Love at first sight, is it fact or fantasy?

We are joined by coach and author Katherine Baldwin to explore how to decide if a date has potential and whether first date sparks are always a good thing.

Love at first sight. It’s a captivating concept and it’s only natural to want to feel chemistry when we meet someone for the first time. However, first date sparks don’t necessarily mean we’ve found our match, nor does their absence mean we should walk away.

Hollywood has a lot to answer for, in my opinion. Romantic movies set us up to believe that relationships should unfold in a certain way – often with intense passion, incredible chemistry, and lightning bolts from the start.

I remember comparing many first dates to my favourite romcom scenes and deciding the chemistry just didn’t match up. I also remember falling head over heels within ten minutes of meeting, only to find the relationship fizzled out within days.

Even for the most grounded of individuals, dating can be a rollercoaster. So how can we tell whether a date has the potential to turn into something more and if sparks do fly, how do we discern whether they signal a healthy or unhealthy connection?

Firstly, remember that when you meet someone for the first time, you are simply gathering information. All you need to know after a first date is whether you want to see the person for a second date. Go along with an open heart and an open mind. If you don’t feel a spark, try not to write the person off. Instead, ask yourself if you feel curious about them, and if they seem curious about you. Are you interested in knowing more about them? If you’re sure you don’t feel curious and you’re getting nothing back, fair enough, but otherwise take a moment to decide if you are judging them too quickly. Do they deserve a second chance?

Obviously, we want to look out for red flags, for warning signs and signals – perhaps they only talk about themselves; perhaps you feel uncomfortable or on edge in their presence; maybe they overstep your boundaries. But could there be another explanation. Are they talking a lot because they’re nervous, for example? Is it worth giving it another shot?

Secondly, if sparks do fly, try to keep your feet on the ground as much as possible and maintain healthy boundaries. It’s tempting to extend a good date late into the night but ask yourself whether it would be wiser to go home and arrange to meet another day.

What kind of chemistry do you have?

Importantly, remember to question whether the sparks that are flying are the result of healthy or unhealthy chemistry.

Healthy chemistry is the genuine connection we feel with someone we find attractive. We want to get close to them, find out more about them. They may have the physical attributes we usually go for, or they may not, but there’s something deeper going on. We see something in them and they see something in us.

Unhealthy chemistry is different.

We meet someone whom we find irresistible. We feel a strong pull towards them and perhaps they feel the same towards us. We throw our boundaries out the window – we share too much and stay out too late. We wake up in the morning in a relationship, without ever really making the choice. This intensity feels incredible. It’s just like in the movies.

The problem is this passion may come from an unhealthy place. Perhaps we are dating with unmet needs and deep wounds. Perhaps we haven’t done the necessary work on ourselves to feel whole and grounded. And perhaps we’re drawn to this person because they are wounded too.

Our wounds meet in the middle, slotting together like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and fireworks go off. We’re drawn together like magnets and we stick together like glue. We ignore all warning signs because we’re floating on a pink cloud.

Perhaps we stay together and go on to have a fiery, intense but potentially unfulfilling and harmful relationship. Or, in many cases, the fireworks fizzle quickly or the relationship crashes and burns. We get hurt and we hurt others.

With all this in mind, take the time to know and understand yourself, keep an eye out for red flags but, if there aren’t any obvious ones, give people the benefit of the doubt. Welcome the healthy sparks, while proceeding slowly and respecting your own and others’ boundaries. And look out for the lightning bolts that will wow you temporarily but ultimately leave you feeling burnt.

With the above in mind, dating becomes an enjoyable experience that will lead you to the relationship you want 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.


Find the best date ideas in Cardiff

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to great date ideas if you are lucky enough to live in the Cardiff area. The bustling Welsh capital is well worth the journey if you want a romantic mini-break, and it’s just a short trip over the border for those living in Bristol and the surrounding area. You’ll find a city packed with great things to see and do, so read on for our top suggestions for date ideas to suit all budgets and interests!

Get active

Do you want to break the ice with an active date to remember? Then there are plenty of fun activities to get stuck into. Check out Cardiff International White Water, which offers adrenaline junkies the chance to have a go at the likes of white water rafting, white water tubing, and inflatable kayaking. Prefer to stay on dry land? Treetop Adventure Golf is a great way to break the ice and judge how competitive your date is by taking on an 18-hole mini golf course. You can also test how well you can solve problems together by taking on a thrilling Escape Room!

Grab drinks

Cardiff’s bar scene is thriving, so whether your preferred tipple is a classy cocktail, a craft beer or you prefer relaxing over a bottle of wine together you’ll find something to suit. The Alchemist offers experts in molecular mixology cocktails, and you’re guaranteed to have plenty to talk about as you marvel at how the drinks are presented creatively to add a dash of theatre to your night. Tiny Rebel is well worth checking out to sample the fares from its award-winning brewery in nearby Newport.

Cardiff is a famous party town, so you won’t be disappointed in terms of spots to keep dancing into the night if things are going so well you can’t bear to say goodnight. Ten Mill Lane offers cocktails and dancing until 6am if you have the stamina!

Find foodie experiences  

There’s a diverse restaurant scene with plenty of gems to be discovered. Zerodegrees is a microbrewery restaurant split over three floors where you can watch the master brewer busy at work behind the scenes. Bully’s is a little gem of a restaurant which uses seasonal Welsh ingredients in its delicious menus. If it’s spicy cuisine you are after, try Purple Poppadom or Spice Quarter for a delicious Indian feast. If afternoon tea is more your style, Voco at the five-star St David’s Cardiff hotel is a real treat. If you have time, it’s also the perfect place to indulge in a dreamy spa treatment.


Cardiff Castle is right in the middle of the city and well worth a look, with guided tours on offer. If you venture out of the city centre don’t overlook Cardiff Bay, which offers plenty of attractions on the waterfront. You can even hire a bike and explore the area for the full experience. It’s home to the Wales Millennium Centre which offers ample arts performances and events. If you are both into rugby, you’ll love soaking up the atmosphere in the city on a matchday, which is electric when Wales are playing. You can take a tour of the Principality Stadium to learn more about rugby heroes and make your way to the hallowed turf.

Hit the shops

Spend a relaxed morning browsing the ample shops and splurge if you are in the mood. Cardiff is home to the world’s oldest record shop, Spillers Records, which dates back 1894, so you can have fun comparing musical tastes. The Bone Yard is a shipping container village filled with independent traders which you can enjoy browsing. Cardiff Market offers an array of stalls to explore and much-loved eateries if you work up an appetite after all that shopping!

Our experienced matchmaking team brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to make your dating journey as streamlined and enjoyable as possible. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you!


The problem with getting hung up on looks in the dating world

Have you heard the phrase “punching above your weight” thrown around in the dating world?

Even when we don’t mean to, it’s natural to make assessments of how attractive somebody is. This can by extension lead to judgements about how physically attractive their partner is in comparison, perhaps drawing the conclusion that their partner is somewhat out of their league. This is where the term “punching above their weight” comes in, suggesting somebody has secured a partner who is much better looking than them.

The problem with the phrase is it can be very painful to face judgements on how your looks compare to the appearance of your partner. It can be extremely hurtful to be on the receiving end of judgemental looks and double takes that suggest your partner could do much better than you. Sometimes even friends and family are guilty of candidly commenting on what they think of your choice of romantic interest. It’s a common theme of movies and sitcoms to come across a storyline where an average chap secures a knockout woman.

Some cite a self-esteem boost by dating somebody they view as much better looking than them. A recent study found that one in 10 people surveyed wanted a relationship with somebody more attractive than them, with two thirds of them saying it would boost their self-esteem, and a quarter saying they would enjoy making others jealous.

But for other people, insecurities can creep in which stop them from approaching good looking people in the first place as they fear rejection. They may worry the other person will not be interested in getting to know them better, because they don’t view themselves as in their league.

If you feel there is a mismatch in attractiveness in your relationship, you may be upset if your partner gets a lot of attention when you are out and about, especially if you are feeling insecure about your own looks. Believing there is a mismatch in your relationship can fuel jealousy and insecurity and end up putting a strain on both of you. The person who perceives themselves as less attractive may worry they aren’t “good enough” for their partner. However, in many cases relationships where one person is perceived as better looking can be perfectly happy and successful if both sides feel content and secure in the pairing. Love may have blossomed as a result of being friends for a long time, where an attraction has developed slowly. In these cases, it often is less important if you match up in the looks department as you’ve had time to fall for the person based on who they are, rather than initial judgements about how they look. A close bond and really getting to know somebody can help you to recognise if that all-important spark is there.

It is important to realise that there is a lot more to a happy relationship than physical attraction, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In the dating world it’s worth not overfocusing on looks as it can lead to neglecting other important traits which can lead to more satisfying relationships, including those all-important shared values, similar outlooks on life and characteristics you view as important. Basing your search for love on looks is ultimately a flimsy basis for a relationship. You don’t always get what you think you want but your perfect partner may be the person you least expected to fall for. There is nothing better than true compatibility and being able to build strong foundations that can withstand everything life has to throw at you.

Are you looking to reinvigorate your dating journey? The experts at Ignite Dating are on-hand to help you with an easy and stress-free search for love. Our matchmaker will ask the right questions to gain an insight into what you are looking for in a partner, as well as making recommendations of people who could be a good match. Get in touch today to find out more!


How to stay positive when you’re dating

There’s no doubt that dating can be a frustrating experience. Putting in loads of energy and effort into meeting potential love interests and getting nowhere can end up hitting your self-esteem. It can start to really get you down if a string of dates is not yielding results, damaging your confidence, and leading to burnout from the whole process.

However, if any of this sounds familiar then there are plenty of steps you can take to help you stay positive on your dating journey. Just making small adjustments to how you approach your dating life can help you enjoy the whole process again without fears about what the outcome will be, or what the future holds. Unfortunately, disappointments do happen in dating but it’s important not to let them drag you down.  

We’ve outlined some simple steps that can help you approach dating in a much more positive way which’ll help you feel empowered and motivated about every single meet-up!

Concentrate on the parts of dating you can control

The tricky part of searching for a partner is you just don’t know where your efforts are going to lead you. While it’s fair enough to hope that somebody is going to be the one for you, you have no idea in reality when you’re going to find that perfect person. While this can be daunting, it really pays to concentrate on what you can control to help you stay positive in your search for love. Small steps like thinking about what you are grateful for in life, can be a powerful reminder of what you already have. This helps build confidence and positive energy which will shine through when you do meet new people. Get involved in planning the date, pick places you’d like to try and don’t be afraid to call time on a date if it isn’t working for you. Don’t suffer through an excruciating night of stilted small talk just to be polite.

Recognise dating fatigue

Getting bogged down with everything involved in dating can soon sap all the fun out of it. It’s easy to go down the path of spreading yourself thinly across dating apps, talking to multiple people at once, and filling your precious spare time with lots of dates. It can be self-defeating to get hung up on going on lots of meet-ups in the blind hope one person is meant to be, as it can leave you exhausted and not being your best self when you do meet up. If your life revolves around dating, it’s hard to find joy in other parts of your life, as you get so obsessed with finding somebody that is seems like the only thing that’ll make you happy. If you are no longer looking forward to dates or feeling exhausted with constant chatting on apps, take a proper break from dating. Enjoy getting stuck into activities you really enjoy and spend time with the important people in your life. Only pick up dating again when you feel truly ready, and you’ll be in a much better frame of mind.    

Remember to have fun

It’s important to remember that dating is meant to be fun, not stressful, so try and approach it that way. Try and take it lightly, being authentic rather than striving to be something you’re not. Rather than worrying about the outcome, just enjoy the experience of a night out getting to know somebody new. At the same time, it is important to enjoy all elements of your life, as dating is just one part of it. There’s plenty of fulfilment in concentrating on good times with friends, family and focusing on getting ahead in your career. It’ll feed into your dating life if you are happy and motivated in other parts of your life, helping you feel more fulfilled overall.

Be selective about who you meet

While it’s important not to drown yourself in back and forward texts, it’s worth dedicating a bit of time to asking the right questions before you meet up in person. It can be worth asking what their intentions are when it comes to dating seriously to ensure you are on the same page. Be wary of any red flags that scream they aren’t going to be a great person to date. Getting to know somebody a bit more before you commit to meeting can save you going on dates that were never going to go anywhere, which can leave you feeling frustrated and demoralised.

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!