Female, 38, seeks altruistic single male

“I’m fussy, that’s the problem” says Laura.

Her friend Ruth nods.  They both know ‘fussy’ is shorthand for 38 and single.

lavender heart This week, Laura escapes from the pages of my novel and ponders a report that shows altruistic behaviour makes men more attractive, even as one-night stands.

Now that Laura is back from working abroad, her CV looks great but her love life doesn’t.  She needs to meet people other than those at the office.  Hooking up in bars is dodgy.  But more dodgy than hooking up at work?  She thinks back to last year and Jamie in socks, tie and nothing else.  Er, no.

“How about what’s-his-name off that dating site?” asks Ruth.

Laura makes a face.  She had a drink with what’s his name last week.  ‘I’m a paralegal’ she replied to his question.  ‘A pair o’ legal what?’ he leered, getting too close.

In fact she’s a lawyer.  She also tells people she’s 34, called Emma, and lives in Hampstead.  There’s a fine line between honesty and ending up dismembered in some lockup.  Or several lockups.

There hasn’t been one big dating disaster that she can dine out on, just a series of soul-destroying evenings trying to find something in common with people like Wayne from Wasp Control.  He’d said he was a wildlife expert, so obviously he’d bigged it up a bit, like his photo which looked like Johnny Depp.  In life he looked more like Johnny Come Weekly.   He’d also promised that she’d never meet another man quite like him.  Laura hoped that bit was true.

“What exactly are you looking for?” Ruth asks.

She wasn’t looking for smelly guys in grubby leather coats, emotional idiots who blubbed about the ex-girlfriend, jolly men who said they had GSOH. That meant they laughed at their own jokes.  Or the forgetful type like Tom.  One detail he’d omitted?  He was still living with his ex-wife.  Another detail was that the wife wasn’t ex.

Most matches she deleted without meeting.   The ones who claimed to be’tactile and sexy’ were plain creepy.  The more discursive entries were equally cringe-making: ‘I’m into all kinds of sports, and keen to find a partner who wants to explore our physical passion in all its forms.’  Why didn’t they just cut to the chase and write ‘deviant’?

Ruth had an idea. “You want someone who does good deeds.  Have you seen the paper today?  Research shows that altruism makes men more attractive as a potential partner.  Women too, apparently, but it works best for men.”

“I’m not looking for someone to help me cross the street just yet.”

Ruth digs a newspaper out of her shopping bag and shows it to Laura.

As soon as Ruth has gone, Laura logs onto the site.  Now Alan the surveyor sounds quite nice. There’s already a message from him.  And look, it says here he helps out in a homeless shelter!

You have to live in hope.  Laura clicks Reply.

*Link to the study from Nottingham and Liverpool John Moores Universities http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/news/pressreleases/2013/september/selflessness-can-be-attractive.aspx.

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