Q. I haven’t dated for a very long time. I have no confidence about getting back into the dating scene, but I know I don’t want to be on my own any longer. What is my best course of action?
A. There are several steps you can take to get yourself ready to date. You need to get yourself online with several great recent photos of yourself, and write a profile that’s interesting and shows off your personality. If you need some help – get a friend on board to give you advice. Then overhaul your wardrobe, pamper yourself, have a bit of a make-over and attend to your grooming. Take some time then to think about what you want different in your next partner, the top 5 warning signs of the wrong types that you’re going to avoid, and then jump in, be patient and selective, and have some fun.
Q. I need some help to just start up a conversation online. What’s the best way to do this?
A. Be yourself and authentic with your responses. Ask questions and take an interest in what they do, compliment them, be curious about their likes and dislikes, and find out what some of their hopes/ goals are for the year ahead. Imagine this is a friend talking to another friend and take the pressure off. Just see where it goes and use this as an opportunity to learn about each other.
Q. I’m reaching 40 and desperate to have a baby. A lot of my other single friends are considering having a baby using a donor. I’m financially independent, have a great support network, and think I could cope emotionally. But I feel nervous that if I go down that track it will make it even harder to meet someone. I feel like I’m at a crossroad and need to choose between having a baby and continuing my search for ‘the one’. What should I do for the best?
A. You need to be very clear in yourself about this major step before taking action. For this reason, it’s really important to talk to your trusted support network (family and friends), and perhaps to those that have already gone through this process. Then you need to consider what’s most important to you in your life moving forward – having a child or waiting to find a life partner? Everyone will have different ideas on this, so do your research first and then come back to what’s most important to you. What you can and can’t live with? Then take action and do it in a committed and clear way. No regrets.
Q. I don’t seem to ‘click’ with or feel a ‘spark’ with a lot of guys and the ones who I do have feelings for, don’t feel the same about me. I never seem to get past the ‘friend’ stage. I’m now 40 and I’ve dated most of my single male friends! Could I be doing something wrong?
A. If it’s not working then change it up. Take some time to think about your approach to dating, the types of guys you’re attracted to, what you want in a long-term partner, your online profile, and the places you’re meeting guys. Are there any obstacles that might be holding you back? Ask a trusted friend – they may have some interesting feed back for you. If there are – then make changes. If not, then remind yourself it’s a marathon not a sprint, continue to stay patient and selective, and remember to have some fun along the way with the whole process.
Q. I want to avoid getting involved with someone who has a drinking problem, after a negative experience with a previous partner. What are some of the tell-tale signs to look out for?
A. Some tell-tale signs that someone has problems with drinking include – needing to drink in the mornings, not being able to control their behaviour, finding that drinking interferes with their daily functioning (work, study, socialising), and that they get into trouble with the law (e.g. DUI). Also, they drink and become embarrassing in public, they constantly cancel plans due to being hungover, they can’t have alcohol free days, they drink on their own a lot, they worry about when they can have their next drink, and their tolerance for alcohol is very high. If they’re showing a cluster of these signs in the early stages of dating, then you need to move on.
Q. How can someone who suffers from social anxiety find someone?
A. That’s one of the great upsides to online dating! It gives shy and anxious people a safe way to reach out to other singles that doesn’t overwhelm them. You need to take things slowly and get to know potential love interests online in a gradual way, so your anxiety doesn’t take over. That means engaging in online chat, then moving to phone calls, and finally when you’re ready, having that first date. Remember when you do meet them for the first time, do it during the day in a relaxed setting for a coffee. Choose a place that you know well and feel comfortable in. Slow is the best approach here.
Q. How can I show interest in someone without coming across as needy?
A. You can show interest simply by asking them questions about themselves, their likes, dislikes, their daily routines and their future plans. As well, make an effort with how you dress, put the phone face down when you’re talking to them, and give them eye contact and smile. Be punctual and follow-through with commitments or plans, be contactable, and be open to meeting their friends when you’re invited. On the other hand, avoid texting or calling too often, expressing your intense feelings for them, discussing your future couple plans, pressuring them to have sex too early, demanding to meet their family and friends, and discussing commitment early on.
Q. I often take long breaks from using Findsomeone when I get busy with life. Is there any point messaging people who have messaged me weeks or even months ago? What’s a good way to approach this?
A. You can certainly have a go at this approach, however it’s not likely to be very successful. When someone reaches out to you and you don’t get back to them in a month then you’re sending a message that you’re not interested in dating or being in a serious relationship. It’s not that important to you. As a result, these interested singles will very likely move on to the next opportunity because you’re unavailable. Over to you – but it has a pretty low chance of success.
Q. I find it hard to flirt with a guy, without him assuming that I want sex. What are the rules around the early stages of dating? I want to have fun but not give men the wrong idea.
A. It’s absolutely fine to flirt with other guys and have fun with it! I think it’s probably more about the guys you’re flirting with than your overall approach. If they think you want to have sex with them when you’re flirting – then that’s their mindset not yours. So keep doing what you’re doing. Dance with them, smile, give them the eye, use their name in conversation, touch their arm, and even kiss them if the urge arises. None of that means you want sex – and if that’s their take on it – then keep on moving.
Q. I love everything about my life, including my job, my house, my social networks and family. The only thing missing is a partner. The city I live in is quite small and I sometimes wonder whether I should move to a bigger city, purely to meet someone. But I feel nervous about sacrificing everything I have here. What’s your advice?
A. There are times in all our lives when we have to re-evaluate what’s important to us. This will change as you get older and you gain more life experience. What you need to do now is take stock of things and see how important finding a partner is to you versus living your current life. Can you carry on being happy doing what you’re doing on your own, or does finding a partner mean more to you than anything else? Whatever your answer, then you need to take action and move in that direction with no regrets, only excitement and clarity. Good luck with it all, and remember to be clear on why you’ve chosen a particular direction.
To ask a question of your own, join FindSomeone’s Bootcamp for Better Dating – a free week by week programme written by relationship expert John Aiken and delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up to findsomeone.co.nz any time between January and April of 2016 to get started!
John Aiken, Findsomeone’s dating and relationship expert, as seen on the hit TV 3 show Married At First Sight. He is a best selling author, appears regularly on TV, radio and in magazines, runs a clinical psychology private practice in Sydney, is a sought after speaker, and offers intensive couples retreats. (www.johnaiken.com.au)