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Single and 40, I moved back to Toronto after a decade of working on human-rights projects in developing countries.I was ready to settle down and find a soulmate, preferably one who liked to travel and could locate Afghanistan on a map.I may be single, but I’m very comfortable on my own.

While we were discussing our next move, music suddenly started blaring so loudly it killed the conversation. Our trio of not-wanting-to-be-cougars raced back to my place and my stockpile of red wine. At the end of the evening, the faces and conversations blurred together; not a single guy stood out as someone to see again. Meeting men through mutual friends was no longer possible, as none knew any single and dateable guys. Sundays that summer became a joyous mix of sand, sun and beer. Encouraged by such a long relationship, I grew bolder.

Conversations with other singles netted valuable information about meeting mates online. Dating online screamed, "I am an old-fashioned dimwit that's completely unable to meet and/or converse with potential mates." But single friends eventually convinced me that online dating was the most straightforward way to find a partner once you're out of school.

About eight dates in, I got my groove and began to send more messages with fewer words.

I started dating up a storm, sometimes two a night back to back.

I donned a pair of jeans, a stylish top, some lipstick. Not only were all the patrons under 30, but the women were dressed in sexy outfits I would never wear. Once you've found out each other's professions and hobbies, likes and dislikes, it's already time to move on.

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Memories of university romances danced in my head as I practised flirting in the mirror while holding a glass of wine. Predictably, no one noticed us except the bartender. There's barely enough time to jot down a name, let alone envision holding hands on a moonlit beach. To me, that seemed equivalent to six months in single-and-fortysomething years.

According to my research, the second date was when you delved into your potential partner's past to suss out any family skeletons or Ponzi scheming.

I wanted to be in comfortable surroundings in case of an unpleasant secret.

I miss someone to “debrief” at the end of the day, to watch England play in the Six Nations, or to fall about with while watching .

Suddenly, the idea of a professional matchmaker sounded appealing. Fees range from around pounds 1,000 for half a dozen introductions to as much as pounds 60,000 for a global search for your perfect mate.

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