The Handbook
The Handbook

If you’ve just been on a date with me and Googled my name and this came up, please stop reading. Immediately. For anyone else, you may continue. Except you mum. This one’s probably not for you.

‘Cuffing’ is the time during the autumn and winter periods when you just want to attach or ‘handcuff’ yourself to someone else. Think of those YouTube videos of cute otters holding paws in the water to stay adrift – like that, but for humans. Well, I’m trying to find my otter.

However, this has to be one of the worst eras to find that special someone. Even during the two World Wars there were tales of forbidden romances, love letters to fiancés, and slanderous spy sex stories. But nobody is going to write a novel about the time someone sat on a sofa and scrolled through Hinge.

This doesn’t mean everyone’s love lives have stopped altogether, though. My fellow singletons and I have gone through break-ups, found future spouses, and adapted dating techniques to suit this new environment. So for anyone new to the game, take in these golden nuggets of wisdom.

Write A Note To A Stranger

For anyone lucky enough to have a hot neighbour, now’s the time to embrace a new opportunity. You might have seen them over the garden fence, cleaning the windows or bringing in their lockdown loo rolls, but you were too scared to say ‘hi’, weren’t you?

Well, your moment has come. All it takes is a small note. Tear off the end of your shopping list and write a few words asking about some local admin that needs sorting. For me, this was once about a car parking space that I needed to borrow. If you need a template, you can use mine: “Thanks for letting me use your car parking spot. If there’s any way I can repay you, or you just want to come round and say hi (after lockdown), please drop me a text [insert phone number].”

If, like me, you receive a text message from your neighbour saying, “Thanks, me and my wife would love to come round”, you’ll know where you stand.

Ditch the shopping list for proper stationery, like these notebooks from Oliver Bonas.

For anyone lucky enough to have a hot neighbour, now’s the time to embrace a new opportunity.

Be warned: this advice is coming from someone who swiped right to a guy who said: “I go crazy for crack”.

Scroll Through The Apps

I had to put this one on the list, even though it’s my least favourite. Hinge (great algorithm), Bumble (girls go first) and Tinder (don’t know anyone who uses this anymore) are all useful when we’ve got no way of physically meeting other people. But it turns us all into horrible, shallow humans.

You judge people on the poor choice of jumper that they’re wearing in a single photo or the fact that they’re the 100th person (yes, that’s a lot of swiping) who’s written: “I’m looking for someone who loves travelling, has a great sense of humour and cooks a mean roast dinner”. Please. Who isn’t!?

So if you are going to download an app, write a profile that stands out from the crowd. You may get more rejections, but it will certainly separate the eligible wheat from the chaff. Be warned: this advice is coming from someone who swiped right to a guy who said: “I go crazy for crack”.

Mix it up with the Inner Circle app, and its tailored screening process. Read about it here.

Stalk Someone On Instagram

If the apps are getting you down, it could be time to take virtual dating into your own hands. When scrolling through Instagram, find a profile that captures your interest and take the opportunity to do what millennials do, and slide into their DMs. You might find yourself chatting to an athlete, a model, a comedian… but maybe also a catfish, so be careful.

Fire off a quick message, something along the lines of: “Would you ever go on a date with someone from Instagram? Asking for a friend.” When they reply in the affirmative, you can reveal it’s actually yourself that you’re referring to and trap them into a Zoom date.

The only problem with this option, I found, is that you can’t set a location perimeter. So while the hand-picked selection process might be appealing, the reality of a long-distance relationship to Dundee is not.

Advertise Yourself On Facebook

I saw this done a couple of years ago by a girl from university and, admittedly, I’d be too scared to do it myself, but it worked for her. Back in 2016, aged 28, she’d been single for 11 years, was living at home with her parents, and was feeling like life generally sucked.

One day, she decided enough was enough and posted a witty bio on Facebook, alongside some lovely pictures of herself and a small request for anyone who liked what they saw to get in touch. Messages flooded in, including from a man who is now her husband. They started dating and two years after the post, they were engaged. Maybe there are such things as modern love stories after all.

Talking of love stories, read Thomas Hardy’s clothbound classic Far From The Madding Crowd.

Meet On A Street Corner

Okay, so it’s not how it sounds. I don’t recommend that people literally stand on street corners accosting potential lovers – but if you see someone you like when you’re out and about: Ask. Them. Out. It really is that simple. It’s infuriating that people don’t do this anymore, and I’m all for bringing it back. I’ve asked plenty of people out (my success rate may not be hitting the societal average, but I don’t mind).

Men might find that making any sort of advance is risky business these days, and women seem to have it in their heads that it’s not their place to make the first move. But that’s all codswallop. And you can’t use “I’m scared of rejection” as an excuse. If you start off without anyone, and then you end up without anyone, you’re no worse off than before.

So next time you see someone on your daily lockdown walk, say hi (from at least two metres away) and ask for their number. It’s a lovely compliment, if nothing else.

If you see someone you like when you’re out and about: Ask. Them. Out.

Date Your Housemate

Last, but by no means least, you can look a little closer to home. Or in your home. They say you shouldn’t s**t where you eat, but recent events have come to highlight this modern proverb is out of date.

My friend found romance with a new housemate after breaking up with her boyfriend. It came as a slight shock to her that the housemate is a girl — a kind of relationship she hadn’t tried before. But maybe the security of lockdown gives us a space to try something new, find a version of ourselves we didn’t know existed, and to just throw caution to the wind. This lockdown could actually be the making of us. And if you don’t find the person of your dreams, there’s always Ben & Jerry.

Add a bottle of this chianti to your ice cream dinner, and you’ve got yourself a hot date.


Want to receive more great articles like this every day: sign up here