I DON'T think it has all been a waste of time as what you have been doing will hopefully bear fruit in the not too distant future. You have a lot to offer the right person -- you have your own home, you are a hard worker and a non-drinker, and it is only natural to want to share your life with somebody. But is there any danger that while you have been doing all this you have not been developing yourself as a person?
Up until fairly recently you had the comfort of your friends when going to the club or the pub, and very often hunting in packs tends to make people lazy as there are always the mates to chat to and have the crack with. So perhaps it is time to do a little soul-searching and ask yourself what it is about you that makes you attractive to a woman when she meets you.
What are the things that you like about yourself? What makes you interesting? What are your interests and hobbies? What is it that you like to talk about? If you have no particular hobbies then it is time that you got some, and if you already have then that's great.
One of the first questions people ask of a couple is 'how did you two meet?' and it is extraordinary how varied the answers can be. I know we are very much a pub culture in Ireland but not all that many people meet the love of their lives in the pub or nightclub.
More often it is through friends -- I often think that the old match makers had a very important role as they actually matched up people who they knew would have a lot in common -- so be sure to accept any invitation you get even if it does not sound very interesting.
Often people meet through sharing a particular hobby or being members of some sports or community club. For instance, a lot of people these days meet through hill walking clubs, and you could check if there is one in your area.
These are very social clubs as people go for a coffee or a drink and a meal after the hill walking and this leads to meeting in a relaxed environment. Many people are interested in various types of dancing such as line-dancing, tango and salsa -- perhaps this is something you could try.
Another option is joining an amateur drama group -- and even if you have no acting ability or interest there are always openings for backstage helpers, such as making sets, painting, and prompting. Meeting somebody inevitably happens when you are least expecting it and at your most natural and this is something to be aware of. There is nothing more offputting to either sex when they realise that the person they are speaking with is too eager to get into a relationship -- a little mysteriousness and unavailability is always a good thing.
As it is indeed the 21st Century I have to mention online dating. While some sites are for no-strings-attached sexual meetings, there are many which are genuinely for people seeking friendship.
The big advantage is that people can get to know each other quite well before meeting up and the only warning I would give is to be truthful when exchanging information.
A number of people have told me that when they met up with the person they had been chatting to online they bore no resemblance to the person they had described themselves to be, which, of course, straight away killed any chance of a relationship.
It strikes me that while you do not have a particular history regarding relationships, if you meet girls around your own age they often will have a history. They may be out of a long-term relationship, they may be separated or divorced or they may have children.
This is something that you should be prepared for and have thought about your responses to such a situation.
But the main thing is to feel good about yourself and then others will see what you see and they will want to spend time with you.
You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.
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