Dear Miriam,

I’m sure there are plenty of mothers and fathers out there, praying and hoping that their sons and daughters would meet up with a suitable partner, get married and settle down- well I am one of them.

My daughter aged 35 is looking out for that suitable partner and has not found him yet. She is tired of going out. When she goes out, she is meeting people 10 years younger. She has tried online dating, but no happiness found there. A lot of her friends have moved on.

She has a full-time job, but there is no interaction with young people in her job. She joined Macra Na Feirme two years ago. She goes to the gym regularly.

I am anxious for her, but don’t let on. I just keep telling her that it will happen for her. “You have been saying that for the past year.”

Any suggestions or advice I can pass on to her?

Anxious Mother

Dear Anxious Mother,

Thank you for getting in touch. It’s clear that you only want your daughter to be happy. I do think that it’s important to note that a person does not need to have a partner or start a family to lead a fulfilling life. But if these are things that your daughter does want, I appreciate your concerns; especially after the last few years of COVID lockdowns, which really curtailed people’s ability to mix and meet.

From your letter, it seems that she is proactive i.e. joining Macra. I think it is important that she keeps doing things for pure enjoyment as much as anything else. There are other ways to meet people outside of the “pub/going out” scene. For instance, as your daughter is interested in fitness, there are plenty of hiking groups that organise days out; including specifically for singles. If she is into dancing, there is a vibrant jive scene in rural Ireland etc. Even if she does not meet the love of her life in a particular setting, once she is having fun while growing her social circle, this will hopefully lead to increased opportunities to meet like-minded people.

You mention that she has tried online dating, but that it has not really been for her. As well as the various apps, I wonder if she would ever consider one of the paid “match-making” style dating services, where you are supposed to be “matched” with people with similar interests and aspirations?

say yes to opportunities to meet new people, to have fun; and to always remember your own worth

I actually know of at least two people who met their now-husbands this way. They are not cheap, but I suppose the fact that people are investing in such a service generally means that they are more serious about meeting a potential partner, rather than wasting time. A quick Google will yield various agencies. While talking of dating services, I should also mention the “Getting in Touch” column on the next page, which might be worth perusing.

First Dates Ireland has been quite a hit in recent years; and while I’m not advising that you sign your daughter up for the series, perhaps her friends might know of other friends/friends of their partners who might be interested in a blind date. I know that it takes a certain level of courage to put yourself out there in that regard; but I think it could be a bit of craic too.

At the end of the day, I don’t think there is one “silver bullet” when it comes to meeting a partner. I believe the main thing is to keep an open mind, to say yes to opportunities to meet new people, to have fun; and to always remember your own worth.

If your daughter is struggling a little with the fact that her friends seem to be moving forward while she remains unsure of the path ahead, she might like to talk to somebody like a counsellor or a life coach just to build up her self-confidence and establish what her values and aspirations are, so that she knows exactly what she wants from life; and the kind of person she wants to share it with.

I wish her the very best of luck.

Note: For the attention of the reader who recently sent in a query regarding a concern over the inheritance of a family farmhouse. Due to the nature of this issue, I have passed the letter on to agricultural solicitor, Aisling Meehan, who will address your questions in her column in Irish Country Living next month.

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