I am told that dating has changed dramatically since I was last single. Apparently you have to do it online because there are so few opportunities to meet people. Having had my share of dating (in the past) and now being very happy in my 3rd marriage, I feel that I might have something to say to all the people out there who are looking for a “significant other”.
To be clear, I never liked the idea of online dating. I signed up for a couple of dating web sites, but managed to cancel both of them before the trial period was up. I blame disappointing nights out and a spot too much of the vino for signing up at all. I’m sure there are lots of people out there who found Mr./Mrs. Right on-line, I just don’t know any of them. Or if I do, they are not admitting it. On-line dating is so random !. You end up looking through a catalogue of (in my case) men in various selfie poses most of whom got too close the camera, or asked a friend to take a photo on the one day in their lives that they went to do something exciting. I have a photo of me abseiling in Scotland. I did it once because I wanted to be on holiday with my best friend and because I wanted to impress the abseiling instructor. I ended up dating him for a year, but that's beside the point. Strangely the abject fear I experienced on that day doesn’t show up on my face in the photo. But I could have used that photo on the dating sites to suggest that I was an outdoor girl who was up for adventure. In fact I was a single mum (of 2 young children) who was most often knackered and preferred a night in the pub with friends, to a day on the cliffside wondering if I was going to die. I suppose it depends on what kind of relationship you are after. Lets be honest a lot of people on dating web sites have a very flexible idea about what constitutes dating. From the “are we in bed yet?" variety, to the “I want someone to devote their life to making me happy” to the “I want romantic, sweep me off my feet, change everything type” and all the other varieties in-between. I suspect that some of my single female friends want the latter type. A life changing romance with friendship, sex and a chocolate box future. But just like that box of chocolates in the film Forrest Gump you really don’t know what you are going to get. When you meet someone really nice who thinks you are really nice you both give off pheromones. You literally need to smell your significant other to know if they are the right one for you. In the short term, it is possible for the hormones that control the sexual urge to override the pheromones of true compatibility. I guess you just have to persevere to find out which one it is. Anyway what I’m saying is that you can’t smell people on line, so you are going to need a lot of dates before you start finding possible matches. Think of it as looking through a supermarket shelf for the piece of cheese with the longest sell by date. There will be a lot to choose from. Some will be the wrong size, shape etc., and you may be in the wrong supermarket, but if you choose to shop for a partner on-line, then that seems to be the only way forward. So in order to get round that kind of lengthy selection process, here are some of my simple and sometimes old-fashioned ideas.
Rule 1: If you want to meet a man, go where men go! If you want to meet a woman, go where women go! Sounds obvious now doesn’t it. Yes, there are men in supermarkets and out walking dogs, but short of tripping one up down the vegetable aisle or sending your dog over to do something eye-catching and amazing, you are unlikely to achieve anything more than a smile. Also remember that people in shops and walking dogs have a task to complete. It would take something really silly to get more than 2 words out of another human being at the checkout. Admittedly I have had numerous conversations with people at checkouts, but they are always older women, who just want to be sociable or complain about something. No, you need a place where your “intended” will have time to play, talk and get to know you. No I don’t mean a gym either. Although it comes slightly higher up the list than supermarkets you have to consider why people are there. Maybe they do just want to show off their perfect gym bodies. If that is your kind of person then you are probably not reading this, you are in the gym posing, because if they have a perfect body then either they want a partner with a perfect body, or you do. The other 90% are in the gym because they are training for an event, trying to get fit to have a better-looking body or trying to lose weight. Besides it’s not easy to start up a conversation whilst heavy breathing, sweating profusely or trying to keep to your gym plan. Please remember that men seldom multi-task. Being in the gym IS the activity, so chatting up random people is a form of multi-tasking. And women often feel rather conscious of their body shape in gyms. I know a lot of women who would consider a man quite pervy if he was to start a chat up whilst they are wearing their cover-all t-shirt with sweaty hair and make up slipping down their faces. So, where are the men? Well, they are often with other men at clubs (sporting or otherwise). They are often in pubs. They go to work and they come to your home to fix things. The key thing is, that most of them have sisters or female friends
Rule 2: Yes ladies and gentlemen, make more friends of the opposite sex and accept invitations to events that involve men. (And vice versa for men) Then take an interest in the activity and be relaxed about it. It’s really creepy for a man to meet a female that interrogates him on the first meeting and won't leave his side. And boys, its really creepy for a man to be slimy around women they hardly know. This is a long-term plan to always have male and female friends. Expand your social circle!!! Then when someone comes along, you wont be alone and lonely if it doesn’t work out. If you don’t have a circle of friends then make a start on making one (or more). People who don’t have friends have issues (or they have recently moved). Making friends takes time but if you can’t do it then maybe there is something about you that is actually pushing people away
Rule 3. Be yourself! If you are really a tomboy who loves the outdoor life and doesn’t want to spend days in watching TV, then don’t tell people that you do. If you meet a Vegan, don’t go Vegan immediately, it just makes you look weak! By all means give it a go, but unless you want to be a closet meat eater, stick to your guns and see if the Vegan can cope with you eating meat whenever you go out. During my time with that abseiling instructor we went rock climbing in the Peak District. By the time I had clawed my way over the last ledge and rolled onto the ground breathing heavily, my instructor looked lovingly at the view and said "doesn't it make you feel glad to be alive?" "Yes", I replied, "but we maybe looking at that from 2 different perspectives! I'm actually glad to be alive” It all went down hill from there. He eventually married some downhill skier on natural speed. All for the best I think.
Rule 4. Don’t shit on your own doorstep unless you want to move. Having an affair with a colleague or casually sleeping with a close friend in one social group is a recipe for disaster. If you are going to do it, make sure it’s worth the risk. Getting together with people from other offices, or suppliers is acceptable, as is a friend on the periphery of a group of people. Someone you see from time to time is much easier to handle (if it all goes wrong), then having to look them in the face most days or weeks. Nothing quite splits a group like two regular people within it disliking each other intensely. One person will leave the group. Make sure its not you.
A very good friend of mine once said. People come together to create something. When that creation process is complete there has to be something left or the union will fail. Maybe this accounts for the high level of divorce after the children are born. The couple came together to create a family (to procreate). Once that task was complete there was nothing left to keep them together? The trick is for both parties to want to raise a family together. Some women want a man to create a family then take over the children, exclude the father from daily activities and send him to work to earn more. When men obey their new directive they detach from the mother and the separation begins because they no longer have a common goal. Having said that sometimes the father feels that his task is complete at procreation. When he is no longer the center of attention he goes to find the missing bit. Maybe we should ask each person at a wedding “what do you want to create?
Rule 5. Give a little. A relationship is not just about what YOU get out of it. It’s also about what you are prepared to do for the other human being. Give and take. I have learned that sometimes I have to close my mouth and listen. I know what my opinion is. I have been known to tell other people what my opinion is. The real stuff starts when you find out what THEIR opinion is. You can then work together on the middle ground. It's not a bad place to be provided the scenery is good for both. If it’s not good its not the middle ground so keep talking. This kind of exchange happens between friends; real friends who want the best for each other. It’s also a great way to start being closer friends with someone in your new social group. Everyone likes to be listened to. But if the other person isn’t listening to you then move on.
Rule 6: Like yourself. If you don’t like yourself how do you expect another person to like you? Constantly running yourself down with “I’m so fat”, “I’m so stupid” etc. It’s not attractive, so don't do it!! By the way alcoholics and drug addicts don't tend to like themselves much. If you suspect that you have acquired one take it from me. You can't fix them!!!! Get out now before they take you down too.
Rule 7: Get a life. Be interesting. Have hobbies and activities. There is nothing more oppressive and tiring than expecting your significant other to be your entertainments manager, supervisor and life coach.
So that’s it. My 7 rules for dating. I met my lovely husband through the sport of shooting. He was my best friend for 10 years and then he was lots more. We now run the club together and we shoot together from time to time. I love my complementary therapies and my sewing and I am happy for him to go off with his friends to do what they do. In fact I encourage it. As a result he encourages and supports me in my interests. We are both dominant characters and have strong opinions. Sometimes I shut up if he is expressing frustration. Then we talk it through the next day. Sometimes he tells me all about the issues he is having with a small piece of technical equipment, so I tell him all about the styles of sewing needles available on the market. We learn about each other every day and its fun. I look back on my single years with a wry smile and a knowing that I did my best to be a good friend to everyone in my social circles. I met lots of people this way and it enriched my life. In the process I met a lot of men. I chatted to lots and made friends with lots but dated only a few. There were some momentous disasters that taught me lots about characters that I don’t want in my life but they are outweighed by the fun that I had. I can’t say that I am still actively friends with any of my ex’s but there are only 1 or two that would make me want to disappear if I met them again. So out you all go and make friends, lots of friends, casual ones, close ones and occasional ones. Through one of those groups you might just find the perfect person for you. And he will smell good! I promise.