Dating Great! with advice by

Spring Clean Your Life By Shawn Conner (Lavalife columnist)

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"Everything in life has an expiry date."

So says author and lecturer Paul Talbot. And he's right. Whether it's milk or relationships, sometimes you just have to let it go to clear the space for something new.

And applying some of the principles in Talbot's book, Clear the Clutter and Simplify Your Life can help you sort through your love life, to jettison what's not working and concentrate on what is.

In his seminars and workshops, the British-born, Vancouver-based Talbot teaches people how to simplify their lives in six basic areas: household, lifestyle, career, health, finance and relationships. "Clutter has a domino effect," says Talbot, who calls himself "a clutter therapist."

"If you have clutter in other areas of your life as well as in relationships, it often means you're not focused, and you're usually very scattered."

With that in mind, we've come up with some areas where readers can prune, cull, reassess and reconfigure for ultimate dating success. Or at least a cleaner desk.


You want to attract the opposite sex? Maybe it's time to throw out that Blue Öyster Cult concert jersey, velour tracksuit and bottle of Drakkar Noir.

"If you haven't worn it in a year, let it go," says Talbot. "You don't want to look like one of the homeless -- you want to look like you've got your life together." The same applies to old scents and makeup past its expiry date. He also recommends hiring an image consultant to help select some new threads.

"Sometimes you need someone who can be objective to do this for you," he says. We often listen to our friends, he says, but maybe we shouldn't. "Maybe there's a little jealousy there -- maybe you earn more money or are in a better position financially than they are." Which means maybe you don't look so great in those pants. Sucker.


Do you have to step over piles of dirty clothes just to get to the pile of less-dirty clothes? Are you really ever going to read through those back issues of Wired? And what about that thing-slash-science fair project in the fridge?

"If you're living in a cluttered environment, the chances of you bringing someone home if you get lucky are pretty close to zero because you're embarrassed about your place," says Talbot, cutting to the chase. "Once you clear up your physical environment you feel better about yourself, and it becomes a pleasure to come home. And to bring someone back to it."


Floss your cell phone contact list, whittle down your online social network and stop hanging out with those nabobs of negativity. It sounds brutal, but maybe it's time to lose that pal who's always going on about how all women are gold diggers or all men are players or how much your city sucks when it comes to meeting people.

"I have learned over the years that people who are negative, who are always criticizing or condemning or telling you how to live your life or who to associate with... are the worst offenders," says Talbot. "They suck you dry. They're not happy in their own life, and they want to make everybody else miserable." It's not easy to say goodbye to people you've known for a long time. But sometimes, says Talbot, "You have to be cruel to be kind."


Some of us are packrats, and not just with grade school report cards and collectible Slurpee cups. "Old relationships run their course," says Talbot. "Life is all about choices. If I'm hanging onto somebody in the belief that maybe somehow or other we'll try to get back together, all I'm really doing is wasting energy and possibly creating more negativity. And we're not making room for somebody new to come into our life -- we don't see the opportunities that are out there."

Staying friends with exes has its benefits. But the disadvantages -- the danger of comparing potential new partners with ex partners, finishing each other's sentences, knowing what each other looks like naked -- often outweigh the good. And you never know what agenda -- consciously or subconsciously -- they might have. Do they have your best interests in mind when they disapprove of your new guy, or do they just want to make sure they have someone to hang out with on Saturday night?

Current relationships

Active daters often find themselves in unhealthy situations such as sleeping with the wrong person. But fearing the alternative, we sometimes stay in something that isn't working for us and is draining our energy and keeping us from meeting someone new. "Sometimes we hold on to toxic relationships because we're not willing to live with that void," says Talbot. "Often people don't take a risk, and everything is about risk."

Inner self

Many of us walk around with minds as messy and disorganized as our living spaces, wardrobes and cell phone bill statements. Ask yourself as often as possible what negative voices, memories, and thought processes are tripping you up. And how much time do you spend agonizing over the past and worrying about the future, all the while missing what's happening right now?

After all, how will you think of something clever to say to that foxy prospect at the supermarket if you're busy kicking yourself for missing out on that opportunity to invest in Microsoft back in 1994? Meditation and yoga can help clear the mind, while books like Don Miguel Ruiz' The Four Agreements or Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now are primers on letting go of the past and not worrying about the future. Or, as Talbot suggests, just go get a pedicure.

"I know people laugh at me and say, 'Here's this guy, he goes on a regular basis for aromatherapy massage.' I get a pedicure done, a facial -- I don't wake up in the morning looking this good," laughs Talbot, who looks a little like a better dressed version of British comic Benny Hill. "I'm a great believer in taking care of number one."

The bottom line, he says, is: do you want somebody in your life? "And if you're not ready, because your mind is so cluttered, and you're so fragmented, maybe it's not the best time."

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