Financial Times Dating Online

When they sign a client, they spend at least half a day at their home getting to know them. They compose a profile that is matched against a database of eligible singles and advertised anonymously. Promising respondents are met and interviewed, so the client sees only people who seem genuinely suitable. Helen not her real name , a year-old City professional in fund management, joined The County Register six months ago.

Equally important is the reassurance of knowing that the men she meets have been vetted by someone whose judgment she trusts. However, just as financial services offer products for a mix of tastes and wallets, so the personal introductions sector caters for various client profiles. Classical Partners targets cultured professionals. But, for mature professionals with firm views on what they are looking for, the openness of websites can turn the dating game into a lottery.

Their advantage is that they can accommodate niche services, such as dating sites for graduates, to cater for different segments of the market. David says that, in tight-knit professions, people form cliques around lowest-common-dominator interests such as work, holidays and cars. Social networks and introductions agencies act as filters, uniting like-minded people from different walks of life.

Investment banker John, a veteran of introductions services, sounds a cautionary note. Many of the people who use personal introductions, he says, are work-obsessed over-achievers. Obstacles on the path to partnership The buoyancy of elite introductions services reinforces the idea that high-achieving executives are struggling to find love. Industry specialists identify what stops successful people forming successful relationships.

A recent poll by Ivory Towers, an internet dating agency for graduates, suggests high expectations and lack of commitment get in the way of finding a partner. It would be unfair to call introduction services confidence tricks, but my role in the arrangement increasingly came to feel like that of the mark. There would be no close matches — not even a short-term relationship, let alone anything serious or marriage.

One of the very first matches was the most promising: But a month later, her calendar miraculously opened up. Within six months, my matchmaker had gone on maternity leave and was replaced by two other staff members. Before long, I asked for a partial refund and you can guess how that went. One curiosity throughout these match-made dates was that I, the man, invariably felt an obligation to foot all bar and restaurant bills.

This was, apparently, the norm in these higher-end dating arrangements: Why should this be, in an era of greater gender equality? Just how unbalanced could things get on this expensive dating journey? I was about to find out. Here, a deeper truth about the way this exclusive dating world works was revealed: There are different theories as to why this is, one being that women are more willing to invest substantially in finding the right life partner, another being the perception of a depleted pool of eligible men in other walks of life.

Unwittingly I asked whether this was pounds or dollars. It was pounds, of course; we were sitting in a Chelsea pub, not in the West Village. Her own eyes narrowed. Finally I offered alcohol. Champagne, that ever reliable pick-me-up. Targeting vs the comfort of crowds Most dates were pleasant enough. Indeed, two women became friends. Matchmakers meet clients in person for just a couple hours of their lives, and feedback given after each date does little to alter this reality.

Understandably, everyone wants to put their best side forward on paper and in photos; profiles tended to be of little use ahead of dates. In exclusive dating as in life generally, much comes down to happenstance. Far more effective for me have been events where it is possible to meet several people on the same night. The most promising of all have been activities that I enjoy doing anyway, which include literary events, yoga and travel the Weekend FT is crammed full of suggestions for such activities, should you ever be stuck for candidates.

It makes conversation easier as you immediately have something in common with your fellow attendees. One distinctive newcomer in London is The Sloane Arranger, catering to a set that founder Lara Asprey defines as much by shared values as by type of education or physical appearance. The Picnic Project is a bespoke agency set up by Suze Cook, a former marketing manager at Microsoft, who spotted ways to improve the dating process while she was single.

If we took a fee from every person who contacted us, then we would probably be retired by now. For everybody else, my advice would be to consider your alternatives. And keep your sense of humour. Daniel Pembrey is an author and freelance features writer.


Online Dating


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