As a professional matchmaker, and from hosting the Farmer Wants a Wife events all over Ireland, I have matched over 6,000 people on dates since 2016.

As a result, I have seen what works, what does not work and what can increase your chances of dating success.

You only get one chance to make a good first impression so here are some of my dating tips.

The dos of dating

1 Dating mindset

Get into a good dating mindset. Listen to happy music on the way to your date and be genuinely happy to meet your date. Smile when you meet.

2 Date location

Make an effort to meet in a nice location, make it a little special. Ensure it is somewhere that you can chat easily and that you won’t be interrupted by people you know. For safety, this should be a public place with other people around.

3 Dress to impress

First impressions are hugely important so look your very best. Ladies, I would recommend something fun, feminine and flirty. A nice dress or dressy jeans and a nice top with a pop of colour. Men, smart leather shoes, good well-fitting jeans and a smart shirt. I recommend long-sleeve shirts and roll up sleeves. As a lot of dates will be outdoors this summer, bring something warm for the Irish weather.

4 Building a connection

The gift of the gab means that most Irish people are well able for chit chat, however, on a date be mindful to build a connection and get to know your date. Ask them questions about themselves – what they enjoy doing, what makes them happy, etc. People are more at ease when they are talking about things that make them happy. Remember, you should listen more than you talk, so be genuinely interested in what they are saying. It is also important to make an effort to chat, as they will be interested in you too. So think about what you will share with them beforehand. Overall, keep the conversation light, positive and fun.

5 Flirt

Irish people tend to be a little shy when it comes to flirting, but if you are on a date, it is important to flirt. If you fancy your date, subtly let them know. Compliment them; their outfit or their characteristics. Smile more. Make sure your body language is open.

6 Eye contact

Most dates this summer will be outdoors, so take off your sunglasses. Eyes are hugely important in the flirting stages so remove the shades, make eye contact and smile.

7 Avoid COVID-19 small talk

Keep COVID-19 talk to a minimum. That includes your opinion on vaccines, Government responses, lockdowns, vaccine passports, hotel quarantining, people breaking rules... bored yet? I have made my point! Try not to talk about ex relationships, religion and politics, if possible too. These topics will not help you build a romantic connection, promise.

8 Men, be gentlemen of greatness

If you are on a date with a lady, treat her like a lady and speak to her like a lady. She is not one of the lads. When you start dating, both of you are teaching your date how to treat you, so be clear on your boundaries and start as you mean to go on in your potentially new relationship.

9 Relax and enjoy

The more fun and laughing on a date, the greater the chance of a second date. It also makes people more relaxed. Equally, the psychology of “breaking bread” helps build connections. Meeting for coffee? Make sure to get cake. Going for a walk? Get ice creams.

10 Be kind

Regardless of how your date went, text your date to make sure they got home safe. If you would like to meet them again, ask them out again. If you do not wish to meet them again, thank them for a lovely evening and follow up by saying that you do not feel that there is enough romantic chemistry to meet again but that you wish them well. Always have the manners and courtesy to reply kindly. Ghosting is rude and never acceptable.

Dating don’ts

  • Do not be late.
  • Do not be on your phone. Turn it off and put it away.
  • Do not talk about your past relationships, especially if you still have a thing for them.
  • Do not tell them your whole life story, dating is not a monologue, but a conversation. So many people do this and it is painful. The conversation should be 50/50. Equally, make an effort to chat and have fun.
  • Try not to ask them: “Do you know John... or Mary?” because they are from a certain town or work in a certain company. Surprisingly, I have seen that this often has a negative impact, especially for anyone who is private or if the person mentioned has been a negative figure in their life. Wait until a few dates in.
  • Most importantly, do not meet someone if you have been in close contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 or if you are suffering with any of the symptoms. Reschedule the date immediately.
  • The start of your new relationship

    Nobody ever taught us how to date, most people learn from watching their own parents, friends or from TV. So here are my top tips to starting your new relationship.

  • 1 The person you choose to spend your life with will impact your dreams, your mental health, where you live and your daily happiness, so choose wisely.
  • 2 The initial stages of your relationship is a trailer to the rest of your relationship. Do not ignore the red flags, teach them how you would like to be loved and listen to how they would like to be loved. Be clear on your boundaries and start as you wish to go on.
  • 3 Some couples get very comfortable very quickly and fall into a routine. Date for as long as possible. Go on dates, get out of the house and romanticise your relationship.
  • 4 Love is blind. The initial stages of dating are filled with rose tinted glasses, chemistry and hormones. Do not agree to be someone’s boyfriend/girlfriend until you are fully happy with all areas of the relationship and how you treat one another. Speak up if there is something not sitting right with you before agreeing to have a relationship, getting engaged, moving in together or getting married.
  • 5 You are 50/50 in your relationship. It doesn’t matter who earns more money, who owns the house/farm. A relationship is about two people, not material items, both people and their dreams and voices are equally important.
  • 6 Pre-empt busy times in the farming calendar. Silage, calving, lambing - these seasons can be very unpredictable and stressful, communicate this with your other half in advance. Don’t make big plans that may be spoiled at the last minute. Push these plans out for when things have settled down.
  • 7 Decide the type of relationship that you would like. Are you looking to meet a best friend that you truly love or be in a relationship where you will struggle to be appreciated or respected? Choose your life and relationship. Do not stay with someone just because you are lonely or do not wish to be single.
  • 8 Synchronising schedules and long-distance relationships require a little extra planning and effort from you both at the beginning of a relationship. Put the effort in and whenever possible choose to spend time together in person, if even only for 30 minutes. The only way you will truly get to know someone is by spending time with them.
  • 9 Keep the momentum consistent at the beginning of the relationship. I recommend meeting at least twice a week - midweek and at weekends if possible. Go for dinner, walks, hikes and nights out. If weeks pass in-between dates, ask yourself how serious are you about your dating developing into a relationship.
  • 10 All relationships have their challenges and require both people to work together. Overall, everyone should feel safe, appreciated and respected in their relationship. Two questions I often ask people are:
  • Does the relationship enhance your life?

    Would you be happy to see your child in a relationship like this?

    Unless your relationship enhances your life, stay happily single.

    Love HQ

    Love HQ is Mairead Loughman’s one-to-one personal, confidential matchmaking service.

    If you are single and would like Mairead to arrange your dates or if you would simply like to book a consultation, get in touch with Love HQ on

    Mairead holds private consultations in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Kilkenny and Mullingar.

    Special thank you to Kieran and Mary Conway for allowing us take photographs with their Highland cattle.

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