Plenty of fish
'There's plenty of fish in the sea' or so the saying goes, and if only I had a pound for every time I'd heard it.
The theory is all well and good, at least for those in heavily populated areas, but what happens when (despite being surrounded by sea, a cruel irony if you ask me) you're staring into something more akin to a puddle than an ocean?
Welcome to island dating life. In your twenties it's not so bad; years stretch ahead of you, gravity has still to make any major impact on your physique, and most of your peers are yet to settle down. Fair enough, if you grew up on the island then you probably already know everybody your age, but new people are arriving all the time, and possibilities are endless. No matter how complicated and slightly claustrophobic it seems at the time, it's definitely the easiest and most fun time of life to be single.
Dating over 30 is a whole different ball game no matter where you are, but in an island community it's like playing that ball game in the dark, balanced on one leg, with both hands tied behind your back.
The number of eligible prospective partners seems much, much smaller than it did back in those halcyon days of youth and depleted all the further when you have to eliminate your ex's friends, your friend's exes, those of opposing sexuality, and those that are outside the furthest reaches of a reasonable match in age. In a population of 105,000 people that seems to leave approximately 6 potential matches. Two you've already dated, another two of whom have questionable personal hygiene, and one you have a strong suspicion isn't mentioning the wife and two kids he has at home.
Despite the close quarters we inhabit, it doesn't seem to be as easy as it should be to meet a potential partner. For all its many positives, I don't think I'm unfair in saying that Jersey can be a little cliquey at times; so unless you have willing friends or colleagues ready to introduce you to their single buddies (and potentially take the rap if it ends badly) it can be difficult to get chatting to a stranger. Without nerves of steel, the thought of walking up to someone in the Royal Yacht and offering them a drink is enough to turn the stomach; not least because the pain of a public knock back is intensified by the knowledge that you'll probably keep bumping into them every Friday night for the rest of your days.
Of course, lots of people thoroughly enjoy single life and taking each day as it comes, and that's fantastic, but there's absolutely no shame in wanting to meet someone either. Humans thrive on personal interaction, and it's natural for us to seek affection and company.
So how do us single island dwellers go about meeting someone new, outside of our existing circle of friends and acquaintances, and without risking total humiliation, or having to set sail for new and unchartered shores?
As daunting as it sounds in a fast-paced, often ego-centric world, where we tend to rush around with our eyes down and our minds on the next meeting or the last Instagram notification, there's a lot to be said for looking up, making eye contact and saying 'Hi' with a smile. The more you do it, the easier it becomes, so make it a habit. If you're exchanging 'Good Morning's’ with every little old lady you encounter in the Co-op, then the more natural it will feel to do it with that cute yet mysterious guy at the gym. And after all, whether it sparks a conversation or not, it's always nice to be nice.
It can often feel like there can't be anyone left on the rock that we haven't already met, but that's simply impossible, and it's simple to prove by pushing out of our comfort zone and doing something new. Luckily, we're spoilt in Jersey with activities and organisations, each home to a host of new and interesting people. Hit up Parkrun on a Saturday morning, join a beach clean, volunteer for a charity or take up a hobby that has an associated club. Try something different from your norm, and approach everything with an open mind and a friendly demeanour. There's no guarantee that Mr Right will be waiting for you there, but there's more chance than there is of him turning up on your doorstep clutching a box of Milk Tray.
As rock-dwellers we're always going to live with quirks that those in other places don't have to deal with, whether it's getting fogged in, surviving without Nandos or dating in a limited population. But we're hardy folk, islanders, and there's not much that will defeat us. With a positive outlook and an open and approachable manner, that shallow little puddle is capable of yielding quite the catch.