Dating Advice

Do you feel that special 'spark'?














You’ve had the date, you’ve got back home and you sit down. That wasn’t really what you had hoped for – the date didn’t go smoothly, or you really just had nothing to talk about. The banter you shared while writing messages to each other disappeared when you were face to face. You had built up a picture in your mind of a petite brunette and ended up meeting a towering blonde. Their mannerisms unsettled you, you had a disagreement about the movie…whatever it was, the feeling is clear. You didn’t feel that certain something, that ‘spark’. You don’t really want to pursue this any further.


First up, you have to decide if you are just completely incompatible, whether you could be friends but nothing more or whether it was just a really bad first date and a second might be worth trying. After all, something about them made you want to meet them in the first place, so a second chance could be worth it.



This is going to be hard, no denying it. You have seen them in person and now you have to let them down. If you are lucky, they felt the same about the experience and will have to qualms accepting what you need to say. If you are not lucky, they’ll have had a great time and not realised that you did not share that with them. Be tactful, let them down gently but don’t feel guilt tripped into a second date. If you know this is not going anywhere, you have to let them know elsewise you are just leading them on.


Could be friends:

Tricky this one – you have to sound out the waters and see whether they are feeling the same. If they come across as harbouring stronger feelings for you, better to step away. They will agree to be friends assuming it could lead to something more and unless you think that is a possibility, there is nothing but heartache down that road. On the other hand, they could feel the same. Having had a great time, but no romantic feelings towards you they will likely be more than happy to put the whole thing down to an amusing anecdote you can tell at your next party and be friends. Lastly, they may be the ones stepping away from you. Don’t take it personally, see it as an opportunity to log back onto Free and Single and find someone better suited to date!


Second chance:

If you are unsure about the date and think that possibly you just had a bad time because you had a long day at work, you were really nervous,  your shoes were killing your feet, or the restaurant messed up your reservations and order, consider organising a second date. If it was a truly terrible date, they may not agree to a second and you don’t have to worry about it anymore. A second date though, in a different place, maybe at a different time of day could have you significantly more relaxed and open to meeting a new person. Even if the second date goes the same way as the first, at least you know you tried and can move on to looking through more Free and Singles for your next first date!

Do you have a signature dish you can whip up and impress with?






























You may have been dating a while now, or you may just want to turn up to your first date with a home baked offering to help ease the first impression to fully favourable. Either way, you want to make sure that the choices you make go down as intended.


First off, make sure there are no allergies or dietary requirements such as vegetarianism!  No point making your famous peanut butter and chocolate brownies if your date has a fatal allergy to nuts.




The classic image here is of rural elegance balanced with a certain practicality. After all, at some point this food has to be lugged to your patch of grass. Once your blanket is spread and you are ready to chow down on your delectable lunch, you want the great reveal to be tasty looking and not pale sandwiches with jam smeared around the plastic they are encased in. Choose simple basics, good quality and bring wet wipes. Personal favourites would include: marinated olives, flatbreads or farls, humus and other dips (securely packaged!), crudités and a chunky salad with veggies, grains and beans. Lastly get the whole thing off to a flying start by going with a cheese and a selection of cold meats or quiche.


Home Dinner


Okay, first things first. Make sure your house is clean. Nothing ruins the aura of a well-cooked homemade meal than a funk of mess! Once you have tidied and hovered, down to the menu. Choose something you can prepare the day before to give you time to fuss over other things on the night. It can be good to choose a theme such as Mexican, Spanish or Greek to keep you focused when finding recipes and putting together courses. Put thought into all aspects of the dinner, not just the food – tableware and setting, lighting and music all help to set the scene for a really lovely meal.




Now, this depends on your own baking ability and the occasion. If you want to present a basket of mini muffins Bree-from-Desperate-Housewives stylee as you walk through the door, this can be solved by just following the appropriate recipe to the letter. This is very important – baking is a science. Use measuring instruments and the specified ingredients to get it right and it will go off without a hitch. If you are looking to do a more impressively decorated cake, well…don’t aim higher than your abilities or it will go wrong. Stick to what you know, or practise beforehand to get a good result.

Dinner a deux is a classic date option and great for good conversation and some old fashioned romance





































It’s been a while since you eyed up each other’s profile pictures and dissected every last titbit of information with your friends. You have exchanged messages, bantered, swapped email addresses. You might have even upgraded communication to phone numbers so you can have a bit a live chat and see whether that lighting quick wit sticks around when you are in real time or if it does the dirty and deserts you in your time of need. Whatever the build-up, the time has come for the first date. You’ve decided to take it easy and head out for the classic dinner and movie to keep things simple (and to save some cash while you work out if they are worth splashing out on in future).


So, much in the way that classically trained wait staff will perfectly pair your wine to your meal, I’m going to have a go at pairing your movie to your dinner! I also want to reverse the traditional order here – I have never understood why you would go to dinner, then a movie – surely doing things the other way around ensures that you always have the movie to talk about if conversation dries up during dinner? Ensure you go for a movie, then dinner!


Hunger Games + Pub

Now, this film shouldn’t really boost your appetite. However, it will make you want to discuss everything from the realism, the concept, closeness to the book and lastly – what would you do in Katniss’ position? Thus, great British pub food will recall the fare of the film such as hot soups, lamb stew and fresh baked bread. The friendly environs of the pub will give you leave to freely discuss the film’s story and you can chill out into thoughtful musings in front of the log fire with a cool pint or glass of wine to wind the evening up. Perfect not only for our Young Free and Singles, but for Free and Single Parents whose kids might have been nattering on about the book.


Battleship + Burgers

Action thriller complete with alien life forms can only be fully appreciated with the addition of a good, all-American burger and sides. Head out after work, pick your favourite burger joint, or even a trendy street cart if you fancy a walk ‘n’ talk ‘n’ eat moment with your date. (Heads up – ladies are not generally fans of this). Feel free to set a comfort boundary by dismissing concerns of eating with your hands and always order enough chips that she can have some off your plate without causing massive trauma.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel + Indian

Heart-warming life stories go with a curry hand in hand. I don’t know why, they just do. Get yourself and your date to your favourite curry house and enjoy a sit down meal with all your favourite dishes while you talk over the film. Top marks if you can find a restaurant that has large floor cushions and candles for a lounge-about, romantic atmosphere where you can chill out with a bottle of Cobra while discussing the characters in the film.

It can make you nervous, but you have everything to gain in looking for love later in life

So you’ve been out of the game for a while.


Maybe you were married, maybe you have been busy raising kids or maybe you were looking into becoming one with the universe. Either way you have now made a choice to start the intriguing, sometimes painful and often highly entertaining path of looking for a new partner in the online dating world.   Thing is, you may be older and wiser now but it still feels like you have never dated before in your life. For some of our more mature denizens, that may even be true – different times, different traditions!


Whether dipping your toes into the pool for the first time or after an extended break from relationships, it doesn’t have to be the scary rip tide you are expecting. Instead, let yourself approach it as you would a holiday. Let yourself relax, and get ready to try new things.


People always say that by the time you are older you have discovered what and who you like, you know more about yourself than you ever did before and you are more confident in every aspect of your life. This could be true, but I defy anyone not to feel at least a slight twinge of nervousness before embarking on a new date, or even submitting a profile to Free and Single for the first time!


However, I would encourage you to enjoy the nervous flutters, to let yourself be excited and to discover whether you and your date have chemistry, are going to end up just friends or whether you just downright loathe each other on sight! After all, at the end of the day its another tale to add to your story and the anecdote, good or bad, will make for fabulous retelling at a dinner party or reunion event.


Excellent, having decided to take the leap, lets discuss venues. Dinner a deux is a classic of course, but a tad extreme if you are really nervous to put yourself right into the conversational gambit mode! May I suggest an activity to ensure a topic to talk about should all else fail you? You could visit a vineyard or a cidery and have a tasting, you could visit an aquarium to point at strange underwater creatures and shudder at sharks or you could hire vespas and take a tour of the town before stopping at a roadside inn to discuss the views and the people you passed.


I’m a big fan of alternative dates where imagination is key and just letting yourself enjoy it comes first, so put those thinking caps on! I’d love to hear your ideas too, so please tweet me @freeandsingle and have a look at Free and Single Parent or Mature Free and Single to find others in similar positions.

So there you are, hiking up hill and down dale, backpack pulling you down but motivation driving you on towards the next hill…and there, as you crest the top of the ridge and look down into the valley beyond, you spy an entire village of hot single men. Err, yeah right. But seriously now, do you have a passion for fitness, but lack someone to share those early morning training sessions with?


Fit Free and Single specialises in bringing together singles who share a love of the active life, who are dynamic and sporty. Love the outdoors? After all, there is no point looking among singles whose favourite occupation is watching Big Brother to find a date you’ll actually want to talk to. Sign up for free today to start chatting to fellow fitness enthusiasts and maybe you’ll even get a date out of it!


The principle is the same for any dater – why change yourself to get a date? The date will be atrociously boring if you hate maths but opposite you is a chaos theorist eager to explain their day’s work in the labs. Think about what you want from dating, be it fun evenings and getting to know new people or possibly a longer lasting relationship. Then, think about what you like. I’m not talking picky ‘Must have raven-dark hair’ or ‘Only if they love ice hockey’, I’m talking the simple things.


Do you have a passion for reading? Probably best to ignore someone who enjoys burning books. Love dinosaurs? Don’t date a creationist.


Be flexible as well, you never know what a new person could bring to your metaphorical table – they could introduce you to a whole new world you never even knew existed. Try a different restaurant, be open to the idea of experiencing new things – dating should be about mutual discovery, so relinquish the absolute control over exactly how a date should play out. (You know what I’m talking about. No ditching a date just because he brought you pink peonies instead of purple geraniums).


Have a think. What do you yourself bring to a date that might attract someone? Do you just show up (hopefully clean and enthusiastic) expecting to be entertained, or do you give some thought to conversation topics, activities you could do together and use your profile perusal time to your advantage?


After all, the most powerful part of online dating is the ability to skip the awkward initial phase of discovering if there is anything you can talk about. You can look over their profile, exchange messages and decide if there is a spark of interest before having to worry that you haven’t brushed your teeth since breakfast, or that the shirt you are wearing has ketchup stains. Let the profile be to your advantage. Search out someone with a few common interests or features and then even if there is no chemistry when you meet, you’ll still have something to talk about and maybe even become friends, if not more.

So, you have a date. The venue is decided, the time is set, now remains the question…what to wear? First impressions count and once made, cannot be undone so this question is rightly one that strikes fear into the heart of daters everywhere, man or women (but especially women).The most important thing to consider is comfort. Obviously, you don’t want to rock up to your date in your PJ’s (unless you are going to some mad, night-time themed rave, in which case that would be a nifty outfit choice) but pouring yourself into the skinniest jeans you can find – and this goes for man or woman – just because it is a trendy choice would be wrong. So very, very wrong. Comfort shows in your stance, in your baring and will make your whole date less nerve-wracking.


Next to consider is what you plan to do on your date. No use buying a stunning dress to wear if you are off to the beach for a surfing lesson. Obviously, you want to look good for that first meeting, but at the end of the day you will feel silly for the entire duration and a good long time after if you are unable to enjoy the date because you wore something entirely unsuitable. If the date venue is a surprise, ask for a dress code from your date organiser.


With comfort and practicality sorted out, you are then free to fully express yourself. After all, the practice of dating is to find out if you and the other person like each other and feel a spark – no point dressing head to toe in pink to impress someone whose profile says they love the colour if you hate it with a passion. They will forever after assume you like pink as much as they do and you will ruin any real chance of connecting.


While expressing yourself however, it can sometimes be a good idea to reign back a little and let them get to know you before you hit them with your penchant for wearing a Mohican made of forks to 5-star restaurants. Self-Expression is all very well, but it is often unnerving in those we don’t know very well or at all and the last thing you want to do is scare off someone you really like just because they weren’t prepared for all the intrigued stares that come from wearing a purple top hat to the local spa. Thereby, make it your mission to put your date at ease and make them comfortable. Apart from anything else, concentrating on another person’s wishes is a surefire way to win a second date and stop your own nerves in their tracks!

Whether you celebrated Valentine’s Day as a couple or a single, it’s all in the past now. It is almost like a second New Year’s Day, as you vow that this time next year you’ll have met someone, or changed this, or tried that to improve your luck when the next February 14th rolls around.


In this new light of promise then, why not try online dating? The success rates speak for themselves and for those reluctant to try it out, ask yourself; Why?


Is it the ability to narrow down who might suit you and who might not at the click of a button, instead of sorting through them manually in a crowded bar, stopping you?


Is the terrible notion of being able to let your friends vet your choices (or indeed, prevent them from having any say in the matter at all) without actually having to perform introductions, preventing you from turning on the computer?


Here’s one: You can peruse the lists however much you like, but you can do it in the comfort of your pyjamas and wait to get dressed up until it is actually worth it and you have a date to impress.


Whatever persuades you to try internet dating, let there be a few standards kept in mind.


-When choosing a picture, think of how it portrays you. A drunken pose with your girlfriends in the local club sends out the wrong signal, really, doesn’t it? As does a picture taken years ago, when you were 5lbs lighter or didn’t have quite so much of a receeding hairline… Take this opportunity to dress up nicely and take a proper picture of the way you are at the present (no use starting out on a lie, leads to heartache later).


-When filling in your profile, do so truthfully. Embellishments are all very well, but saying you are good friends with Prince Harry when your closest connection is your best mate’s sister’s hairdresser’s cousin who saw him once, maybe, at a bar in London is only going to make you look foolish when the truth comes out.


-When looking for a possible date, don’t judge too harshly. After all, you’re not perfect and you can’t expect every date to be. Don’t dismiss someone just because their hair is straight and you prefer curly, or because they support Manchester United. Everyone deserves a chance and your perfect match could be the least likely suspect – after all, its not like your ‘usual type’ tends to work out well for you, or you wouldn’t be here. How about narrowing down your list to a category like ‘cuddly’ or ‘professional’ and using Free and Single to aim your profile at people you actually want to be contacting you?


-Once you have chosen a likely few people to be your first dates, its time for the hard part. The making contact, the breaking of the ice! This takes bravery, it will be tricky. The good thing is that once you have a list of people picked out that you would like to know more about, you can approach them all while you are feeling courageous! Send out a message and see who replies.


-Even if it all goes up in the air and the first person you message doesn’t even reply, you can simply pick yourself up, dust yourself off and chat to the next on your list. They don’t know you just got rejected. In fact, nobody does because nobody saw it happen – it was all online! Serendipity is the bravery to just chat to people. After all, you’ll never know what could have been if you don’t even try to start with, do you?

That most hackneyed of days is upon us again. Valentine’s Day, where we randomly celebrate the martyrdom of St Valentine, who was stoned, beaten and beheaded for marrying Christian couples at a time when Christianity was most definitely bad for your life expectancy.


Whether you find yourself single, in a relationship or somewhere in-between, February 14th has always had a mysterious hold over people. The onset of the presents and proclamations of love ideology has merely opened the doors to feeling rather forced the have a romantic day mid-way through the shortest month of the year.


Well, be you one of those who applaud or disregard V’Day, the point remains moot – what to do? Do you head out to dinner à deux with your sweetie, smug in the knowledge that you have a ‘special someone’ to share food with? Do you laugh in the face of tradition, grab your mates and go out on the pull? Do you attempt to ignore the entire thing only to find yourself dripping ice cream on the duvet at 2am while watching Sex and the City?


Here’s the thing – Valentine’s Day isn’t going anywhere. It makes too much money for the card companies, heck, it could single-handedly restore the economy if more people felt a little love this year. So, for once, how about waiving the disgruntled arguments about ‘cheap tack’ and how roses are rubbish anyway? Why not grab someone, anyone – be they mates, mums, crushes, acquaintances or random strangers and head out on a date? I’m not talking mushy, I’m talking using the day for your own ends and having an experience to remember.


In the hope that you will take my sage advice to heart, I’m including in my next post a little go-to list of all the places I would go Valentine’s Day if I could but replicate myself to be in more than one place at once.


However, should that list fail you and you actually live in the official middle of nowhere, may I suggest grabbing the first 5 people in your Facebook Timeline and getting them all over for a good dinner, some dancing and a few naff party games – remember the one where you had to dress up and complete an obstacle course? Rename it ‘Get Date Ready’ and come up with the most horrific looks you can for each other. Send us some pictures when you’re done!