If you're a single woman who is not having any luck meeting men, then it probably means that you're not looking in the right place.
Well... I've got some possible answers. These are not airy-fairy, theoretical solutions. They are practical ways to meet men.
And the first one is an absolute beauty.
I know. I've even tried it myself.
Until recently, I'd always thought that all a single woman had to do to meet a man was go along to a pub and sit at the bar nursing a glass of white wine. Then, come hell or high water, she was going to get chatted up. This has to happen. It is completely and entirely unavoidable. It is the rule of the Cosmos that single women in pubs are always chatted up.
Then there's the internet. Just start touting your wares on any of the dating websites and the guys'll come a'runnin'.
The problem is that it's all a bit hit and miss. And most of the time it's going to be a miss.
There's a chance, a teeny-tiny chance, that you might meet the guy of your dreams. Sometimes happens.
More likely though, whether it's the pub or the dating site, you'll just meet some rogue who's out for... everything he can damn well get.
And what most single women generally want to meet is a guy who is single; and who is not a complete low-lifer; and who might share her values; and who just might, perhaps, be looking for a relationship.
Here's how to find him.
1. Rope in your friends.
I know many single men and women who bleat on about their lonely status, and who say they just can't meet a man/woman. They sometimes ask me if I know of any fellow singles.
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.
The supper ends, hugs and kisses all round, and then off I go and I forget all about my single friends' plight.
But I'd certainly remember all about them if I'd been offered enough of a reward.
In future, don't moan to your friends about being single.
Your friends and family are the people who are most likely to know of a single guy who is going to be on a level with you. Who you're going to click with.
All you need to do is start rattling the swill-drum.
You have to let it be known that you will pay, say, a case of Bollinger Champagne to the person who provides you with the next boyfriend. Doesn't have to be Champagne. Could be whisky. Could be whatever you want. Just so long as you like drinking it. And admittedly a case of Bollinger might seem quite steep - close to £400. But it's going to attract your friends' attention. It'll get them thinking.
That's what we want.
The case of Champagne (12 bottles, please, not six) is normally payable when you first, ahhhh, get to know the man. Biblical sense. This will make you think twice before leaping into bed on the first date. Has to be a good thing. Right?
Now here's the clincher: You also have to pay up ANOTHER case of Bollinger for every year that the relationship lasts.
That could be a lot of Champagne. Hopefully you'll be drinking a lot of it too, so it's important to be offering up a drink that you enjoy.
Might sound pricy. Are we really putting a price on true love?
The main thing is: it's going to make your friends sit up and take notice. They're going to pay attention. It's going to get them inviting you over for dinner with two, three, even four single men for company.
That's what you want. Your friends are the people who are most likely to know the next man of your dreams.
They just need a small kick up the backside so that they can effect the introduction. A handsome finder's fee is the way to do it.
2. Marathons and ultra-marathons
Just over a year ago, I went through that great mid-life rite of passage and started ultra-ruling. That's basically running races that are longer than a 26-mile marathon.
I even went in for the true nutters' race, The Marathon des Sables. I'd been dreaming of running it for some time. What happens when you reach your forties is that realise that if you don't immediately seize these dreams, then they'll have passed you by.
Anyway: the point is that I started doing a few ultra-runs. I ran a couple of races, the Druid and the Pilgrim.
All across the UK, there is a complete epidemic of these long runs.
The general drill is that you start off at about 9am, run for about 30 miles, and then bed down for the night in some chilly school hall. Repeat again the next day.
And when I started running these ultras, I realised that the women runners are outnumbered by the men by at least ten to one.
The perfect place to meet single guys! Obviously!
There are, admittedly, certain downsides. First of all you've got to (quite) like running for extremely long distances.
And then there are the actual ultra-runners themselves, who, though they are invariably lean and sinewy, do tend to be slightly... ahhh... crazed. I'm not talking Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Well actually, maybe I am...
As for the Marathon des Sables. Brilliant place to meet single men. Again you'll be outnumbered ten to one. Though on this one, you'll be stuck with them for a week in the desert with blisters the size of golfballs.
What's not to like?
3. Long, hard swims.
I used to be an absolutely useless swimmer. Two years ago, I decided to do something about it.
Signed up for a raft of swimming lessons.
Developed a half-decent stroke.
But what was the point of having all these lessons, and swimming all these miles in my Edinburgh pool, if I didn't put my new stroke into practice?
So I signed up for a moderately testing swim, the Hellespont, which is the Turkish waterway that connects Europe with Asia. It's about a four-mile swim, though with the current it's more like two. You've got to finish the swim in 90 minutes.
The poet Lord George Byron, first of the real open-water swimmers, swam it on the second attempt. Lysander swam it many times to see his lover Hero, but unfortunately it did for him in the end when he drowned in a storm.
And my point is?
I attempted - and failed - to swim the Hellespont this year on August 30. Ah well. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
But I couldn't help but notice that the women were swimmers were outnumbered by... at least ten to one. (Again.)
Are you hearing me??
4. Football and rugby
If you can feign even the tiniest amount of interest in these sports, and if you can stomach going along to a few matches, then you are completely set.
It's going to help if you're not totally bluffing it. I mean of course you can blag it - we're all blaggers these days - but if you have some knowledge of the rules and the characters and the current crop of stories that are swirling around the back-pages, then it will... make you stand out.
Went along to a rugby international earlier this year at Murrayfield. Guys to girls was your typical ten to one; even more so in the pub afterwards.
Rugby guys are very different from football guys. As we know.
Whatever turns you on.
Cricket is a different kind of sport altogether from rugby and football - and generally attracts a quite different kind of guy. Not necessarily classier. But let's say a guy who appreciates nuance. Who's in it for the long-haul.
Just try sitting down for one day of a test-match. You're sat there from 11am till 6pm, and pretty much nothing happens - except when you've gone off to the toilets, and then there will be a hat-trick.
Thing is though, cricket is usually a lot warmer than rugby or football. Sometimes you can even get a tan.
And because it goes on so much longer, then there's much more time for just... chatting. And you'll be chatting not just with the guys next to you, but the guys in front and the guys behind... and the guys at the bar.
As sporting events go, I've never seen quite so much booze consumed as I have at a Test match. Most people start drinking at 11am and continue right on through till dusk. Helps lubricate the social wheels. I understand.
By the by. If you can get yourself membership of the MCC at Lords, you're SET FOR LIFE! I think, though I'm not sure, that the MCC is fast-tracking women members at the moment.
I would guess that in the Lords' Pavilion, women are outnumbered by about 50 to one. Can't be bad. Bound to be a few single guys in there - surely? Maybe a bit starchy, but you'll be able to knock the edges off them, I'm sure you will.
Guys and their cars - right?
We are talking about a specific kind of guy, who, like the cricketers and the footie-fans, has a very singular passion.
And there are a lot of guys out there who are petrol-heads. Nothing they like more than getting in behind the seat of some flashy sports car and going vroom-vroom-vroom.
Me? I don't really get this one. For me, a car is just a damn car, and can it please get me to my destination without breaking down. Thank you.
But I do know that there are tons of car-nuts out there who are doubtless thirsting to meet a woman who can chat away about Brake Horse Power and Nought-To-Sixties and other such stimulating stuff.
I didn't go to this year's Car-Fest, organised by the Radio Two DJ Chris Evans, but I understand from a friend that it was wall-to-wall men.
Women outnumbered by... just your usual ten to one.
At least these guys are going to be picking you up in something nice when they turn up for the first date.
7. University degrees.
Some university courses have more men; some have more women. Obviously.
All you have to do is target the courses that are top-heavy with guys. Engineering. That's one of them.
Maths. That's another.
I thought that medicine would be thick with men, but I am reliably informed that - rather counter-intuitively - many more women are training to be medics these days.
Computer sciences: bound to be many more guys. Loads of 'em. I mean most of them will be a bit geeky, if not nerdy, but maybe that's just what you're after.
China has, thanks to its policy of one-child-per-family, a huge imbalance in its population.
For decades now, many Chinese parents have been wanting their one child to be a boy.
Women are outnumbered here on a truly epic scale.
China does also just happen to have the tiger economy. It's the one country that is absolutely booming while everyone else goes to the wall.
Go get yourself some Chinese lessons.
9. Sailing and skiing and beer-fests
Having had some personal experience of all these activities, I can vouch that if you try any of these things, you're going to meet MEN.
They are all thick with men.
But the guys they attract are all very, very different.
So to very roughly generalise.
Sailors: hardy and weather-beaten and rather precise. They just love being the boss - "Aye-aye, Cap'n!". It can all kick off when things go wrong (as they invariably will.) It's as good a way as any to find out if your relationship has legs.
Skiing. If a guy is skiing and he's in his forties, then he's probably going to be keen, and he's probably going to be quite good.
On the ski-slopes you will find a few good eggs who enjoy their morning coffees and their long lunches, and their après ski. And then there will also be the total head-cases, who want to hit the slopes straight after breakfast and who want to keep going all the way until they've been carted off to the local hospital.
You pays your money and you takes your choice.
And then there are the beer-fests.
I've been to quite a number of these. Over in Munich, where they do things in more style, they've got Champagne tents, like the Käfir tent. Problem with the Champagne tents is that this is where all the women tend to congregate.
If you want the men to yourself, head for a traditional British beer fest, where the beers can be blonde or treacly, and where the pendulous bellies roll over the men's belts like ice over-hangs. Not many women tend to go to beer-fests. I think there may be a reason for this.
10. Career change
Why not dive into a career where women are outnumbered by men? As good a reason as any for changing your vocation.
Take the Forces. Loads of hunky guys in the navy and the army. Very few women. And as for submarines... very few women, at all. (The first women are due to start serving on subs in the next few weeks.)
Politics: Stuffed with men! I worked in Westminster for a year. I know this one. Not only are the Houses of Parliament packed with men but, for some extraordinary reason, they all seem to have rather high sex drives. Just thought I'd mention that.
The City - think of all those self-styled Masters of the Universe striding so manfully down the street. Jolly rich too. (Some of them.)
Law and accountancy. An unending stream of man-candy. Only problem is... and the very thought of this just brings me out in a cold sweat... for two pins you'll end up dating a lawyer or an accountant...Suggest a correction