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Find Love in 47 steps: from small talk to free dating sites

Jasmine Birtles 10th Feb 2012 6 Comments

Reading Time: 12 minutes
Here at MoneyMagpie we know that finding love can be a long journey filled with many ups and downs; that’s why we’ve put together this indispensable guide covering everything from free dating sites to working on your chat-up lines.  So be safe, have fun and let us know how you get on!

1. Join dating sites.

Online dating site

For the biggest choice in online dating, join up to Match.com and Datingdirect. There are so many people on those sites that you’re bound to get enough dates to keep you very busy for the next few months. There are some excellent free dating sites out there, including FreeDating and Smooch, plus other online dating sites that have had good reviews such as Zoosk. If you are religious you can find more specific sites, such as ChristianCafe.

2. Be safe on dating sites.

Graphic image of a dating scammer offering a rose to a woman through a computer screen

Never reveal your address before you’ve actually met up with someone, and on your first date make sure a friend or relative knows where you are.  There’s no need to be completely paranoid, but it pays to be cautious.

3. Smile a lot more.

Man smiling

Really, not just at anyone particular. Just smile a lot more generally. Whoever you are, whatever you look like, smiling makes you look better. It also makes you look more attractive, approachable and friendly. So smile and you could be surprised!

4. Make sure you smell nice.

Woman spraying perfume on wrist

This goes for men as well as women. Basic good hygiene makes all the difference between getting a date and not getting one. Regular washing, good deodorant and clean clothes are an essential for any civilised person. If you’re not sure whether you whiff too much, ask an honest friend. Try Superdrug for a wide range of toiletries and fragrance.

5. Don’t smell too nice.

Woman holder her nose

In other words, don’t bathe yourself in perfume or aftershave, particularly if you go for the strong, musk-based stuff or cheap aftershave that makes Toilet Duck smell appealing. Better to have none at all, particularly if you’re going to be meeting in a confined space.

6. (for men) Nose hair – get rid of it.

Young man using a nose hair trimmer

Seriously. Anything showing needs to be clipped off. Just do it.  Boots has a great range of men’s grooming products.

7. (also for men) Consider removing the beard.

Man shaving off his beard

Survey after survey has found that the majority of women find beards a total turn-off. Many like them, of course, and some men’s faces look a lot better with coverage than without so check with friends (those with taste) first before you get the razor out. Oh, and also the beer belly….ditch that asap.

8. Try an original chat-up line.

Woman laughing on date

Seriously, a good, creative one can sometimes swing it with the object of your affection. However, lines like ‘Get your coat love, you’ve pulled’ or ‘cheer up, love, it may never happen’ will, deservedly get you ignored and shunned.  Amazon has loads of books filled with great chat-up lines for just a few pounds each – try those if you’re struggling.

9. Get your friends to get you a date.

Double dateSometimes your friends know people who would be good for you but they don’t think to put you together. Sometimes it’s as simple as letting people know you want to find love. Tell them to keep you in mind if they know of singletons that could match you up with.

10. Get a friend to put you on Mysinglefriend.com.

MySingleFriend.com Banner

Almost the same thing, but online. On Sarah Beeney’s dating site your friends describe you and say why you would make a great date. It’s a lot less cringy than writing your own blurb.

11. Get help changing your wardrobe.

Woman clearing out her wardrobe

If you’re worried your clothes may be letting you down, get a stylish friend to go shopping with you. In fact, if you have the money get a professional stylist to help you in the high street. One or two sessions can create a whole new wardrobe and a whole new look for you.  For online bargains, Designer Discount is great for grabbing the most fashionable gear at reduced rates.

12. Don’t look desperate.

Woman with far too much makeup on

Even when we’re grown up, sensible and (supposedly) mature, dating can bring out the desperate in us. Hard to describe what that looks like but probably for women it’s going for the Katie Price, overdone lips and boobs look. For men, well it’s probably the Alex Reid look – in fact, study those two and do the opposite.

13. Don’t be desperate.

I love you note with red roses

Easy to say, I know, but we often give off signals that we’re not aware of that can either be attractive or off-putting. If you’re feeling desperate for a date it’s likely that you will put people off. Time to take a step back, evaluate what you’re feeling and, if necessary, get some help.

14. Set up your own singles parties.

Happy Couple at a party

If you have lots of friends who are single, hold a party, either at your place or in a local pub or club, and get them to bring at least one single friend of the opposite sex. That way you should have an equal number of boys and girls to meet each other and you will meet them first as you greet them so you could nab them before anyone else does!

15. Go speed dating.

Couple speed dating

These events are still happening all over the country. Just put ‘speed dating’ into Google and you’ll find a host of companies running events near you. Don’t expect too much – you’re not exactly going to find out much about a potential partner in a minute or so, but it could be the start of something good.

16. Set up your own speed-dating events (make money while you date).

Stopwatch and hearts

There’s nothing to stop you setting up your own speed-networking event. Find a venue (lots of restaurants are very keen to get bums on seats on week nights). Then it’s just a question of getting the word out – use your email networks and social networking sites. Even charging a small fee like just £5 a head could bring in a nice bit of cash every now and then.

17. Get into networking.

Work colleges socialising with drinks

Business networking events are a great way to meet interesting people. Good networking events are like the best parties – full of all the lively people. If you’re there for business primarily then meeting a potential date is an added bonus.

18. Use social networks as dating sites.

Really, Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn are used as dating sites by lots of people. Start with friends of friends and get friendly. Don’t be a pest though. You can find yourself blocked if you’re too persistent.

19. Do evening classes.

Man and woman at a cookery class

Evening classes are a great way to meet people who are interested in similar subjects to you. However, be clever about it. If you’re looking for a woman, go to cooking or sewing classes. If you’re looking for a man go to technical or DIY classes. Language classes and music are good for both sexes. Have a look at Hotcourses if you need inspiration.

20. Do some salsa classes.

Couples learning Salsa

This is particularly good for men because salsa classes (and dance classes generally) tend to be over-subscribed with women. In a dance class you can get up close and personal entirely legally for a good hour or so.

21. Join a boxing or spin class at your gym.

Spin Class

There are always cuties in those classes. They just attract them. Good eye candy even if you don’t find a date.

22. Go to book readings or join a book-reading club.

Book club

There are always the smart ones there – so if you’re looking for someone with a brain, you’ve got a fighting chance of finding one there.  Visit Waterstones and get genned up on the classics before you go so you can impress with your knowledge.

23. Volunteer.

Volunteering Group

The nice ones do that sort of thing. There are loads of ways of doing it. Try the ‘Do-it’ website which is run by the charity Youthnet. It has a good search facility for volunteering opportunities in your area and abroad. Also, Volunteering.org.uk has a range of projects for individuals and groups. Don’t forget GOV.UK has a good list of places to go to find the right volunteering opportunity for you.

24. Hang out at libraries.

Couple in library

Even if you already go, hang out there more often. Again, the smart ones go there too.

25. Attend art gallery openings.

Not only do they offer the opportunity of free food and drink but also cool, artsy, sophisticated people go there and there’s lots to talk about. It’s easy to get invited. Just wander into nice-looking galleries and ask to be put on their list for when new shows happen. Then wait for the invitations to come through the door.

26. Take in more live music at smaller venues.

Small gig

Same thing as art galleries – cool people go there too and you can always casually talk about the music.

27. Take up a cooking class or wine tasting class.

Wine tasting

The cooking classes are particularly good for men as there are usually a lot more women there. Also, you will be able to impress your date – and future dates – with your culinary skills. It’s always impressive when a man can cook.

28. Hang out at good old nightclubs or bars.

Woman talking to stranger at bar

One friend of mine says “I can’t believe how many people I know who have met their spouses there! It must be a combination of having a good time and not really searching.” Just make sure you pick nice bars to find the nice people.

29. Take an interest in other people and really listen to what they say.

Man listening to date intently

It’s amazing how few people do this and how attractive it is. Really work at asking others about themselves and listening to the answer before saying anything about yourself.

30. Check the ‘Events’ section of your local newspaper.

Newspaper events section

Clip out the events that interest you and make yourself go. You can take a friend if you like, but just remember to meet at least one new person when you go. Keep in mind that you’re looking to meet a possible friend, not a date. Take the pressure off yourself so that you are able to be normal when you talk to people.

31. Get a dog.

Couple Dog

Walking a dog in the park or in local streets is a great way to meet other dog walkers and dog lovers. Studies have shown that people who walk a dog get friendly with others more quickly than those that walk alone.  Stock up on dog food from Pet Supermarket.

32. Accept invitations.

Envelope invitation

Go to those weddings, reunions, and similar events that you’ve been invited to. Fight the urge to say “Ugh, no!” Go with an open mind and the aim of giving everyone else there a good time. Forget about yourself. Talk to people and see what happens.

33. Join your local club or a sports group you’re interested in.

Group team

Team sports are best such as football or hockey (particularly if the club is mixed) but anything you’re interested in will work. And don’t rule out groups just because you’ve never done it before. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to fly, ski, sail or play volleyball then join a group and learn.

34. Get a hands-on job.

personal trainer

Consider becoming a personal trainer, if that’s what you’re good at, or a masseur or hairdresser or any similar ‘hands-on’ profession that allows you to get up-close and personal with your clients. Many matches have been made that way.

35. Get into singles travel.

Friends on a beach in the sunshine

There are various organisations such as Club Med, Sunsail, Skyros holidays and others that are particularly suited to singles who want to meet other singles. They have interesting activities and, if nothing else, you’re going to have a fun holiday.

36. (for women) Stop trying to be a ladette.

Woman acting like a lad

It’s not big and it’s not clever. If you’ve got a mouth like a sailor, learn to hold it in until your love interest is out of earshot. Cut down the booze and certainly bin the fags. You don’t have to dress in Laura Ashley but the boys need girls to be strong enough to be a good influence and make them happy, not so weak that they need to copy the lads.

37. Learn some French.


You don’t need to be fluent in the so-called language of love, but throwing in the odd phrase here and there should make you seem educated and cool. Get yourself a good-looking teacher and you can’t lose.

38. Be more realistic.


If you’re finding it tough to get a date then aiming for Brad or Angelina lookalikes is probably a bit optimistic. We’re not saying you should start chatting up Scary Mary from work or Smelly Stan from the local, but go for character and tastes and interests like yours, rather than looks and you’ll get further.

39. Get smarter looking.

Woman with face mask on

There’s no point beating round the bush, good-looking people attract other good-looking people. Harsh but true. So slap on a face mask, invest in some spot cream and take a trip to the hairdressers. It could work wonders.  For all the top beauty brands, try Lookfantastic.com, which offers free delivery.

40. (for women) Buy the man a drink.

Woman offering a beer

Confidence is a turn-on and most men will appreciate a woman who takes the pressure off them and makes the first move.  Just make sure he’s buying the second round.  If you’re willing to be more direct, dating will eventually become much less nerve wracking.

41. Don’t get completely wasted.

Man very drunk on a date

A few drinks may improve your social skills, but there’s nothing more unattractive than someone unable to stand upright or articulate complete sentences.

42. Don’t become a workaholic.

working late

The most important thing you can do is get yourself out there! If you take up residence in your office and sleep under the desks, how can you hope to meet that special someone on the tube/ bus on the way home?

43. Post “Missed connections” on Craigslist London.


If you see a potential candidate on the tube, bus, or in the queue for a lunchtime sandwich – post an ad on here with your best description of the person. I know for a fact that these have worked for people. Be sure to check for someone seeking you too!

44. Go out of your way to be kind.

How to make people happy

Give up seats on the bus, hold doors for people and thank others as often as possible. Even if the person you help isn’t a potential match, you never know who could be spying from a safe distance!  Plus, you’ll feel great about yourself which is a real confidence booster.

45. Attempt to get into small-talk situations with Eligable strangers.

Strangers chatting on train

The easiest way is if you and another find yourself in a shared predicament – for example, you are both hoping to catch the same train, and it is delayed. Nothing brings Brits together better than mutual outrage at transport services. Just roll your eyes, sigh and look towards your neighbour for a reaction.

46. Stop looking so hard.

Woman looking through magnifying glass

It’s Sod’s law but just when you’re feeling happy and interested in life and you’re not looking for anyone special…whammo, that person turns up.

47. Find a date for an older single friend or relative.

Woman and older man laughing together

Put your own love life to one side for a few minutes – myLovelyParent lets you set up a profile for someone else, be it your mum, dad or anyone else. You write a glowing description and recommend potential matches then let nature take its course!


Remember to read our fab article Dating on a budget – it’s packed with romantic but recession-busting sites and offers to help you find love even when you’re strapped for cash.

If you’ve tried any of our tips fill us in on your experiences on our Facebook and Twitter pages – whether you’ve found love on free dating sites or flirted at a salsa class, we’d love to hear about it!

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Dale PNW
Dale PNW
10 years ago

This post is a huge amount of tips. Since I’m pretty shy I don’t like to approach girls like in bars, but some of the other ideas which almost force you to mingle like going to a dance class can be a little easier to do. The girls are probably also just as nervous about meeting someone. Also if you have the time and funds, a singles only tour or cruise is a great way to break the ice in a fun environment where everyone is just there to meet fun people.

10 years ago

MeetUp.com is good.

13 years ago

Can anyone recommend social clubs that are not dating clubs ?

Lucio Jetter
Lucio Jetter
14 years ago

I searched for this site on Bing and just wanted to take some time to say thanks for the excellent dating tips you have written about on this article.

Chara Emery
Chara Emery
14 years ago

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Rickie Koppinger
Rickie Koppinger
14 years ago

Fantastic information in your posting, I watched this report on tv the other day about this same thing and since I am going to be married in two weeks and the timing couldn’t have been better! thanks for the post!

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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