Psychologist debunks dating 'myths'
Published 18/09/2010 | 11:48
Clever chat-up lines, psychological mind games and body language are not the answer to finding true love, an expert has said.
Instead, lonely souls of both sexes should focus on just being themselves and having fun, according to Dr Petra Boynton.
The social psychologist from University College London dismissed most of the advice given in dating guides and self-help books as unscientific "bunkum".
Speaking at the British Science Festival at Aston University, Birmingham, she said: "They talk about 'science has shown' or 'biology says' or 'in evolutionary terms men are programmed to be the aggressors and women are not'. But they never cite any of the science they're talking about and when you look at the way they apply it, it's just rhetoric.
"There's no science to actually back up what they're saying. Also, the way they evaluate themselves is by sales. You can't know whether they work at all based on that."
A decade ago, Dr Boynton had a paper published in which she strongly criticised The Rules, the hit women's dating guide that has sold millions of copies around the world. This week she invited 60 members of the public to a speed dating event at Aston University where they discussed the art of match-making.
Her advice to nervous daters was to keep things simple, be themselves and get into practice talking to people when not searching for "The One", and she added that the best ice-breaking chat-up line might be the straightforward: "Hello, how are you?"
She debunked a number of myths related to the sexpert "rules" of dating.
For men, she said: clever chat-up lines do not generally work. They appear contrived and can be horribly fluffed; "Negging" - offering a "back-handed" compliment - is meant to make a man look confident and self assured and "unsettle" the woman, but is more likely to cause her to "run for the hills"; there is no evidence that sitting with one's legs wide open and crutch pointed towards a woman conveys an attractive message.
And for women, she advised: sneaking "peek-a-boo" glances at an admired individual can easily backfire by being overdone, making you look half-witted or mad; not calling him first, or not answering his calls, to keep him "on his toes" is bad advice. Instead he might just walk away; sticking your hip out to accentuate your curves is not necessarily seen as a sign of fertility.