This is the week of gigantic red hearts in every shop, special offers on red roses and enticements to book that “very special”meal. If you are single on the 14th - or, indeed, the 15th, 16th or 17th - maybe it’s time to be proactive and place that ad in Getting in Touch, or do a profile on a dating app.

Before you start, you might find the following useful (particularly if you’re a man over 50). This advice is based on extensive research (ie, a group of single, over-50 women drinking wine in my house one night). We all had a GSOH (good sense of humour) on the night!

Let’s start with the basics: honesty really is the best policy.

If you say you are 5’10” and are actually 5’ 6’’, how do you think our first meet-up is going to be? I’ll probably walk right past you. Regular gym-goer? Paying the membership is not actually the same as going. Non-smoker? If we meet, will I be gagging at the smell of stale smoke?

Then there’s the photo. If a picture paints a thousand words, some of you have written a novel. Some of the more popular shots are in the bathroom mirror (with terrible lighting) and the camera hiding half your face, or you and the lads (all half pissed) wearing GAA shirts at least one size too small.

If you’re in your sixties, please don’t post photos of you in your thirties and - for the sake of all humanity - please don’t post one wearing just your Speedo! Do yourself a favour and have someone take a recent, nice, normal photo of you. Best foot forward and all that.

‘Single, no baggage,” is a line that crops up a lot. Let’s be honest. If you’ve gone through 50+ years of life and have “no baggage”, you must have lived the life of a hermit. We all have baggage of some sort. In fact, many of us have enough for a check-in bag and a carry on!

It’s always good to start with a compliment - but keep it genuine

What are your interests? Try to list things you are at least vaguely familiar with. Don’t say ‘gardening’ if your only activity is mowing the lawn. “Love to travel” - does a week in Lanzarote really equate to a love of travel?

Now, I’ve answered your ad in Getting in Touch or swiped right. What’s next?

Some have thought, in an opening text, it was appropriate to ask what dress size the woman wears. Seriously? One even asked if the lady in question ‘had a good bit of condition on.’ At this stage, I wish I could use emojis in a newspaper column!

These days, some first meetings are on Zoom. I’m quite astonished to hear how many felt it was ok to show up on-screen without shaving, and/or sitting in an armchair in work clothes and no socks! Yes - no socks. A bit of effort, lads.

Most first meetings seem to be for a cuppa. Make the effort and show up in clean clothes (and socks) at the very least, and please be on time. That goes for both parties. It is very unfair to arrange to meet someone and then be late. All parties find this meeting daunting, so at least respect each other enough to show up on time.

It’s always good to start with a compliment - but keep it genuine. As to who pays, if it’s just a coffee and scone I think it’s fair not to split it. I’m howling at the man who showed up with a package of custard creams in his bag as he said the “scones were a rip-off.” To add insult to injury, there was a big sticker on the packet of biscuits that said ‘Two for the price of one,’ and he only brought one pack.

So, if you WLTM (would like to meet) someone, send in the ad, start swiping right, follow this advice and, you never know - 2023 could just be your year.

Read more

Margaret Leahy: when you lose your independence, the imapct is challenging

Margaret Leahy: crafting is more than a hobby - it's a way of life