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Nothing left to chance in finding Mister Right

When I go to the library I never take out more than one book at a time, so speed dating does as much for me as turnip, which doesn't do anything at all.

It takes me longer than the average human to pack my groceries away. Having two men to date at once brings up all my dyspraxia issues. Which one will I drop first? I know in a fast-moving world it's hard to wait on more than one option. Still, dating more than one is too much risk. You can get the names, dates and venues wrong. You might get his team wrong. He might forget you're a veggie and feed you rump steak.

So I sympathised with my single friend whose ticking body clock has made her turn businesslike in her search for a spouse. She's on three websites and in several publications -- and she's swamped. I called around to her house to find her crying. There were 50 messages in her inboxes and a load of phone numbers on her messaging service.

"I don't know where to start! It's worse than the presidential election. At least they are only seven to chose from there."

While they were all at arms' length she had no problem. But when she began to size them up physically, as opposed to virtually, issues appeared: "It's the guilt. You meet someone for a coffee and they think you're going to marry them!"

She realises now she should never have put up her salary bracket because half the dole queue got in touch with her: "I feel like a recruitment agency. One of the men I blew out asked me if I could give him a job. I cried the whole evening after that."



selection

The reason she decided to keep her selection process removed from men known to friends and family is that last Christmas she ended up with two boyfriends.

"For four years of my 30s I couldn't get one and then I had two leaving presents under the tree. It was a nightmare trying to let them down, because they were friends of friends."

There is a big old-fashioned reason why dating one person at a time works. It takes a bit of work and time to acclimatise yourself to someone who you might consider spending the rest of your life with. Trying two people out at once for the position is bound to cause you headaches and sleepless nights.

The courting system might be slower but it's surer and you don't end up in the same restaurant two evenings in a row with waiting staff saying hello to you like you're an old friend.

My friend spent 10 years in New York where dating is what she describes as: "A cynical exercise for cynics. I felt like a CV. At least in Ireland being asked out means something, there it's about as big as ordering a type of coffee. When they're not interested they make it known very quickly -- I was too sensitive for all that."

Now she's forced to do it here.

She's a great woman for lists so all the lads are on one now. They have their credentials and their liabilities accounted for and she feels like she's at work. Dating is supposed to be exciting, not like turning up for a job interview.

At one point I did suggest a boyfriend debate much like our presidential one. She never finds my jokes funny. Neither do I. But a sudden flash of inspiration gave me an answer. "After all of this you'll bump into him on a street corner."

On these dates she's decided to take up fag breaks, though she's not a smoker: "I reek afterwards but at least I've had a spontaneous conversation."

I think that's called a spark.