10/02/2016 12:38 GMT | Updated 10/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Single for Valentine's? Three Surefire Tips

Valentine's Day started, of course, to commemorate the occasion in 346AD when a valentine was crucified on a heart-shaped Thorntons milk tray. Ever since in the lead up to Valentine's Day people desperately seek a date to prove they're not fundamentally unloveable, these days often using dating apps like Tinder, OK Cupid and LinkedIn.

But despite these technological innovations, dating has become really difficult. This is due to the collapse of traditional relationship patterns, postmodern cynicism and the fact that 80% of the time you'd rather be watching Netflix on your own. So Moran here thought he'd share some old fashioned tips, and maybe even some hints, on how to manage a successful date.

Find someone you have something in common with

It's important that you can share something with a potential partner. This could be e.g. a favourite ice cream flavour, a bed or mutual hatred. Let me give you an example. One of the most exciting dates I've ever had started when I was driving through the Lake District one foggy evening. Me and another car swerved to avoid each other, and we both crashed into a full grown deer. I rushed from my car, shouting "no! The prancing poet of the forest! Forgive me!" 

The other driver ran over to find me holding the noble creature in my arms as it breathed its last breath. I noticed the look of peace that came over its eyes as it left this world, for which it was too dignified to remain in for long. I also noticed the fit body of my fellow murderer. As we dug a shallow grave, I took in her windswept raven hair and sexy, dark eyes (that were filled with tears). We sat on the bonnet of her car and spoke about the guilt. The sense that the small fragment of beauty in the world had just become a little smaller. Then we did it, hard.

The relationship lasted a few weeks, but we realised that without the act of murdering the Queen of the Meadows to keep us together, the spark was ephemeral. I remember her sometimes, whenever I accidentally kill a deer. Which is more often than you'd think!

Forget your emotional baggage                                              

I once had a date lined up during a particularly dark period of my life. I had signed up to the free Apple Music three month trial. My usual playlists had been automatically uploaded to the iCloud and it was hard to keep track of the songs I owned and the ones I was just streaming. It caused an inconvenience almost every day, and I sank into a pretty deep depression. Don't worry. I eventually went to see someone about this - a Jungian psychotherapist, who advised me that I could turn off the iCloud feature by going into the advanced iTunes preferences.

Anyway, I wasn't feeling too great about myself at the time of this date, but I didn't want that to ruin the night. I thought to myself, "she doesn't need to know about my baggage. My iTunes situation, my deer fetish, my girlfriend. Leave that shit at the door." But an hour into the dinner she asked me what kind of music I was into and I let out a pained scream. "I DON'T KNOW ANYMORE". I became so anguished that I couldn't pay for my half of the meal.

After a tense walk to her bus stop, I watched her disappear on the 41. I was reminded of the classic Enya song 'Sail Away', as I usually am during moments of despair. But of course without a wifi connection I was unable to stream it, even though I have had the track in my iTunes since 2003 (purchased the day the Iraq War started). I reached out my hand for the bus, for the potential lover who was leaving me and for Enya... and grasped at nothing. I had learnt my lesson. Which was: preferences, advanced, disable iCloud.

Take things one step at a time

If a date goes well, it can be easy to get overexcited. I made this mistake once. This is a very personal story about someone who I still care about, so let's just call her Sarah Anderson who lives at 104 Fortis Green Road N10 3HN. I won't say whether she lives in the top flat or the basement flat, because the time we spent at her place looking out over the rooftops of London meant a lot to me and I want to preserve her anonymity.

We had an amazing first date. Having recently become a member of the Campaign for Real Ale and impressed the top brass, I had just been gifted a sheet of 50p-off vouchers for ales in any Wetherspoons. As you can imagine, when I met Sarah at her local 'Spoons I had quite the spring in my step. And when I sent her to the bar to get the first round and revealed my coupons, the sexual tension went off the chain.

Things kept going better and better with Sarah. She was into the same things I was into - like ale and sexual intercourse. But I allowed myself to get far too keen, far too early. For example, we had only known each other a week when I sent her an envelope containing all of my eyelashes. I didn't put my name on the accompanying romantic (and forceful) letter, but when we next saw each other I knew that she knew. I think she could sense something in my eyes - some restless sense of yearning perhaps, or the total lack of eyelashes.

Soon after, things fell apart. It came to a head, as is so often the case in life, in a medium-sized Budgens. We were debating what to have for dinner. She suggested a simple pasta dish, and I suggested that if she ever left me I'd have to kill the both of us. She said something about things getting too intense between us. Though I tried to backpedal and suggest carbonara, she was already on the way out. As the automated doors opened and closed behind her, I blinked back tears - something made all the harder due to my lack of eyelashes.

James wishes his readers a Happy Valentine's, and stresses he is available on LinkedIn for last minute date requests.