TIM MacFarlan had an ultimatum – with two weeks to go until Valentine's Day, to get his love life in shape or spend another Valentine’s Day in his bedroom ogling pictures of Jennifer Lawrence.
IT’S not a good idea to be late for Hayley Quinn.
News Shopper’s resident dating coach was less than impressed when News Shopper leisure editor Jim Palmer and I rolled in 15 minutes late for our lunchtime summit at a swanky Covent Garden eatery.
Dating lesson number one – TURN UP ON TIME. Or at least nearly on time.
After persuading Miss Quinn how sincere we both were in wanting to help me meet single women the intervention could begin.
It became clear within 30 seconds I was out of my depth but in between scribbling down Hayley’s solid gold advice and glancing despairingly at Jim for moral support, a strategy began to emerge.
Firstly, my new guru shredded my Plenty of Fish online dating profile.
Tim finds dating guru Hayley Quinn's advice difficult to swallow
It started well enough – “you’re better looking than your profile picture”– but soon became more than just a nitpicking exercise. “It suffers from the classic profile problem of being really generic,” said Hayley.
“You should be using the writing skills you supposedly have.
“Everyone likes music, film and TV so say what your favourite movie is.
“When it comes to travel, outline what your favourite destination is – don’t just say ‘I like visiting Spain’ but ‘there’s this one amazing spot in Ibiza I go to’.
“You need to be very detailed.”
Round the whole thing off with a “call to action” – “If you’re the kind of woman who likes…we should talk” – and you’re done.
Hayley deals with plenty of guys who met their last girlfriend at university, move to somewhere like London and watch their old mates scatter. She said: “Your friends will just disappear.
After university some may become attached to long term partners and that is another way your social circle will be pulled apart so you need to go to something outside of it.”
With that in mind my coach makes five recommendations – yoga, science, flicking through an online catalogue of women, tapping up friends and trying to pick up strangers on the street.
This translates as singles yoga in Shoreditch (following you interests), a trip to a late night opening of the Science Museum (unusual dating event) and asking friends for a blind date, using app-of-the-moment Tinder and Saturday Sarging in the West End.
Combine that with trying to send out three messages A DAY to different women online and I had a game plan.
“It’s kind of like getting fit – put the hours in and you will get the rewards,” says Hayley. Time to knuckle down.
Fear factor: 8/10
Numbers got: 1 (definitely her work phone)
Dates secured: 0
Embarrassing photos of me with dating coaches: 1
• Hayley Quinn is the UK’s leading female dating coach. See what she does at hayleyquinn.com
Hayley Quinn has granted News Shopper readers access to a free gift for Valentines day:
#1: THE INTERNET
TIM GOES TRAWLING ON PLENTY OF FISH
Even with a German photo bomber, Tim's new profile pic is a winner.
GOOD old internet dating.
Other attempts at more far out means of snaring a female had yielded some phone numbers but no actual dates.
But thanks to some major changes to my page, free site Plenty of Fish yielded three decent dates with girls who looked like their profile pictures.
I got nowhere near flinging out three messages a day as advised, but a more flattering snap of me in particular led to a couple of girls getting in touch rather than the other way round.
According to Miss Quinn it should be just one avenue for meeting women, but it’s a pretty reliable one if stopping girls in the street sounds a bit too terrifying for you.
Fear factor: 6/10
Numbers got: 3
Dates secured: 3
Embarrassing personal photos removed from the web: 7
#2: SATURDAY SARGING
TIM TRIES TO WOO WOMEN ON THE STREET
Tim makes a move. We've tried to obscure this poor lady's identity to spare her blushes.
OF ALL my challenges this was the one I was most dreading.
Approaching women moseying around a museum is one thing but trying to do it while they’re marching across Oxford Street is quite another.
This is exactly what a group of guys do on a Saturday Sarge every weekend as first timers mix with so-called day game experts to try and pick up girls in the street.
My main companion for the afternoon was Jake Traynor, an 18-year-old Physics student at UCL who says he’s been day gaming for three years and is not short of a theory or two on the subject.
“My game is based on Zen – it’s all about being very genuine, being yourself and being centred,” he said. “You need to be so completely absorbed in the activity that you are one with it.
“With really good game it’s almost like the girls are beckoning you to come over and doing the work for you.”
Day game coaches Jake Traynor, 18 (left) and Shane Chen, 19.
It certainly didn’t look as though any ladies were begging me to come and hit on them as we headed to Leicester Square – also known as Pester Square since it became a regular haunt for day gamers.
My first ‘set’ – or pick-up attempt – in Oxford Circus was a flop.
According to Jake, I failed to perform a proper ‘stop’ on my unsuspecting target and carried on walking along with her which is a big no-no.
A second try outside Bond Street station went a lot better. With Jake urging me on, I tapped a girl on the shoulder, managed to get her to take her headphones off and engage in passable conversation for a few minutes.
An attempt at a ‘number close’ failed given she had a boyfriend, but it was some adrenaline rush to have not fallen completely flat on my arse.
Jake said: “The nerves never go away – they just turn into excitement.”
You can layer a lot of guff about technique and social dynamics on top of all this – and some of these guys definitely do – but it’s really about knowing how to sell yourself and not taking rejection personally.
These might be too big a pair of hurdles for me to clear to make it as a day gamer, but it was worth a go – if a bit creepy.
- Saturday Sarge groups normally meet at 1pm outside Marks and Spencer by Covent Garden station. Visit saturdaysarge.urbanistgame.com
Fear factor: 10/10
Numbers got: 0
Dates secured: 0
Embarrassing photos with unsuspecting women: 1
#3: UNUSUAL PICK-UP SPOTS
TIM GETS SOME CROTCH ACTION AT THE SCIENCE MUSEUM
ATTEMPTING to meet women in a place where most of them are with their boyfriends, in groups or more interested in the Large Hadron Collider is not easy.
But I gave it a go by visiting the Science Museum for one of the late night openings it holds on the last Wednesday of every month.
Two £4 bottles of Heineken and some fruitless traipsing around later and it wasn’t going well.
Firstly I bumped into a guy from school I hadn’t seen for years who told me all about his lucrative new job before excusing himself as he had to go and meet his attractive new American girlfriend.
He was as polite as he could be when I explained why I was there but the damage had been done.
Approaching three girls sitting down I thought I’d just spell it out and appeal to their sense of pity which brought some relief.
Helen was persuaded to part with her number while her equally plummy mates Verity and Millie looked on amused – I’ll leave it to you to guess whether I got a text back or not.
I found a plastic mannequin with a confusing crotch area to commiserate with but exhibits don’t tend to be too chatty.
You might need a bit more game than me to attempt picking up here but if you like silent discos and science it’ll be right up your street.
Nice guy, odd crotch
- Late night at the Science Museum is held on the last Wednesday of every month, 6.45pm to 10pm.
Fear factor: 8/10
Numbers got: 1
Dates secured: 0
Embarrassing photos with questionable museum exhibits: 1
#4: SINGLES YOGA
WILL FINDING LOVE BE A STRETCH TOO FAR FOR TIM?
Hayley Quinn was on hand to help Tim out
IT’S never good when you arrive for a bit of singles yoga to find a few self-conscious blokes and one solitary lady singleton limbering up.
But once the class got going with an even number of guys and girls, it turns out massaging a stranger’s lower back while she grasps your ankles is a pretty good icebreaker.
It’s just that getting to that stage involved some terrifying contortions of my back and near bodily collapse.
Everything started off sedately enough with lots of limb shaking and impromptu chats with different women as instructor Richard Brook tried to make sure every guy spoke to, or otherwise grappled with, every girl throughout the evening.
But soon I was being mounted by Clarissa, from New York, who was asked to kneel on my back and make like Kate Winslet in Titanic while I crouched down with my knees on the floor.
It’s just as well it was me taking a break as I had already tried and failed to hold the entire weight of a previous companion on my back while I squatted down and held this committed yogi’s hands out in front of me.
Hayley Quinn was around to help the ladies brush up on their coital gaze, which involves looking a guy up and down by way of his right big toe – this is intended to say ‘I want you now’ when a fella’s being a bit coy.
My attempt at the male equivalent – one second looking into each eye, two on the lips and then back up again – drove my opposite number so wild with desire she couldn’t help but snort with laughter.
After that there was some chill out time in the dark with a blanket each and we were done.
“Look at the camera Tim. AT THE CAMERA.”
Just as intended, it was suddenly a lot easier to talk to everyone at the bar now we’d all enjoyed various degrees of bodily contact – making a welcome change from the usual six pints and a clumsy pass.
- Yoga pub dating usually runs every Monday from 7pm to 8.30pm at the Proud Archivist in Dalston. Visit creativeyogalondon.co.uk/yoga-dating-dalston
Fear factor: 7/10
Numbers got: 1
Dates secured: 0
Embarrassing photos with dating coaches: 2
IF you would like to date Tim, tweet him @NewsShopperTim
HAYLEY Quinn is the UK’s leading female dating coach. See what she does at hayleyquinn.com