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‘There are many men out there who are bored with having meaningless affairs and who want to settle down and have children too,’ he says.‘If a guy is going out with a woman in her late 30s, it is hardly going to be a surprise that she might also want children.’With that in mind, I decided to be honest about my desire for marriage and children — with surprising results.But then I reached the first anniversary of my divorce and, much to my surprise, having sworn off men for life, I started to wonder, with the prospect of a great big yawning new year stretching ahead of me, whether there might be someone out there for me and, if so, how on earth am I going to find him?Miraculously, given that I was the editor of a woman's fashion magazine, before meeting my husband in my early 40s (then a BBC journalist, he came to interview me; as soon as we got married, he gave up his job and started having sex with other women), I had only ever had three boyfriends, two of whom hadn't even liked me that much.'But him not paying for things was not the deal breaker. I'm a romantic in that I expect the man I'm with not to even look at other women - to be like my dad, in other words - but then I come over all feminist if he attempts to pay for dinner. I'd feel like a prostitute.' Mairead says I am, compared to her other female clients, all of whom want to be looked after by a man, very unusual.Otherwise, the qualities I am looking for are pretty standard: he must be kind, funny, not pompous or bossy, be intelligent and well read and an animal lover.The unspoken warning was that, because of my age, I might not find anyone else.
Men say they want intelligent, independent women who are their equal in every way, but do they, really?
‘Men want someone who is fertile but who doesn’t want children just yet,’ she continued.
‘So they want women in their late 20s or early 30s.
I turned up a few minutes late for one date to find that the guy had already ordered and eaten dinner without me, and I booked myself on a climbing holiday with 14 fit men, only to discover halfway up the highest mountain in North Africa that they were all married.
While I did meet some really nice men, it was certainly not at the tortuous round of singles events, at which there were always more women than men and everyone had a sad, resigned look in their eyes.
Five years ago, with an address book positively bulging with successful but often lonely men and women, she decided to set up a dating agency.