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Perspective: Free and single? Don't wallow in self-pity, just enjoy yourself.

Byline: Ros Dodd

Being single at New Year can be hugely depressing, particularly if a relationship has come to an end recently. Instead of looking forward you find yourself looking back, wondering why and how it all went wrong, and wallowing in self-pity and self- recrimination.

It's easy to think you'll never find true and lasting love, will never feel settled and appreciated and are destined to end your days alone and forgotten.

But being on your own at the beginning of a year is - or can be - invigorating.

Yes, it presents a tough challenge (one you might not feel equal to meeting during the post-festive season blues), but it also presents you with a plethora of opportunities.

You are free to charter your own ship, slip it into the water of life and point it in any direction that takes your fancy.

I have often declared to single friends who bemoan their status and can't imagine it ever changing that you never know what, or who, is around the corner. And although it sounds rather trite, it's absolutely true.

So long as you don't sit at home playing sad love songs over and over again on the CD player, there's a wide, interesting and exciting world out there.

If you resolve to join it, you can't go wrong.

Mr and Ms Right lurk in the most unlikely of places. Only the other day I nipped out to dispose of a mound of empty wine bottles and old newspapers and came face to face with a rather tasty-looking builder who was doing some work on the house next door.

We passed the time of day and then fell into lively conversation. Unfortunately I was looking at my very worst - old tracksuit, lank and uncombed hair, unmade face and blotchy eyes from having burned the candle at both ends - so it's not surprising if he wasn't instantly bowled over.

But it just goes to show that you don't know when you're going to bump into a potential mate, however unlikely the circumstances.

So, girls, the lesson to be learned here is never - I repeat, never - leave the house looking like death warmed up. A trip to the bottle bank might not have immediate romantic connotations, but Mr Right just might be heaving his own empties into the round holes at precisely the same time.

The key to finding love is getting out and about. Thus, resolve to take up a new interest (or resurrect an old one). If you fancy trying your hand at a novel hobby, choose something that is likely to also attract the opposite sex. Which, of course, leaves out synchronised swimming, cake decoration and needlecraft and the like.

Another good idea is to trawl through your address book and reacquaint yourself with friends you've lost touch with in recent years. Not only will this boost your tally of pals (satisfying in itself), it'll provide more social opportunities. And, who knows, these old friends may well have mates or relations of the opposite sex they can introduce you to.

To be fair, today's singletons have never had it so good. Holiday companies fall over themselves to accommodate the lone traveller, organisations aimed at single people are springing up all the time and the stigma of bachelorhood has all but faded away.

So instead of sitting at home with your M&S meal-for-one and moping over your reluctantly single lot in life, take the bull by the horns and go for it.

But a note of caution: don't hook up with anyone who happens to show you a bit of attention. There are far too many wolves in sheep's clothing out there and it's worth biding your time until someone deserving of your love and devotion makes an appearance.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't have fun trying to discern the wolf from the fluffy lamb, however. You're single, you're your own woman - and you answer to no one.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 4, 2001
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