• Sherlock and John Watson

The Sherlock Holmes guide to dating

Fans of Benedict Cumberland's Sherlock will remember the brilliant moment that the detective correctly deduces that his would-be partner in crime fighting, John Watson, is an ex military doctor with a psychosomatic limp and a distant, alcoholic brother—all within about 30 seconds of meeting him and giving only the most cursory of glances.

If only it were quite so easy in real life to so precisely get the lowdown on a complete stranger. Well, there are lots of Arthur Conan Doylesque-like techniques you can employ to cultivate better first impressions and aid your decision-making in the dating department. 


Sherlock Holmes notices that someone is wearing a different brand of deodorant and deduces they're having an affair. In reality, there are dozens of reasons why they could have made the switch. Perhaps, for example, they just saw that Lynx advert that promises one squirt and they'll be chased along a beach by a dozen bronzed bikini-clad goddesses. So rather than dealing in absolutes, psychologists like Texas University's Sam Gosling look for patterns in behaviour that point to a meaningful trend. For example, when you're at someone's home for the first time, you'll no doubt be drawn to the pictures they've framed and hung on their walls. Chances are they've chosen these images from a bank of many more, so what do these choices say about them? Look at what they're doing in the photographs and notice any common elements, such as family closeness or a desire to be seen as a sporty, active type?


The thing about Sherlock is that he has an uncanny knack of laying bare what drives people, what motivates and influences them. It's true that some people are harder to get to know that others, leaving only the sparsest of clues as to what makes them tick. But most people have an innate human desire to be seen, heard and understood, and as a result they'll offer lots of deliberate body language and verbal clues about themselves. Rather than looking for something that might not be there, pay attention to what really is. Remember, someone who's forever telling you that they love dogs isn't necessarily the world's greatest animal lover. But the fact that they really want you to believe this to be true of them gives you an insight into their personality. 


Okay, so we all know that Facebook profiles are all about presenting to the world an image we want others to have of us. But think about it: if you really aren't the most cultured person going, would you really bother going to the theatre every week just so you can post a selfie of yourself wedged into a red velvet seat and clutching a programme? There's also the small matter of having a few hundred friends, relatives and colleagues on hand, who'll happily point out your lies if you suddenly start purporting to be a marathon runner when the truth is more like you get a stitch every time you're forced to jog to the bus stop. For those reasons, say scientists, Facebook profiles can have a great deal of accuracy, so if you're wanting to gen up on someone's authentic self, it's as good a place to start as any.


Author: Rebecca

Rebecca lives in London with her husband, daughter and dachshund. She hopes her dating blogs for Flame Introductions will inspire you to seek out the best London and UK locations for brilliant dates, and discover some tips along the way to help you find your perfect partner.