For whatever reason, you've found yourself single in your forties; the party invitations have dried up, your female friends are all married and boasting about little Cornelius' latest spelling test results, and the nice, single men you knew in your twenties are no longer single (or even that nice.) You're now having to trawl the dating sites, trying to find your Mr Right, but don't panic just yet, because help is at hand…

The Hobbyist's Guide to Dating

The Hobbyist's Guide to Dating

Throw out the checklist.

What I often hear from the single men I meet is that women are too picky. Do you really need someone who looks like George Clooney, has a 6-figure salary and drives a Maserati? Keep the checklist down to a bare minimum. Someone with a good sense of humour and a kind heart will prove much more satisfying in reality. And remember, that Louis Vuitton handbag isn't going to keep you warm at night.

Be yourself

Don't dumb down for a man. If you're intelligent, you probably won't be happy dating someone who doesn't know the difference between 'Pacific' and 'specific'. You have experience and stories to tell, you don't need to pretend to be someone else to be loved.

Spread your net wide

There's a plethora of dating sites out there and many of them are free to join and use. Join as many as you feel comfortable with, but remember a certain percentage of people using dating sites will be married or creating a false persona. Try Speed dating - it's doubtful you'll get any dates, but neither will anyone else. However, it'll get you out of the house for a couple of hours and give you several hilarious anecdotes to share with friends.

Create a memorable dating profile

Think of this as your personal PR. Include recent photos. Don't mention your love of knitting, cats, or jam-making at this stage. Use humour, be self-deprecating, but avoid joking about your weak bladder or hot flushes.

Weed out the unsuitables

Ok, so he looks hot in his photos, but do you really have anything in common with the 25-year-old model/actor? He might say he's into older women and be fine for a casual fling, but if you're looking for something serious, you might want to concentrate on men who are more likely to want to settle down. Pay close attention to what a man says in his profile, read between the lines. You can often tell their intentions simply by seeing how much they've written about themselves. Usually a short or non-existent profile, use of the terms 'Casual fun' or 'friends first' means they're only after one thing.

Give someone a chance

After 40 the dating pool seems extremely shallow, however there are great men out there and some of them aren't very photogenic. If you like the sound of his profile, but aren't keen on his photos, maybe give him a chance to prove he's worth the effort. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Don't waste your time

Before deciding whether to go on a date with someone, ask yourself if you really think you'll get on with him. If he's already made you feel irritated or uncomfortable by talking over you on the phone, or telling you he's into 'watersports', tell him you'll pass - your time is precious.

Be realistic

It's unlikely you'll find Johnny Depp or Gerard Butler, but maybe, just maybe, you'll find someone even better. Keep an open mind, and be honest with yourself and realistic about the man you're really looking for.


At times it may seem like you're fighting a losing battle, but persevere - they say there's someone out there for everyone. If it really gets you down, take a break for a few months, and then try again when you're sufficiently recovered from your ordeal.

Stay positive

I know it's difficult, but try and stay positive. Treat each disappointment as a learning experience, or turn your negatives into positives by creating your own dating blog with which to amuse your married friends. Every cloud as they say…

Read more of my dating guides and my own hilarious relationship misadventures in my new book 'The Hobbyist's Guide to Dating', available through Amazon.

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