Your Valentine’s Day was just a day like any other...
No card from an admirer, let alone a bunch of flowers, to cheer your spirits. so you settled for a mug of cocoa in front of the telly. Again.
Well, don’t blame fate for the absence of Mr or Ms Right in your life.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s all your own fault.
Some lonely-hearts only have themselves to blame for failing to find a successful relationship.
Too fussy, or not fussy enough, too needy, too set in their ways or too scared... Fact is there are a myriad of reasons why people cannot find lasting love.
But all too often, the root of the problem is buried deep within the psyche of the lonely singleton or the person trapped in an unhappy relationship.
So says Sheffield’s very own Love Doctor Claire Taylor. And she believes she can help.
Claire, who is divorced and single – happily, she insists – is an experienced and highly qualified personal therapist and is about to turn her skills in the direction of the loveless. She is launching a Confidence For Dating course which aims to help people address the issues that prevent them from forming successful relationships.
An advanced clinical hypno-therapist with diplomas in cognitive behavioural therapy, neuro-linguistic programming, stress management and energy psychology, the idea came to her after years of working one-to-one with clients presenting all manner of issues and problems.
Workaholics, people with anxiety disorders, smoking addictions, the over-weight and those battling stress issues or low self-esteem... She realised at the crux for all of them was the desire to find a happy, healthy relationship.
Says Claire: “It was love they all wanted in their lives.
“Some of them were fresh out of relationships, others were long-term single.
“Most of them had recognised that things like their smoking addiction, their size or the fear of commitment were holding them back from finding their heart’s desire.
“But others thought the issue was the only issue and had come to me for one specific problem.
“As soon as therapy started it became clear they wanted to change so that they could move forward and find that special someone.”
Claire also realised clients would have welcomed the support of a group counselling setting - where each person would be trying to deal with similar barriers to love. She’s now planning five two-hour workshops two weeks apart to act as building bricks for a happier future.
“Love is what makes the world go around. We can all function solo and tell ourselves that being alone and independent suits us down to the ground, but if we are really honest, we know that there is something missing,” says Claire.
“Humans are genetically programmed to want to be in a close, loving relationship. And yet it is the hardest thing of all to find, and then sustain,” she says. “A relationship is the thing that can bring us the most happiness - and the most unhappiness.”
A former doctoral development manager at Sheffield University, Claire says one of the biggest problems is people try to find a partner without having dealt with their personal issues first.
“If you are not happy with yourself, no relationship is going to work,” she says. “People often say to me: ‘I just want to be loved.’ But you cannot make someone love you.
“All those books that claim to tell you how to make someone fall for you by playing games, acting hard-to-get... they don’t work.
“They might make someone chase after you, or desire you, but they won’t make someone fall into real, lasting love with you.
“What you can do is work on making yourself more loving - and loveable.”
Enabling people to stop holding back emotionally and encouraging them to love themselves is at the heart of her workshops.
“People have to identify what is affecting their ability to love - maybe it’s the hurt they felt when an affair ended badly, or put-downs time and again that have damaged their confidence,” she explains. “Such things could be the reason why someone is a compulsive eater or smoker, or makes them bury themselves in their work.
“I teach them how to put the past firmly in the past - and to believe they can control their own negative thoughts.”
These, she says, are the processes the unlucky in love should go through before dating again. “A very common mistake is to hurl yourself into the search for a new partner straight after a break-up - or worse, while you are still in the final stages of an unhappy relationship. The right time to go looking is when you are in a happy place.”
Once you’ve started dating, remember you need to find a relationship that combines good communication and attraction. You can’t have one without the other, says the Love Doctor.
Don’t persuade yourself that you might eventually find a spark with a man you get on well with, but are not attracted to, she advises. “Friends will probably tell you to stick with it because your date might grow on you, but an attraction is unlikely to develop. And if you stick together, there’s always the danger of you falling for someone else.”
At the opposite end of the attraction scale, you might madly fancy your date despite the fact that you just cannot talk to them about anything meaningful. “It’s the most common scenario - it’s lust, not love,” explains Claire. “Once the head-over-heels feeling has died down, as it inevitably does after about eight weeks, you will find there’s little holding you together.”
Mental tick-boxes can and do help, advises Claire, but only as guidance and in moderation. “Clinical reliance on finding someone that ticks every single one doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being too fussy, as people will tell you.
“It probably shows you’re deliberately trying to avoid a relationship.”
Claire Taylor’s Confidence For Dating course starts on March 10 at 7pm at the Chimney House in Kelham Island. For more information go to www.taylormadeconfidence.com
The Love Doctor’s prescriptions for the three most common relationship pitfalls...
Don’t settle - like Ken and Deirdre Barlow
Ken and Deirdre from Coronation Street are perfect examples of people who settle for a relationship which isn’t ‘the big one’.
No relationship is plain sailing, we all know that, but if you settle for someone who isn’t setting your world on fire, the danger is someone else will eventually turn your head and people will get hurt in the devastation.
The message: if both the sexual chemistry and the deep emotional communication are not present after the initial ‘crush’ has worn off, be honest and call it a day.
Don’t Jump - like Katie Price
One relationship breaks down and within weeks, a new one has not only formed, but has rushed to the “it’s serious” stage.
Katie Price is the perfect example of a ‘jumper’. While it was perfectly obvious to the outside world she still loved husband Peter Andre and was hurting badly, she talked herself into her relationship with Alex Reid.
Could it last? Did it last? Of course not!
After a marriage that produced two children, how could anyone expect to be ready for a new, serious and committed relationship in just a few short weeks?
The message: don’t jump from one relationship to another. Allow yourself time to get through the break-up and your new situation and become happy with yourself and being alone.
Then, and only then, can you work out what you ‘want’ and ‘need’ from a new partner who will complement your life.
Don’t Lose Yourself - like Nancy in Hollyoaks
Anyone remember Nancy and Jake’s relationship in Hollyoaks?
Nancy’s quirky, fun style and personality were destroyed by her “need” to be what she thought her man wanted her to be. She totally changed her image and with it went her strong and fun-loving personality.
Part of the reason for this was Jake’s controlling nature, but we all know someone who has changed beyond all recognition simply because of an overwhelming desire to please.
How can anyone be happy if they are not themselves any more? The short answer is they can’t.