London - If you want to find a happy relationship, then you need to be in positive and confident frame of mind.
That's the only way you can have a good chance of making it work.
However, that's often easier said than done. There are going to be times when things are going your way or you are feeling down. So here is my dating expert advice to help you overcome this and pick yourself up during these difficult times.
Surround yourself with positive friends
There's nothing worse than hearing all your friends moan and complain about anything and everything. Especially the ones who tell you look fat or are destined to be single forever. If you want to improve your self-esteem, then cut out the negative influences in your life. This means getting rid of all the people who might make you unhappy. You just don't need them and you'll feel a lot better about yourself once you do.
Take things slowly
There's absolutely no need to rush into anything you aren't ready for. Rather than going out, it's much easier to try an online dating site or dating app. Once you've created a profile you can start to contact other singles that you might be interested in. Test the waters a little and build up to some flirting. You'll find it much easier than you expect and it's a great way to work on your confidence. You don't have to meet anyone until you want to, but hopefully you'll soon be ready to meet up with someone. It doesn't have to be a long date - an hour for coffee is a great way to start off.
Everyone gets nervous
Yes it's true. It's not just you - virtually everyone gets shy or has periods of time when they feel emotionally low. Even the really loud people who seem comfortable in every social situation. Remember that many of us only present the version of ourselves that we want the world to see. Inside we are all a little scared of rejection. Embrace it and realise you are absolutely normal.
Look after yourself
If you aren't getting enough exercise or sleep then it's going to have a huge effect on your health. If you can just get yourself out of the house for a walk or pop to the gym you'll feel much better. Even a small amount of exercise can make a big difference as your brain will release feel good chemicals. You never know, you might just bump into someone lovely at the same time.
Fake it until you make it
Your emotions can't tell the difference between real and imagined events. So if you want to feel good, then pretend that everything is wonderful. Force yourself to smile for two minutes and you'll notice you will begin to feel much happier. It can really help to imagine a date going well before you even set out of the front door. By doing that your brain will see the best of the situation and you have more chance of having a good time.
Don't be afraid to have a break
Of course, there are going to be times in your life when you simply shouldn't be dating. Perhaps you have recently broken up or are going through a rough time at work. If this is you, then you need to give yourself time to heal. Stop dating for a few weeks and focus on doing other things that you enjoy. Make time for your friends and family and get support for them. Only you will know when you are truly ready to try again.
I hope this article has allowed you to see that what you are experiencing is only be a temporary blip. The first steps towards dating might be scary but once set off you'll never want to look back.
* James Preece is the UK's leading dating and relationships expert. For more information, visit www.jamespreece.com