Part 1: Online dating
1. Read lots of profiles before writing your own
Browse the profiles of people you’d like to date – it gives you a sense of what they’re looking for. Also browse profiles written by members of your own sex, so that you can see what works and what doesn’t.
2. Never post a profile without a photo
People will assume you’re ugly or married, and they won’t give your poetic words the time of day. Also be careful not to post a photo that’s too flattering. You don’t want to disappoint them in the flesh.
3. Be honest about your age
Fibbing is pointless if you’d like a relationship. They’ll soon wonder what else you were lying about.
4. Be confident
You have to like yourself before someone else can like you. Self-deprecation is funny in small doses but it can be a turn-off. Focus on your good points, but don’t be arrogant.
5. Don’t criticise your audience
Writing “no more losers, please” makes you sound bitter and unfriendly.
6. How to turn someone down
Be respectful but firm. Don’t offer to stay in touch as friends, unless you genuinely want to. Also avoid the excuse: “I’m not ready to date anyone right now,” because it offers false hope.
7. Try someone who’s not your type
Many of us continually date the same type of person without realising it. Control freaks, slobs, commitment-phobes, needy types – we keep going back for more. Go for someone completely different, and you may be surprised by the result.
8. If you want to meet, do it soon
Once you’ve swapped a few flirtatious emails and you both want to meet up, arrange a date. If you let your emails drag on for weeks, you risk getting attached to someone with whom you’re just not compatible in real life.
Part 2: On the date
9. Keep it simple
Forget about organising a joint skydive for your first date, or even a candlelit dinner. A first date should be informal and easy on the pocket, or you risk looking over-keen. The pub is perfect. If the chemistry isn’t there, it’s easy to make your excuses after a couple of drinks.
10. Don’t expect too much
You’re meeting a stranger. The chances of only one (or neither) of you fancying the other are huge. So don’t fantasise too much, or you’ll set yourself up for disappointment.
11. Don’t be afraid to cancel
But do follow the dental appointment principle – cancel at least 24 hours beforehand. Drop them a note to say that things have changed for you and you don’t want to waste their time.
12. How to dress for a date
People base impressions on how you’re turned out, whether it’s a job interview, the red carpet or a first date. Making an effort shows manners.
13. Body language speaks volumes
When you’re trying to impress, pay close attention to the way you move. Hold your companion’s gaze while they speak, and subtly mirror their posture. Lean slightly towards them to show interest, and keep your lips and facial muscles relaxed.
14. Learn to read their body language
If your date smiles, widens their eyes, meets your gaze and leans in, they’re engaged and comfortable. If they’re leaning back, looking around or hugging themselves, they’re bored – and you need to up your game.
15. Good talking is all about listening
When you’re nervous on a date (which you will be), your babble-demon can take over. Instead, listen. It will make you look thoughtful and attentive, and you’ll find out more about what makes your date tick.
16. Don’t discuss other dates
If your companion asks: “so, have you been on many dates recently?”, just say: “I’ve met some interesting people” and don’t dwell on the subject. Don’t criticise previous dates – you’ll look unkind.
17. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not
If you’re a meat-and-two-veg type and your date is a veggie, don’t pretend to be a lentil-picker just to impress them. The world is full of happy couples who like different things and have different habits.
Part 3: Finding and keeping love
18. Playing hard to get doesn’t work
If you don’t want a second date, don’t pretend otherwise. But if you would like a second date, say so – if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Most people would be flattered by your attention. However, don’t be clingy. If you act as though you’d be devastated if they say no, they may decide that you’re too needy.
19. It takes time to find the right person
It can feel crushing to have yet another not-quite-right date. Don’t lose hope. Most people kiss a lot of frogs before they find their prince or princess. Enjoy your chance to meet lots of people without enduring the ups and downs of a relationship!
20. Age is just a number
If there’s a sizeable age gap between you and your new partner, try not to take any comments to heart. Old stereotypes die hard, but gossip generally fades as the novelty dies. Show friends and family that you‘re perfectly suited, and the age issue will soon seem irrelevant.
21. How to handle long-distance love
A long-distance relationship can last if you follow certain ground rules. First, you must show and earn trust in each other. Communication is another key. Try not to let more than a day without contact. It’s the mundane details that make you feel part of each other’s lives.
22. When to say “I love you”
You may be bursting to say it on your second date, but hold your horses. Leave it for three months. By this time, you know that it’s not just a fling. The longer you wait, the more your partner knows that you mean it.
23. How to dump someone the nice way
First, get on with it. If you’re sure you want out of a relationship, don’t string them along. Do it face to face, and try to deliver the news at their place. Thank them for the good times, and show sensitivity for their feelings.
24. How to get over being dumped
Talk talk talk to friends, and don’t feel guilty about it. Write a letter to your ex, saying exactly what you think of them – but don’t send it. Burn it with a friend. Your time is now your own, so embrace your freedom to get stuff done.
25. Don’t jump from one relationship to the next
After a break-up it’s important to spend time alone and with friends. Only when you’ve reached a point where you’re happy alone are you really ready to meet someone new.