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. More than half the UK population is now single, according to the Office for National Statistics, and the largely unregulated dating industry is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds. Matchmaking services are emerging with increasingly adventurous fee structures — particularly in central London, which has more than its fair share of wealthy singles. 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.
Most of my London social set had settled into family life by the time I returned, and I knew I needed to consider other ways to meet a partner. I soon eschewed online dating , which struck me as too time consuming and unpredictable. For years, people did not seem to know who they were meeting online, where photos and profiles could be notoriously misleading.
Then, Tinder came along. Tinder interacts with Facebook , making it more likely that you will identify others you know when dating online.
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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. Most matchmakers I came across were clearly seeking wealthy, international clients, typically with offices in Mayfair.
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The one I picked appeared more down to earth, its premises located outside central London. She was well spoken, in her early thirties, attractive and not pushy. Part of my brain began turning: At our first meeting, we discussed everything you might expect: Then, a house call. My matchmaker informed me that, to get to know me, she needed to visit my home.
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Exactly how all this fed into the matchmaking process, I never would come to know, aside from it perhaps confirming that I was good for the fees. 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.
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? 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.
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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: Soul fusion is ideal for the uk's leading packaging company of vip aircraft.
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