By Nikki Page
Having reached a certain cage, our writer set about finding romance with the help of dating websites and a professional matchmaker.
“No, absolutely not!” was my reaction when the Telegraph asked me, as a mature woman, if I would like to check out dating agencies. I may be single but I’m very comfortable on my own. I’ve been married, and enjoyed a long relationship since my divorce in 2003. When that didn’t work, I still had my fabulous friends, work I love and, recently, a house to renovate. What was not to be happy about?
Then I thought about it. If I was really honest, Christmas, when everyone else is sitting down to the turkey and cranberry sauce with their spouses and children, can make me feel lonely. Then, there’s my birthday, bank holidays and August. I also miss someone to ‘debrief’ at the end of the say, to watch England play in the Six Nations, or fall about with while watching Strictly.
Suddenly, the idea of a professional matchmaking sounded more appealing. I’m surprised at how relaxed I feel. If you go on a date, you feel you should impress; if mutual friends have arranged the date, you feel pressure of their behalf. But if you are paying someone to matchmake, it’s up to them to get it right.
I visit Karen Mooney, who established Sarah Eden in 1988. Its offices in London and Windsor are filled with pictures of happy couples. Karen shows me folders of testimonials and I am allowed to choose my prospective date myself. She gives me a few pre-selected CVs (with photos) to peruse, too. My selection includes a banker, a doctor – and a bike-racer. The first to ring me is “George”, the doctor. He strikes me as much younger than his 66 years, boasts dark good looks, and the couple of hours we spend together over brunch flies by. I am surprised at how easy it is to talk to total strangers when you have gone through the introductory process. I’m enjoying the whole idea of dating again.
My original scepticism has been replaced by enthusiasm. The right men do sign up. They struggle as much as women to meet someone on the same wavelength. All three men I met said that they had tried online dating but, without exception, each one had men women who were nothing like their online persona: age, height, weight – everything they’d claimed – bore little relationship to the truth.
All agencies say that it generally takes five or six attempts to get it right. But most have a very good success rate. And, talking about what I want in my perfect partner proved in itself quite revealing. I have enjoyed my dates so far and I feel sure I will find someone with whom to share those special days and maybe quite a bit more – hopefully by Christmas!