Few of us are the same people we were two years ago – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The pandemic gave single women a break from all the stress of trying to find a partner.

Not just that, they had time to reflect on past dating experiences…and realise how disastrous and demoralising lots of them were.

It’s the ideal time for a detox in dating – which is exactly what I will do.

These nuggets will help you get the love you want, whether you are 18 or just starting out in dating.

It’s written for women but many of the points can be used in all situations.

The New Year Dating Detox: Tracey Cox, a UK sex and dating expert, has revealed her best nuggets of advice for singletons to help break bad dating habits for good (file photo)

TraceyCox is a UK dating and sex expert who has shared her top tips for singles to break bad habits in dating (file photo).


A book arrived on my desk this week. If I had the opportunity to gift it personally to all young women in the UK, it would be.

It is called Block, Delete, and Move On. It’s not them, it’s you’. It was created by Lala on Instagram, LalalaLetMeExplain, who boasts 176,000+ followers.

Lala, a social worker who also teaches relationship and dating skills to young women (and those not so young), is an expert in this field. My favorite is Lala.

You will find some of the issues she raised in her book in this section. This one I particularly echo…

Your attachment style

What you desire from a partner is influenced by your childhood. Understanding your attachment style is a usually a lightbulb moment – particularly for those who struggle with relationships. Never have I met anyone that didn’t respond with “Oh my god, that’s you!” When they find theirs.

If your upbringing is positive and nurturing you will be strong in emotional connections. You can also navigate relationships with ease if it’s not. Other people don’t have the same luck and are often fearful or dismissive.

This is Lala’s cover and Rachel Heller and Amir Levine also have Attached.

While there may be some nice men, not all men are good.

The statistics are staggering. In her lifetime, one third of women will be subject to domestic abuse. Every six minutes, in Britain, one woman is raped. These facts are real.

You should stop checking the phone of your partner. This is the norm for her generation, according to my stepdaughter. While it may be normal to check in on your partner secretly, that does not make it healthy or right.

Your relationship with your partner is in jeopardy if they don’t trust you.

If you’re suspicious for a reason – they’ve cheated on you repeatedly – you have good reason not to trust them. You will only confirm the information you know by looking through their phones.

Be financially independent

It was one of the first things I tried to do and it has allowed me great freedom. Never have I had to ask myself, “Can I afford this?” I never felt the need to end a relationship unless I wanted it to.

Be surrounded by caring and intelligent people who are committed to your well-being 

While it is up to you to decide who you choose, there’s no harm in having your trusted friends help you identify potential partners. Sometimes, we are blinded by red flags when we first get into a relationship. Friends tend to be objective.

They aren’t boring, and they don’t have to be nice.

Drama is not the same as love. You shouldn’t mistake passion for love. They’re signs of incompatibility. Good for you.

Aim high

These’safe bets” are as likely to dump you and treat you poorly as the more attractive, but riskier partners. Consider what you want.

Look out for pink flags, as well as the red.

A red flag is someone who’s not available (married, in a relationship, with another person), controlling behavior, misogyny or violent behaviour. You should immediately get away if you see a red flag. 

Pink flags, Lala says, should make you sit up and pay attention. Unfinished business, ex-partners who are not available to you for the weekend (in relationships), anger that is unjustified and never having met their friends. A pink flag alone might not be significant, but two or more equals a red.


The biological clock is ticking and women can’t have children unless they are married.

Even the most sane of people can be driven insane by this pressure.

This is the time when we are more inclined to view potential partners through rose colored glasses.

Ironic! We should be more fussy than usual. Our search is for a man worthy to father our children.

With this in mind…

Dating when you’re a single parent

“It’s more than just finding the time for dating. It’s about realizing that you deserve both love AND sex,” a Mum of two children explained to me.

You are the only one who is responsible for your family. You may feel guilty for wanting to buy something for yourself.

Single moms tend to decide that a happy parent means a happy child. They get back out on the dating scene, even though it can sometimes be challenging.

How to make your life easier

You are a single parent, it is obvious Put it on your profile, if you’re using apps; talk about your children early on if you meet someone with potential in person. Some guys will not be interested in you once they find out, but it’s better to know early. Take pride in your children and the person you are.

You should not let someone you don’t really know into your home. Better to be a little paranoid than overly trusting when there are children around. Men you do not know will pick you up at your home and drop you off there.

Don’t settle: Children are an asset, not a disadvantage. It doesn’t matter if you are a single mom. You do not have to accept second-best. You don’t have to be satisfied.

You should see what’s actually there. Be positive but not delusional. Men are not like houses. Although he may be able to mold a bit, it is unlikely that he will change drastically.

Don’t make excuses! If he only comes over when he’s drunk and been out with the lads, you’re a booty call, not a relationship. His mother doesn’t love him, or his ex-wife makes him “hard”, it is because he doesn’t respect you.

It’s too much time to waste it on undecided/unsure people. If they can’t decide if they want in or out at the heady beginning, they’re never going to stick around when you hit the boring or difficult parts.

Your children’s relationship is just as important to you as your relationship with them. If they refuse to engage or show no empathy or compassion towards your children, it’s irrelevant if they treat you like a queen. Your family is yours. Your family comes as one package.

You shouldn’t be rushed to introduce your new partner to the kids. It is a good rule of thumb to wait for at least three months. You can wait up to six months, if possible. When you first introduce someone, it can be confusing.

Do not listen to any man who claims that all of his ex-girlfriends are insane

His best guess is that he chooses unsuitable women all the time and does not know what he truly wants. He may be blaming every woman he has dated for the glaring problems that keep him from being able make a lasting relationship.

Manage expectations

If you go on every date thinking they might be The One (stupid concept – who says only one person can make you happy? Is that 12?If you are, then you will be very disappointed. You should just go out having a great time. You might make new friends.

It’s not all about relationships

Love is not just something you get from your partner. Friendships with family and pets, close friendships, work, friends, families, pets, careers, books, great boxes sets, movies or solo sex are all ways to have fun. Go for one if it’s something you desire. However, don’t make it your obsession.

There is nothing more attractive than despair. You attract the worst type of person. You don’t have to be desperate for a partner. This is not a desperate desire to have a relationship, no matter who it’s with. 

Don’t be so serious about your relationship. Find another way to make it work. Some people have so many bad experiences they simply aren’t open to anymore – at least for a while. 

Look in from the outside.  

Are you happy that your best friend is dating the same guy as you? It’s sad but true that we have higher standards than ourselves for those we love.

It is just as essential to be able and willing to let yourself love as it is to be able. It is difficult to learn how love can be given. This requires vulnerability, which comes from a place where you are strong. Your self-esteem may be low, and your ability to accept risk in relationships that aren’t working out well for you.

 Don’t travel if you aren’t in the right spirit

You are utterly useless if you show up to a date bitter, twisted and suspicious. It’s pointless. Keep watching Netflix to lift your mood, or schedule a consultation with a good therapist.

Although heartbreak can be inevitable, there are ways to avoid it. 

You should stop dating people who leave you feeling broken and start looking for solutions. If you feel the need, you can read good books on relationships, view self-help videos and consult a therapist. Finding love is not as important as self-love.

Don’t listen to men who tell you that you’re ‘too many’. 

They often feel overwhelmed by your power.

Sometimes it’s about others.

Launching into a ‘How dare you ignore me’ rant if they don’t reply to a text within a few days can come back to bite you on the a**e. Things happen in people’s life that take over. Parents die. People get sick. They may lose their job. They take holidays.

It could be that they are not fast responders. A reply within one week might work for them. You can leave them alone and just mentally send them away. You are fine if they contact you. If they don’t get back to you, your dignity will be preserved.


It’s never easy to end a relationship, and it can make things worse. Divorce can also be difficult. Many people leave it exhausted, battered and with a thin skin. This is why it’s important to be cautious.

Wait until you’re ready. 

It is vital. This is crucial. Which are your goals for the future? When you do some research on what went wrong, and how your part in the process, then you are ready to start dating.

Make friends if you feel lonely

Sex expert Tracey Cox, pictured, says that the pandemic gave single women a much-needed break from the pressure of finding a relationship

Sex expert Tracey Cox, pictured, says that the pandemic gave single women a much-needed break from the pressure of finding a relationship

It is difficult to be a partner in a relationship. To survive, you must be resilient and strong. Not vulnerable or needy. Before you go out on your own, build self-esteem with friends. Join a group and get a pet.

Don’t be kind to someone you don’t like.

All those snide comments from the divorce proceedings will still ring in your ears, even if it was bitter. Many people who have recently divorced are vulnerable to being criticized. Critique is the last thing that you want.

Don’t trust in your own abilities for more than a year.

The majority of people die within twelve months. Be patient.

Do not make it about you.

Do not judge each person or encounter based on the past. You don’t have to fix your ex-partner’s problems and expect them to love you. Discuss your divorce whenever you feel the need, but don’t be tempted to gossip and spit on each other. Your ex isn’t part of your new relationship – don’t make them part of it.

It should not be difficult 

It doesn’t matter how hard you try, if it isn’t working you are in the wrong type of relationship. It’s easier to find the right partner when you work with one another. Sometimes, toxic couples bring out the worst within each other.

Learn when you should give up  

Don’t wait for them to call back or not respond to you when you try reaching out. Do not waste time trying to figure out what happened. The truth is that they are usually an idiot who felt intimated by you.

Strive for equilibrium 

Each of you must feel that you’re receiving a fair deal. The balance is what really matters. Ironically, the person getting the most is the one that leaves because they don’t feel enough.


When I was writing my book “Great Sex Starts at fifty”, I spoke to hundreds of older women. The results were split into two groups. The first was those who loved being older and wanted to open a new chapter in life. Second, were the ones who were too old and didn’t feel attractive enough to be able find love.

There are no prizes for determining who had the most successful dating experience. This is my first point.

The young are not wasting their youth

As you age, there is a feeling of contentment. It’s easier to feel peaceful, clearer vision, and a better understanding of what is important. Wishing you could be younger is a waste. Be grateful for the blessings that come with where you are.

You are probably the one responsible for setting the date, if you are straight.

The majority of men can’t communicate well. You should be curious. Ask questions. Find out more about them, their lives, and their families. Take charge of the conversation. Talk about you, but don’t be shy to share your thoughts. Warning: If the amount of sharing is not equal over the first month, it’s likely that it won’t.

Con artists to be on your guard 

Some people are just out to make it big. It might involve no strings sex, which is great if you also want that. This could also be about your money. If someone appears too good to be true they usually are.

You should not fall for anyone if they ask for money to pay for an operation or a loan. If it happens to you, stream one of the I-wassoldled documentaries. Some con men come in mightily attractive packages – that’s how they get away with it. 

Be flexible with your expectations 

You will find the love of your life is not what you imagined. You may find what suits you today is not the same as it was when you were younger. You can be flexible. You might be happier than ever if you let go of your “type”.

Do not be influenced by the appearances 

Once you get past the initial layer, many frogs can become princes. You might be wrong about the factor that you believed was the key to your deal. A tall guy turns out to have the best sense of humor and be kind.

It is futile to try and change people

If they are over 50, this is even more important. The same applies to your children, friends, and potential partners. You are not them and they don’t think the same way as you. Let’s not try and make everybody into a mini-me.

Finally, this one’s for everyone, regardless of age, gender and sexuality…

Not being alone does not mean that you are lonely. There is nothing more lonely than being in a unhappy relationship.

Tracey Cox.com has Tracey’s SexTok podcast as well as her books and plenty of other advice about sex, relationships, and sex.