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Lego speed dating organiser and Inverness counsellor give their views on the world of online dating

Fay McLeod from Shelter Scotland and Anna Lynch with Relationship Scotland Counselling Highland discuss the highs and lows of online dating.

Fay McLeod with a Shelter Scotland stand.
Could a Lego speed dating event hosted by Shelter Scotland provide a fun opportunity for tired of internet dating. Image: Shelter Scotland

Once upon a time their eyes met across a crowded room and it was love at first sight.

But the story and the pursuit of happily ever after has become a very different affair with the advent of online dating.

Meeting your match at a dance hall, night club or even the cinema has increasingly been replaced by interactions in the virtual sphere.

It is safe to say the world of dating these days is not for the faint-hearted.

As a result, searching for a spark or a partner can be a little exhausting and expensive with the average date costing £41 in the UK.

However, it can be worth the effort. Just over 13% of online matches can end in marriage.

Grinder app
Online dating can be tiring. Image: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Lego speed dating event in Aberdeen

For Fay McLeod, 46, who has been back in the dating game for the last three years, she has found the apps “pretty soul-destroying”.

Sifting through scammers and a lot of the same people, the Aberdeen resident said: “Personally, it’s been tough. I would love to find my person.

“I’m maybe a bit traditionalist…We just don’t have the ability to go out to dance like in the 60s. It’s just on your phone.

Fay McLeod
Fay McLeod. Image: Shelter Scotland.

“You can build up a false sense of connection with somebody on your phone and then you meet them in person and they’re nothing like you thought they would be.”

As the regional community fundraiser in Aberdeen for Shelter Scotland, Fay wondered if there was a way to provide a fun alternative in the run-up to Valentine’s Day while raising money for a good cause.

That was when the idea for a Lego Speed Dating event was born.

She added: “I thought it was just a fun way to link speed dating and the cause together and the response has been great.

“I reckon you can tell a lot about people by how they build a house with Lego. Are they going to hog it all are they going to insist that it’s all just one colour?”

detail of the Lego Broughty Ferry created by Stephen Page, RNLI Station, Fort Street, Broughty Ferry, Dundee, 07th July 2023.
Speed daters will have four minutes to build a house together. Image: Kim Cessford / DC Thomson.

A night of good fun and connection

Those participating will have four minutes to create a multi-coloured home with a partner.

All funds from the tickets for the event on Friday February 9 will go towards Shelter Scotland.

A cause which is close to Fay’s heart who has experienced homelessness twice – once as a child and again a few years ago after the end of her marriage.

Still pinching herself some days when waking up in her own flat, Fay said: “I really think that everybody should have that.

“Everybody should be able to wake up in the morning and go, ‘This is my house. This is my home.'”

Speaking about the event, she added: “Even if we don’t make any matches, people are just going to have a good night. It’s getting out there and connecting with people in person.

“And we’re raising money for Shelter Scotland.”

Shelter Scotland Aberdeen
Shelter Scotland Aberdeen staff at an event. Image: Shelter Scotland

It is a balance between online and face-to-face connection

For many people, the idea of building relationships online does not seem real.

Especially when it comes to young people.

However, Anna Lynch, a counsellor with Relationship Scotland Counselling Highland and project leader of Safe Space Inverness, a safe space in Inverness for neurodiverse and LGBTQ+ people under 30, disagrees.

She said: “I think young people can still build strong friendships and relationships in the online world, I see it through my son who engages with his friends online.

Anna Lynch
Anna Lynch. Image: Inari Collective.

“They still meet in person but they do use those platforms to communicate because this is their reality, and that’s okay.

“It’s just ensuring that there is a balance of meeting online, and then meeting in person as well.”

Anna works with a team to reach out to communities and young people aged between 16 and 30 to do some preventative work around healthy relationships.

According to the data, Anna said a lot of young people do not access help and yet struggle with relationships with many women experiencing emotional manipulation.

She said: “The whole idea behind this project is to try to engage with schools and younger clients to do preventative and educational work around what healthy relationships mean.”

Shutterstock image two people eating burgers and smiling in a restaurant.
Anna said the relationships being shared online do not always match reality. Image: Shutterstock.

Reality of relationships different to what is sold online

Anna, 42, admitted dating has certainly changed with younger people and not all in a bad way.

But with online dating, she said there are a few challenges including issues of safety: “It’s changed the way we look at people.

“It’s almost like the algorithms and AI are choosing for us based on the information we provide.

“So there is that human element almost taken out, but also the expectations of what relationships should be like.

“We have almost a prototype of this is what I need to achieve to be happy, or this is what means that someone loves me, and then the reality might be slightly different.”

When facing dating disappointments, it can be discouraging.

To help combat that Anna said: “I’d advise to maybe try to find ways to find meaning and self-worth before getting into a relationship.

“Maybe trying to find friends or other activities and trying to find groups that might help to rebuild self-esteem.”