| Single soul: Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones Diary
London, April 1: It is the familiar, plaintive cry of the attractive, professional woman who has not yet found an intelligent, single man: there aren’t any left.
But she knows in her heart that this cannot be true, which explains why so many women are turning to dating services.
One in five single adults in Britain now uses such services, according to research today, which says North Yorkshire is home to the largest concentration of “daters” outside London.
Despairingly for women, however, the burgeoning dating scene in Scarborough, North Yorks, is apparently the result of the growing homosexual community there.
According to the report by Telecom Express, an automated call handling company, the strength of the gay community is affecting dating concentrations.
Unlike East Sussex, it says, Scarborough has not established a “gay friendly” character and social scene, prompting many to search for partners through organised dating services.
On the positive side, however, many heterosexual men still use dating agencies and so for women it is simply a matter of perseverance, much like Bridget Jones, in the film Bridget Jones’ Diary. In the film, actor Renee Zellweger plays a single, calorie-counting, hard-drinking British diarist desperately seeking Mr Right.
The idea of searching for love on the internet, in newspaper lonely hearts columns or through three-minute interviews with speed-dating strangers has completely “shaken off its desperado stigma”, the report says.
The upsurge in the dating industry meant it was now worth at least £43 million, said Damon Russell, the chief executive of Telecom Express.
Mary Balfour, director of two personal introduction agencies, Drawing Down The Moon and Only Lunch, plus author of Smart Dating (how to find your man), said: “There are a plethora of ways to meet a partner now, including gimmicks like dating in the dark and silent dating.”
Even Balfour acknowledges, however, that there are sometimes more women looking for men than the other way round.
She said the profile of the dating agency customer had changed completely since the 1970s. “At that time it was the loner and the loser who went to the marriage bureau. Now we only take on someone who has an interesting job and good relationship history. If someone is a serial dater, we would not take them on.
“We regard a happy ending as anything where people stick together for a long, long time.”
Her recommendation for the first date was to always keep it short. “If it has gone well, you will have something to look forward to the next time and, if it didn’t, you can leave and say ‘Next please’.” Major mistakes women made on their dates were “talking about your ex and displaying neediness”.