Whether you're single and on the apps, single and off the apps, expecting little ones, ringing in 10 years of marriage or celebrating three months of dating, you could probably do with a little guidance when it comes to your love life.

There's no such thing as a perfect relationship - despite what your Instagram feed looks like - and there are plenty of things we can do to improve our relationships with our loved ones or, indeed, ourselves.

Many of us punish ourselves for disastrous breakups or an unwanted single status but we don't put the time into learning about our own needs or behavioral patterns. You wouldn't expect to be a pro on the dancefloor without a few lessons and a lot of practice, so why not apply the same theory to dating?

We sat down with Dating & Relationship Coach Annie Lavin to find out what issues Irish singletons and couples are dealing with the most, the pros and cons of datings apps, how we can shelve our baggage, and why there's a stigma attached to being single at a certain age...

What are the pro and cons of online dating?
"Lots of people can feel overwhelmed with the apps, I think that's the issue. The second issue is that people sometimes overlook the very basic part of connecting with people in real life.

"The positive is that it can build resilience for people. There are so many ups and downs and trials and tribulations to dating online that you learn to develop that skill. And another way of looking at the apps in a positive light is that you can try out your new relationships skills.

"If your intention is to meet somebody, sometimes people can feel like they're failing at that if they don't actually meet the person that they're looking for. It can almost add to that hopelessness feeling."

Is there a stigma attached to being single at a certain age?
"A lot of people that come to me in their mid- to late-thirties can feel that there is a stigma to being single and they can attach their identity to their single status.

"I think that idea in Ireland of being asked that question of 'Are you seeing anybody?' or 'How's your dating life?' - that can be a bit of a bone of contention for people.

"I think it can be challenging if people attach this idea of the ideal [situation] being 'I have a partner' and that it's a measure of success. If we attach our identity to that then we can, again, feel like we're failing at this thing that everybody else seems to be getting right."

What common issues do couples face?
"Lots of people have maybe lost sight of one another, so they might have forgotten what made them fall in love with their partner for the first time. It's about bringing them back to dating again, reacquainting them with the idea of dating and how to do that again. 

"It could be that they've lost the art of communication, that they've fallen into patterns that might not be that helpful, and to help them and support them through that so that they feel that their partner is hearing them and that they can feel a sense of love in their relationship."

What common issues do singles face?
"There are some common themes that I would see where people come to me because they've decided they want to meet somebody and they want a relationship coach to try and help them through that.

"What starts out as 'I want to meet a partner' can turn into 'I now understand an awful lot more about myself, I'm now able to understand what might have blocked me from meeting or attracting a partner'.

"That's the biggest part of working with singles, that I see, they come with the intention of meeting a partner but skipping that part of realising they must relate with themselves first. 

Why do we need to relate to ourselves more? What does that look like?
"Not having a sense of where I'm at in my own life, that maybe I've put aside where I would like to be, and I'm focusing on the man or the woman being the thing that will make my life more enriched or that I will acquire more happiness through.

"It can be an overall piece that's been overlooked in terms of what makes me happy or it can simply be that I haven't been relating to myself emotionally. I don't know how I feel when I do meet people, I'm waiting to see if they like me rather than consciously dating.

"[It's about] realising: 'I have needs. Do I understand my own needs? Do the people I meet understand my needs?'

How do we prevent ourselves from bringing baggage into our relationships?
"We all have our own forms of baggage but it's knowing yourself well enough - and knowing your baggage well enough - to have worked through the majority of it.

"I think that's the best way you can bring your healthy self to a relationship, by working with somebody, either a therapist or a coach, to really get clear on what my wounds are so that when I'm in a relationship again and certain topics come up, I'll be aware of where I'm extra sensitive.

"The essential thing, if you're in a toxic relationship, is that you get very clear on the dynamics of a toxic relationship because it's quite different to lots of other relationships. There's lots of information out there so if anyone is unsure of the health of their relationship, I would say to acquire that knowledge first so you can understand the dynamics at play and seek out the tailored support that exists for that.*

Are men and women really all that different when it comes to dating?
"I think the idea that men and women are different is really sensationalising and polarising the two sexes. I would say we are more similar than we are different and I think that isn't as sexy or as interesting to talk about but in my work I would work with both men and women and I wouldn't work differently between the two.

"Sometimes the way people might come to me, in terms of men and women, may be slightly different. Women seem to be a little more open to the idea of preparing for love whereas men will come to me when there's a crisis."

So, there you have it lovebirds. There are no quick fixes to finding and maintaining love but, according to Annie, we must remember to know thyself, love thyself, and bring her/himself on a date from time to time.

Watch the video above to see our interview with Annie Lavin. Visit Annie's website here.

*If you, or anyone you know, is experiencing domestic abuse you can call Women Aid's 24hr National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341900.