February 24, 2012 7:58 pm

Helping hands for lonely hearts

It is precisely because the internet presents us with endless possibilities of connections that meeting people face to face is more important than ever

I am right-handed and have broken my right arm. The list of things I cannot do is lengthy. I knew that cutting up my food and using a mouse with my left hand would be difficult, but I hadn’t reckoned on having to wear a swimming costume under my clothes for several days because I couldn’t do up my bra. And let’s not get started on the logistical nightmare that is the putting on of tights.

However, I am back at work at least and also seeing my girlfriends again. Thus I came to have a long and detailed discussion with one of them – let’s call her my Sexy Intellectual Girlfriend – about her so far fruitless search for a new lover.

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Mrs Moneypenny

SIG is an attractive, stylish, clever, successful woman who is 48 and in amazingly good shape. She has found herself unexpectedly back on the secondary market, and so is investing time and energy in dating again. She has embraced both internet and introduction agency routes and I can’t accuse her of holding back in terms of time or money.

In 1987, shortly before I met Mr M, I too found myself looking for a boyfriend and advertised in Private Eye. It took some time to whittle down the 44 responses to the three I interviewed. Although none turned out to be Mr Right (or even, as my mother-in-law, who is now also single again, would put it, Mr OK), it was an instructive exercise.

Like me, SIG has also decided to advertise. But this is 25 years on. Will she be successful? She is placing advertisements in Prospect and the London Review of Books. Top choices, especially the former. Prospect for me is the kind of magazine that says a lot about its readers. Whenever I see a man reading it, he doubles in attractiveness. As the recent TV series of Sherlock and the Danish political drama Borgen demonstrate, clever is the new sexy.

SIG has rather a jaundiced view, though, on her impending advertising campaign. She suspects that in the age of the internet, men can obtain everything they are looking for without going to the effort of developing a relationship. If they want a blonde, grade eight trombone player who can also cook up an Indonesian feast, that is what they shall have. SIG fears she may have to narrow her search to those tiny areas of the world as yet untouched by broadband.

I thought her worries were a little negative and put them to a few of my other girlfriends. Hedge Fund Girlfriend thinks such anxieties are rubbish and that men still value someone to come home to. That’s all very well, but how does one meet them? My Most Glamorous Girlfriend met her boyfriend when friends who knew they both played golf set them up for 18 holes. My Former Model Girlfriend met hers through their mutual accountant. (This strikes me as an excellent medium – he will at least know who is a financial liability and who is not. Maybe this should be a diversification strategy for all accountants.)

It is precisely because the internet presents us with endless possibilities of connections that meeting people face to face is more important than ever. Even before we all learned how to Google, let us remember that advertising was not nearly as powerful as personal recommendation when buying something. The recent debate over the potential abuse of TripAdvisor reviews shows how much people value independent, positive commendation. Indeed, one of my employees recently left after seven years to set up an introduction agency and I shall be sending SIG there – I am confident of my former colleague’s abilities and know her to have a great contacts book.

What I should really be doing is hosting a social event to bring together all the single people I know over the age of 45. But not right now. That will have to wait until I can do up a zip, pluck my eyebrows and hold a glass of wine and shake hands at the same time.

mrsmoneypenny@ft.com

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