As Valentine’s Day beckons, those not in romantic relationships may be considering joining online dating sites.

This is exactly what singer, actress and civil servant Shelley Twinn did when she was 47 and at one of the lowest points of her life. Divorced, kids running riot, almost homeless and spending too much time going to family funerals, Shelley was at rock bottom.

“I really didn’t like myself,” she says.

Shelley soon realised that she and friends who were also cyber dating were finding themselves in some pretty hilarious situations. So, she decided to start writing about them.

Having written poetry and song lyrics for many years, the writing process came fairly easy to Shelley. She also found that focussing on writing was therapeutic after being distraught about losing her father.

“I’d been with my husband for around 25 years and it was a very different experience being a single mum bringing up kids and being out of the married norm that society encourages.

“I found dating sites really exciting. They give you the opportunity to really look around and consider what sort of person you want to date. The technology helps you select based on what you want the other person to look like, say blonde hair, green eyes and the other party can self-select too. Then if you decide to meet you get to see if there’s real chemistry. I certainly found that if the chemistry is there what a person actually looks like becomes less important.

“I dated about six or seven guys over a year or so. It was a whole new experience dating in this way. There was lots to learn. My friends and I had conversations about things like how quickly you should text back when someone shows interest, and all sorts of other aspects of dating etiquette. I was stumbling my way through it. The ultimate goal was to find someone to love and someone who would love me, because at that point, I really didn’t love myself.

“What I’ve written and turned into my book, Dating Is Us, is fiction, but it’s based on the experiences of my friends and the personal experiences of others in the online dating scene. Those who’ve read the book say it’s made them laugh and cry. People can enjoy it as pure entertainment but for some over 40s it will be an eye opener and hopefully help encourage them to try out some dating sites. I’d definitely recommend it as long as you are mindful of what you might find. Several friends have married people they’ve met on online dating sites.”

Epping Forest Guardian:

For Shelley her online dating experience became a voyage of self-discovery.

“In the end, the most important thing I learned, was that you need to learn to love yourself before you can have a healthy romantic loving relationship with someone else.”

Shelley is launching her book, Dating Is Us, published by Marcia M Publishing House, at The Courtyard in Chingford, Essex, on Saturday, February 16. Entry to the launch party is free. Tickets can be reserved from At the launch event Shelley will also be singing songs from her EP. Beyond this, Shelley’s next steps include organising speed dating events around the country and launching her website alongside the book and EP.