Your hours are long, your financial worries even longer. Short, however, is your list of available, gorgeous, women to date.

Marriage is taking a back seat to career plans for men, with the odds of you heading back into the dating game in your late twenties and thirties higher than ever, according to a study by Rutgers University in New Jersey. The only problem is that women are more likely to marry earlier and, thanks to birth rate and mortality trends, there are now half a million more eligible single men in their thirties than women, found an Edinburgh University study.

“Social norms are different and the women you’re after are older with different needs and priorities,” says Siski Green, author of How To Blow Her Mind In Bed. Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you. Turn over for five ways to raise your dating game – second time around.

1. Match your interests

Then: You’d practise your lines
Take up a hobby

Market research firm Penn Schoen Berland found 34 percent of single women in their late twenties and thirties don’t actively look for a partner as they don’t think they’ll find someone they have anything in common with. “Take up an interesting hobby,” says Leil Lowndes, author of How To Make Anyone Fall In Love With You. “You’ll meet women you already have something in common with, and it’ll help build confidence. Look her in the eye and say in your head ‘I like you’,” says Lowndes. “The time it takes to do this is the optimum length of lingering eye contact. Secondly, repeating it will soften your features so you look more approachable. And thirdly, it’ll stop you thinking ‘does she like me?’, which would make you seem nervous and shy.” Just don’t say it out loud or you’ll be barred from Adult Creative Pottery classes.

2. Get a female point of view

Then: You’d get your mate to act as a wingman in a club
Enlist your female friends

You could definitely lose your dignity on that dance floor, and the odds are you won’t find love there. A study by the University of Michigan found while 50 percent of 18 year olds go to bars or clubs twice a week, only 25 percent of 32 year olds venture out even once a week. There’s a better way: recent studies at Temple University in Pennsylvania found that 63 percent of long-term couples were introduced by friends, especially female friends. “Newly single men in their thirties get far more support from their female friends than women when it comes to meeting a new partner,” says Dr Judith Sills, author of Getting Naked Again. “They’re far more likely to suggest matches, arrange dates and help you adapt to single life.”

It may be tempting to let them broker the whole deal for you, but it’s worth asking for the lady’s phone number and calling to arrange the date yourself. Studies published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior found that you can instinctively and accurately predict how physically attractive you’ll find a woman from her voice alone. This is because attractive women are more confident, so they subconsciously alter their pitch and tone to sound more feminine and seductive. Call it the aural sex test.

3. “Screen test” her first

Then: Dinner and a film
You both screen your dates

Don’t commit to a hefty restaurant bill and an interminable rom-com. It’s now acceptable to schedule a “pre-date” – a daytime meet or early evening drink. “Women in their thirties are also jaded by the dating process, so don’t want to waste their time on dates that are going nowhere,” says Green. “A pre-date takes the pressure off – if there’s no spark you don’t have to spend the even-ing together. You’ll also escape the regimented awkwardness of the dinner date, so you’ll both act more naturally and you’ll get a more accurate impression of her.” Even if it’s going well, cut it short. A study in the Journal of Marriage and Family found leaving her wanting more will increase her desire. And it’ll leave you time to see the lovely lady from last week’s pre-date.

4. Quickly silence her fears

Then: You’d impress her by picking up the bill
You’ll impress her by shutting up

Forget the quick-draw on the gold card: women in their late twenties and thirties are less impressed with displays of wealth than younger women because they have more equal earning power, according to University of Michigan studies. They’re now looking for a caring partner who’ll be a source of emotional support. You don’t need to start offering her hugs over aperitifs, just don’t pay too much lip-service to the classic date mistake: a recent study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior found that the only breach of dating etiquette that will turn her off straight away is you talking too much about your-self. She’ll interpret this as selfish, and stop seeing you as a potential partner. If you’re already thinking of taking your displays of wealth to the more mpressionable younger crowd, tread carefully. Oxford University studies found men in their thirties will often overestimate their level of attractiveness because of their increased earning power and set their sights on women who are either too young or too attractive. Though, as Michael Douglas would probably tell you, it’s always worth having a crack.

5. Conquer the ex factor

Then: She thought you were her first love
She needs to know about your careful previous owners
Like the inglorious post-storeroom-cupboard-indiscretion exit from your second job, you know blemishes on your relationship CV can come back to haunt you. “When you enter a relationship a little older, your past can catch up to be a lose-lose,” says Green. “Mention your ex too soon and your new interest will think you’re not over her; keep quiet and she’ll think you have something to hide.” Deny any ex history altogether, and you’ll face those awkward questions about exactly why you had to leave the priesthood. “As a general rule, don’t mention your ex until date four,” says Green. “This is when the first half of her screening process is over and she will have decided she is sexually interested in you.” Then, when you do mention your “previous”, use a little psychological sneakiness to turn it from a negative to a positive. University of California studies found that women use past relationship behaviour to predict future conflicts. “She’s going to be studying you for both verbal and non-verbal clues,” says Richard La Ruina, author of The Natural Art of Seduction. “If you use your ex’s name, for example ‘Vicky is really jealous’, it turns her into a person, while the present tense ‘is’ implies an emotional connection remains.” Here’s how to keep Vicky out of the picture: “When you speak, meet your new love interest’s eye – it indicates honesty. Put your hands palm up on the table to indicate openness, then say, ‘It was fun for a while, but we just drifted apart.’ This phrasing de-personalises everything and ‘was’ works as an emotional trigger word, firmly establishing that Vicky is in the past.” Until she starts sticking your pets in a casserole dish.