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An hour and 45 minutes later, he asks for the bill. I offer to pay half, and he lets me, which makes me think: As we leave the restaurant, he doesn't even offer to walk me to my car, which, given we are in Soho and it's late, I find quite cavalier.

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I learn a lot on my dates. That, despite money and success, men are as clueless and fearful about meeting potential partners as we are. That bankers aren't always boring, and that a lot of the talk about models and eye candy is just their way of ego-boosting. I learn that men and women have become mistrustful of each other but, most importantly, I learn not to be terrified of men, or to try too hard, or to yearn to be in my pyjamas watching telly instead because, you never know, it just might lead to something.

I am quite gratified that I could have pulled a banker. Mr Big's post-date appraisal noted I was beautifully turned out, am not completely over my ex-husband but, even though I have far too many animals, 'if she lived in the U. I'm wondering, might there be a relationship? I learn that men - even powerful ones - probably appreciate a bit of flirting to give them encouragement, something I find impossible to do and which is probably the reason I'm still single.

I call Mairead to tell her she hasn't yet found me the perfect man, and she insists that, even with a dating agency, I have to keep putting myself 'out there'. I tell her I can't be bothered, and am heartened when she says: And you know what?

On Christmas Eve, millionaire number one texts to say he found me 'intelligent and, dare I say it, sexy', and that he wants to take me out for dinner 'some time soon, and for a much longer date this time! It turns out he thought my reluctance to drink more than one glass of champagne showed a lack of interest rather than fear of losing my driving licence. For further details go to www. No comments have so far been submitted.

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I'm a romantic in that I expect the man I'm with not to even look at other women - to be like my dad, in other words - but then I come over all feminist if he attempts to pay for dinner. Opinion Show more Opinion links. So what happened when Liz Jones joined the world's swankiest dating agency to hook herself a millionaire? But a month later, her calendar miraculously opened up. When he arrives I am disappointed:

Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards. Rich pickings in my search for Mr Right Updated: Liz wants somebody who can make her laugh. Why do so many of us weep over dying penguins but howl with laughter as celebrities gag on the body parts of dead animals?

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My matchmaker informed me that, to get to know me, she needed to visit my home. Exactly how all this fed into the matchmaking process, I never would come to know, aside from it perhaps confirming that I was good for the fees. Regardless, I set to work on defining Miss Right more thoroughly: She enjoys walking, family, socialising. I set an age range, attached photos of women I fancied and hit Send. Less straightforward was my attempt to get that profile memorialised in the contract somehow. Yet my matchmaker was very good at not using aggressive sales tactics.

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Take your time; look at other options, she advised, while emailing me teaser profiles: In any other realm finding a home, hiring a key staff member I would never entertain paying all of the fees up front, with no part contingent on the basic delivery of the service let alone a successful outcome. However, matchmaking is different. It deals in affairs of the heart.

A contrarian, non-commercial streak in me embraced the romanticism of it all.

Who on earth is spending £50k to join an elite dating agency?

Certainly I was persuaded that it would be odd, and probably indeed impossible, to pay a financial bounty upon meeting a romantic partner. Moving in together, marriage? None of this adequately explains why per cent of the fees needed to be paid up front. This was never convincingly answered, perhaps because my agency never needed to.

It would be unfair to call introduction services confidence tricks, but my role in the arrangement increasingly came to feel like that of the mark. There would be no close matches — not even a short-term relationship, let alone anything serious or marriage. One of the very first matches was the most promising: But a month later, her calendar miraculously opened up. Within six months, my matchmaker had gone on maternity leave and was replaced by two other staff members. Before long, I asked for a partial refund and you can guess how that went. One curiosity throughout these match-made dates was that I, the man, invariably felt an obligation to foot all bar and restaurant bills.

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This was, apparently, the norm in these higher-end dating arrangements: Why should this be, in an era of greater gender equality? Just how unbalanced could things get on this expensive dating journey? Can hypnotherapy stop my 'binge drinking'? Oh come on, women are just as badly behaved as men.

Do we really need women shouting about their periods and sex? Warwick's naked Calendar Girls have come out stronger. People put invest in it so they can meet someone like them. Nowadays people have much higher expectations. The birth of mobile phones, social media, tweeting texting and chatting online have changed human nature.

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People cancel by text now. And that culture has spread into the dating world — people want what they want. The set-up is distinctly old-fashioned, as Mairead explains: I had a nice time.