Dating in 2014 is big business. And as a result, being single in 2014 can be a lot of fun!
With countless companies keen to unite me with the man of my dreams, my social life, as a 30 year-old singleton, is busier than ever before.
But with so many websites, apps and events to choose from, it's important to establish exactly what's hot, and what's not. Or more importantly ... where to find the hotties!
When it comes to dating services, women have always been the easier singles market to attract. We're not embarrassed to admit to online dating, and will happily turn speed dating into an excuse for a girls' night out.
For men, however, the stigma of internet dating does still exist. Free sites, and apps like Tinder, have definitely begun to change male attitudes, however there are always far more eligible women than men on dating websites and at events.
Put simply, traditional dating websites and singles events are normally full of hot women, but completely lacking in sociable, attractive guys.
Like most women my age, I'd rather be single than in a relationship with the wrong person. Rather than settle for the first man who looks my way, I like to weigh up my options. Unfortunately, when it comes to speed dating, those options are often incredibly slim!
Invented in 1998, speed dating was all the rage at the start of the millennium. But these days, it's as outgrown as the expressions 'all the rage' and 'millennium'! If a normal, sociable man wants to meet a girl in a bar, he'll just go to a bar. He doesn't need speed dating as an excuse. And if his local doesn't contain enough single girls, then he'll widen his search by downloading Tinder to his phone, and liberally swiping right.
I enjoy Tinder as much as the next girl, but I've been dating long enough to know, that you can never really tell if you fancy someone until you meet him in person.
Last year I began a challenge where I did 30 Blind Dates before turning thirty. In the process, I trialled tens of singles events, and I quickly realised something. In 2014, the kind of men who speed date are men who wouldn't go to a pub for any other reason. Time after 4-minute allocated time, I found myself face-to-face with men who couldn't look me in the eye. They stumbled over their words, and acted as if they'd never spoken to a woman before. As if this was their only opportunity to meet a woman. The most charitable women offered encouraging looks, and patted them supportively on the shoulder. An odd kind of community service! The least forgiving daters left the events before they'd even begun! At one event, I watched in awe as a girl raised her date card above her head, and demonstratively tore it to shreds at the end of the evening.
Whilst I've never left speed dating early, or shown my disappointment quite that visually, I did have a rather awkward encounter, where my date broke down in tears two minutes in, declaring 'Oh God, I'm so out of my comfort zone!'
So in 2014 where can you meet 'normal' single men? Is Tinder the only option? Do you have to decide between going virtual, and going home alone?
No. The new way to successfully date is to go weird!
Bizarrely, it's the most odd singles events which attract the most normal of daters. Pick an event which people will talk about. Silent dating, yoga dating, pheremone dating. An idea which guys will joke about in the office, and try out, just for a laugh. Because whilst the man of your dreams might not be keen to admit to speed dating, if you add in the extra element of a cable car ride, a trek over the O2, or a man-made igloo at the top of the Shard, suddenly he's happy to tell the world about it.
My approach to dating has always been, first and foremost, to have fun.
I avoid pub dates, instead suggesting new activities or tourist attractions, so that even if I don't fancy my date, I know I'll be spending my free time doing something I wanted to do. And it seems the hot, normal, single men of London have begun applying the same approach to singles events.
Do something a bit different! Go to a dating event for the experience, or to visit a venue you've never been to before. Forget about the single aspect for a second, and simply ask yourself if it whether will be a fun, or funny, way to spend your evening.
That way, if you end up fancying someone in the process, it's a bonus!