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A Winning Match: 10 Lessons That Football Can Also Teach Us About Online Dating

Online dating and the beautiful game have more in common than you might think.

Whether you like it or not, we are in the midst of World Cup mania. And the more tournaments you watch, the more you will realise that dating and football are actually very similar. It’s a game that we’re all playing, but the prize isn’t some flashy ring or the glory of winning the Coupe du Monde – no: it’s love. The ultimate prize.

Not interested in football? That’s fine, too. But there is much to learn from the beautiful game both on and off the pitch, which can also be applied to the dating game.

Here are ten lessons from the world of football which can, surprisingly, also be applied when it comes to finding your perfect match online.

1. Have a game plan

Each international manager for every World Cup team will spend months cultivating information in order to deliver their best possible performance, based on tactics. They invest time into researching the locations and conditions in which they will be playing, the potential formations that will be most effective for their team, and also do a stark analysis of the competition - so that they can use their own strengths in order to gain an upper hand. All this is in preparation for one game of football.

Now, we’re not saying that you need to fit finding your life partner into 90 minutes(!), because these things take time. However, you do need to ensure that you are participating in the right league. If you want to be involved at world class level, joining Tinder is like entering the playoffs for The National League (that’s the lowest league of the English football league system…) – you know you're worth more and should simply be aiming higher!

Of course, when looking for love, you need to have a clear idea of what you want, and what you need to do to get it in order to move forwards. Very much like Gareth Southgate during his career as England Manager, you need to think about tactics: gather your information, compare the potential dating platforms and assess what you need from a potential player (or partner). There are some hard decisions that need to be made at this time, as it might mean ‘cutting out’ quick wins and deleting apps that only provide shallow matches and short-term gratification.

Every day in the dating field should be treated as a match day. Always play to win.

2. Play by the rules

In the same way that VAR has transformed the world of football, technology has made dating more transparent. In last week’s France vs. Tunisia game, with Les Bleus 1-0 down, Antoine Griezmann looked to have made it 1-1 in the 98th minute. The French celebrated and Tunisian hearts sank – but as the full-time whistle was blown, the goal was deemed as disallowed after VAR intervened and advised a pitch-side review. As devastated as France were, fair is fair – right?

Some England fans still cringe at Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ - the controversial hand ball that gave Argentina a 1-0 lead against England at the 1986 World Cup. (If only we’d had the benefit of VAR technology back then…)

Fortunately, in the modern day, your actions now leave a clear footprint which can always be retraced. So… Offside goal? You’ll get caught: there are a whole team of people working behind the scenes to ensure that everyone plays by the rules.

Similarly in dating, if you’re tempted to break the codes of conduct with disrespectful behaviour, or by sending an inappropriate message - there's nowhere to hide, and platforms such as REDDI simply won’t tolerate it.

Red card = no second chances.

3. Put the effort in

If you want to be selected for the final team, you’ve got to prove that you’re the best among your peers – or at least, that you offer something that others don’t. After all, it might be precisely what the team captain (or the future love of your life) needs to complete them. Invest time in proving how great you are and you’re more likely to get noticed. If you’re lazy and lack the proactivity of others, your prospects of being chosen are less.

Play with passion and vigor and let others know how much the result means to you. The England Ladies team are the perfect example of relentless work and focus truly paying off, being crowned UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 champions with a dramatic 2-1 extra-time victory against Germany in front of a record crowd. (And it was glorious!)

Put in the work, act with intention. Don’t get left on the bench.

4. Know your strengths

Never has the phrase ‘horses for courses’ been more appropriate both in football and in dating.

Take Manchester City’s Jack Grealish. He is one of the best dribblers in the Premier League. He has a low centre of gravity and technique that means he is perfectly balanced as he moves the ball with his right foot and is therefore able to jink in either direction away from his marker. But even his road to greatness has hit more than a few speed bumps in recent months and he has himself acknowledged that he can be ‘beyond stubborn’ – something that he admits to working on. See? No one is perfect.

And the same approach is required when you play the dating game. Self-awareness, while being attuned to your own key strengths is key. Know what you bring to the table that is truly unique to you, but also be aware of any areas you need to focus on in order to make you an as capable of being a valuable asset to any team – or partnership – that you become a part of.

Each player in the Premier League is loved and appreciated by their fans for completely different reasons. You will find the appreciation that you deserve from those who see you.

And that’s just fine: we all have something unique to offer.