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Dating seems to be a far more complicated affair than it used to be. Our grandparents all seemed to meet at a tea dance, court for several months and then get engaged and married, staying together for 60 years in blissful harmony.

Nowadays, on the other hand, we have to choose between meeting our potential mate at an evening class or a nightclub, via a smartphone app or on an online dating service. We have almost too many options to choose from, and this becomes stressful. And it still feels impossible to meet the right person!

To pay or not to pay

Online dating sites do often come with a price but, compared to the minimal odds of meeting your ideal partner in the street or at a poetry night, it can be well worth the investment.

After all, people who sign up for free dating sites can easily set up fake profiles with no consequences, and those who are just looking for an ego boost can subscribe, chat and flirt a little, and then disappear.

Plus, people who pay to meet potential matches are more serious about finding a partner so, if you’re also taking it seriously, it makes sense to join a site that’s pay to play. On paid sites, you’ll be more likely to find people who are proactive and actually go out on dates with the people they chat with (rather than those guys who just chat endlessly and never want to take it any further).

Why we want to date

Most people, whether aged 18 or 88, are keen to have a partner to share their lives with. Somebody to laugh with during the good times and rely on for support during the rougher times is a valuable asset in anybody’s life, and it is normal and natural to be on the lookout for that special someone.

Perhaps you hate eating out on your own, or you feel too self-conscious to go to the cinema without a partner or a gaggle of friends. You are keen to meet someone who shares your fascination with that awesome TV programme or your outdoor hiking weekends away. Or maybe you are looking for someone with a sensual spark that will keep you occupied on long, dark nights!

There are ways to meet the person of your dreams, so let’s take a look at a few of the options available to you:

Taking up a hobby

Dating specialists often advise trying to meet someone with whom you have shared interests, and this is great advice. But signing up for a night class or a one-day course does not guarantee that you will meet your ideal partner. For a start, you don’t know which participants are also single, and you don’t know if they are gay, straight, interested or happy on their own.

So, by all means, sign up for an art class or for sign language lessons; you will learn new skills and gain in confidence. But don’t rely on it as a way to meet other single people who are looking for a partner, because there are too many potential variables and you will probably be disappointed.

Swipe right

Dating apps have taken the world by storm, and many people are enjoying swiping right and left to demonstrate their interest (or lack thereof) in people nearby. However, they are not always the best option for people looking for a serious relationship, as they are often associated with so-called ‘hook-up culture’ rather than longer-term connections.

Plus, because you usually make your choice based on a photo of your potential partner rather than anything to do with their personality or interests, you risk putting aesthetics above all else and missing out on your perfect match just because they’re blonde rather than brunette, or because they don’t take a particularly flattering selfie.

Online dating

There are so many online dating sites that there is bound to be one out there for you. Whether you are looking for matches who wear uniforms at their day job, people who are LGBT, or people who are interested in curvier women, there are dedicated websites set up to help you find your perfect other half.

If you’re not so bothered about those specifics but would rather have a wider pool of candidates to choose from, larger websites like Plenty of Fish or Match.com are full of many, many potential partners whose photos and personal info you can view before deciding whether or not you’d like to say hi.