How to navigate dating in London

29 November, 2023 / words by Alicia Lartey

Dating in London is like dating in the dark, you just do not know what you are going to get.
Some of my friends have had fairytale experiences, whilst others began their villain arc shortly after ending the date. Me on the other hand, I had the weirdest dating experiences that left me drafting many emails to my therapist.

Let’s start with the simple fact that not everyone has the same dating intentions, experiences, goals or set of rules. If you want to have a positive time dating you need to know all of those things about yourself and be completely comfortable and honest with yourself. Confidence is not something that is taught, it is innate, but what can be taught is the simple things you can do to spark your confidence. As an example, I built my confidence through strength training at the gym and a good dose of therapy. Both of these tools helped me to understand my strong personality, witty nature and helped me create firm boundaries that I would not compromise on when dating.

I would love to say that I have a lot of dating experience, but unfortunately, I was trapped in an unfulfilling relationship from my late teens to very early twenties. Which brings me onto my first bit of advice; unless the person you are with is the walking embodiment of your dreams, do not lock yourself into a relationship otherwise you will miss out on finding out who you are, following your dreams and seeing the world through your own eyes.

At this age I approached dating very incorrectly and probably should have listened to the The Receipts Podcast, instead of being with someone who was holding me back. I would not say that I was ‘dating to marry’, but I almost felt like the amount of time I had been with someone would be some sort of badge of honour, but it was more like serving a jail sentence.

After breaking out of jail, I tried to eat, pray, love myself out of that mess and meet people in person. I quickly realised I had a deep disdain for foolishness and initially found myself trying to entertain people that would approach me rather than someone who I had picked. This is a very quick and easy way to end up compromising on your boundaries and settling for something that does not serve you.

Dating in London discussions would not be complete if we did not speak about the 50/50 mess of it all. We can end this in a simple sentence, if you invite someone out you should be the one footing the bill. End of discussion!

If you’re wondering why I have not mentioned dating apps so far, that is simply because I was trying to keep this experience optimistic. Whilst some people have met the love of their life on an app, I cannot say the same about me. I truly did lose the will to live, with the amount of ridiculous and unfunny conservations that were had. If you want to enjoy dating apps, lower your expectations to zero and call your therapist. You can find some really cool people to connect with, but definitely take a serendipitous approach to this form of dating and try to find people with views that are aligned with your own.

So how did I finally meet my partner? Was it a dating app or out and about?It was actually none of that, I did what most of us are doing at the moment ‘spinning the block’. You can only revisit an old flame if that person was truly great and if you are both aligned now. Which is exactly what happened with me. My one warning for this is that you really have to do a solid background check on that person and make sure you are fully aware that time has passed and things will be different.

If none of these things work for you, watch ‘Someone Great’ on Netflix and try dating in a completely different circle to your own.


Alicia Lartey


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