Understandably, everyone wants to put their best side forward on paper and in photos; profiles tended to be of little use ahead of dates. Now in my 40s, after my time in the City, I worked as a dealmaker for a large, ambitious internet company in the US, before realising a long-held dream of becoming a published author. It makes conversation easier as you immediately have something in common with your fellow attendees. 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. Indeed, two women became friends. This was never convincingly answered, perhaps because my agency never needed to. Then, Tinder came along. And keep your sense of humour. Matchmaking services are emerging with increasingly adventurous fee structures — particularly in central London, which has more than its fair share of wealthy singles. Most matchmakers I came across were clearly seeking wealthy, international clients, typically with offices in Mayfair. The one I picked appeared more down to earth, its premises located outside central London. Her own eyes narrowed. But a month later, her calendar miraculously opened up. If we took a fee from every person who contacted us, then we would probably be retired by now. This was, apparently, the norm in these higher-end dating arrangements: Here, a deeper truth about the way this exclusive dating world works was revealed: Daniel Pembrey is an author and freelance features writer.
Her own eyes narrowed. I was drawn to the idea of a personalised service that would be discreet yet effective, so I used the web instead to search for a traditional matchmaker. One of the very first matches was the most promising: Take your time; look at other options, she advised, while emailing me teaser profiles: 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. Before long, I asked for a partial refund and you can guess how that went. If we took a fee from every person who contacted us, then we would probably be retired by now. Here, a deeper truth about the way this exclusive dating world works was revealed: Within six months, my matchmaker had gone on maternity leave and was replaced by two other staff members. None of this adequately explains why per cent of the fees needed to be paid up front. In exclusive dating as in life generally, much comes down to happenstance. Targeting vs the comfort of crowds Most dates were pleasant enough. 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. And keep your sense of humour. Just how unbalanced could things get on this expensive dating journey? But a month later, her calendar miraculously opened up. Certainly I was persuaded that it would be odd, and probably indeed impossible, to pay a financial bounty upon meeting a romantic partner. I was about to find out. Discretion and privacy are understandably sought by all involved, making it hard to get a reliable gauge of the success rate of these services before joining — or even indeed how they operate. Moving in together, marriage? Champagne, that ever reliable pick-me-up. It was pounds, of course; we were sitting in a Chelsea pub, not in the West Village. For everybody else, my advice would be to consider your alternatives. A contrarian, non-commercial streak in me embraced the romanticism of it all. Understandably, everyone wants to put their best side forward on paper and in photos; profiles tended to be of little use ahead of dates.
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