You’ve hopped from bar to bar, joined the gym and flashed your best smile at everyone in the chilled desserts aisle, and you still haven’t met the person of your dreams.
Have all the decent singletons fallen off the face of the planet? Or is everyone paired off and living in loved-up harmony… except you? Of course not. There are millions of eligibles out there – they’re just hiding where you’d never think to look.
Your mum will say that you’ll only find love when you stop looking. In fact it only seems that way. You’re far more likely to meet The One if you put down the remote and get out there. Do the maths: the more people you meet, the more likely you are to find one that you fancy.
However, there is a grain of truth in Mum’s advice. The places you’d think to look are not always the places where you’ll find your romantic quarry.
Take wine bars, for example. Bars are great places to meet people – but only if you enjoy going to bars anyway. Otherwise you’ll be uncomfortable and you’ll have little in common with the people you meet there. Throbbing social discomfort is not your most attractive look.
Know thyself and thy target. Build up a picture of the man or woman you’re looking for, think about what you’d enjoy doing with them, then ask yourself where they might be found. If you fancy learning to jive, a dance class will be a much richer hunting ground than the local Shark & Firkin.
While you think about that, here are 10 unlikely love-finding hot-spots we made earlier.
1. The airport carousel
Play your cards right, and all that tension can be a breeding ground for breeding. While you’re standing around waiting for your luggage or security check there’s ample opportunity to catch each other’s eye and share a conspiratorial smile.
Stopovers also present great meet-and-flirt opportunities. You’re both stuck in a soulless coffee bar at a foreign airport for four hours, so it’s only polite to pass the time by asking for their life story.
Singles you’ll find here: Business types en route to distant meetings, adventurous solo travellers, flight crew, pilots.
2. Public speaking classes
Finding love at evening classes is a cliche, but like all the best cliches it’s tried, tested and always come up trumps.
Let me count the ways: it attracts people who want to learn and improve themselves, who probably live nearby and have interests in common with you. And there’s a good chance that you’ll all go down the pub together after class every week.
Try car maintenance and plumbing courses (surprisingly even gender balance), life drawing (giggle together about the fat naked bloke) and Chinese (practice writing characters together). Top suggestion, though, is a public speaking class – it’ll improve your confidence and encourage you to chat about yourself and each other.
Singles you’ll find here: Divorcees and other singles seeking a confidence boost, handsome trainee actors, wannabe politicians.
3. Your own party
Throw a party where you can show off your cooking skills, your fabulous music collection or your vast circle of friends, and don’t be picky about who you invite. Don’t exclude married friends, because you don’t want it to feel like a singles’ night. Just ask everyone to bring a friend or two. Playing host will give you an attractive aura of confidence – and it’ll net you plenty of invitations to other bashes.
Singles you’ll find here: Friends of friends for whom you can get reliable references.
4. The cat rescue centre
We’ve all heard of couples who’ve met whilst walking the dog – Davina McCall and hubby, for starters. But cats have cornered the singles market. Families and couples have dogs; single people have cats. It’s the law.
So get down to the cat section at Battersea or your local rescue shelter, several times a week if necessary. You need time to make a good choice, right? Just don’t tell the lady in charge that it’s your fellow humans you’re browsing…
Singles you’ll find here: Animal lovers who don’t have allergies.
5. A property auction
Buying old wrecks or repossessed houses at auction is an increasingly popular way to get on or up the property ladder – especially for single people or divorcees who can’t afford estate agent’s prices.
Hanging around before and after the sale can get rather boring, so seek out attractive singles standing on their own and ask their advice about the process. People love being asked advice. It flatters the ego, and the ego is the surest way to anyone’s heart.
Singles you’ll find here: Creative types who watch Grand Designs, rich property developers.
6. A stop-smoking support group
If you’re trying to give up, joining a group is a great way to meet fellow puffers who’ll need pleasurable distraction: a drink at the non-smoking pub, perhaps? Just don’t forget yourselves and light up after you’ve, erm, taken it to the next level.
Singles you’ll find here: Soon-to-be ex-addicts embarking on a rollercoaster of tantrums and weight gain. Perfect if that describes you, too.
7. A book signing
If you’ve given up on meeting anyone whose reading interests extend beyond Harry Potter, grab a place in the queue the next time an author comes to your local bookstore to sign their latest tome.
If it’s someone famous you’ll be queuing for ages, and there may be tea, biscuits and mingling afterwards. No-one will bat an eyelid if you stand in the corner staring at people until one of them catches your eye. Move in for the kill by asking which three books they’d take to a desert island.
Singles you’ll find here: Bookworms, students, professors, authors.
8. An organised walk
The great outdoors is a splendid aphrodisiac, and yomping across fields with a gang of like-minded ramblers is great for working up all sorts of appetites.
Singles you’ll find here: Outdoorsy types with strong thigh muscles.
9. A TV quiz audition
Like speed-dating without the overt pulling element. Twenty or so people of all ages sit in a room with a TV producer who gets you to stand up in turn and say a bit about yourselves, before packing you off on the train together.
Singles you’ll find here: Pub quizzers, students, the self-employed and people put up to it by their mates.
10. San Jose
(* but only if you’re a woman)
This Silicon Valley town was recently found to have the greatest concentration of fit, educated, straight single men in any European or North American city. And it’s always sunny.
Singles you’ll find here: Muscular graphic designers with their shirts off. Which begs the question, do you know the way to San Jose?