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Style & Life: Alternative Dating Guide

I've read a million and one silly little dating 'rules', which I think are just down right silly, so this is my alternative guide... and if you have no desire to ever date, these tips can be applied to friendships too, by Rosa Fairfield.

Photographs by Linda Smith

Okay, so maybe I haven't got the credentials to talk about dating. I've never had a proper relationship. I've dated about 6 people in my whole life and the longest that's latest for is 4 dates. I have spent a lot of time listening to friends and acquaintances talking about their relationship and dating issues though and I've tried to help them work though them.

Keep an open mind
I hate to think about dating like shopping, having a list in your head of things you're looking for in a partner. Sure, it can be helpful to know what you're looking for but sometimes you meet someone unexpected and you just click, even though every law of nature tells you that this shouldn't work. So, don't just brush someone off because they don't fit into your ideal or at least give people a chance.

Accept if something isn't working
A lot of people say it's hard to realise you're in a bad situation when you're actually in one. I'd change that to: it's hard to accept you're in a bad situation. I think, deep down, that there's always some kind of feeling that something is not right but when you're in that situation you don't want to see it. You want things to work out so you subconsciously blind yourself to the reality. Listen to your intuition.

The little silly things don't matter
I've seen so many people stop dating because of silly little things. Their eyebrows don't match or they eat with their mouth open etc etc. In the long run, does that stuff really matter? A person isn't a sum total of one trait and it seem cruel to dismiss someone for something so trivial. Then again, people often subconsciously pick up on little things like that, when it just isn't working out and they need to grasp a rational reason.

Don't date out of necessity 
I've seen too many people go on dates because it's the done thing to do or because they're on a desperate search to find a partner. I think you should only go on a date because you genuinely want to or because you feel like you might genuinely like that person, not just as a social standard because it's also very okay never to date anyone.

Don't hang onto something because it's comfortable or because you don't want to end up alone
... because you'll never be truly a 100% happy, you'll just be going through the motions and that's never really enough. Be brave and take a leap.

Never ghost someone
Texting makes people detached and if someone messages you after a date and you don't want to go on another one, it's so easy to just ignore it. I think people always deserve an explanation. Often, people do this because they think it's kinder than telling the other person the truth but often the worst thing is not knowing. Yes, it can be scary to be honest but the other person deserves it.

Be yourself, don't hide anything
If a person doesn't like you for who you are, then they're not right for you. In the same way, you shouldn't fake interests so you have things in common with the other person. You don't need to like exactly the same things to have a successful relationship.

If someone is embarrassed by you walk away
I don't think that one needs any explaining.

Communication is key
With anything in life, if you have a problem, try to fix it instead of just giving up. Talk to the other person or people involved, let them explain themselves. It might be something you can work out or even a simple misunderstanding.