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I turned up a few minutes late for one date to find that the guy had already ordered and eaten dinner without me, and I booked myself on a climbing holiday with 14 fit men, only to discover halfway up the highest mountain in North Africa that they were all married.While I did meet some really nice men, it was certainly not at the tortuous round of singles events, at which there were always more women than men and everyone had a sad, resigned look in their eyes.‘Men want someone who is fertile but who doesn’t want children just yet,’ she continued.‘So they want women in their late 20s or early 30s.I put a classified ad in Private Eye, which read: ‘Fun, attractive female journalist, 38, seeks romantic, sporty, intelligent guy, 30s/40s for adventures and hopefully LTR/marriage/babies/the lot!I realised that since turning 35 three years ago, I hadn’t met anyone I liked romantically, who was also single, straight and interested in me. ’ one married ex-boyfriend wrote on my Facebook page. I joined running clubs, did acting classes and dance classes, went on skiing holidays and singles holidays and badgered my friends to set me up with their friends.Some attempts were more successful than others: a singles holiday to Greece made me feel like Elizabeth Taylor due to all the men after me, whereas one evening spent dinner dating with seven single women in their 40s and just two men — one of whom walked out after ten minutes — made me want to give up on the idea altogether.The solution is to meet them in their own natural habit: coffee shops and pubs, of course, but also sports clubs, evening classes, even the local supermarket. James Preece, who runs dating events, says that although it might be a struggle to find men — who are often happy just hanging out with their mates rather than trying to meet new people — women in their mid-30s shouldn’t give up hope.
‘There are many men out there who are bored with having meaningless affairs and who want to settle down and have children too,’ he says.‘If a guy is going out with a woman in her late 30s, it is hardly going to be a surprise that she might also want children.’With that in mind, I decided to be honest about my desire for marriage and children — with surprising results.Why would they like someone who, if she can still have children, would need to have them straight away?No, men will run a mile.’ She paused, then added: ‘Sorry, dear.’ I’ve never been someone who absolutely has to be in a relationship.
Whenever I was between boyfriends in the past, I would just enjoy life until another man came along — through work, mutual friends or our eyes meeting across a crowded room.But when I phoned a dating agency eight months ago, everything had taken on a new sense of urgency. ‘Haven’t you found yourself a husband yet, Bridgey? But don’t look desperate — men hate that.’ I went speed-dating, online-dating, wine-tasting dating, quiz-dating and dinner-dating.