Never married, she has a son James, now 13, by a man she parted from before her son was born.

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‘I have a friend in her late 30s who lives with, and has children by, a man in his mid-60s.

He is paunchy with grey chest hair and not especially rich.

He plucked her from a surfeit of willing women, watching him like vultures before my friend “got” him.’This may be the case in some circles, but is it generally true?

‘Forty is a huge cut-off point for a lot of men,’ Ruthie explains.

‘There was just one I met and we had a fantastic evening.

I was surprised afterwards when he didn’t get in touch. It turned out he’d seen some other women when he saw me and gone on to have brief relationships with them.

When those relationships failed, he came back to me and I just felt, “He’ll be off again”, so I didn’t pursue it.’Official statistics reveal that among those aged 45 to 64 there are equal numbers of men and women living alone, it is only in the 65 and over age group that the lone women outnumber men — and that’s easily explained by the fact that men die younger. ‘A man can pick from a wider pool of women — his age and under, by several decades,’ The Plankton writes.

The woman, who is divorced but says she would love to be married again, describes herself as being ‘on the wrong side of 45 with a brace of kids’ and bewails her place in ‘relationship no-man’s land’, condemned to be alone for the rest of her days.

Her outpourings, which convey with unflinching honesty the huge difficulties older women can face finding a man, have caused quite a stir on women’s internet chat forums.