One bloke I dated - I really liked him actually - started freaking out over dinner.
Every time he said something he'd ask whether I was going to put it in my column. He said he didn't trust me and we didn't see each other again." Branding herself as an antidote to Bridget Jones, she agrees with Harrison's golden rule that it's best for dating columns to steer clear of both rancour and self-pity.
I'm the total opposite of Bridget Jones, because she's so intent on finding a man and I'm so intent on not finding one - but having a good time while going about it." Topham's column, too, revels in dating foibles and game playing, such as "the rules of cool", which can best be summarised as the etiquette surrounding texting and calling. One man began sending hourly texts after a single date.
Single Life, which focuses on all aspects of being single including serial dating, has become, she says, "a great excuse in itself not to commit to men".
After two long relationships, Topham sheepishly admits that the timing of her last break-up was "helpful" for the column. The column is about finding out what it's like to be single for the first time and I really do want to date lots of people.
She, meanwhile, was similarly underwhelmed, as she clapped eyes on "a stocky version of Nicolas Cage ... Later, over a pinched and stilted meal in a "fakey bistro", as she was mid-sentence, her date "leaned back, stretched out his arms and did one great big huge yawn". In this age of confessional journalism, where everything from trips to the supermarket to private infidelities are deemed fit for newspaper features pages, it's boom time for dating columnists, particularly in the US.
Indeed, this newspaper's very own American sex-and-dating writer Catherine Townsend, who pens the Sleeping Around column, says she crossed the Atlantic, in part, because "New York is totally saturated with dating columns". "Twenty years ago there was a really definite trajectory in women's lives," she explains.