Kathryn's Blog

WSJ and paying for love

Around Valentine’s Day, Sara Schaefer Munoz posted on a Wall Street Journal blog about high priced matchmaking services.  She refers to an article in Financial Times which thank goodness clarified for me that Munoz was writing about introduction services that took both men and women, not like the trend we have seen to match wealthy men with gorgeous young women.  I’ve written about those sites before, see here.

Munoz asks for readers’ comments, and she got lots of them!  You might want to take a look at the comments yourself. The really interesting part is that practically none of the comments are about high-priced introduction services.  Instead, they are about online dating, mostly success on Match.com!  Hey, good advertising, huh? 

For Busy Professionals Seeking Love, Are Dating Services Helpful?
Posted by Sara Schaefer Munoz

We’ve talked about how busy young professionals have trouble finding the time to focus on dating. According to this recent article in the Financial Times, several elite dating services — modeled on executive head-hunting firms — promise to find you the perfect mate for a price.

One service, the Country Register, charges £10,000, about $20,000, for an 18 month membership in its top tier personal search service, and is currently signing five new city-based clients a month — twice the joining rate for 2000, the piece says. The service spends at least half a day in the client’s home getting to know them and promises that respondents are met and screened in advance.

But why pay a premium when you could meet people at work, or take on inexpensive Internet dating? A former busy professional at Merrill Lynch says in the article that “The last thing I wanted after work was to socialize with bankers or sit down at a computer.” Singletons also say that online dating requires a lot of time to sort through profiles and craft witty responses to potential suitors. (It can take so much effort to present yourself that some are even plagiarizing profiles they find online.)

I’d love to hear from single professionals who are looking for love. What’s your experience with online dating? Where have you met — or looked for — a mate? Would you pay a premium for an elite match-making service?

Four years ago, I lived in a small city where it was hard to meet single, like-minded men. I posted a profile on Match.com and eventually received an expression of interest from a man who lived 90 miles away–someone I would never have met any other way. We e-mailed a few times and then arranged to meet in my city for a drink, which led to dinner…and, about 10 months later, marriage. We now have a 2-year-old son. Online personals don’t work for everyone, but they did for us.
When I met my final “date,” I had already been on Match.com once before. The second time, I posted new and improved photos (of myself) and a rewritten, snappier profile (that I wrote on my own). I resolved to keep the e-mail correspondence to a minimum. I set up in-person meetings as quickly as possible to avoid any fantasy, “virtual” dating, which is easy to fall into when you’re e-mailing someone you’ve never seen before.

For someone who had done everything I could think of to expand my social circle and meet new people in my city, online personals worked better than my other efforts–through which I met some wonderful friends, but no potential boyfriends.
Comment by anonymous - February 19, 2008 at 12:23 pm

I tend to think that the only real advantage that an ultra-premium service could offer is a signal between matched participants that both are monetarily successful. While online surveys are imperfect, I have no reason to believe that a person can’t put up a facade for half a day to present just as ideal an image to a premium service as they do to an online site. To be sure, there is more of an initial guarantee of the validity of the person’s identity and appearance, but if someone online presents a false appearance, that will be found out quickly in the light of a real meeting.
Totally free sites are probably so diluted as to be useless, but lower premium sites do some analysis to attempt basic compatibility and weed out people who are really on the fence about whether or not to put some effort into it; and ultimately, perception of compatibility is a rather imperfect science anyway, so having a range of options is probably a good thing.
I think that unless someone prioritizes financial success above all else, paying $20,000 is not going to produce markedly better results than paying somewhere in the $100-2000 range.
That said, while the traditional approach of meeting people in life is theoretically great, it’s a rather sensitive issue for people in tightly wound social networks; one bad relationship and one’s entire social fabric can become unwound.
Comment by Clinton - February 19, 2008 at 11:25 am



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