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The woman, who is divorced but says she would love to be married again, describes herself as being ‘on the wrong side of 45 with a brace of kids’ and bewails her place in ‘relationship no-man’s land’, condemned to be alone for the rest of her days.

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‘I almost wept when I read her blog about going to a wonderful party hoping to meet someone,’ my friend Ruthie explained. You know you are being unrealistic and that it won’t happen — yet when it doesn’t, you can’t help being disappointed.’Ruthie is 47 and one of the most attractive women — of any age — that I know.

Never married, she has a son James, now 13, by a man she parted from before her son was born.

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Bernie Hogan’s department, the Oxford Internet Institute, surveyed 25,000 couples in 19 countries — including the UK — who had been living together for over a year.

Of those who had got together within the past 15 years and were aged 40 or over when they met, four out of ten had met online.‘I keep trying to date men over the internet, but it is often hopeless,’ she says.I said, “If I marry you, I’m going to have to change my name to Polly.”’ When they did marry, two years later, she signed herself ‘Polly’ in the register.Older women may also be scuppering their chances by being too picky.The typical 42-year-old man will accept a woman up to 15 years younger, but no more than three years older — and the women he enters into online conversation with are almost always at the younger end of the spectrum.‘My two terriers run barking to greet me, but apart from them, there is silence. I’ve lost a lot of confidence.’‘Over 40, most of the people you meet socially will already be in a relationship,’ he points out.I own a lovely two- bedroomed cottage with a beautiful garden, which I enjoy, but night after night I sit on my own watching TV. Which is why online is increasingly regarded as the place where over-40s will have the greatest chance of success.‘There was just one I met and we had a fantastic evening.