7 things I learnt at dating bootcamp besides, “Love yourself first”

By Kara Byers March 9, 2017
Stop kissing frogs

If you’re looking for love but not getting what you want, dating bootcamp might be what you need

There aren’t many things more difficult than dating in your 30s. Sometimes it feels as though everyone around you is getting married and starting families while you spend a significant amount of time swiping (and recovering from hangovers).

Love should be easy but the search for it – at any age - is often fraught with anxiety and confusion. Although the bank of hilarious/disastrous first date stories you’re racking up is diamond dinner party repartee, wouldn’t a success story be nice to add to the mix?

Enter dating coach Iona Yeung’s 30-day ‘Next Level Love’ bootcamp,  designed to help you do just that. Including one-on-one coaching from Iona and daily exercises to help you sift through the issues you need to to create confidence and actually enjoy dating. As Iona puts it,

“If you feel SO single while everyone around you seems to be getting married and popping out babies… know that it’s OK. I’ve been there and I’ve helped many other single women find love even when they thought it wasn’t possible.”

Reassuring words and ones I wanted to put to the test. Having been single for two years, this year, I decided, was going to be the one that I found love again. Here’s what Iona suggested:

1. You need to commit to finding love

As I learned, it’s all well and good saying “This is the year I’ll find the one” but you have to know why you want to.

At the start of the 30-Day bootcamp I had an initial one-on-one session with Iona. During our chat she offered guidance on ways I could improve my chances of finding love and asked me to set my ‘Why?’

Have you stopped and asked yourself that? Why you want to find a life partner? It’s a question that’s not as easy as you would think to answer.

For me, dating is about finding my person. Realising this made me get a bit more serious about the men I was matching with.

LESSON LEARNT: If you want to find love then you have to mean business. Think about why you want it and commit to the search.

2. Learn how to spot quality guys

Want a man who’s looking for more? Then look for profiles where guys have obviously taken time over them. As Iona says,

“Someone who’s genuinely ready to meet someone special will include a blurb to show you who they are. His pictures tell a story about his life. If every picture is of him drinking, his partying days may not be over. If he’s at a wedding or holding a baby, he might be more settled. Avoid profiles with excessive selfies and half-naked pictures - more often than not, those men are either self-obsessed or after one thing”.

LESSON LEARNT: Be open-minded but take your match choices seriously – you’re looking for a relationship, not just a chat or a ONS (sorry shirtless-gym-selfie guys, you miss out).

3. You have to say YES!

You have to say an enthusiastic yes to dates. If you keep cancelling or are just chatting on apps for attention/a boredom filler, STOP. If you want your guy to find you, stop hiding. 

Before this bootcamp I was a serial date-canceller. I once cancelled four times before actually meeting a guy. I just couldn’t be stuffed meeting someone I might not have chemistry with. On Day one of bootcamp, I had a date lined up with a guy we’ll call J, because that’s the first letter of his name. It took everything for me to not cancel, but I didn’t, and we had a GREAT time. Who knew dating can be fun?! As Iona puts it,

“I used to get really disappointed when a first date didn't work out. In my mind, it was another date night wasted. Your reality is based on your perception. I changed my thinking: every date that never eventuated would only lead me to my husband-to-be.” 

LESSON LEARNT: If it’s not ‘YES!’ then it’s ‘NO!’ Be clear enough about what you want in a partner so that you only date men you really fancy. And actually go on dates!


4. Finding love does really start with you

As cliché as that sounds, it’s true. You have to KNOW that you will find your person because you're awesome.

Loving yourself is about more than your dress size, it’s about your core beliefs about yourself and relationships. You might think you already know this – I did. That’s why investigating my relationship truths – the things I assumed would happen based on my past love experiences - was so eye-opening. Up until I opened that can of worms I’d been ritually choosing certain men knowing that it would never work out with them. I was doing it on purpose, I just hadn’t realised, and it was all because of how I felt about me. As Iona explains,

“Great relationships start with self love and a solid belief system. If you are crystal clear on the kind of man and relationship you're after and you still haven't found it, there is a conflict inside you we need to work through.”

LESSON LEARNT: Don’t punish your new guy for the things your ex(es) did.

5. How things start sets the foundation for the entire relationship

If you want a man who’s full of masculine energy, you have to let him pursue you. You should NEVER chase him. Sorry. I know it’s 2017 but it’s not as anti-equality as it sounds.

“Men LOVE to make women happy. It makes them feel good when you feel good. But when women start to develop feelings for a man, they tend to take on the role of the carer, be extra affectionate, take initiative to make plans, do all the calling and texting. All of this is ok but when you step into the role of giver, you also take that role away from the man. It’s very important that you continue to let him pursue you.”

LESSON LEARNT: Let him chase you. You’re worth it.

6. Be a high value woman

The concept of being the ‘High Value Woman’ is a staple of dating advice. Forget what you’ve heard, this isn’t about game playing or withholding anything, as Iona simply puts it “You have to be the person you want to meet”.

That’s right YOU are the one. YOU are the catch. Men are lucky to date you. As women we’re taught from an early age that we’re not enough. Well, I’m calling BS on that and so should you. To paraphrase Iona,

“A high value woman prioritises her own needs, respects her body, is confident not arrogant, shows respect for her feelings and those of others and knows she has a lot to offer.”

If you are truly looking for love, hold men to high standards. You know who you are and what you want, don’t accept anything less – BIG love and BIG life is for you. Stop kissing frogs.

LESSON LEARNT: You don’t find your worth in a man. You find your worth within yourself and then find a man who’s worthy of you.  

7. You WILL find love, and it WILL be the real deal

This was the key lesson I learned at dating bootcamp.

There are so many amazing men out there right now who are looking for someone just like you. They will love you for you and make you happy. Don’t settle and don’t stoop.

Being 36 and single could suck, going on dates could fill me with anguish, I could wonder if I will, in fact, die alone but I highly doubt it.

LESSON LEARNT: Next time you look around at your coupled up friends and ask ‘When will it be my turn?’ answer yourself ‘Any minute now’ and believe it. It takes one date to change your life, let it happen.  

You can find out more about Next Level Love 30-Day Bootcamp here

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