Hampstead blogger sent around the world to meet men reveals her top seven dating tips

Blogger Laila Swann was chosen from 750 hopefuls for the unique job

Blogger Laila Swann was chosen from 750 hopefuls for the unique job - Credit: Archant

A young Hampstead woman who beat more than 750 hopefuls to a round-the-world trip picking up the world’s best dating tips has returned from her journey – and has revealed her seven top bits of dating advice.

Hampstead blogger Laila Swann said some New York men she met would go on three dates in one night

Hampstead blogger Laila Swann said some New York men she met would go on three dates in one night - Credit: Archant

In July, single blogger Laila Swann accepted an all-expenses-paid job as a “date explorer” after winning a competition run by one of the world’s largest dating companies, Match.com.

The 23-year-old, who lives in Platts Lane and runs a lifestyle blog, visited New York, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Rome and Stockholm, going on a number of dates with local men.

Returning home, the former Hampstead School pupil now gives her top seven dating tips – including that your first date should never be dinner.

1. Crowd Dating: “Crowd dating is a very normal thing in Rio De Janeiro. For example, a guy might invite you out for happy hour and then his friends (and often their dates too) will join in for the night. It sounds bizarre to us Brits, but it’s actually a great way of breaking the ice and avoiding any awkward silences. Before you know it, you’re speaking with his friends about anything and everything, and bouncing back and forth between different conversations. You say you never really know someone until you meet their friends – so why not cut to the chase and do it straight away?”

Hampstead blogger Laila Swann in Rio de Janeiro, whose men often engage in 'crowd dating'

Hampstead blogger Laila Swann in Rio de Janeiro, whose men often engage in 'crowd dating' - Credit: Archant

2. No dating at weekends: “New Yorkers have a much more relaxed attitude to dating than the Brits, and this shows in the fact that they keep their weekends reserved for hanging out with their friends. Going on a date in NYC is no big deal: so much so that I met singles who have been on up to three in one night! These engagements often last no longer than a quick cup of coffee or a single Manhattan cocktail. Because New York singles know that there are always plenty more fish in the sea, they do their dating on week nights after work and keep their weekends free for their buddies.”

3. Be a realist: “I was always told to keep waiting and eventually ‘Mr Right’ would come along, but I’ve now seen that this gives us unrealistic expectations for every date that we go on. The typically pragmatic Scandinavians I met in Stockholm taught me that expecting to meet ‘The One’ every time you embark on a date is setting yourself up for a fall before you’ve even begun. Just chill out, don’t expect too much and see where the night takes you. You may be pleasantly surprised.”

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4. Dress to impress (but not to excess): “‘Date night’ to me used to mean heavy make-up, heels and little black dresses, but now this seems way over the top. Natural make-up and stylish but casual attire are the order of the day for singles the world over, which makes me think that we Brits are over-thinking things and putting too much emphasis on what should really be a short, chilled-out meeting. However, this absolutely doesn’t mean not making an effort, and the men I dated in Rome could really show the English a thing or two about how to dress to impress. We women appreciate a well-groomed-man, so guys, take a few extra minutes to pick out a relaxed, but stylish, outfit for your night on the town and it could make all the difference.”

5. Ditch the dinners: “Although it still feels like a staple of the British single scene, nowhere else I visited did dinner on a first date. Sitting down to a full meal means you’re committing to a good hour or two in that person’s company, which puts more pressure on both parties and means the atmosphere is less relaxed. It also leads to a whole world of issues with smelly foods, table manners and dietary requirements which I’m sure we could all do without!”

6. Shorter is sweeter: “We Brits tend to make such a big deal of every date that we go on that we then expect them to last an entire night. Elsewhere, a single drink or a coffee is considered long enough to make a decision on whether you like someone enough to see them again or not. If you do then great, but if not it’s no big deal – and you haven’t wasted a whole evening (and half your pay check) finding out.”

7. Embrace the ‘PDA’: “Before my trip, PDAs (Public Displays of Affection) would make me feel uncomfortable and awkward. But I saw so many in Paris that it’s made me question why we Brits feel that it’s off-limits. We women like to be shown off to the world and being placed on a pedestal, so don’t shy away from showing how you really feel once you feel comfortable with one another. Even if it’s something as small as holding hands walking down the street, it can give both parties a little extra confidence boost, and that in turn can make the date more enjoyable!”

Kate Taylor, “dating and relationship expert” at match.com, said: “Laila’s experiences have shown us that many aspects of the British dating scene may be hindering our chances of success.

The dating scene has changed hugely over the last few years with the rise of mobile dating – over 70 per cent of match members are using mobiles to date, but Laila’s research has showed the other ways dating has changed.

From the traditional dinner date to getting dolled up for a Saturday night on the town, all of these could be making us more uptight, raising our expectations and stopping us living in the moment. Our next task is to make sure singles take this advice on-board and start loosening up when it comes to dating.”