The key to successful dating: know your fears and your patterns

We are joined by coach and author Katherine Baldwin to explore how our fears about relationships drive our dating and relationship patterns and how this knowledge can transform our romantic life.

If your road to love is rocky and your dating experiences lead to dead-ends, it could be time to take a look at your relationship patterns and any fears that lie beneath them. It’s vital to understand any self-sabotaging relationship patterns you may have, to identify any fears that compel you to repeat these patterns and then to face these fears so that you can change your patterns into healthier ones and find true love.

This is enlightening, game changing work that will transform your romantic life and support you to find and form the healthy, loving partnership you desire and deserve. It’s also deep self-discovery work so I’ve broken it down into four steps to make it easier.

Sound good? Let’s begin.

1. Firstly, I’d like you to take a look back over your romantic history. You are searching for clues here – trying to identify patterns of repeated behaviour that lead to negative relationship experiences. The following questions, based on my own and my clients’ experience, might help:

  • Do you tend to fall for people who are emotionally or physically distant or unavailable but struggle to fall for available people who want to be with you?
  • Do you avoid spending time on your love life? Do you spend most of your time working, concentrating on hobbies or helping others, while dating stays on the back burner?
  • Do you find fault with every person you meet? Does nobody match up?

You may have different patterns to those listed here but the key is to mine for information and to be honest with yourself.

2. The next step is to identify any fears you might have about being in a relationship. This can be an eye-opening exercise. Here are some of the fears that I located inside myself and that others have shared with me:

  • Fear of loving and losing
  • Fear of abandonment and rejection
  • Fear of making the wrong choice
  • Fear of getting hurt or hurting others
  • Fear of being suffocated and trapped

Again, your fears may be different to these. Whatever they are, try to bring them to the surface.

I’d now like you to explore the roots of your fears. This will involve going back in time, to your childhood or previous relationships.

When I did this work, I saw that I was afraid of loving and losing because of my early life experiences. I idolised my dad and when he moved out, I felt abandoned and rejected. In that moment, I decided that love equalled loss and was to be avoided at all costs.

I also feared feeling trapped and losing my freedom because as a girl, I witnessed my mother’s marriage fall apart, leaving her alone with two kids, little money, and no career to speak of. If that’s what marriage looked like, marriage wasn’t for me, I decided.

How about you? Were you hurt, rejected, or abandoned in previous relationships? Did you lose your freedom or financial independence? Knowing the roots of your fears will help you to change them.

3. The next step is to draw the dots – to see how your fears drive your patterns. For example, if, like me, you have a core belief that love equals pain and loss, you may sabotage your relationships. You may keep falling for emotionally unavailable people because they feel ‘safe’ – there’s no prospect of real intimacy – and you may reject available people.

If this rings true, I suggest you explore and heal your relationship wounds, ideally with support, so that you can let go of your harmful beliefs. Self-reflection is a valuable exercise that will help you to consider what you can learn from past experiences, and it pays to be honest with yourself about what’s been going on. In this way, you can start afresh, judging each new romantic encounter on its own merits rather than through the lens of your past.

4. Now that you understand how your deep-seated fears drive your patterns, you can start to face your fears and change these dating habits. This can be challenging and you might need support – someone to point out when you are operating in fear or repeating self-defeating patterns and to help you get back on track. This could be a trusted friend or a professional. The key is to recognise when the urge to self-sabotage starts to hit.

Don’t be afraid to take a break from dating to focus on yourself if you need one, prioritising plenty of self-care and time spent with friends and family, so you can be sure you’re ready to date when you feel the time is right.

But if you are ready, this step will be the exciting part too. This is when you get to date with renewed courage, clarity, and confidence. This is when you get to put the past to bed and make different choices and healthier decisions.

This is when you find the love you desire and deserve.

Katherine Baldwin is a love, dating and relationships coach, midlife mentor, and the author of ‘How to Fall in Love’, a dating guide for single professionals. She specialises in supporting people to understand and face their relationship fears and to change their dating patterns so that they can find healthy, committed love. Katherine coaches 1:1 and hosts workshops and retreats in the UK and abroad.


Top tips for getting over a painful break-up

Sadly, it’s a situation most of us have found ourselves in – some of us many times over. The break-up of a relationship can be devastating, leaving you feeling heartbroken and struggling to imagine what life will look like without that all-important person in it. It can be irrelevant whether you initiated the split, whether the decision was mutual, or if the other person called time on the relationship. Going your separate ways can be extremely tough and it can take a long time to recover from the impact of a relationship ending.

Break-ups can be incredibly painful and there is no right or wrong way to deal with a heart-breaking split. However, there are some predictable stages to a breakup, which are often likened to the stages of grief you experience as you mourn a death. These include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance.

However, breaking up is not necessarily a linear process so it’s not unusual to bounce around between these stages, experiencing them out of order or not encountering them at all. You may have experienced first-hand the agonising disbelief that a relationship is over, which can lead to resorting to bargaining tactics in a bid to attempt to salvage the relationship. Unfortunately, this rarely works. Anger may manifest in many ways, whether it’s directed at your ex, external factors involved in the breakup, or even friends that want to maintain a relationship with both of you rather than taking sides. Many of us will recognise the huge sadness that accompany a breakup, which can take a toll on your body and make every day feel like an emotional rollercoaster. However, these negative feelings will eventually pass, and you will, in time, make peace with the situation.

Although it can feel like the pain will never end, there are ways to help get over a painful split. Here are our top tips to help you if you are finding it hard to move on from a relationship which has come to a sad end.

Don’t forget your support network

While it can be all-too tempting to curl up into a ball and shut out the world, it’s important to make sure you let your friends and family support you at this difficult time. Your nearest and dearest can offer a fresh perspective on the split and be there for you when you are struggling, providing a valuable distraction.

Beware of romanticising

It can be tempting to have a rose-tinted view of your time together when you are mourning the loss of a relationship, and this can easily lead you to forgetting to factor in the bad parts. Being realistic about what wasn’t great about the relationship helps you strengthen your resolve that it was ultimately the right choice to call it a day, no matter who initiated the breakup.

Focus on you

Elements of your character can get lost in the things you liked to do as a couple – perhaps you loved watching horror movies, but your partner wasn’t a fan. Rediscovering old interests is a great way of re-establishing your identity outside of the partnership.

Cut ties

It can be tempting to try and maintain a connection with an ex, but this can ultimately prolong the pain. A clean break can be the best way forward for healing and moving on.

Look to the future

Don’t see the time spent in the relationship as wasted, as you can learn a lot from your experience and the time you spent together which will help you decide what you really want from your next relationship. When the time is right, you’ll be in a much better place to move on and meet somebody you’ll truly have a fantastic connection with. 

Work with the experts

Although it can be hard to believe, in time you will move on from your ex and get over them for good. And when you feel it is the right time to meet somebody new, it can really help to have support and advice of a trusted individual, so you aren’t facing a search for love alone. This is where our matchmakers come in, offering their expertise and extensive private network to help you easily find great people you’ll really share a spark with. Our matchmakers act like a trusted friend, being on-hand to offer advice every step of the way. This support is invaluable if you’ve experienced a particularly bad break-up and empowers you to focus on what you really want out of your next relationship. All you need to do is leave it to the experts and get out there again to enjoy some truly exciting dates!

Are you keen to hear more about the matchmaking process and how Ignite Dating can help you with your dating journey? Just give our expert team a call today and we’ll happily detail more about how our multiple award-winning service works!


Find the best date ideas in Dorset this autumn

If you are lucky enough to live in Dorset, you’ll be sure to appreciate the natural beauty and fantastic mix of coast and countryside that lies on your doorstep. The county is famous for its sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters as well as the more rugged beauty spots found along the Jurassic Coast. Sun-kissed peninsula Sandbanks is recognised as one of the most exclusive areas in the world to live and is a favourite with celebrities.

There is a lot more to Dorset than sun-seeking and battling throngs of tourists for the prime beach spot in the balmy summer months though. As the temperatures drop the area still has plenty to offer when it comes to finding some truly exciting date ideas. So, whether you are local to the area or looking for visit for a romantic mini break – it’s approximately two hours from London on the train – check out our top tips for some truly enjoyable dates this autumn and winter.

Fabulous foodie experiences

Dorset is a must-visit foodie destination, with plenty of celebrated chefs having established notable eateries in the area. These include Mark Hix, who opened The Oyster and Fish House which boasts panoramic views across the Jurassic Coast and Lyme Regis. BBC Masterchef winner Mat Follas is behind the Bramble Restaurant, a small cosy dining experience in Sherborne. TV regular Mitch Tonks’ Rockfish restaurant group has outlets in Poole and Weymouth, giving you ample opportunity to sample their delicious seafood. You can also sample iconic seafood dishes over at Rick Stein’s restaurant in Sandbanks, which offers a sea view terrace where you can cosy-up under blankets and enjoy the views of Poole harbour. If you are keen on discovering new wines, you’ll find vineyard tours on offer at Langham Wine Estate with the opportunity to sample some tasty fizz over a lazy lunch.

Romantic beach walks

The beach doesn’t cease to be a draw once the sun cream is packed away for the season. It can be lovely to get wrapped up warm and enjoy a bracing walk along the shoreline, with less crowds to contend with as well. If you’re local you’ve probably experienced all the big hitters before, so why not seek out some hidden gems a bit further afield? Mupe Bay is just around the corner from the famous Lulworth Cove but much more tranquil in comparison and a great place to enjoy some valuable relaxation time after an invigorating hike to reach the beach. Do your homework before you set off though, as the trails are only open certain times depending on whether the land is being used for military exercises. Find striking views at Church Ope Cove, where you might even spot a dolphin if you’re lucky. Some beaches are so off the beaten track you might even find them completely empty, making for a super opportunity for a romantic stroll and private picnic for two.

Take in some culture

The National Trust boasts some noteworthy properties which are well worth a visit. Corfe Castle is a dramatic thousand-year-old ruin which boasts fantastic views across the Purbeck countryside. The quaint village of the same name is well worth spending time in to enjoy the traditional village pubs and explore the quirky independent shops. Kingston Lacy is a fascinating stately home built to resemble a Venetian Palace with formal gardens and extensive parklands. If you visit close to Christmas, there’s a fabulous after-dark trail featuring over a million twinkling lights and seasonal sounds.

Enjoy some pamper time

If relaxation and pampering are more your thing, you’ll find spas which are well worth a visit. Monart Spa in Poundbury offers five-star luxury with an impressive thermal suite which includes a hydrotherapy pool, salt grotto, steam room and unique experience showers. Christchurch Harbour Hotel and Spa is positioned right on the water’s edge offering plenty of spa packages and overnight experiences. Or for a more quirky experience try The Pig at Studland Bay which offers a spa menu in two sheep huts that have been transformed into single treatment rooms.

These are just a flavour of the many amazing dates you can enjoy together in Dorset – we’d love to hear your top tips for getting the most out of the area. Head over to our Facebook or Instagram pages to share your thoughts on the best date ideas to be enjoyed in Dorset during the cooler months!

If you are looking for somebody to share plenty of exciting new experiences with, why not give our expert matchmaking team a call? Here at Ignite Dating we specialise in hand-selected introductions to people you’ll really share a connection with. We have an extensive private network and use our expert intuition, experience and personality profiling to find you the perfect match.


Watch out for the dark triad in the dating world

Hands up who has heard of the dark triad? It may well be the first time you’ve come across the term but it’s well worth getting clued up on what it refers to in case you ever come across a dark triad in the dating world.  

The dark triad is used to describe people who possess distinct yet overlapping personality traits. These are Machiavellianism (being cunning and manipulative), psychopathy, and narcissism.

While it may initially seem like it would be easy to spot somebody with this combination of personality traits, be warned, it is trickier than you think. Their behaviour can be highly attractive to the opposite sex, often coming across as confident and charming. They may come into your life with a bang, sweeping you off your feet with their flattery and larger-than-life charisma and gestures. Image is of the upmost importance to them, and they will be impeccably turned out. People with the dark triad personality type can be very successful, working in high-powered leadership positions or within the political world. Your response to their behaviour at the beginning of the relationship can be addictive – you fall in love with how they make you feel.

So why is all this problematic? To fully understand the dark triad and how it plays out in the dating landscape, we’ve taken a closer look at each of the personality traits and what they mean.

Machiavellianism: In a nutshell it’s somebody with a manipulative personality,who is calculated, strategic and willing to deceive people to get what they want.

Psychopathy: This trait (when sub-clinical) refers to being reckless and prone to taking big risks while lacking in empathy and being emotionally cold.

Narcissism: Narcissists are usually characterised as self-important and entitled. They have a strong need for admiration and high status, demanding special treatment while talking about themselves all the time. Image is everything to a narcissist, theirs and yours.

The situation is also complicated by the fact dark triad personalities vary and there is a scale to how much the respective traits exhibit. However, the cracks will eventually begin to show as the dark triad struggles to keep up the persona you’ve fallen for, eventually revealing their true self. Dark triad personalities don’t feel emotions the same way other people do so they play a role to win your affection, knowing their flattery, gifts and complements have a good chance of winning you over. Be warned though, people with a high scale of dark triad traits will be manipulative, play games and toy with your heart in order to control the relationship. In short, it’s a mix which can do serious damage to your relationship and your emotional wellbeing.

It’s common for them to start purposely pulling away after flooding you with attention and affection, which can result in you lowering your boundaries in a bid to win their affection back. Gaslighting is a common problem, where you’re left questioning yourself as they mislead you by creating a false narrative of what’s really happening. The situation becomes particularly problematic if you have low self-esteem or you are going through an emotionally vulnerable period as you are far more likely to be susceptible to the advances of somebody with these negative qualities.

When it comes to handling the dark triad, it pays to trust your gut feeling. If you have a niggling feeling you just don’t trust somebody, listen to your instinct. it can be hard to listen to your internal worries if you are in a vulnerable spot, as it’s so easy to be swept away by their advances and enjoy their attention. However, if their actions don’t align with what they are saying, it can pay to have the courage to walk away. You are better off being on your own than to be with somebody who is manipulative and emotionally abusive.

Unfortunately, it’s not a solution to try and change their behaviour, because it is highly unlikely it will change. Dark triads can be entitled, arrogant, with a strong self-belief – and this leopard won’t change its spots. If you are in a relationship with a dark triad and it’s eroding your self-esteem and happiness, it pays to involve friends and family to give you the strength to get out and stay out. A support system and plan of action can help you stick to your guns and to avoid the manipulative behaviour of a partner who may try hard to make you stay. It is possible to have a fulfilling relationship with a dark triad, you just need to have the tools in place to manage them and protect your emotions.

It’s key to believe there is somebody out there who will love you for who you are and will be the real deal. This person won’t overwhelm you at the start of the relationship with grand gestures, instead they’ll take the time to really get to know the real you. You need to be with somebody who respects your boundaries and whose boundaries you respect – this will keep you strong and in a respectful relationship.

Dannielle Haig is an International Business Coach and Principal Business Psychologist at DH Consulting.

If you are looking for a relationship with somebody who’ll truly appreciate you for who you are, give the team at Ignite Dating a call. We are experts at introducing you to people who will really share your aspirations, family values and outlook on life. We work closely with you to find your perfect partner, and together make steps towards the ultimate goal of a committed relationship.