FIND­ING Love IN THE 21ST CEN­TURY

Win­ning some­one’s heart is very dif­fer­ent in the mod­ern era where a courtship can start with a swipe. Perth’s match­mak­ers share their se­crets with Rochelle Tet­low on how to find love in 2018 and be­yond

The Sunday Times - - News -

ASECRET of the match­maker’s trade will come as a news­flash to most — blind dates of­fer the best start­ing point for po­ten­tial suc­cess.

It’s the po­lar op­po­site to the shal­low world of on­line dat­ing, where pro­files are cen­tred around pho­tos and swip­ing left or right al­lows sin­gles to pass judg­ment based en­tirely on looks.

Perth re­la­tion­ships ex­perts say in­ter­net dat­ing is fraught with pit­falls, but is here to stay. In or­der to sur­vive, let alone thrive, to­day’s sin­gles have to un­der­stand the ways dat­ing has changed.

Mt Law­ley-based Vi­ola Steed has been in the match­mak­ing busi­ness for 35 years and says sin­gles are fussier and more self-cen­tred than ever be­fore, of­ten with un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions of what they want in a part­ner.

On­line dat­ing has also en­cour­aged a whole new cul­ture of bad be­hav­iour — where there’s lit­tle ac­count­abil­ity as peo­ple cre­ate fan­tasy ver­sions of them­selves.

“Just about ev­ery­body be­lieves and sees them­selves as some­thing par­tic­u­larly spe­cial — their views are dis­torted,” she says.

“Peo­ple be­have badly, they can be rude, they don’t have the com­mit­ment to fol­low through on meet­ing some­one, they don’t call peo­ple back.

“That be­hav­iour is tol­er­ated on­line be­cause no one’s there to tell peo­ple to have some sort of deco­rum. The best thing you can do is go in level-headed with your eyes open.”

Os­borne Park-based match­maker Louanne Ward likened on­line dat­ing to putting a five-year-old in a lolly shop and telling them to leave with only one sweet.

“When there’s too much choice, we can’t choose,” Ms Ward said.

“Even if they go on a great date, the fear that there might be some­thing bet­ter over­whelms them and they go back on­line. Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing chem­istry with a new per­son you’re highly at­tracted to is ad­dic­tive.” It takes time nur­tur­ing a re­la­tion­ship in the real world for an on­line match to last, ac­cord­ing to Re­la­tion­ships Aus­tralia. WA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Kylie Dun­jey said the pro­lif­er­a­tion of on­line dat­ing was the big­gest chal­lenge to find­ing a part­ner in 2018.

“It can be a dan­ger­ous place for peo­ple who aren’t sure of them­selves, have a good sense of self-worth and are feel­ing ro­bust. Yet the chances are if you’ve turned to the on­line space you may feel a lit­tle vul­ner­a­ble re­gard­ing your at­trac­tive­ness or your abil­ity to get a re­la­tion­ship go­ing,” Mrs Dun­jey said.

“Peo­ple can be very cruel on the key­board with no lim­it­ing fac­tors.”

While in­ter­ven­tions to find love have be­come more ac­cept­able — from on­line dat­ing through to so­phis­ti­cated match­mak­ers — Mrs Dun­jey said that the ac­tual work in grow­ing the re­la­tion­ship can’t be out­sourced.

She ad­vised on­line cou­ples to tran­si­tion to their first real-life date quickly.

“On­line, we present our ideal self, not our ac­tual self,” she said. “Move to re­al­ity as soon as pos­si­ble. Then when you meet each other (in per­son) . . . even if you’ve been chat­ting on­line for months and know each other’s in­ner­most se­crets, it’s still nec­es­sary to treat it like you’ve just met.

“De­spite so much chang­ing around the pace with which re­la­tion­ships take off — when to have the first kiss, when to first have sex — the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple are still look­ing for a per­son to be with them and only them un­til that re­la­tion­ship ends.”

Ms Ward said dat­ing apps had been de­signed for peo­ple who didn’t ac­tu­ally want a re­la­tion­ship, whether they knew it or not. The suc­cess­ful life­long bonds that orig­i­nated from on­line dat­ing were ow­ing to the vast vol­umes of users, and were the ex­cep­tion rather than the norm.

But on­line dat­ing had ce­mented its place in mod­ern courtship be­cause tech­nol­ogy had re­duced the amount and qual­ity of hu­man in­ter­ac­tions.

“When peo­ple are in their own lit­tle co­coon, their own bub­ble, it’s like you don’t no­tice any­one,” she said. “I’ve matched peo­ple that have lived on the same street and they’ve never known each other.”

It was also im­por­tant to see both pos­i­tives and nega­tives in any prospec­tive part­ner, Ms Ward said, warn­ing that on­line dat­ing could stunt emo­tional in­tel­li­gence by avoid­ing dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions.

“You are avoid­ing all kinds of emo­tional evo­lu­tion be­cause you don’t ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for how you end some­thing.” she said.

“On­line, peo­ple get ghosted, benched, used, dis­carded and de­spon­dent. Their self-es­teem gets dam­aged. Peo­ple go on Tin­der be­cause it’s very easy to get dates and then they get frus­trated be­cause the ve­hi­cle they’ve cho­sen is not get­ting them to their (de­sired) des­ti­na­tion.”

Mem­ber­ships with Perth dat­ing ser­vices and match­mak­ers start about $500, with some charg­ing up to $15,000 to head­hunt an ex­act pro­file for their client.

Cor­po­rate Cupid’s Re­nee Brown is fo­cused on help­ing Perth’s time-poor pro­fes­sion­als look for love by of­fer­ing com­pat­i­ble op­tions, coun­ter­ing un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions and get­ting them game-ready.

“You’ve got to be OK with be­ing vul­ner­a­ble be­cause dat­ing is so dis­mis­sive and there’s a huge el­e­ment of re­jec­tion . . . oth­er­wise

con­fi­dence can be killed quite eas­ily,” she said.

“So many peo­ple date and they aren’t ac­tu­ally emo­tion­ally avail­able. It’s like a taxi cruis­ing around with­out its light on and won­der why no one’s stick­ing their hand out to stop it.

“If your light’s on, op­por­tu­nity will come wher­ever you go, whether walk­ing the dog, go­ing to the bank or at work.”

By far the big­gest prob­lem, es­pe­cially for suc­cess­ful women, Ms Ward said, was they looked for a car­bon copy of them­selves and didn’t let men have a mas­cu­line space in which to shine.

“All the things they’re in­fat­u­ated with them­selves, they want to find in a part­ner so they end up try­ing to date them­selves: ‘I’m in­tel­li­gent, I’ve got my own money, I don’t need him to sup­port me so he’s go­ing to have to have at least as much money as me. I’m good look­ing and keep my­self look­ing nice so he’s go­ing to have to do that too’.

“If you’re too sim­i­lar you will over­shadow the other and the very thing you first liked about them will be the thing you most re­sent about them.”

One of the hard­est stages of any dat­ing was mu­tu­ally agree­ing the re­la­tion­ship had be­come ex­clu­sive, but Ms Steed said hon­esty was im­por­tant.

“A man might say, ‘I’ve been out with a few fe­males and told them I can’t be con­tact­ing them any more be­cause I think we’re get­ting along quite well’.

“If you’re open, their re­sponse to that will be telling.

“(But) they are al­lowed to have a few dates then call it off.

“They don’t owe you any­thing, they’ve just been on a jour­ney with you.

“The ones who find the most suc­cess with dat­ing are the ones who don’t ex­pect too much too soon.”

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