Excerpt, Part 1: 'Around the World in 80 Dates'

But we're so busy working, we don't have the time to find the person we want to move on with. So we turn to the labor-saving devices on the market, designed to lead us to Mr. Right in the small amount of time we have allocated to the task. A perfect example of this is online dating. Online dating seems convenient because you can do it surreptitiously from your desk, during meetings at work, or with flirtatious, drunken abandon when you get home in the early hours of Saturday morning. That's pretty much where the convenience ends, though, because no matter how good the profile and nice the picture, you need to know more about him before deciding if he's worth meeting. So, you chat back and forth via email, maybe send a text message or two, then you're ready to talk on the phone. The first physical contact (i.e., ear-to-ear) is crunch-time since you can generally tell from his voice and conversation if you want to meet him or not. Unfortunately, it's generally "not" but by this point you're involved with him and finding a reason to end that involvement—even though you don't know him—is cringingly hard (tip: keep a fictitious "unresolved ex" up your sleeve for these occasions). Hope turns to guilt as you become locked into a continuous and exhausting process of assessing candidates, like interviewing people for a job you know they'll never get. And in the meantime, that's another two hours a day spent in front of your computer. Something has to change. Enough of these relationship patches, which, like nicotine patches, stave off the need without satisfying any of the desire. I wanted a fantastic, glorious, wonderful relationship. Otherwise, what's the point?

But for this to happen, I knew I needed to make a better job of meeting Mr. Right. I felt I'd tried everything in London. Maybe it was time for a more radical and far-reaching solution?

Rather than traveling to recover from Mr. Wrong, what if I went traveling to find Mr. Right? I mean, I was sure Fate had him out there waiting for me, so why was I wasting time in London moaning when I could be out in the world searching? I'd put my heart and soul into my job; maybe it was time I put the same amount of effort into my love life.

So, after some soul-searching, I quit my job at Lonely Planet. I had a new job now: finding my Soul Mate.

The business and management skills I'd developed over the years would most likely come in handy. Making programs for the BBC had honed my research and interviewing skills. Setting up and running Lonely Planet's European publicity and promotional operations meant devising campaigns while jumping on and off planes to oversee launches and train staff, plus doing a ton of interviews and public speaking stints. Like anybody with a big, fat job, to do this well I'd had to be able to network, research, talk people into doing things they weren't that keen on, time-manage, meet deadlines, budget, and plan.

So, traveling would be the answer to London's dearth of suitable men, and my professional skills would hopefully lead me to possible candidates, eliminating the unsuitable, undesirable, and unstable from among them. But where should I start looking? I couldn't just get off a plane in another country shouting, "Soul Mate, I'm here. Come and get me." I was confident Fate had a number of them out there for me to meet (as I've already said, I believe we have more than one), but where, and who could they be?

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