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Record Number of Valentines Singles - Top relationships expert blames careers and calls for a return to the matchmaking days of Pride and Prejudice

Top relationships expert blames careers and calls for a return to the matchmaking days of Pride and Prejudice.

2006 sees the highest number of single people ever as divorce rates soar and people marry later (population estimates - revised 20th Dec 2005). 1.65 million men and 1.27 million women, aged 30-39 now live alone in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Matchmaking expert Karen Mooney, Managing Director of Sara Eden Introductions, claims an incredible 95% marriage success rate amongst her premium members. "The singles statistics don't surprise me at all," she said. "People seeking partners through us are often wealthy, eligible and attractive but they've been too single minded about pursuing their careers and they've either stayed single, or their careers have driven couples apart. It's very sad and we see many people who regret having put their ambitions first. When they come to us, they want to change their lives but they don't want to hang around pubs or do speed dating. They want discreet matchmaking with like-minded people."

She's noticed a big shift in dating this past year, "It's become far more respectable to ask for help. In the old days, society was based on introductions - from Princess Diana and Prince Charles being matched by their grandmothers, through to parents organising for their children to meet at a local level. That changed in recent years when people moved to different cities to work and go to university. Now the have-it-all generation of recent years is realising it's not possible to manage everything and they're no longer ashamed to ask for help."

She's also noticed a big rise amongst members in their 40s and 50s, "This is the generation with more money, their health and their freedom. The children have left home or the couple have grown apart and suddenly they're single again without the responsibilities they once had. This is the new wild generation who are determined to live life to the full but often feel that they want to share it with a partner. We find the members in the 40s and 50s have the most fun throwing caution to the wind and having a great time, and we've seen a 25% rise in their membership over the last year'.

Being single has also been proved not to be the healthy option. A nationwide study by Edinburgh University (Centre for Research on Families and Relationships) says 46% of women aged 30-39 who live alone now expect to remain childless and those living alone report poorer health than those living with others and they are more likely to smoke and drink. The study says that the rise in solo living has important implications on community and social care, pensions, employment, health and housing.

For more information or interviews with Karen Mooney, of Sara Eden Introductions, please call NCI Management on 020 7224 3960 or contact