Because I write about romance I’ve sometimes been asked by fans for relationship advice in real life.  At first I was gobsmacked.  Me give advice?  Before finally meeting Mr Right I had so many dating disasters I could have written a book about them… hmm, yes, in fact I did.  Several.

But hey, come to think of it, maybe I am the very person to ask for relationship advice as I’ve had so much experience on what does and definitely does not work!  So, for what it’s worth, here’s my guide on dating and how to avoid dating disasters.  Enjoy.

Where to find a date:

  • Your school, college or work place:  Yes, lots of romances have started with a scribbled note on a paper aeroplane launched across the classroom or a cheeky email from the guy in Sales offering to help review your statistics.  But remember, everyone will be aware when you’re a couple.  Don’t pretend you can keep it secret – they will find out, trust me.  And of course everyone will know if you break up too.  Also you’ll have to see your ex every day afterwards.  As for crushes on your teacher, lecturer or boss – No! No! No!
  • Places where guys go:  Game shops, sports grounds, pubs with cheap beer and Sky TV.  Only problem is some guys might be too absorbed to notice you there even if you pole danced naked in front of them.
  • Internet dating:  The good news is this has removed the sad lonely hearts stigma dating agencies used to have and can be a cool, fab way to find a date.  Lots of people I know have even hooked up with The One like this.  But remember, people can and do tell porkies online.  And post absurdly flattering pictures.  So the fit young lad you were expecting to meet could turn out to be a fifty-five year old accountant with halitosis.  Or worse, some dodgy character with scarred face, black teeth and a suspicious sauna business.  So be careful and remember your online safety rules if you don’t want to end up disappointed.  Or dismembered.

What not to do on a date:

  • Before the date don’t experiment with major changes in appearance especially your hair.  So no ‘funky’ hair cuts which will make you look like a butch lesbian unless that’s what you’re aiming for.  And no poodle perms.  Please.
  • Don’t wear anything too uncomfortable or fiddly on the day like that “miracle” stay-on strapless bra which will work its way down to your waist and poke out underneath your jumper.
  • Or anything too outrageously sexy.  No black lace bustiers or crotch skimming red leather skirts.  You don’t want to look as though you charge by the hour.
  • On the other hand don’t wear any little girly stuff either.  Sparkly hair bands or pink plastic jewellery are for kids – if you’re old enough to go on a date then you don’t need these.
  • On the date don’t talk about your ex, shopping or your personal problems.  He doesn’t want to know.
  • And never ever do any of these.  Get drunk.  Tell dirty jokes.  Sleep with him.  Sorry, but your mother was right, if you want a second date act like a nice girl – at least at first.

What to do on a date:

  • Wear discreetly sexy clothes – the little black dress or your favourite bum enhancing jeans.
  • Look your best, be approachable and smile a lot.  OK, now I realise this advice won’t please some feminists and I’d love to say guys don’t care about appearances and just want girls to be intelligent, informed and witty but, hey. . . there must be some reason Brad Pitt and Daniel Craig don’t answer my calls.
  • Guys like to talk about themselves so encourage them.  Try asking questions like: ‘So tell me, how often do you have to practise football, rugby, ludo, tiddlywinks (whatever) to become as good as you are?’  And OK I know this sounds like awful agony aunt stuff.  So completely cheesy.  Sooo totally works like a dream.  Try it.
  • Listen to your date.  I repeat listen to your date.  Guys love the attention.  Anyway, you wanted to get to know him didn’t you?  And he’ll find your interest attractive.  Very.

If you do all this, chances are all should go fantastically well on the night but there are no guarantees in romance so you might just want to check out. . .

Signs that a date is going wrong:

  • He doesn’t turn up.
  • He turns up but after twenty minutes he gets a telephone call from a friend telling him he has to leave immediately because of some “urgent” improbable problem.  His flat is on fire, his granny has lost her hip replacement, or he needs to take his budgie to the dentist.  Whatever the excuse it’s his pre-arranged “get out of bad date” plan.  You might consider using this trick too.
  • He spends the whole time eyeing up other girls.
  • He has nicely manicured nails, is really interested in fashion and spends the whole time eyeing up the good looking barman.
  • And run for the hills if he seems very keen but. . .
  • His hobbies include stuff like making matchstick models of the Taj Mahal, speaking Klingon, or collecting anything – stamps, model cars, train timetables – it doesn’t matter.  He’ll bore you senseless.
  • He believes in flying saucers, corn crop circles, or levitating monks.  Whatever.  The guy is either very stupid or seriously weird.
  • He confides that he can’t pick you up from your home as you live within ten miles of his ex and she’s unaccountably taken out a restraining order against him.

And finally… 
 
Signs the date is going right:

  • Oh come now, you don’t need anyone’s advice on this.  You’ll know.  Have a wonderful time. . .
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