Make a date with the right partner

IT is never too late to find love for the first time, or to embrace the dating scene again after years of absence. It just takes a bit of courage.

According to the 2011 Census there are 1.5m single people in Ireland, many of these are divorced, separated or widowed and surely have not given up on the hope of finding a new and lasting relationship.

Just ask Bill Phelan, 61, a former commercial property agent. He had been separated for seven years when he finally found the courage to join a dating agency.

“I wasn’t nervous really, I was more curious, I was wondering what kind of service they would provide who I would meet,’’ he explains.

“I met the first lady within days of joining up. It was a bit scary, it was just like going on a blind date. I was told practically nothing about her except her name and number.’’

Fortunately, a couple of months later, Bill was introduced by a friend to Jennifer Haskins, 51, a business woman and separated mother of three. On Jun 27, 2007, they met for a cup of coffee and have been together since.

“For a relationship to work, you really need to be friends first; if it is just based on physical attraction, it is not going to last. We became good friends very quickly and basically nine months later we were living together.’’

They later discovered that Jennifer had also signed up to the same dating agency, but they had not been matched because of their age difference which was “simply ridiculous’’.

In 2009 Bill and Jennifer set up their own dating agency, Two’s Company, which is now one of Ireland’s leading agencies, with several hundred members.

Around 30% of their members are over 55, the eldest is a 76-year-old man, and the majority have been married before and are now widowed or divorced.

“The over 55s are much more clued into what kind of person they would like to meet. They understand how a relationship works, whether they had a good or bad marriage, they know exactly what works for them, which makes it easier to match them.

Although Bill acknowledges that it can be “very daunting’’ to be dating again after being with the same person for 20-odd years, he stresses that people should not feel embarrassed by joining a dating agency.

“If you would like to meet someone to share your life with, where can you go? It’s a bit like if I was a CEO of a large company and needed a marketing manager, what do I do? I go to a recruitment agency and I spell out this is the type of person I want and expect a good result. That’s why our members come to us. They know we have met the person we are going to match them with, that we have vetted them, that they are free and are serious about wanting to enter into a relationship,’’ he says. or call 1850- 241241


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