11. Change your rules

Realise that rich, successful and good looking doesn’t necessarily equal kind, loving and trustworthy. Stop seeing certain people as out of your league or beneath you. Freeing yourself from your preconceptions (about, say, short men or women with teddy bears on their beds) will increase your odds of recognising a great match.

12. Don’t act desperate

Nothing makes a potential partner recoil faster than a date who tries too hard, too soon. If you’re always checking the room for Mr or Ms Fantastic, you could miss the opportunities under your nose. Relax. It’ll happen.

13. Radiate confidence

Others respond to you positively when you smile and look sparkly (even if your day’s gone pear-shaped and you’re dying of nerves). Act if you have to: walk tall, make eye contact, laugh at your own jokes. Fake confidence is indistinguishable from the real thing. Since first impressions count, get a good haircut and look your best. Just avoid going over the top when dressing for a date – you know, shirt unbuttoned à la Enrique Iglesias, or a skirt short enough to make your dad blush.

14. Defrost a little

In social situations it’s tempting to slip into untouchable mode to fend off unwanted advances. While this survival tactic works to a degree, an aura of cold aloofness tends to keep all advances at bay. Defrost, start a conversation, and don’t take yourself too seriously.

15. Forget the fantasy

The essence of maturing is realising that, instead of waiting for someone else to ride over the hill and make you happy, you alone must be responsible for your own happiness. Have realistic expectations, because when your expectations are too high, reality can be crushingly disappointing. The key, before entering a significant relationship, is to get to know your expectations and needs, and to establish your own levels of accommodation – what you will and won’t accept from somebody else.

16. Cultivate emotional independence

When insecurity or a failed relationship has left a hole in your life, it’s easy to fill it with the first thing that comes along. Rather work on making yourself whole again: take on challenges that will be opportunities for growth and make you feel strong.

17. Dare to expect great things

One of the most heartening corollaries to ‘sh%t happens’ is that superbly fabulous things can also happen, in any place, at any time – tomorrow morning, next week, who knows? Never forget this. Have faith.

18. Project positivity

Be conscious of how often you express negativity – whether it’s complaining about work, men, women, the future, finances, or your weight – and start laughing instead. A positive outlook, which shows a survivor instinct and love for life, is always attractive.

19. Don’t settle for second best

Life’s too short to spend it unhappy, dissatisfied and wondering what you’re missing. You’re worth someone who treats you well and will be able to offer you commitment, support and love. Start now by eradicating second-rate items from your life: people who bore you, duties you make yourself perform but don’t enjoy…

20. Remove ‘success’ and ‘failure’ from your vocabulary

Meeting a good guy or girl isn’t a game. It’s something that happens when you’re happy with your life and with yourself, and it’ll happen at exactly the right time.