There is no denying that life these days is increasingly hectic and when it comes to dating, I hear single people regularly say that they are keen to meet someone but are too busy to 'spend hours online' or 'stand around in bars trying to pull'.
This confuses me - the dating equivalent of wanting to drive a car without doing any lessons or gain a qualification without opening a book. With time being of the essence these days I do recognise that finding somebody you have chemistry with can feel like a huge mountain to climb and that a night in front of Netflix with your slippers on can present itself as rather more appealing than a singles event in a West End bar.
If finding a partner is not your priority, so be it and good luck, could I recommend Breaking Bad. However if you do want a relationship and have watched every box set released within the last six years could I put it to you that the chances of meeting someone on your sofa with your dressing gown on are zero to none and, with this in mind, could I suggest the following:
Stop moaning about being single
If I had a pound for every single person I had heard moan about being on their own yet claim to be too busy to actively look for someone, I'd be after George Osborne's job by now. When it comes to dating you get out what you put in and if you can't be bothered to put the effort in before you've even started what chance have you got when you're in an actual relationship. Step away from the remote, be enthusiastic and get in the game.
'If I don't look for it ... love will find me'
What? Who do you think you are, Jane Eyre? No it won't! The only thing that will find you eating Haagen Dazs on your sofa night after night is four extra kilos on your ass.
I'd like to believe that true love threw people together and that when you're not looking, it finds you but this is nonsense. Yes, of course occasionally fate throws people together but more often than not, you have one of two options - you can either wait for your stars to align with your soul mates (if you're a Facebook mantra) or you can get pro-active.
Sign up to online dating sites - there are enough of them to choose from - spend time creating a good profile, add yourself on Tinder, pencil in a night a month to get your single friends together, smile at people in the street, strike up a conversation with the cute guy on your commute to work. There are so many ways to meet someone these days, you just need to open yourself up to the possibilities. What's the worst thing that can happen? He looks at you like you're a deranged lunatic on day release from the local asylum - so what! He either has no personality or doesn't fancy you in the slightest, it is of no matter. What does matter is that you've motivated yourself and now you know. Next.
Pick up the phone
When you have established some sort of contact with somebody, do just that - make contact. Do not spend weeks emailing/texting nonsense back and forth to each other. Pick up the phone and arrange a date. I recently met a girl who had just come out of a 'relationship'. When probed further she disclosed that it wasn't conventional, not in that they went to a swingers club on their first date but that they had never met, their relationship had remained entirely virtual. They had met, 'dated' and broken up without ever actually meeting. Despite being an extreme example (please, tell me this is an extreme example) it does highlight the danger of modern dating. A five minute conversation will tell you more about a person than forty email exchanges and hopefully lead to a decisive arrangement to ...
Go on a date
Yes! We have lift off. No profiles, no emails, no sketchy 'recent' photos. Face to face communication! It is only here that you will either realise you have absolutely no chemistry with your date, have a quick drink and make your excuses or totally click and start talking about baby names (joke, that was a joke, do not talk about baby names) either way you will both have saved each other a great deal of time. Dating is a numbers game - do not waste time on the odds.
Talk about inappropriate things
If we strip a first date back to the basics it is, of sorts, an interview - all be it a romantic one with a nice bottle of Pinto Grigio and a sharing platter. With this in mind, I would recommend you present yourself in the best possible light. Not by being what you think your date wants but what you actually are - be totally yourself. Talk about whatever you want, recount anecdotes about previous dates, talk politics, religion or about loosing your virginity in a threesome. Because by doing this you may not have your date coming back for more, but you will know that the ones that do, do so because they genuinely like you. You will soon get the idea if your date finds your views on the government under David Cameron and kissing your best friend after too many tequilas appropriate topics or not ... and that's coming from someone who's done some frontline research.
Kiss on the first date
On the subject of kissing - a little more fun than David Cameron, if the chemistry is there, hell yeah, lean in for a snog. This may not be suitable first date behaviour, but life is too short is it not and if you've got as far as a good date, mutual interests and natural chemistry then the very least you should reward yourselves with is a bit of tongue action.
Tell it how it is
You got your s**t together, you went on the date, you talked the talk, you snogged the snog and realised that the whole process was far more fun than taking driving lessons or studying for a degree in astro physics.
Great! Share the love - not by changing your Facebook status from 'single' to 'in a relationship' ten minutes after you get home but by dropping your date a text saying great to meet you. Don't leave it the cliched three days until you make contact again ... we are not fourteen after all.
Or to babble it up a bit keeping the channels of communication open is healthy, confusing your date with 5 hour replies, 3 day waits, playing it (too) cool and expecting them to play a game of guess who, guess when, guess why and guess what, is not healthy and, when it's clear that you both liked each other, a little boring too.
So to summarise, if you wish to remain single for the foreseeable future by all means be lazy, complicate things, expect things to magically come to you and moan when they don't.
Alternatively you could get off your ass, be pro-active, snog a virtual stranger in broad daylight and get a second date in the diary within the week.
The box set can wait ... and he dies in the end. Opps ... now you've got no excuse.