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’ One plus side of internet dating is your friends needn’t get involved in your love life, because that’s a recipe for disaster. I’ve got the perfect guy for you — but he’s not quite ready yet.’ When I asked why not, she said: ‘Well, his wife’s not quite dead yet.’ Often, I’ve seen a guy’s photo and thought: ‘Wow! Some women I know go on these sites for the same reason men do, but that’s not my style. Most of the men I’ve met have dressed smartly — that’s probably an age thing.

’ But when you email them, you get a message back saying: ‘This man is not available.’ Or you get an email, but as soon as you ask for something like a phone number you never hear back. One friend met a gorgeous man online who said he was a TV presenter. I’m looking for someone to share dates and go to dinner parties with. Sadly, once men hit the 60 mark, they tend to go downhill a bit looks-wise. You can’t let it put you off leading a full life, though.

They seemed to get on well via email, but whenever it came to meeting up, there was always a problem.

The woman, who is divorced but says she would love to be married again, describes herself as being ‘on the wrong side of 45 with a brace of kids’ and bewails her place in ‘relationship no-man’s land’, condemned to be alone for the rest of her days.

Bernie Hogan’s department, the Oxford Internet Institute, surveyed 25,000 couples in 19 countries — including the UK — who had been living together for over a year.

Of those who had got together within the past 15 years and were aged 40 or over when they met, four out of ten had met online.‘I keep trying to date men over the internet, but it is often hopeless,’ she says.

Ruthie has been looking for a boyfriend for the past decade.

‘Forty is a huge cut-off point for a lot of men,’ Ruthie explains.‘There was just one I met and we had a fantastic evening.I was surprised afterwards when he didn’t get in touch. It turned out he’d seen some other women when he saw me and gone on to have brief relationships with them.When those relationships failed, he came back to me and I just felt, “He’ll be off again”, so I didn’t pursue it.’Official statistics reveal that among those aged 45 to 64 there are equal numbers of men and women living alone, it is only in the 65 and over age group that the lone women outnumber men — and that’s easily explained by the fact that men die younger. ‘A man can pick from a wider pool of women — his age and under, by several decades,’ The Plankton writes.‘I have a friend in her late 30s who lives with, and has children by, a man in his mid-60s.

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