With the old, pre-1970s rules around dating and mating happily dismantled, Western women have more financial, social and sexual wherewithal than ever before and the ground is supposedly set for an equal, mutually-negotiated meeting of bodies and minds.

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"The default way of relating with guys is to make yourself appear as smoking hot as possible and then wait for men to approach you for sex or a hookup and, for your own ego, to reject as many men as possible, and then cherry-pick the head chump, which is very off-putting." Will Hall recalls one particularly bitchy knockback from his student days. She's met too many liars, cheats, emotionally immature commitmentphobes.

"I'd finally had enough on my coffee card to get two free coffees, so I took this girl who I'd seen a few times to Mc Donald's. "Women just want to be loved and treated with respect.

It's an inert power." Shortland Street actor Will Hall (who plays Kip Denton) agrees.

"Guys don't want to be messed around, but we don't necessarily want the girl to give in too easily." Kiwi heterosexual women average 20 sexual partners, almost three time the global average of seven, according to the latest Durex Sexual Wellbeing survey.

" Then there was the date who taught her two-year-old daughter to say "George Bush" when asked what her name was; and the man who pretended he was a doctor even after she checked. "I honestly think that if you really want to not be single, you're not.

She even accidentally dated two brothers (the first still doesn't talk to her). A 28-year-old professional woman and hardened dater recalls a tricky pile-up: "Once I was dating three guys - and they all turned up at the house at the same time. I think women are secretly enjoying the single life.

There's light on the horizon - or rather, glowing from computer screens across the land.

Internet dating is a known stalking patch for casual sex.

Says Auckland film student Tom Atkins: "Some women act really hostile towards guys.

A misdirected chat-up, a misread signal, a clumsy grope could trigger a lethal knockback fuelled by a bitter backlog of disappointments and disillusionment.

At 17, Kiwi blokes are above the global average of 13.