But that annual flurry of red hearts and roses can leave singletons feeling blue. If you’re still looking for lasting love and can’t work out where you’re going wrong, maybe it’s time to call in an expert, says Sheffield’s dating coach Karen Perkins.
Divorcee and mum of two Karen (53), a life, career and social media coach, teaches dating confidence, helps those with a knack for picking the wrong partner hone new skills in the hunt for Mr or Ms Right, and encourages singletons who have all but given up hope to open up to the prospect of love...
.Q. Why does anyone need a date coach? Surely dating should be all about being natural...
A. In an ideal world we would all be happy and at ease with ourselves, know exactly what we want and be able to spot it when it arrives! In reality, people can be recovering from previous relationships and nervously dipping their toes back into the dating pool after a long relationship they thought would last for life. I can help them build up their dating antennae and confidence and also a new social life. Because I’m their coach, people can tell me things they might not be able to tell a friend.
Q. How can you be an expert on finding love when you yourself are divorced?
A. I am not the expert! I help people become the expert about themselves and discover what they really want, then help them tap into their inner confidence and skills to make it a reality. Having been though divorce means I have experienced both sides of a relationship. I can also offer my knowledge of mediation, as I work with several solicitors and have seen how helping people put divorce and regrets behind them gives their new relationships a better chance.
Q. If someone hasn’t found love, is it because they are unlovable - or because they just haven’t found the right person?
A. I believe what I say on my website, that if you take time to know yourself and enjoy your life to the full you are more likely to attract the right person, it’s what psychologists call being ‘authentic’.
Q. Do you really believe there is someone for everyone?
A. Yes, however it takes a lot of effort to work out what exactly you are searching for, and then keep looking. Some people date someone every evening until they find someone; it’s one way to get best value from your internet dating subscription.
Q. Why is love so important to us?
A. Remember when you were a teenager and felt that exciting anticipation, highs and lows? On a scientific note, love provides a rush of wellbeing hormones which make us feel calm, relaxed and happy. That is the feeling people seek.
Q. What made you decide to be a dating coach?
A. I’m also a life, career and business coach and I was surprised how many people said the lack of a relationship, or dating confidence, was holding them back in other areas of their life, so I started to offer separate sessions.
Q. How successful are you?
A. Success means different things for different people. Some people go away with more confidence and actually decide they want to put dating on hold for a while. Others gain the confidence to get out and meet people. Some use me as a sounding board, asking: is he/she the one?
Q. Is it harder now for people to find love - because modern life brings longer working hours, divorce...?
A. It’s easier because of internet dating and other new ways to meet people, but more difficult because people have such high expectations of a partner. I blame the media’s obsession with Botox and tummy tucks. I often help people young kids, stressful jobs and expensive childcare re assess their existing relationships and future-proof them, too.
Q. It must be easier for young people...
A. Having to study for longer, not finding a career or having to live at home whilst searching for a job or saving for a deposit can cramp your style. Many people find the stress of a ticking biological clock puts pressure on their choice.
Q. Is Internet dating more dangerous than getting chatted up on a chance encounter in a bar?
A. I would think they are about the same. People need to be careful in both situations, without spoiling the fun of it. A bar might be more dangerous if you have been drinking.
Q. What safety advice do you give internet daters?
A. Never give out any personal details like your land-line, address or finances until you choose. If someone likes you they will happily wait. Use a mobile; you don’t want someone talking to your kids until you choose. Always meet in a public place, tell a friend who you are meeting, where and when, and arrange to tell them you are back safely. Meeting for a coffee gives you a chance to get away after an hour. And for those cougars, the safe sex advice you gave to your teens applies to you too!
Q. How can we tell if someone is lying about themselves in their online profile?
A. Most people tell a few white lies on their profile. I always say men take five years off their age and add three inches to their height! Women tend to say they are younger. Trust your instincts and ask questions.
Q. The Jane Austen Guide To Dating is one of your favourite books... Why?
A. It analyses why Jane Austen’s characters fell for each other and gives tips on how to analyse what you really want in a relationship and whether you are just settling for something. It’s especially helpful to the ticking clocks.
Q. How do you teach shy people to conquer their nerves on a first date?
A. Visualisation, flirting practice and dummy runs. They get homework to do with friends.
Q. Give us your three best dating tips
A. Be yourself ! Respect yourself! Enjoy yourself (safely)!
Q. What warning signs should you look for on a first date?
A. Try to check your date out before you meet. Social media or Google can assist. And when you meet, ask yourself if they seem overbearing, or talk about themselves all the time, find out how long have they been out of their last relationship. And trust your gut feeling. If you feel wary, or irritated, it’s usually for a reason.
Q. Speed-date walking -what is it and does it work?
A. Equal numbers of potential partners, of a similar age and interests, meet me at a prearranged location and we walk up to five miles, talk in a relaxed environment and have coffee. Afterwards people answer questions on a card to indicate who they would like to meet again and details are forwarded on. I know three couples who have met through speed-date-walking and that’s also how I met my partner two years ago. I will be running more speed-date walks when the weather improves. Details will be on my website, www. .karenperkinslifecoach.co.uk and on Twitter.