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Runner up: Diane Weakley, 52

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So where is Mr. Right? That’s the indefatigable question Weakley and her network of close girlfriends keep asking themselves. What started out as a book group among seven friends quickly became a kind of forum for discussing relationships and strategizing about how and where to spark them. The meetings have prompted the women to action and also to a seemingly redundant discovery, Weakley says: “Collectively, we have joined numerous philanthropic groups, attended church, joined match-making services and run personal ads. And yet, we’ve found no one that meets our expectations.”

That Weakley isn’t willing to budge on her standards in a mate — successful, sincere, attractive, mature — and that she continues her quest with as much humor and vigor and revelatory honesty as any somewhat older Carrie Bradshaw might possess is what we admire in Weakley.

The search for Mr. Right is “not the entire focus of our lives,” she stresses. “It’s not like the search for a man is our sole reason for existence. Yet deep inside we want the fulfillment of those basic human needs.” They are needs that crystallize with every awkward date or chance encounter.

For instance, at the beginning of the summer, Weakley and her friends gathered for a dinner party to “set out plans” that could enhance their odds at meeting some promising bachelors. But it’s hardly been the stuff Jane Austen’s Emma could infuse with romance. There have been gallery openings, theater engagements, sporting events and countless outdoor concerts. They’ve contemplated the trendy speed-dating routine at local restaurants and clubs, but the men were all too young, she says. “We need to regroup. Here it is August and nothing’s happened,” she says, with a coquettish smile.

Sipping coffee at Starbucks on a recent morning and talking with a reporter about such things, Weakley makes evident that she sees a practical side to wanting to be on the cover of Style. More practical, perhaps, than moving to a golf-course community or else someplace like the Fan where she may meet more people like herself. It’s a resort some of her friends already have opted for, she says. “In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d be here. I thought this would be the time in my life in which I’d really blossom.”

Yet airing her desires for the public to read is a bold kind of planting.

“Even if this does not make the cover it would make for an interesting investigative story at some time,” she told us in her entry. We agree.

After all, Weakley knows a thing or two about the seemingly inexplicable course of human behavior. An eight-year romance she had ended not long ago with a phone call, perhaps one rung above the infamous Post-It breakup on this season’s “Sex and the City.” Even so, Weakley’s nature suggests a kind of assurance as transforming as a butterfly and far less fragile. “I’m 52 and I’m still optimistic I’m going to meet Mr. Right,” she says. “I can’t imagine giving up.” And five little words she’s been waiting to hear could change everything: “I’ve been looking for you, too.” — Brandon Walters

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