Blog: Tricky business of dating simplified with a few tips
Dating is a tricky business. It can be a lucky dip for some, but a random useless lottery for others.
He could turn out to be a commitment phobe, while she could have an all-consuming hankering to start a family. She could be domineering, and he could be a sensitive soul looking for someone kind.
Irish singletons are turning to dating agencies to take the unexpected complications out of dating, and meeting that special person.
Intro Matchmaking, a Dublin-based agency, has matched 3,000 people in the last two years, and owner Feargal Harrington has become something of a dating expert.
The number one mistake which men make on dates, he says, is that they're not prepared to splash a little cash for their date. Women are turned off my men who are stingy or mean.
And the number one trait which men don't like in women is loudness and brashness, according to reports coming back to Feargal. Irish women are more educated and more independent than ever, but overly domineering women are a turn-off for single men.
And alcohol is having a crippling effect on any potential romances on a night out.
"In the Celtic Tiger especially, drink was consuming everyone and ruining their potential to meet everyone. Girls and guys can be confident, good-looking peole with no problem holding themselves and chatting, but drink can ruin that," Feargal says.
"In Ireland, drink is just the go-to to build confidence, so that ends in an absolute mess in bars and clubs all over the country."
Groups of girls under the influence of drink, in particular, can be a cruel obstacle for men who want to take the plunge and chat up someone new.
"Girls in groups can be very daunting and very patronising. If girls are drinking, they can be very cutting. And guys have come into us saying, 'I'm never doing that again, I was just made to feel so small when I went up to a group of girls'."
Social networking has taken the focus off person-to-person contact and isolated many from their peer group, according to Feargal.
"People are literally not spending time building up their communication skills. They don't form the conversational ability and they hide behind their computer screen and the ipad."
"They can be brazen and cheeky online, but then their date finds out that they can't string a word together."
Feargal and his fiancee Rena came up with the idea to become the "wing man" that binds strangers together, when they spotted a young man standing at a bar for hours - simply because he was working up the courage to chat up women in the bar.
"Myself and Rena were introduced by my brother. So we have a fondness for the old-school introductions. We're getting married in June, and we believe in the modern touch but old-school introductions."
Intro Matchmaking have some top tips for singletons on how to survive the festive season:
Say yes to everything: There is no better time of year to go out there and socialise.
Always look your best: This tip is not just for Christmas - keep the comfy clothes for indoors, pyjamas are meant to be worn in bed and not down the shops.
If you see someone you fancy - approach them: If you spot a nice girl/guy across a crowded bar, don't just glance, clutch your glass closer to your chest and turn away nonchalantly.
Exercise: During the festive season you'll be tucking into assorted versions of five- course meals before topping them all off with mulled wines, Irish coffees, brandys and ports. Upping your game at the gym or pounding the pavement a little more in December will keep you feeling fit and healthy allowing you to enjoy all the parties (including the fabulous food and drink that goes with them) and still fit into your LBD or Armani 3 piece.
Make yourself available for dates: Now that you're dressed to kill in your amazing new outfit and looking fit and happy after your boot camp class,you're feeling sexy surrounded by fairy lights and bathed in the soft glow of confidence.