THE BLOG
31/12/2013 08:48 GMT | Updated 02/03/2014 05:59 GMT

If Your New Year's Resolution Is to Find a Date, Don't Do Online Dating

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Photo by Guudmorning!/CC BY

For those of you just catching my blog, I'm Jean Smith, one of the world's only flirting experts whose job is to decode the rules of attraction for men and women from every Western culture and walk of life.

The aim? To help single people get the partners they want.

You might think I'd share my mission with the vast universe of online dating agencies, right?

Think again. And put your credit card back in your wallet if you're thinking of joining one.

I'll tell you why.

Allow me to introduce Ms K, one of my clients.

Ms K is 39 and works in the City.

She is in a serious relationship.

She met her man six months ago in their local pub while out with friends.

She approached him, struck up a conversation and the rest is history.

They both enjoy travelling, watching rugby (but for different reasons), cooking and - of course - each other.

Sounds pretty easy?

Well, surprisingly, for most people it's not.

I met Ms K a year ago, and it took me six months to coach her into having the confidence to go and talk to a man she was attracted to, in a manner that would catch his attention.

Typical of others her age and in similar industries, meeting people did not come easy.

Like many of my clients, Ms K spent crazy hours at work and believed that dating colleagues was a bad idea - she wanted to meet someone new.

Until our coffee, internet dating seemed to her the way forward. It's convenient. It's the first thing people always suggest, and it brings together a group of people looking for the same things. Besides, everyone knows someone who's met online, right?

After six months of profile-surfing and seven face-to-face dates with online matches, Ms K still had no luck. She found that people lied on their profiles, looked different in their pictures and simply didn't have the same interests as her (not to mention the undeniable 'danger factor' that comes with meeting complete strangers)

At this point, we meet. Not by chance, a friend had recommended me to her after reading about my Flirtology courses in a newspaper.

A cautious and methodical woman, Ms K wanted to test the waters so rather than jumping into a one-to-one relationship, our first 'date' was a two-hour Flirting and Walking Tour around London - something she could do as part of a bigger group.

After six wasted months of online dating, Ms K was no better skilled in the art of attracting a member of the opposite sex.

Her string of mismatched dates hadn't taught her how to be more alluring, how to deal with her fear of rejection, and how to overcome that initial barrier in striking up conversations.

Overcoming this hurdle not only boosted Ms K's confidence, but also taught her interpersonal skills that she could continue to use for the rest of her life. Flirtology means that you can talk to the cashier at the supermarket and the cute guy at the bar with equal ease. It's not about them; it's about you and who you decide to share a 30-second conversation with.

The second stage was to establish exactly what Ms K was looking for - something which can confuse even the most self-assured singleton when faced with the rose-tinted profiles online.

Practical criteria are helpful, but ultimatums are not.

When looking to find someone, it's good to keep your fundamental deal-breakers in mind. Hers were: he must live in the same country; he must be employed; he must be single; he must want a family.

At the start, Ms K was adamant that she would rather be single than with the wrong person. Though this seemed valid, it was also limiting. Instead of just meeting people, she constantly eliminated opportunities by discounting anyone she thought to be the 'wrong person'.

After relaxing her grasp on this idea, she also felt less pressured. Suddenly, the pressure of her married friends and her expectant family dissolved and she started to have fun with the whole 'dating thing'.

Stage three was to just do it! To get out there and see that the world was not so intimidating. Taking up at a bar in the City, Ms K's wing-woman set out to show her how easy flirting really is with some simple conversation openers. The start is always the hardest part. What's more, like any skill, it becomes easier with practice. It's one thing to be told by married friends that you're smart and sexy and quite another to get out there and feel it. And how are you supposed to 'feel it' when the men are still the same and so is your situation? You put yourself out there, you talk to people and you do it fearlessly.

So what then? What about life after Flirtology? Well, Ms K is doing just fine. In fact, that's the very point. She's taken the tools and new knowledge and gone forward in her life. She's met new people, she's flirted and she's had fun. Best of all, she's met someone who's just right for her. She's in a happy, committed relationship - not with Prince Charming or Johnny Depp - but with a great guy who lives in her neighbourhood.

Did Flirtology find Ms K her man? No. It helped her to find him herself. Flirtology isn't just about catching a fish; it's about teaching you how to fish for life. And believe me, there truly are plenty of fish in the vast ocean of dating.