GOOD conversation and leisurely meals in a restaurant resembling your best friend's house -- could this really be the answer for our thirtysomething singletons? One woman thinks it is.
For more than a decade, psychotherapist Mary Kenny has dealt with love-hungry professionals who've made a success of their careers but haven't formed loving relationships.
Many presume that by their early to mid-thirties they would have been married and starting a family , she says, but it somehow hasn't happened.
They find themselves stuck in a grim Sex and the City-style cycle of one-night stands and evenings out with friends.
"I find that a lot of people in the thirty-plus bracket are past the clubbing scene, yet they're still going out in groups of girls or guys."
The tendency is, she says, to go out in a group and not to mix with members of the opposite sex until the end of the night when everyone is quite drunk.
Part of the problem, Kenny believes, is that males in this age group believe they can have relationships without responsibility.
"They'll have a good job, car or apartment, they'll go into town and pick someone up for a one-night stand -- the perception is this is now all that's available.
"The genuine people get lost in that scene and it's the players who are successful," says Kenny.
"The traditional idea of a man or woman meeting and dating, then committing to a relationship seems to be gone."
Instead, she says, both men and women in this age group talk of being 'just friends', and, just as Carrie and co discover in Sex and the City, the trend is to have several lovers simultaneously and without commitment.
"This attitude is endemic," says Kenny but ironically, she says, it's not what they wantat all.
"I have guys asking me 'where have all the genuine, nice girls gone' and the girls are asking where all the decent guys are, or whether they're all just players.
"Men and women seem to be finding it equally difficult and it's causing unhappiness and loneliness."
Kenny, who works as a lifestyle coach and psychotherapist in Dublin, believes thath she may have come up with the answer -- a restaurant whose ambience is akin to coming to a friend's house for dinner, whose large tables facilitate sociable gatherings, and which hosts activities such as cookery classes and speciality nights for 30-plus singles, disillusioned with the bar/club scene.
Similar events will be held for the gay community, says Kenny, who explains that she wants to encourage singletons to "get to know each other properly" in an environment conducive to good conversation.
"There will be cookery classes for men, where women come to taste the efforts of the budding chefs. The idea is to create a strong social network, not just virtual but in a real place."
The restaurant, NUMBER ONE, which is based at Crow Street in Dublin's Temple Bar and is scheduled to open on Valentine's weekend, is not her only initiative.
Kenny has also launched a relationships website, onemeetingplace.ie, which focuses on organising activities and bringing people with similar interests together.
"I've found that people who sustain long-term relationships usually have the same values and interests.
"The problem with dating websites is people are online talking to each other.
"They're cultivating false relationships as they have never met the person.
"We're aiming to bring people together who have common interests and I will also be available online as a counsellor to provide guidance to people in their relationship," says Kenny, who also plans to organise regular relationship workshops.
The restaurant concept has attracted huge interest and an avalanche of emails from potential customers, even though it's not yet open.
"I'm surprised by the level of interest -- the reaction has been that there's nothing else like that around."