Barbara Bloomfield, a creative writing lecturer at Bath Spa University, is an expert on romance - and not just in literary terms.
The former journalist works as a relationship counsellor alongside her lecturing duties, and has drawn on her own experiences, as well as interviews with romance-seekers, for a new book on the quest for love. Ms Bloomfield spent a year researching The Relate Guide to Finding Love, published by Vermillion. She said she was surprised by how many people have social anxieties that stop them from communicating in an intimate and close way.
"I met a lot of men who had arrived for a date, seen a woman waiting for them and taken off," she said.
The internet has not necessarily helped as a dating tool. "In some ways it's the most wonderful tool for people who are shy, but anecdotally, when people who are very adept online are faced with real-life partners, they get very scared."
Ms Bloomfield has taught a variety of courses on the BA in creative writing at Bath Spa, which she joined in 2002. She has also worked as a journalist and scriptwriter.
Her book contains advice about how to maximise chances of finding love.
"A lot of people think trying too hard doesn't get you anywhere and that you'll find someone when you're not looking," she said. "In fact, all the statistics show you are more likely to find someone if you are proactive."
She also offers advice on personal safety, and cites research suggesting that women in particular are too ready to give their date the benefit of the doubt.
"If the date says something a little weird you ought to turn them down. You can't afford to take the chance."
She speaks from experience: on one date at a bar in King's Cross, London, many years ago she asked whether the man she had met had any hobbies: "He said he was interested in shooting and brought out a handgun," she said. "He might have meant target shooting, but I didn't stay to find out."
A national newspaper once commissioned Ms Bloomfield to join six introduction agencies and go on dates to test the effectiveness of their matchmaking.
She said: "I didn't find Mr Right or even Mr Not Too Bad, and no one seemed to think I was Ms Right either. Instead I spent one long evening in a pub with a man who compiled telephone directories for a living. Another surreal afternoon was spent with someone who showed me pictures of all his mansions in California and the helicopters he kept there for his international travel."
She gave up dating when she met her husband in 1981.