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Column It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, so here are some tips before Valentine's Day

Tinder, speed dating, online profiles… it can all get a little confusing. Here are Jenny Conlon’s tips to avoid the pitfalls of the dating scene this Valentine’s Day.

IT’S ALMOST VALENTINE’S Day and you’re single and ready to mingle! You’re Tindering until the cows come home, speed dating, online dating and just generally putting yourself out there.

Dating is actually quite hard work and there are definitely some fruit and nuts out there, but that’s just what you’re letting yourself in for on the eclectic dating scene. You could compare dating to a lucky dip – you just don’t know what you’re going to get out of it. The key is to have a pipeline of men/women because you don’t want to put all your chickens in one basket – so if it’s not happening on date one, be honest, delete them and move on.

The problem with dating is that there are too many options and too much choice. When did dating become so complicated? With Tinder, online dating and speed dating, there is too much focus placed on looks rather than getting to know a person. Obviously you need to be attracted to the other person initially, but if they are unable to mentally stimulate you after the first date then that’s a no-go. Looks will only get you so far; they’ll quickly fade if the lights are on but nobody’s home.

Eat well – but don’t drink too much!

Adrenalin kicks in when you’re on a date and so does the thirst for an alcoholic beverage. Know the one that’s ‘one too many’ – four glasses of wine is a bottle, for example. If you don’t watch the consumption, this may lead to the loss of memory and perhaps your dignity at times.

Eat something substantial before you head on the date, it will prevent that first glass of wine from going to your head and also eliminate you eating like an animal if you head to a restaurant. If you’re going for a meal on the first date, make sure it’s not Thai or Chinese (one word: chopsticks). You just can’t look attractive slurping back noodles – and the same goes for tucking into a burger. Going to the cinema on a first date is also not advised; sitting in silence in the dark for two hours listening to people munching is not the most exciting or effective way to get to know a person.

The issue with meeting someone on Tinder or Online or at speed dating is that you can’t guarantee that they’re not seeing three other people at the same time. But it’s also not really any of your business because you knew what you were signing up for and it will only bother you if you start to like the person. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you’re the only one they’re seeing because, most of the time, you’re not.

Basically you want to be their steak, you don’t want to be a leafy, limp side-salad when you’re dating someone. Be the steak. If you act like a salad, they’ll treat you like one.

Mind games

The aftermath of a date often turns to game play. You’ll wonder whether to text first and suggest meeting up again or whether you should just wait for them to contact you. If you’re not in contact and arranging date number two within a week, then get back out there because if you snooze you lose. It’s a dog eat dog world out there so if you genuinely like someone, make sure you let them know, in a clear yet subtle manner. Honesty is always the best policy and, after one date, it’s not like you’ve anything to lose.

If the feeling is mutual the contact will be reciprocated. If people use excuses like ‘working’ or ‘being busy’ for not contacting or getting back to you sooner, it just means that they’re not that into you. It means you’re a side salad to them.

It’s hard to find someone compatible that you have a spark with, someone you makes you laugh, who likes to spoon, is romantic, is someone you can be yourself with and treats you with respect. Where are the Romeos and Juliets hiding? Are they lost in history? Well, perhaps they’re hiding in the corner of Coppers on Lesson Street of an evening. When you’re going out socially, change the venue every now and then – you never know what you may find out there! Nobody is going to come knocking on your door, you need to get up, open that front door with your head held high and strut out like you mean business.

Jenny Conlon is an Irish journalist living in London.

Read: 16 experiences you’ll definitely have on the Tinder dating app

Column: Is online dating keeping us from settling down?

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