Share via Email I broke up with my partner more than two years ago. Bored with being single, I'm thinking of joining a dating agency, but I've no idea where to start. How can I tell which are good and which are rubbish? How much should I pay? Do the expensive ones offer anything better? Or am I being a bit desperate and the right person will turn up anyway? Invest energy in your profile, include photographs and avoid dwelling on the past.
You get what you invest. Set some ground rules about who you contact or respond to and how you will interact emails at 1am may not convey the message you want. Be discerning about who you meet and try a time limited meeting in a public place. Avoid focusing on the right person and consider the internet as a virtual pub or cafe, a place to make new contacts or a way of exercising that part of yourself that is mothballed when you are in a relationship.
I play piano, do partner dancing for exercise and cook my own meals after a day at the office. I tried a couple of the free internet dating sites and didn't find anyone of interest, as they were only interested in television reality shows. My hobbies come first and if I find a partner through them then at least we'll have a common interest. We're getting married next year! Chris and Rose, Preston Be proactive What's desperate about being proactive? You wouldn't expect a job, career or house to simply turn up.
I spent an inspiring year dating like-minded men through Guardian Soulmates after my break-up, giving me confidence, excitement and a new partner. OK, he wasn't one of my dates, but he may only have noticed me because I was looking elsewhere.
Saroj Nelson, London Meet interesting people Internet dating agencies are a good idea, but ensure your expectations are low from the beginning. See it as a new way of meeting interesting people and if you meet someone special it's a bonus.
Most people expect to instantly meet the partner of their dreams, but it's just as unpredictable as real life. Match and DirectDating are probably the best in terms of good people. Udate probably works better if you read the Sun rather than the Guardian. And yes, internet dating worked for me! On Saturday mornings we sit and read the Guardian in the garden of the home we have bought together. You don't have to be an earth mother and their membership was very reasonable.
You can also browse members' details before joining. After meeting several likeable guys, I met my life partner. Obviously there is no guaranteed outcome, so it's important to go with the agency you trust. As for being desperate, the stigma is much less than it was.
Louise Wearne, email Get out and about Firstly, make sure you are happy with your life as it is. Dating will not "cure" any problems or personal issues.
Secondly, get out as much as you can. Join anything that may interest you, contact every friend in your address book and say "yes" to every reasonable invitation. Thirdly, research your ideal way to go looking - agencies, internet, speed dating etc. Be prepared to develop some understanding of what you are looking for in a date, which will help avoid unnecessary spending.
At least then, even if there is no one you fancy you are sure to find someone you can get on with and have a laugh, and you're having a holiday into the bargain. I went on three or four singles holidays - on the first one I met a man I went out with for two years and had a great holiday sailing in the Aegean as well.
Alex Bardswell, Dorset Whale of a time When I was single in the early nineties I had a whale of a time meeting scores of men through dating agencies. However, it was very expensive, some were better than others and not necessarily proportional to their cost. I met my partner more than 10 years ago when I answered his ad in the Guardian Soulmates feature.
There's nothing wrong with being desperate, but try to enjoy the single state simultaneously! Judy Gardner, Shropshire Don't hunt desperately When I was single I tried speed dating and Soulmates instead of expensive dating agencies. The speed dating event was great fun 8 out of 12 men ticked me! My experiences made me feel that dating should be more about having a nice time and choosing someone I wanted to spend time with than desperately hunting for anyone who would have me.
I stopped panicking about finding a man and met someone at work shortly afterwards. Louise Marr, Manchester Oasis of eligible men Don't sit around and wait for someone just to turn up. When I split up with my husband a few years ago I was shocked at how tough it was to meet decent single men.
Set up 3 or 4 dates before you go on your first one - this ensures you've got something to look forward to if it's not the romantic ideal you hoped for. Find somewhere private to access the site and your messages - do you really want the whole office to know? I have to admit that the reason I'm such an advocate is that I met my boyfriend this way and it was the first date I went on.
Beth, London This week's question I'm going to have children and would like to be able to stay home with them. Which is best financially - doing our best to lower our outgoings so we can live on my husband's income; or running some sort of a home business to increase our income?
Any tips on how best to cope financially and stay at home with the children? Email your suggestions to personal.