Valentine’s Day is almost upon us with hearts and flowers in every shop window, and social media dripping with wonderful offers for happy couples everywhere to spend the most romantic day of the year together.
Isn’t it all just lovely?
Well if you’re loved up, yes, but if you’re not and want to be, then it’s a commercially fuelled reminder of what you’re missing out on.
While many people are happy being single and wouldn’t swap their status for a multitude of red roses, this celebration can accentuate feelings of loneliness for those searching for that special someone.
With 34% of people in Northern Ireland using dating apps, Claire Hughes, from the award-winning professional matchmaking dating agency Soirée Society NI, understands the effects Valentine’s advertising can have. “For some singletons, Valentine’s Day is one of the most dreaded days of the year and on a par with New Year’s Eve or being invited to a wedding and not having a ‘plus one’.”
If you’ve vowed to make this the last Valentine’s Day you spend single, Claire has some tips for finding Mr or Miss Right.
1. Is it me you’re looking for?
The likelihood of your ideal partner knocking on the door – unless you fancy your local Delivery Driver – are pretty slim. Even for those with an active social life, finding the courage to start up a conversation with someone, or ask them out on a date is way out of their confidence zone.
Dating expert Claire said: “It is difficult to know where to go to meet other like-minded singles who are seeking a genuine relationship. Despite the growing popularity of online dating sites, they are definitely not for everyone. We are finding more and more people dislike the lack of confidentiality of online dating or they have become disillusioned with the results.”
There’s also the safety factor to consider, which is why Claire recommends using a group situation to meet new people. “Even though we work for our clients in helping them find a partner, we recommend going to meet ups, as it’s a great way to meet people who share your interests, from hill walking to book clubs,” she said.
Search online for meet up groups in your area to widen your social circle and increase the chances of meeting that special someone.
2. Dress to impress
We’ve all been there. You nip out to the supermarket looking like you’ve been dragged through a hedge and see everyone you know, or worse your ex and their perfectly put together new partner.
“Looking good helps with feeling great and increases your confidence, and that is something which most people find attractive,” explained Claire.
3. “Everyone responds to kindness” Richard Gere
Wise words from a man who is no stranger to romance. Fundamentally, Valentine’s Day is about celebrating relationships, and just because you’re single doesn’t mean you have to be excluded.
Be kind to yourself and indulge in an activity that brings you joy whether it’s a spa treatment or trip to the theatre. Show kindness to others by supporting your favourite charity or doing something for someone in need.
As relationship expert Claire knows, it’s simple things which can make the biggest difference. “Make an effort to smile and say hello to at least three people you don’t know each day. It’s amazing how good it makes you feel when people smile back.”
4. Colour me happy
Wearing the right colours can make a significant difference to how you look and so to how you feel.
“Book a consultation with and Image Consultant or Personal Shopper and buy an outfit in colours and style that suit you – you will need it for the next date,” said Claire.
If you’ve fallen into a comfortable rut, consider having a make-over and change of hair style, or if you are feeling some extra pounds are holding you back, consider joining a slimming group. They offer great support and can help to increase your confidence and self-esteem.
Exercise is renowned for improving mental as well as physical health, so sign up for a class and try something new.
5. I love me, who do you love?
“The most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself,” explained Claire.
It’s easy to be fixated on the things you don’t like about yourself, but instead of focusing on your weaknesses, write down three things you like about yourself and recognise your achievements, such as being kind, or a good conversationalist. Thinking positive thoughts is uplifting and positivity is an attractive feature.
6. Being interesting is good, being interested is better
One of the best things about meeting new people is finding out all about them and things you have in common. As an expert in setting up first dates, Claire said “When meeting someone for the first time concentrate on asking questions about them and what they love to do rather than talking all about yourself.”
7. Focus on the future
While our past often defines us, dwelling on it is unhealthy and can block your chances of moving forward with someone new.
“One of the reasons we chose a Phoenix for our logo is it represents rebirth, a new dawn and a new life which is what so many people seek in their relationships,” said Claire, a founding partner in Soirée Society NI.
8. Make some space
Often, people who have been single for a while have crafted a lifestyle which suits them well.
“Leave room for love,” said Claire. “We find many singles say they want to find love but are so used to being on their own, they often let work and their existing single lifestyle stand in the way of living.”
If you are serious about a new relationship, make room for them in your life or they may think you’re not interested.
9. Practically perfect in every way.
You’re not Mary Poppins, and neither are they; people are not products and don’t come in perfect packages. “Having a wish list is fine,” said Claire, as it helps the agency matchmake if they know what you don’t want, “but sticking rigidly to desired criteria might mean you stay single.”
10. The camera never lies
Or does it? In a world where the selfie rules, images can be filtered to leave people unrecognisable in real life, which immediately sours a first meeting – not because they are unattractive, but because their date feels deceived.
However, some people go to the opposite end. “We are sometimes dismayed by the photos people provide for their profiles,” explained Claire, “as they don’t present themselves as the best they can be which reduces their chances of being matched.
“At Soiree Society we authenticate all client IDs and photographs before we consider accepting them onto the platform.”
Claire’s expert advice would be not to judge people on their photo alone. Couples who are in happy, loving relationships have something more than just physical looks. “People often stick to what they think is ‘their type’” said Claire, “and, ironically, that’s usually the same type that was in their previous failed relationship.
“Be open to possibility. It’s rare to find that elusive chemistry from a profile without meeting in person and giving things a chance to develop.”
Making the decision that you no longer want to be single is often hard, but acknowledging you want to share your life with someone is a positive step. Previous failures can hold you back, but if you don’t want to be alone, you should make finding a partner a priority and take action to make the changes you want to see in your life.
Employing a matchmaking expert can be key to finding the right person by working with you, for you, with your best interests at heart.