Share via Email What are the secrets of successful dating? Fortunately for us, almost Guardian readers have been brave enough to do exactly that. Here, we sum up the state of play in the era of online dating and apps such as Tinder, and you can also catch up with some of our favourite Blind Date couples and find out whether love was in the air.
Did Sam and Emily survive the pornstar martini incident? Were Lou and David meant for one another? And what next for the Blind Date wedding couples? How we date now For the first time since records began, more of us are single than not. Statistics don't reveal the full picture, of course — how many of us are technically single but still have a significant other? The way we look for love is changing. Online dating, once considered the preserve of only the truly lonely, is now so commonplace that the Office for National Statistics added it to the basket of goods and services it uses to calculate inflation.
Three in 10 of us still ask our friends to set us up, say analysts Mintel, but that's matched by the three in 10 who use free dating sites to find a partner. As we become more businesslike about shopping for love, the list of what we look for in a partner gets longer. As our expectations grow, dating sites offer increasingly sophisticated packages to help us meet our perfect match. Zoosk , for example, offers "behavioural matchmaking": So, although you might say you're interested in intellectual types, if you tend to linger over the profiles of honed gym bunnies, Zoosk might steer you in that direction.
The rise of niche dating At the other end of the scale, niche dating is becoming increasingly popular, thanks to the availability of website software that makes it easier for individuals to maintain a site.
Some companies run multiple niche-dating sites, for groups ranging from Star Trekkers to fans of the mullet hairstyle. If you're yearning to meet a fellow Twilight enthusiast, then you could try Vampire Passions. Vegetarians might prefer the gentler souls over at Veggie Romance.
Despite online dating's seemingly unstoppable rise, transparency is still a problem. How do you know whether the people you're talking to are genuine?
If you prefer the thought of a real-life hook-up, where your date can't hide behind a years-younger profile pic, then there's also a growing number of events marketed at singles, including the triumphantly grumpy Down With Dating parties, run by the team behind the popular Feeling Gloomy club nights feelinggloomy.
Or you could try pheromone parties, the latest fad from wouldn't you know it Los Angeles. Sleep in the same T-shirt for three nights, bag it, then take it with you to the event and let strangers sniff it. The theory is we're attracted to people with compatible pheromones. In the unlikely event you sniff out the love of your life, you'll have a great story to tell the grandchildren.
Yes, you engineered it, but you can still claim you knew the first time you looked into each other's eyes. Dating at any age A lack of confidence is an issue for daters in their 20s, but confidence increases in our 30s. Alamy Is dating at 20 really all that different from dating at 65? The core issue may remain the same — will you find someone you like who likes you too?
They're coming under increasing pressure to look a certain way, and women typically have a lot more access to things that make them look better. The good news is that for most of us, our confidence increases in our thirties, as other parts of our life start to slot into place, but as the average age for marriage is 28 for women, and 30 for men, you may start to feel like the odd one out if you're still single.
If you haven't yet found a long-term partner, ignore anyone who tells you you're too fussy. Is it really that ludicrous to hold out for someone you're genuinely attracted to? The best way to describe dating in your 40s? It's more than likely that other people are complicating your quest for a new relationship, particularly if you have grown-up children. And can you be dating when your daughter, who is in her 20s, isn't? That's a whole new dynamic that a lot of parents and children are negotiating.
Take a lesson from your younger compatriots on the frontline of dating and embrace the internet. And remember you're never too old to use a condom. The science of love Sharing the same religion and having similar attitudes to children, money and politics increase the chances of dating success.
No doubt you've already made a number of decisions that have led you to this moment — you've said yes to going out with them, so on some level, you've made a judgement about whether you might be a good match. Perhaps you used a dating website that boasts a complicated algorithm to pick potential partners. You've selected a venue, or your date has, factoring in a number of variables will there be candlelight, seclusion, are you likely to be rushed by the waiters? You've chosen an outfit, no doubt giving some thought to what your clothes say about you.
Will you be a fashionable five minutes late? Have you got your small talk prepared? Have you considered who will pay the bill? If you believe the research, then the decisions you make — even the little ones — all have the potential to increase your chances of getting a second date.
Some of the larger dating sites pride themselves on their scientific approach to matchmaking. It seems it's no longer enough to rely on the possibility that you and your date will just "click". You've got to trust in the science of attraction. But what do we really know about creating chemistry between two people?
Then there are the physical factors that influence attractiveness — we tend to select a partner who we judge to be as good-looking as we see ourselves. Beyond that, it all gets a little silly — and sexist. Researchers at the University of Westminster found that when men were hungry, they were more likely to be attracted to women with higher BMIs.
A separate study revealed that women consistently rated the same man more attractive when he was pictured behind the wheel of a Bentley convertible, rather than a Ford Fiesta. No doubt you've heard that wearing red is meant to signal sexual availability, but did you know that having a facial scar can enhance a man's attractiveness? Oh, and researchers in Texas believe that "a positive correlation of function-word [personal pronouns, articles and conjunctions] similarity" signals the likelihood of a good match.
However, this only applies when the activities remind us of our hunter-gatherer ancestry. So driving without a seatbelt or not bothering to update antivirus software doesn't count. This is all great trivia, but unlikely to have much bearing on your real experiences of dating unless you're going on some very unusual dates. It's also worth remembering that studies such as the ones above are, more often than not, based on a sample of volunteer students in the psychology department.
Some of the principles identified in heterosexual research may carry across, but until more research is done we won't know for sure. Are they worth paying attention to?
But crucially, this is when you perform these behaviours in a natural way without too much conscious effort. Once you start deliberately mimicking the other person, forcing your laughter, and carefully planning an arm touch, the chances are that you'll end up seeming odd. But still, there's something very seductive about the idea that we may be able to change our fate with the right choice of outfit or a well-timed joke. And then if it all goes wrong, we can blame the experts, rather than ourselves.
What have we learned? Beware the waiter or waitress — they may be your competition. Alamy So, nearly dates later, what can we glean from the experiences of the Guardian's Blind Daters? Not one, not two, but three dates were derailed by bits of flying lobster, so it's best to play safe and avoid altogether. If we sent you to a seafood restaurant, we're very sorry.
And if your date has just told you she's allergic to shellfish, it's probably best not to order the prawns and the crab, Archie. You might think you're on safe ground with a fellow Guardian reader, but you'd be wrong.
Perhaps just remember to ask your date one or two polite questions, rather than launch into a monologue about your childhood. A cup of tea is a euphemism for "I do not want to see this person again, but I am too polite to say so. Think about your compliments. Followed by 'don't worry, I love my sister'," said Andrew.
Unsurprisingly, Catherine wasn't all that sure she wanted to see him again. Serving staff are the enemy. Not really, your waiter or waitress is probably very nice but you may be in competition with them for your date's affections. Although you wouldn't know it from some of our Blind Dates. Others, though, have a better philosophy. That made the whole thing easier.
It should really go without saying — however, more than one of our Blind Daters appeared to be suspiciously attached. At least some were big enough to own up. I realise this makes me sound a bastard. The sudden appearance of semi-naked women presented a challenge for several Blind Dates, but most remembered where to look. Perhaps if he'd bought them it would have been an 8. Gavin Stamp, one of our Blind Daters from got in touch to tell us that he was now happily married "after getting back in touch with someone I met for the first time at a wedding in Eight years elapsed between our first and second meetings, so people should never give up hope about finding or rediscovering their soulmate.
Blind Date readers can try Soulmates for free Topics.