of dating advice you can listen to?
1) Put A Lot of Time Into Your Online Dating Profile
People overthink online dating. It's 2014, not 1994, and the nature of online dating has changed a lot!
Singletons don't have time to trawl through detailed online profiles. We want to be able to click through our options easily and quickly - it's one of the reasons Tinder was such a success. Your photos are the most important part of your profile. Most online dating sites are designed tempt people to read your profile using a main profile picture, so choose it wisely.
Fill out the rest of your profile honestly, and in a way which is true to yourself. But don't spend days refining it - if you were answering the questions in person you wouldn't spend hours on every answer. You want to appeal to someone who is attracted to the real you.
2) Improve Yourself
Recently I went to a singles event which focused completely on self-improvement. Lose weight, eat this, dress like this... By the end of the evening I was seething!
Dating is about being yourself, not pretending to be something you're not. And dating shouldn't be seen as a fault, which you need to fix by self-improvement! If you're looking for someone to spend your life with, you shouldn't have to change yourself in order to bag him or her! By all means look after yourself, and wear things which make you feel happy and confident, but don't assume that a makeover is the answer.
3) Get to Know Someone First
I don't know about you, but the film You've Got Mail! was my first introduction to the world of online dating.
As a result, for years I was under the assumption that you can fall in love with someone without even meeting. Yes, it obviously can happen sometimes, but in reality most of us can't tell if there's a genuine spark unless we meet someone in person. So don't waste too much time emailing and texting before you meet up. Establish you have enough in common to meet up, and then cut to the chase!
4) Look for the One
Dating in 2014 is a numbers game, and we rarely know what we want or need, until we're looking him or her in the face.
Don't refine your search for a date too much. Work out what your absolute deal-breakers are (ideally no more than two or three) and then be a bit more flexible about the rest. The most important traits in a partner are often ones which you won't be able to work out from just a checklist of questions!
5) Just Meet for a Quick Drink
They may seem like low-key options, but a pub trip or a quick coffee aren't necessarily relaxed and non-pressured date ideas.
Sitting opposite a complete stranger, with very little stimulation around you, can be anything but stress-free. In fact it can end up feeling like a job interview, and that's not how you want your first date to end up! By contrast, if you choose a fun, distracting activity, you're both likely to relax and be yourselves. Chatting side on, rather than face to face, can help shier daters open up, and by selecting an activity where there's lots going on around you, there are automatic talking points.
All photos in this article are supplied by Shutterstock under a standard license