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Abi Blears is a matchmaker, headhunter and coach at award winning matchmaking company Little Black Book. She is also resident online dating specialist at the UK’s largest dating coaching company, Hayley Quinn Dating Ltd.

Abi is one of the only UK based dating coaches who is certified in science-based coaching with the Matchmaking Institute NYC. Abi uses research-based strategies to help people to prepare, initiate and sustain long-term healthy relationships.
We are delighted to be featuring Abi on the Spa-Porter blog for a Q&A!

What are the most common self-sabotaging traits in a relationship?

Some of the more common signs that you’re self-sabotaging can include picking fights to maintain distance in the relationship, picking faults in your partner and only honing in on their negative points. Sometimes we sabotage things by deciding part-way into a relationship that something bothers you about your partner, even though you knew the deal from day one. An example would be to suddenly decide that your partner’s job just isn’t good enough. Another way people commonly sabotage a relationship is by being extremely keen early on in the relationship, which can overwhelm your partner and drive them away. This is especially off-putting if they’re someone who feels that they need a lot of space. It’s also very common for people to go for someone who is very different from themselves because it’s exciting, only to realise later on that the thing that initially attracted them is now putting them off!

What are the first steps for finding love post break up?

It’s important to address the break-up itself and how you’re feeling about your ex presently. If you’re holding onto anger or still hoping to reconcile, or have your ex held very highly on a pedestal then it probably isn’t time to move on. You should first work on becoming more neutral about past relationships which can be very difficult if your relationship ended on bad terms or when you didn’t want it to. It’s good to take some time to evaluate what went wrong and look at things from a more objective headspace. It is much healthier to work towards blaming the relationship rather than continue to blame your ex or blame yourself. The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle even though it might on the surface not look that way! It is illogical to blindly go back into dating without first acknowledging the recent past.

Is it important to have a break before finding a new relationship?

Whilst many people do find that having a break at the end of a relationship is helpful and necessary, as far as research goes there isn’t a certain length of time that you need to take before your next relationship begins. There are many factors that will determine how long a person needs between relationships including: Who ended the relationship, how the relationship ended, whether they wanted the break-up or not and also their personality and attachment style. Ultimately you could move from one relationship to another quite quickly and it not necessarily be a rebound. Sometimes people emotionally detach from a relationship before it has officially ended. According to research women are more prone to do this than men!

Is love always enough?

Even if two people love each other and it isn’t an abusive or overtly harmful relationship love might not be enough to keep you together. Compromise is essential and a willingness from both sides to work on things. I think being educated on love is a very strong move to make to help to safe-guard from a breakup. An alignment in values and beliefs is a strong indicator to how successful a relationship will be in the long term. If you’re heavily misaligned in your views on religion, career, money, health and fitness or family (and whether to have a family) then love might not be enough if you cannot successfully reach a compromise.

What if you love each other but want different things out of life, specifically if one person wants a baby but the other person doesn’t see kids in their future or not in the near future?

This is a really common issue that arises and yet differing views on money and how you spend it typically causes more problems in long term relationships! It does depend on the couple, how strong their stance is and as I mentioned previously, how willing you are to compromise. If a partner is on the fence it could be that they are still getting to know you, are concerned about the impact of having children in their life or they just aren’t ready yet. It’s hard to predict because our values and beliefs can change over time which is why sometimes couples grow apart or even become closer! It really depends a lot on the strength of your views and as I said before your ability to compromise as a pair.

Any tips on social distancing in a new relationship?

If the relationship is very new then keep contact regular but not constant, maybe check in a few times a week but with nothing too generic like a “How are you?”. Mix things up with thoughtful texts, the occasional voice note, or a photo that reminded you of them.

If you’re already exclusive, you can be a little more romantic and send each other small gifts or a funny or romantic card in the post. Now that we can go into the parks a little more freely you could go for a socially distant walk together, or you could even cycle to their house and have a chat with them from their bedroom window-Romeo and Juliet style! You could buy takeaways for each other trying to guess what the other person will like and then reveal your choices on a virtual date and discuss what you think of their choices, keeping it fun and remaining open to try new things. Some new couples have started Netflix shows together and have bonded over their mutual love for a certain series. I think quarantine gives us an opportunity to date a little slower and be a little more creative in how we date!

What if your habits are driving each other mad in quarantine?

First of all, I would recommend having some time outside so that you can have some time on your own. Whether that’s going for a walk or a run or if you have a garden and are able to use that going out there on your own for half an hour per day. Remember that we are all going to irritate each other a little more at the moment and that this doesn’t mean that the relationship is doomed. I recommend to also take the time to actually spend quality time together each day where possible. Even just a ten-minute chat to talk about things non-related to coronavirus, children, debts, or household chores etc. should be beneficial. Make sure you are acknowledging the good in your partner too and that you are not merely frustrated and taking it out on them. Be sure to address any niggling issues in the daytime and not just before bed or in front of your children. Go into all confrontations remembering that most people are doing their best right now and that most people don’t actively try to upset their partners. If your partner is intentionally being antagonising, then this is of course a much bigger issue.

What tips do you have to navigate a poor relationship with their family?

It depends on the specific dynamic and what has happened. The most important thing to remember is that these people are not going to go away and that your partner likely loves them a great deal and will really want you to get on. Try where possible to see their perspective and don’t be completely closed off from building a better relationship with them. Address bigger issues calmly with your partner explaining the issues if they are not already aware of them. Reassure your partner that you want to make the relationship better and do not blame their family even if you think it is their fault entirely. Refrain from getting emotional and saying anything like: “I hate your mother” or “I can’t stand to be around your family” because it is hard to come back from this kind of statement. If your partners family are disrespectful towards you then I think it is your partners place to set up a boundary of how they should treat you and that your partner should speak to their family about it. Ask yourself “Can I moderate my behaviour in order to bring peace for the sake of my relationship?”. We should always strive to be respectful and try to tolerate our partners families, but it is of course a two-way thing. Many people have to accommodate our partners family to a certain degree but not to the point where we are miserable or feel disrespected or bullied.

Do you have any tips on how to manage potential dates online, how to avoid wasting time on face to face dates that are disappointing?

I think this all comes down to mindset. I met someone once who said: “There’s no such thing as a bad first date” and I am inclined to partially agree because every date is an opportunity to hone your ability to deal with people and become a better date yourself. A date that might not have any “spark” could turn into a useful business contact or may teach us something about ourselves and our preferences for the future. If you’re apprehensive about dates and time wasting just suggest something very simplistic that isn’t going to go on for hours on end leaving you feeling trapped and frustrated.

Do you have any tips to meet people outside of apps?
The top ways to meet new people according to research and in no particular order are:
1. Hire a matchmaker
2. Join a group that meets regularly
3. Ask your friends for their assistance

In today’s technological age many people seem to have forgotten that you can still approach people in real life, although this can seem daunting at first! This in itself is a skill that can be honed if you’re not confident, and it’s a great way to increase your chances of finding love.

What’s the best way to get out of an unhappy relationship during lockdown if you’re worried about their feelings and mental health?

There are too many variables to consider here to give advice that would apply across the board. I would need to know specifics. If the relationship is abusive then you need to put your own mental health first and do what is safe for you. If you are just going through a rough patch because of lockdown I would advise to speak to someone you trust like a non-judgmental friend, your therapist or a councillor. I would be cautious about making any rash decisions about a relationship at this time as all relationships will be under more strain than usual. Perhaps remaining in the relationship and working on it with your partner might be the way forward but it really does depend on the individual circumstance.


Abi is currently offering 20% off her packages and you can view her website here
Image by @camilacoelho