In romantic comedies and soap operas, relationships and love affairs just happen, but as any serial dater will tell you, dating is almost a full-time job – and it can quickly descend into tedium. If you’re losing hope, sick of wasting three hours on a Wednesday night with Mr or Mrs Wrong and are worried your next Tinder swipe might be the one that finally sees you devote yourself to celibacy, your only hope is to get out of your dating rut and change things up.
Less is more
Dating bios now read more like a reverse shopping list, with everybody clear on exactly what they don’t want. It’s hard to put into words how unsexy and off-putting this is – just imagine the word “Brexit” over and over again, perhaps, or the lyrics to a Dire Straits album track – but it’s probably making you easy to gloss over. So delete the lot, go back to basics. Select two pics, one solo and one “candid”, and edit your bio down to five things you actually like. Pick really random things. If you’re trying to be funny, run your joke past a friend who has actually, in your presence, made someone attractive laugh for longer than three seconds. Then get a third opinion.
Dating in 2018 is upfront and direct; nobody is messing about. Within seconds of chatting, you’re firing off snaps of your torso to someone you didn’t even know existed when you woke up this morning. There’s a lot to be said for mystery and letting your personality do the talking. Make a rule: no flesh shots before you’ve met and certainly not unsolicited. It’s not frigid or prudish, it’s charming. Charming is sexy. It is.
Ditch your dating routine
You probably have a favourite bar or restaurant to meet your dates – a failsafe locale that always helps the night go well. Maybe, too, a repertoire of one-liners or stories to fall back on to break an awkward silence. You might even have a pair of lucky pants stashed away and a go-to dating outfit that shows off your biceps or brings out your eyes or whatever. Forget the lot. Meet somewhere different every time; let them suggest a place. Never talk about the same thing two dates running. What do you mean you’ll run out of things to say? Have you never been on Twitter? Try different looks so you feel fresh and invigorated rather than relying on sure things and old faithfuls. Because, well, if you think about it, your guaranteed pulling tricks aren’t working that well, is it? Those pants ain’t that lucky, sunshine.
Widen your net
You’ve got a type, yeah? How’s it going with that array of brunettes, sapiosexuals or guys who like hip-hop? Let me guess, the conversation is due and circular, or you’re so distracted by how they don’t live up to your preconceived ideas, you either go off them completely, or, worse, don’t realise how wrong they are for you. Bring the element of surprise back. I don’t mean arrive in a balaclava or leap from a moving car as you make your entrance, but think less about people as categories or box-ticking, and make yourself open to suggestion. “You’re not at all what I was expecting” can be one hell of an aphrodisiac if you didn’t know what to expect in the first place. Plus, your ex was a dark-haired sapiosexual who loved hip-hop – dating a clone is going to look creepy, bro.
Forget work chat, delving into one another’s dating history or comparing mortgage payments or rent increases. Talk about something that reveals your personality rather than unloading a set of personal stats. What did you watch on TV as a kid? What 5 things would you change in the world right now if you had the power? Which music video would you have loved to be an extra in? If you could write one novel what would it be about? Do these questions sound a bit odd? Yes. Will your date be a little puzzled at first? Yes. But are they better than telling the same story about your university years? Hell yes. Give it a go; they’ll get into it. Promise.
Change your mission
Stop seeing dating as a gateway to sex, love, marriage or even finally going halves on a Nespresso, and instead as a voyage of self-discovery. You’re putting yourself in new, strange situations with people you don’t know and seeing how you survive, like a big experiment. It’s just another facet of your social life – as long as everyone knows where they stand, treat it like a fun activity rather than a competitive sport.
Forget about it
Just let it happen. Go out with friends, allow yourself to be introduced to people with no agenda, just whatever. Dating doesn’t have to be a chore, or a problem to be fixed. Despite what algorithms tell you, it’s not a science; it’s as organic as a cabbages grown in horses**t. That analogy feels hauntingly realistic the you’ve been single for 5 years, believe me.
Stop for a while
Best way to feel reenergised about dating? Stop. Delete the apps, and when you come back, try different ones. Yes, they’ll be full of the same faces as the other apps because the world’s a village, but fresh surroundings can do make you look at someone completely differently. But yeah, before that, just stop. Boom.