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Thirty-one per cent of the women interviewed had since found themselves in an exclusive relationship, 32 per cent were dating non-exclusively and around one in ten had no desire to date at all.

'It's hard to define why we clicked,' says Miriam, 54, 'but perhaps after one marriage and four years of dating, I was better equipped to judge a good man.

Mark is kind, patient, loving and completely selfless.

It was only in my 50s that I started dating properly and another four years before I met Mark on a dating website, uk.' Miriam is certainly not alone in facing these challenges.

There has been a seismic shift in the institution of marriage.

When AARP, the largest membership organisation for the over-50s in the U.

S., polled 2,500 single women over 45, myths exploded like fireworks.

My husband and I divorced in 1996 after he left me for one of my work colleagues.

I couldn't bear to stay in Hertfordshire, where we lived, so I left my friends and family and moved to Hastings to start afresh.

Or is it possible that modern divorcees, having devoted much of their lives to a man and bringing up kids, prefer the peace of one in a bed to the compromises and quarrels of two?

From the dozens of women I've spoken to, and from surveys here and in the U.

'Initially, it was devastating to be single in my 40s.