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How to choose a GOOD Dating Agency

Updated on September 15, 2015

Some background knowledge first!

Dating agencies today are no longer the traditional Introduction agency of the 1940's to 1980's. Back then, predominantly they used by people seeking marriage. Dating was not something someone would have used an agency for. The real purpose behind introduction agencies was MARRIAGE. However, "introductions agencies" have changed since the 1940s when one of the most famous introduction agencies in the UK was formed. Better known then as a Marriage Bureau, which was owned and operated by Heather Jenner and Mary Oliver. The marriage bureau was founded in 1939 in Mayfair, central London, where they met, vetted and interviewed men and women who were seeking a husband or wife. Right up till the late late 1970s Heather Jenner was a highly regarded and respected matchmaker who matched High-Society girls with members of the aristocracy for the sole intention of marriage. Since then introduction and dating agencies have diluted their success and services by including all kinds of possible connotations, where marriage is usually last on the list.

Today's introduction agency opens its door to as many people as possible, they have to, because a data-base needs to be filled so they can operate. This does not mean an agency will not "try" to be as selective as possible, just that when it comes to MEN, regardless of the agency and their intentions, they will always meet with some challenges, as good men, high-caliber men are always a rarer gem to find. Secondly, one does not have to be looking for marriage. The agency may need to gain an additional source of opposite sex matches for their clients, especially where an agency offers "pre-set" numbers - when you see guaranteed numbers, beware, because it generally means the service is matching to meet obligations in numbers opposed to "real matching" where a life-relationship is more likely to be achieved.

You simply cannot say, a one size fits all, nor a pre-set number, as someone of 30 will always have more interest than a 60 year old, and that is where people can be mislead. It's important to mention this, as many people (especially females) are under the impression that an "introduction agency" fulfills one purpose and works in one way only, and that is incorrect. There are many different methods employed by introduction agencies and matchmakers, but most, 99% are membership services, some will throw in one or two searches, but overall they are data-base driven. A custom-tailored service where they search, screen and select potential partners from the outset, according to specific relationship criteria, will be the main objective, and what two people seek relationship wise is the KEY factor for good matching. All GOOD agencies should meet their clients face-to-face and take all the necessary precautions to ensure that they can provide the right level of service for the clients’ requirements.

Options and how introduction services work

MAINSTREAM AN ALL WALKS OF LIFE SERVICE: Which means not unlike "internet dating" the service will almost accept anyone to register with them. Nearly all of these services are driven by an IN-HOUSE data-base, more commonly known as a membership service. Some will run events too, but these services are contained within a local area usually, but some work further afield too. However, the idea behind a membership service is on filling a data-base with single people which ideally should be a 50-50 split, but invariably isn't. Additionally some agencies offer FREE sign-ups, complimentary membership, free introductions to MEN as it is always more challenging to find high-caliber males being pro-active and looking for commitment.

The sad fact is when internet dating sprung up 10-15 years ago, most who went online were more inclined to be looking for a relationship - NOT now. This has filtered through society so we have more and more singles looking for the casual, quick fling as with Tinder and the likes "casual physical relationships" this has made it far easier for men to play the field for longer and without any real need to court a woman romantically or commit.

With more and more females also seeing "physical intimacy" as fun, or making them equal to men, well hoorah...but, it has also had a knock on effect that has left women finding it really challenging to find men who actually want a relationship. This is not a judgement, but fact, however, this has left people who are looking for commitment and a genuine relationship in a less favorable position of choice and the amount of men actually seeking out commitment.

Giving FREE dates, what is wrong with that?

So what is wrong with giving FREE dates to men, if a data-base service is short of men for their female clients. Everything! Let me explain. If you reduce your service to that of internet dating, where "free" is dangled to attract men, the service will end up with men very similar to that of internet dating. You simply can't make men "commitment minded" by given them free dates, it actually exacerbates the problem. Men and women looking for a matchmaker or agency should both have some kind of financial and emotional investment into the process, this makes it fair and more likely for people to be on the same commitment level.

Dating agencies always offer "dates" and rarely talk of marriage on their websites, and this does not help - as everything is geared towards dating, but dating is really just that, it does not mean someone is looking for a relationship. If people just want to meet the opposite sex for some dates, why pay a HIGH fee for what you can do yourself?

Recruiting single men from bars and events is another "trick of dating agencies" use when needing extra men for female clients. And we all know commitment minded men are in a smaller pool of people, so keep this in mind. ASK the agency if they operate by sending commissioned based recruiters out to scout for men this way...

FACT: Men do not need to be as pro-active as women, and even less so as they mature. A successful attractive man of 45, 50 or 55 will have a wider reach than a female of the same age and qualities - Again this is fact, it's the way men and women are naturally programmed.

Females who join such agencies are not always informed of this method. Which they should be. As it creates a TWO-TIER system making the female usually the only paying member. And most importantly, if you're female and looking for a husband, where you've been on numerous dates already through online dating which led nowhere, the last thing you want is to use a service who is not going to do much more than you can achieve yourself.

Membership - In House Data-Base Services

Beware of the service that shows you profiles as soon as you walk through the door - it may seem promising, but remember "everyone" who walks through that door that will be shown the same profiles, as though all one needs is to see a profile of the opposite sex and they're automatically a match, as you can bet the agency will be suggesting they are.

You cannot offer pre-set numbers to a client IF they themselves are NOT within a pool of people that makes them reasonably easy to match. Let me give you some examples. Females over 34 but under 42 who may have young children under 13, always more challenging to match, men or women who have never had a long term relationship, lived with anyone and they are 40 or 45 - Women who have been career focused, very successful and a high-earner between the age of 35-45 are notoriously challenging to match, as they don't want to meet anyone who's been married, and the man must earn a certain amount. Men who are under 5'7", people who may be overweight. Men having never married reaching 50-55 and now want marriage and a family. Females of 50, 55 or over, and of course females looking for marriage and a family - all these areas need a different approach to just matching a few hobbies and interests. Everyone is an individual with different relationship experiences and relationship goals, this is why pre-set numbers do NOT cover all these issues above.

You cannot have both quantity and quality I'm afraid, so you have to decide if you prefer better matching but fewer introductions, or go with a service who's aim is to get as many people as possible in front of you.

If you go to an expert, they should be "using" their expertise to present you in a way that will help you achieve the partner you desire. The point is, if you're going to use an EXPERT then let them be the expert, most services still allow their clients to lead the service, and this is another reason many services fail as they work with their hands tied behind their backs.

A dating agency is just that - Its for dating!

A dating agency says what it does on the tin. It's a service for you to DATE, go on dates, meet the opposite sex for dating. Dates are not difficult to find, anyone can go online and set up several dates. Keep in mind people DATE everyday all over the world, but ONLY a small number will ever have a relationship, most is casual and as for marriage that is a fraction of the whole single community. And most people do NOT date to walk down the aisle or live with someone, so you must keep some realistic perspective.

If people want a life-partner or marriage they must choose a service which offers what they're looking for. It's simple really, if you wanted to buy an Aston Martin would you go to a car showroom that doesn't even have Aston Martins, no of course not, finding a life partner is no different...choose a dating service you will end up dating.

Never be fooled by Life-Time Membership

Not even online dating does this so really ask yourself what can you truly expect from a service who offers such methods. Again this is to lure people in as it makes them feel safe - but it's a FALSE security, as a service like this knows the chances of matching you expertly is unlikely, and the likelihood of you walking off into the sunset even less so. Which is why they offer lifetime membership, they just want to gain numbers/bodies in their data-base.

The whole point of going to a PROFESSIONAL MATCHMAKER is because you want someone who's an expert,someone who has the skills, training and expertise to match you sooner rather than later, where they feel they can do this on as FEW introductions as possible. A service who matches people on 1 or 2 introductions, may be 3 proves their expertise is superior to a service who has to offer and sometimes force it's clients to go on 10, 12 dates. My advice is, IF you just want to date without any real relationship goal "currently" use internet dating as to spend a considerable amount of money for a service that is not going to do much more than you can do yourself is pointless.

Bespoke Services and Bespoke Matchmakers

Bespoke means from a blank canvas, no items, service, product that is ready made, off the peg or on a list. Bespoke means the person to whom you are providing the service to is being individually provided for. Agencies use two terms, bespoke and personal, so ask them to define their meaning of this. If the say they personally search for you - ASK do they mean through their in-house data-base or by custom tailoring searches for you to find specifically people who match what YOU seek? And if you're a assigned a personal matchmaker- ASK about her previous experience as a matchmaker, what relationship training she has. Also ensure you're NOT being charged a higher fee for a "Bespoke Service" if all they mean by this they are searching through their members. Because if YOU are paying a higher fee due to you choosing their BESPOKE option, and you are being matched using the same data-base as other members paying £2000 less, then WHY are you paying a higher fee. You need to ASK when using a bespoke service.

A bespoke service will design individual search campaigns to bring forward people matching your partner specifics and should outline to you what can be realistically achieved. A true bespoke service is NOT an off the peg service, so it enables the client to ' DEFINE' aspects that will match their own upbringing and present personal and financial lifestyle. This is a high-end alternative and people cannot compare it to a membership service, as a bespoke search service has spend a lot on "searching, placing ads in high-quality" publications and magazines that are read by by high-caliber people. This is obviously not for everyone, nor would suit everyone, as the cost to produce introductions at this level are well above the average due to the level of advertising required, and of course it reaches a smaller pool of single people, as it is NOT an all walks of life service.

The fact is if you're only paying 1, 2 or even 3 k for a 12 months service, it is VERY likely to be full of "all walks of life people" exactly the same as internet dating. At £3,000 for 12 months, that is only £250 per month which has to cover operating the service, an office, marketing, staff, utility bills and anything else that keeps the service trying to attract new members.

JIll Rhodes-Harvey Dip.Couns, EQ Certified Matchmaker

Questions YOU need to ASK!

A membership service:

  • How do they attract male clients ( if you're female)
  • Do they insist members are looking for a relationship or marriage
  • Do they except people who just want to date and meet the opposite sex
  • Do they offer free dates to men by advertising this fact
  • Do they recruit men from events
  • What is their definition of professional ( this can be misleading)
  • Do they except divorced or widowed people under one year ( never wise)
  • Do they set "communication etiquette standards " for their clients and members ( very important, as NO one should wait longer than 48 hours to be contacted once two people have agreed to meet, to wait days or weeks just shows the person may not be as engaged as you in the process.)
  • Do they present female profiles to their male clients FIRST before offering to the female, again very important, as usual etiquette standards dictate this is more successful, and in most social circles the norm.
  • Do they meet their clients face to face - some levels of service, such as passive retainers may not meet face to face, they may conduct a SKYPE video meet and for some just a phone call without seeing the person, and you need to know this.
  • Not all men using an introduction service want endless dates - those who engage FULLY into a service, time and money usually have a fairly specific criteria, especially the successful high-flyers, so YOU need to ask what how agency expects to match you, and IF you don't want to meet European, Russian or any other nationality not on your desired list, you have to ask. Many London agencies recruit young "European Females" to dangle in front of male clients, but as I have learnt NOT all want this.
  • If female and you live off the UK mainland, but have may be have another home on the UK mainland it is important you establish whether the agency would have any difficulty in asking men to meet you where your main residence is. Most men when seeking a relationship will opt for a woman who is easily accessible over the one who is not. So if this is you, you need to ensure who you engage to find you a partner takes this into account and can provide you with people who are willing to travel, or at least at some point.
  • Do they or will they ever ASK you to be part of an editorial publicity campaign - again important, especially if you do not want anyone to know you're using an agency.
  • If they hire staff, consultants, matchmakers what are their professional backgrounds. Perhaps being an investment banker, lawyer, business analyst or business psychologist requires a high level of academia, absolutely, but they are not relationship based disciplines.
  • Finally, how do they match their clients, what are the elements they use for matching, if they say hobbies and what you like to do or anything else that is "transient" then you know they are not fully aware of what is required for successful matching.

NONE of the ABOVE applies to a bespoke service as they are not using an in-house data-base, they may network and seek matches outside their own service in addition to a clients personal searches, but this is to create a wider partner opportunity. Equally male and female splits are irrelevant for a SEARCH SERVICE as clients are not meeting other clients - people are brought forward so the service does not experience the same limitations.

SUCCESS RATES:

Success rates, are also difficult to define due real success's don't happen overnight. Most long term relationships are formed over time, not within a few meetings, dates, weeks or even months. People don't meet then marry within a year or so. Therefore people must be realistic and understand this. It's usually about 3 years or so before a wedding is announced. Chemistry is down to the two people, an agency can't produce or force that. Additionally NOT all people who engage an agency are "relationship ready" or they often want to "take control" and make the decisions about introductions which can lead to them "using the same old selection process" leading to the same failed results. Providing an agency does all it can to provide meaningful introductions with the right type of people and with the same relationship goal, the success rate would be reasonably high, as by matching to specifics in my experience produces a certain synergy and a feeling of mirrored values which often cements two people together.

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