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Regardless, I set to work on defining Miss Right more thoroughly: She enjoys walking, family, socialising. I set an age range, attached photos of women I fancied and hit Send. Less straightforward was my attempt to get that profile memorialised in the contract somehow. Yet my matchmaker was very good at not using aggressive sales tactics. Take your time; look at other options, she advised, while emailing me teaser profiles: In any other realm finding a home, hiring a key staff member I would never entertain paying all of the fees up front, with no part contingent on the basic delivery of the service let alone a successful outcome.
However, matchmaking is different. It deals in affairs of the heart.
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A contrarian, non-commercial streak in me embraced the romanticism of it all. Certainly I was persuaded that it would be odd, and probably indeed impossible, to pay a financial bounty upon meeting a romantic partner. Moving in together, marriage?
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None of this adequately explains why per cent of the fees needed to be paid up front. This was never convincingly answered, perhaps because my agency never needed to. 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.
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Her own eyes narrowed. Finally I offered alcohol. Champagne, that ever reliable pick-me-up. 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.
Online dating services such as Match. It makes conversation easier as you immediately have something in common with your fellow attendees. There are practical considerations at play too. Courtship in these elite circles is often a matter of logistics. Clients have the best experience if we work around their existing schedule.
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It all sounds very glamorous, but when it comes down to it, arranging dates around packed itineraries can be very challenging. Almost straight away, I was paired with Jennifer, who worked in finance in Manhattan and also did a bit of back and forth across the pond. I was staying in Chelsea and suggested dinner in Del Posto, an amazing Italian restaurant. It was a great first date that spawned a seven-month relationship.
The key is rigorous profiling, says Mairead Molloy, global director of Berkeley International. Molloy is not the only one bringing impressive credentials to the table — MacLynn moved into matchmaking in following a career in business psychology, while Seventy-Thirty founder, Susie Ambrose, ran a successful psychotherapy practice prior to setting up the company. U nsurprisingly, such expertise comes at a price that acts as the first dating filter, alone. But then, finding love is a serious business, insists MacLynn.
O nce a potential suitor has been identified, the matchmakers typically back off, though if requested, they can arrange the first date. We try not to be the overbearing aunt.
But what happens when things get serious and the romance of jet-set dating gives way to mundate yet crucial considerations, such as where to set up a home together - or, should the patter of tiny feet follow, where the children go to school. How do you even countenance settling down when you are constantly on the move? Many of the women we deal with have the kind of skills and careers which mean they can work anywhere in the world. The couple have been happily married for 18 months.