So, dating boot camp. Yes, it’s a boot camp, about dating. A chance for lady singletons to sit with a dating professional and talk shop, and yes, discuss what’s been going wrong in the romance department.
It really is a simple concept, and one (I admit) that I was slightly cynical about - but then again, I am a ridiculously cynical person, attracted to deeply cynical men, go figure — that essentially encourages women to share dating experiences and have them addressed by matchmaker (and CEO of introduction agency Elect Club) Genevieve Zawada.
Toting a rather jazzy clipboard (and I am a massive fan of an authoritative clipboard), Genevieve opened the boot camp proceedings by asking us to write down the key traits we look for in a partner. Answers ranged from the obligatory ‘kind’ and ‘sense of humour’ right through to ‘good with family’ and ‘well-presented’, with many of us (myself included) scribbling down a somewhat lengthy Christmas list of ideal man qualities.
This list, according to Genevieve, must be shortened to three. She explained that those three key traits are paramount to your dating success, because anything more means that your expectations might be ‘unrealistically high’.
(Needless to say, I didn’t mention that my penchant for guys with glasses and dark curly hair featured quite high on the list, but anyways, moving swiftly on…)
We then tackled the subject of what ‘we’ (as in, the girls) are doing wrong. Those first date triggers that determine whether or not the chap in question asks for a second date. Genevieve, an expert in her field, obviously gets some quite juicy feedback from the men she professionally matches, and I was interested to find out the things that can really turn a guy off during a date, and (more importantly) whether or not I was guilty of any of them. Turns out, I’m guilty of all five.
According to the men Genevieve has coached, these are the five things NOT to do during a first date scenario:
DON’T talk about yourself all the time
DON’T talk about your ex
DON’T talk about past sexual experiences
DON’T get drunk (yep, total re-offender here)
DON’T sleep with them on the first date
I mean, now that I’ve actually written them out, those five points do look pretty obvious, right? And don't get me wrong, I haven't completed the entire checklist of all these (in hindsight, pretty awful) mitigating factors during one date, and not necessarily the first date - I'm not a total masochist. However, I dare any woman of a certain age, dating in London, to admit that that haven’t done one (or all, be honest) of those things, at some point during their dating career. And, if you are reading this, smiling all innocently and shaking your head, then I call total BS on that, you absolute bunch of fibbers! I thought that getting slightly twisted during a Tinder date was a pre-requisite, especially if the guy turns out to be dull as dishwater. And that not sleeping on the first date gubbins? Well, sometimes, the situation just presents itself, right? But ok, I admit, perhaps this isn't the best approach going forward.
Lastly, Genevieve emphasized how important it is that we as ladies brand ourselves. Why? Because we are more likely to be successful daters and attract the men we want to attract if we are 100% happy in the skin we’re in. Those three key traits we identified at the start of the session, also need to apply to ourselves. What we project in a dating situation is paramount to continuing the attraction. Carping on about how unhappy you are in life/work/general is never going to set you in good stead.
So, dating boot camp - is it worth a punt? Definitely. It's a great chance to swap stories, and hear from other women who are going through the same dating drought as you. And the thing I enjoyed most was the varied age spectrum. Dating it seems, presents it's the same set of shitty problems for twenty-somethings as it does for fifty-somethings, and I take great comfort in that.