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flirting news - Flirting - GETTING to grips with the rules of attraction

.... An abundance of dating workshops, flirting academies and pulling events have flooded on to the scene in what must be a hungry singles market, and Edinburgh is ...


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Getting to grips with the rules of attraction

GETTING to grips with the rules of attraction

D'YOU come here often? You are so perfect - are you factory made? Your dad must be a thief because he stole a star from the sky and put it in your eyes...

All too often we hear or use disastrous and cringe-inducing pick-up lines. And instead of making hearts flutter, these lines send most people running for the sick bucket. But, perhaps we should have a heart and spare a thought for those who are hopeless, inexperienced or have simply forgotten how to find love.

For those who encounter no problems attracting the opposite sex, it is plain to see why others are not lucky in love. Would it not be less painful if they just knew what they were doing wrong? Would it not be easier if they were given a friendly nudge in the right direction?

Now, the lovelorn are learning. The image of sad singles crying into their Chardonnay at tables for one and singing along to Celine Dion's heartfelt ballad, All By Myself, is no more and modern singletons are taking charge of their love lives and getting out there to learn how and where to attract the opposite sex.

An abundance of dating workshops, flirting academies and pulling events have flooded on to the scene in what must be a hungry singles market, and Edinburgh is becoming inundated with professional cupids. This Christmas season alone sees four specific events designed to give singles a helping hand in the right direction for that all-important mistletoe action.

According to internationally renowned flirt coach Peta Heskell, who was in the Capital at the weekend for her first Scottish Flirting Academy, there are more single people in Scotland than ever before, and most of them are looking for that special person to share their lives with.

People nowadays are extremely focused on their careers, and relationships are breaking down for various reasons, she says. Marriages are similarly failing at a rate of 50 per cent, and as a result people become very insular when it comes to relationships and communicating with the opposite sex.

Indeed, many people find themselves single again in middle age and beyond - after the breakdown of marriage - and are eager to find love again.

Heskell's view is emphasised by the figures from the Scottish Household Survey 2002, which revealed that the average household size in Scotland is 2.3 people, with one third (31 per cent) of all adults living alone.

The acclaimed Flirting Academy developmental weekend for both sexes of all ages is designed to install attitude, curiosity and enthusiasm, as well as help people attract the right partner into their lives. And the steep £180 price tag did not put love-seekers and confidence-boosters off - they were serious when it came changing.

For those who missed Heskell's course, the Relationship Academy is also due to hit the Capital on Wednesday, with a speed dating workshop to be held at the Royal Overseas Club in Princes Street, giving the lovelorn specific relationship advice on seduction, rapport, compatibility and body language. There is also a quirky new dating craze from the United States, the Traffic Lights club party, which arrives in Edinburgh this month at the Royal Scots Club in Abercromby Place, allowing singletons to find partners through a traffic light badge system. Red symbolises those who are out of bounds, amber is for those who are open to persuasion and green is for those who are definitely up for it.

And as if that wasn't enough to flood the singles market, for those who crave animal attraction, Edinburgh Zoo has jumped on the dating bandwagon with its first singles night on December 10. After a night-time guided tour around the zoo, followed by some festive mulled wine, love-seekers will be able to hunt away.

So why is this happening? Why are so many of us so bad at attracting romantic playmates that there is such a need for professional help? Can we no longer express ourselves, or is it down to unrealistic expectations?

Professor Alex Gardner, a Glasgow-based psychologist who specialises in relationships, says that it comes down to evolving individual attitudes, values and beliefs which control how people view the world and relationships. Not unlike Shakespeare, he likens life to a stage and says: Think of yourself as an actor. Our script is constructed by our attitudes, values and beliefs directed by our inner voices. We act this out on-stage to the world every day.

He claims that these important factors have changed in modern society, with today's generation placing emphasis on more superficial liaisons than in previous generations, when the marriage rate was higher and people settled down younger. The basis of this change, he says, is due to the personal reality theory.

We all construct a personal reality, and make an individual representation of the real world as we see it, says Gardner. This reality consists of three main factors. Firstly, our past forms our identification of values. Emotional memories are connected here. Secondly, our future guides our expectations. Lastly, our present is our orientation - our steering force in life. It is this combination of values and attitudes which make us drawn to or repelled from individuals.

He asserts that as fashions change as to how people should act and behave, people's expectancy of life alters and so does their individual present and future guides of reality. This, says Gardner, is why people's views on relationships and potential partners have evolved from previous generations, and why many more people are single.

Relate relationship expert Paula Hall also blames the increased amount of single people on their unrealistic expectations and says this is what needs to be looked at and changed. Too often, people expect relationships to be oright' immediately. We look for a finished product and don't want to work at it. We expect too much from other people instantly and don't take time to get to know another person, says Hall.

She adds that relationships are about time and effort. You grow and change with another person and often people forget this and want it all now. You will never find the perfect partner or relationship immediately.

It appears that singletons are making elementary mistakes in their love search, and the instant gratification culture modern society demands has filtered through to personal and intimate relationships. Good old-fashioned hard graft is no longer an option for the quick-fix people who want everything immediately. And this, say the experts, is why many are single for longer.

Flirt coach Heskell says that often people don't realise how they come across to others and need help to learn what they are doing wrong.

What is in your head is manifested through your body language and people need to be sure they are sending the right vibe, she points out. And she admits: People have become more insecure in relationships and strive for perfection - it doesn't exist. They won't settle for less, and are too picky, thereby ruining perfectly good relationships. People today need to learn what's really important, and let go of what's not.

Both Hall and Gardner are not fans of the new breed of dating events and believe they feed on people's insecurities.

What is important is meeting the right person, not learning how to meet many people, says Hall. These events are fine if you want to pull, but not if you want a relationship.

Gardner agrees: These dating events seem to be the trendy thing to do, but they are simply gimmicks to make money and capitalise on the insecure society we exist in. You are effectively training people to be things they are fundamentally not. Their natural oscript' no longer exists.

But Heskell's Flirt Academy seems to avoid the stereotypical dating event and concentrates on getting people reacquainted with who they are. The event does not try to change individuals, but help them to be happy in their own skin and like what makes them an individual. Perhaps this is the way forward, and the elementary way to find love.

And for those who do not know where to start, or do not have the time, the Flirting Academy is a saviour. Most importantly, Heskell says, it is vital to relax when it comes to matters of the heart and not to assume it comes easy.

Hall says: Magazines, books and films have made us think we should have it all and this is wrong. Think of yourself as a handful of raw ingredients, and your new friend as another handful of raw ingredients. By spending time preparing, blending and making your omixture', you may just create something beautiful.

Hall also emphasises that being plain and simple with what you want and need works - so those looking for love should get back to basics and express themselves clearly.

As my current partner so memorably said to me in a bid to win me over: Sarah, I really fancy you so, eh, how about going out? It certainly worked.

The Flirting Academy weekend took place at the Mount Royal Hotel on Princes Street, with 17 attendees all hoping for flirting success and general confidence building. The participants were from all ages and backgrounds, with some travelling from as far as Aberdeen and Newcastle to be part of the first northern course.

What was apparent was that these adults - ten women and seven men, all in their late 20s to early 60s - were extremely attractive, stylish, successful in their careers and already somewhat confident.

This happens a lot, says Heskell. We often see people supremely confident in certain areas of their life such as their career, but desperately need that same energy for other areas, like their personal lives. They come here to expand their targeted confidence and learn the same confidence for life in general.

The unique course focused on building self-confidence and positive energy through working intensively on aspects such as body language, eye contact, human interaction and expression.

Dancing, role-play, games and teamwork all aimed to help the participants achieve what they lacked. Constructive criticism was given in this self-help group and attendees all egged each other on enthusiastically through whoops, chants and cheers when individual positive qualities were realised.

I am a vibrant and enthusiastic in the morning, shouted one male participant. You are special, Heskell shouted to a young female.

One young single male participant, in his late 20s, thought the course was great and was happy to part with his money.

It's been great fun and educational, and I feel I have learnt a lot, said the man from Edinburgh. I'm looking forward to putting it into action in the real world.

And does he think he has changed? Yes, definitely. I feel much more positive now. It's not what you say but the way you say something which makes the difference. I didn't know this before so it will help me when it comes to meeting new people.

Heskell says the difference in the participants over the two days has been tremendous. They look so different now and have come into their own, which is fantastic. They all look happy and do have a new found air of confidence that perhaps was perhaps lacking before.

Full credit goes to: The Scotsman, UK
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