With V-Day approaching, Jo Taylor turns to Hayley Quinn, top dating coach, for romance help.

Ah dating. The modern day version of torture. Too dramatic? Hear me out. It’s repetitive and a money pit. We drop some absolute mad cash on failure and the treadmill of rejection, ghosting and judgements wear even the most enthusiastic dater out. Do I sound bitter? A tad. I am a single woman in her mid-thirties having as much luck as a Panda trying to mate.

(c) Shutterstock

I’m pretty sure I’m not an awful person. And I keep being told I’m devastatingly attractive. Okay fine I added ‘devastatingly’ but I’m not a blob fish I know that much. But the cycle of dating has worn me down a bit and I get over anxious and of course consistently expect the worst. Or maybe people expect more? Who knows? Either way my first impression is absolutely dire. Even more awkward is that I know it but that doesn’t stop me from failing to make eye contact, interrupting people out of sheer panic, telling boring stories, trying too hard and generally coming across like a marshmallow with no personality. Gin is also not my friend. This is all made worse by the snap judgements and the beady eyed assessments I can see going on the other side of the table as I attempt to be flirty, which is probably like being on the receiving end of a rhino horn. A unique, yet painful experience.

I thus resign myself to singledom as the date grinds to a halt and make less and less effort each time. One time I even turned up in Ugg boots, jeans and a sweatshirt with my puppy in tow because well, couldn’t be arsed at that point. Only to be confronted with the most beautiful man in a dapper suit. His photos did not do him justice. He was literally an 11/10. As his eyes flicked down to my footwear of choice, and then up to my arms clutching said puppy who had, at that exact moment, stuck his paw in my mouth, temporarily gagging me with cheesy puppy feet fur, I could see the enthusiasm melt from his face.

Dating, in my humble opinion, is a rather self-perpetuating cycle of excitement, anxiety and perplexing rejection.

(c) Shutterstock

I don’t think I’m the only one that struggles with it. People are marrying and having children later. Dating apps give people a lot of choice. People are discarded easily and quickly. Also women are increasingly putting careers first. And I am one of them. All work and no play has made me a dating moron. If I were the last woman on earth, I would completely fail to repopulate it out of sheer male attracting incompetence. To be clear I am not some desperado seeking a man to ‘complete her.’ Ohhh hell no. Being single is mostly peachy. And clearly I’ve been on dates where I am the one to say ‘thanks but no thanks.’ But I would like the option of having a partner and currently Miss Panda over here falls at the first hurdle every time.

Hayley Quinn

So what next? Well given my phone rather irritatingly vomits texts such as ‘you’ll find someone soon’ or ‘just be you’ (oh dang why did I not think of that) after I've regaled my friends with the monstrosities of said date, I’ve looked to Hayley Quinn, London’s leading dating coach to see what can be done about my self-fulfilling bad date prophecy. I actually know Hayley personally. In a horrible twist of irony, back when we were 16 and I, apparently, was alluring, I accidentally stole a boyfriend off her. In my defence, it was pre-social media, mobile phones weren’t a thing, we all lived in different towns and he told me he was single so I basically had no way of knowing that he was, in fact, not single at all. But yes I felt bad and still do.

Anyway, Hayley and I have mended our past and moved on from staring daggers at each other in college hallways and after hearing my tales of woe, Hayley kindly invited me to her 'Commanding Love - Dating Confidence for Women‘ workshop this Saturday. I am VERY excited to attend as I definitely need to change my attitude towards meeting a partner and it is a great next step. To get me started on my path to dating queen, I was given the opportunity to ask my burning questions in advance about dating successfully. Here’s what the expert herself had to say on my top four dating dilemmas:

What are your top tips for making a good first impression on a date?

Be present and stay open minded! If you’re always dragging yourself to a date, running late, or shoe horning it into a jam packed schedule to your date in a rush, you may not be setting yourself up to have the best experience.

Make sure that you give yourself enough time to meet someone, and keep your phone away during your date. This not only shows the other person that you’re really engaged with them it also helps you to feel a connection if there is one.

Also even if you turn up and don’t feel any attraction, still use the date as an opportunity to be curious about another person. By putting effort into getting to know them, even if there’s zero chemistry, you will have a better experience, and feel more motivated for your future dates.

How do you manage lots of pre-date texting and the expectation that comes with it?

Try to avoid building up a picture in your mind of someone before you’ve spent much time together in the real world. It can be tempting to try to read the ‘signs’. However this usually comes from a space of not being fully comfortable with the unknown. Instead try to check in with yourself, ‘I’m looking forward to what could happen but in going to take things day by day for now.’ Given enough time people will show you who they are so try to be slow to judge and also slow to build expectations of where this could lead.

How can you manage dating fatigue?

To get the most out of your dates you need to feel some optimism and excitement. This may feel a million miles away from where you are now. To change this up start by taking a ‘mini-break’ from dating: and focus on other things that make you happy. After a few weeks, approach dating by thinking ‘what would make me enjoy this more?’ That could be that you find when dating online you can’t meet anyone you’re enthusiastic to meet: in this case could you change your process here and focus on meeting people in real life? Remember as well that if you enter every date with the mindset of ‘ this person could be The One - or not ‘ then you’re likely to create a lot of disappointment for yourself. Your intention for the first date should be to have fun and be curious about the other person.

What changes do you need to make to ensure you’re in the best frame of mind for dating successfully?

Dating success isn’t about meeting a perfect person who changes your life; it’s about becoming the version of yourself. If you can be proactive, stay positive, and be prepared to change your mind about who you think your type is, good things will happen!

To get more excellent advice and access to exclusive workshops and events visit Hayley's website www.hayleyquinn.com or insta @hayleyquinnx

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