Back in the market and feeling rusty? A couple of coaching sessions with American dating expert Paula Rosdol could help you find your dream man after 40.
Former corporate high-flier Paula Rosdol, a London-based American, specialises in helping women in midlife and beyond relaunch themselves onto the dating scene. I want women to feel they're desirable and hot, says Paula, who is 51 but looks younger. It's all about giving hope to women who feel they're on the scrap heap.
With this in mind, one-to-one sessions are set up in the tea rooms of the capital's top hotels. Current clients - all female - include parole officers, psychotherapists and investment bankers (age range 30-70), who seek her advice on everything from how to spice up their internet profile to how to behave on a first date. Her approach, based on marketing techniques gleaned from years working in big corporations, isn't romantic, but she's convinced it works.
''You've got to look at yourself as a product, she says, tucking one impeccably smooth leg under the other. You're competing in a very crowded marketplace full of other single women. But if you position and package yourself appropriately, the odds will work in your favour, rather than against you.
Experience has taught her to value her virtue and femininity, and she is keen to pass this message on. ''Women do themselves a disfavour by offering to split the cheque,'' she warns. Nor should we leap into bed with any man who asks. Sex triggers a bonding hormone called oxytocin, she says, and this can play havoc with the female psyche. ''If you have sex before you've become intimate, you put yourself in a very vulnerable position.
The biggest mistake women make, Paula adds, is in thinking men are like women. They say: 'Why can't a man love me for who I am?' But men are visual creatures. They're drawn to beauty and youth. It's all about evolutionary psychology.
Bad news for women over 40? Not at all, she says. You just need to spend a bit of money on yourself. Often it's a simple case of tooth whitening (''it knocks off five years''), Botox to smooth frown lines or regular trips to the hairdresser to hide the grey roots. She also recommends switching to subtly flattering make-up brands, such as Bobbi Brown or Mac.
She is, she says, prepared to use tough love when the situation calls for it. A recent client was fat with corky hair, for example. But once I'd restyled her, she says, she was a goddess.
The next hurdle is more tricky: how to avoid scaring men off. One problem is that women have to rely on male energy to get on in the world, Paula says. They've done well in their careers and they've lost touch with their femininity. But men prefer women who are not confrontational or loud - and who have a soft lilt to their voice.
Paula's approach is also brash, focused and results driven, when British women tend to prefer subtle, banterish and elliptical. But if it helps women find love, when all else has failed, does it really matter? Clients must display a steely resolve in their pursuit of Mr Right by adopting multi-pronged dating strategies rather than sitting at home waiting mournfully for the phone to ring. Use every channel, she urges.
Whether it's the internet, introduction agencies, singles events, special interest groups such as Classical Partners, charitable/church organisations, or business networking, no stone must be left unturned. Reluctant friends must be dragooned into wheeling out single men. It may sound exhausting and perhaps even humiliating, but it worked for Paula, who is now happily married.
It's all about having joie de vivre, being light and feeling that life is fun, says Paula, who believes that no woman is beyond hope. ''You're never too old to love and to be loved.''