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.
One curiosity throughout these match-made dates was that I, the man, invariably felt an obligation to foot all bar and restaurant bills.
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This was, apparently, the norm in these higher-end dating arrangements: the male pays. 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: women significantly outnumber men at the more expensive agencies. 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.
My eyes widened.
Dating Experiences in London - Part 2
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.
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It makes conversation easier as you immediately have something in common with your fellow attendees. Traditional matchmakers are entering the space as well. 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.
Other newcomers in the traditional matchmaking space have also sought to offer more flexible fees arrangements. 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.
Personal Finance. Daniel Pembrey March 11, Reuse this content opens in new window. Promoted Content.
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