Saturday, January 08, 2011

Finding the perfect-ish partner

In a previous post I talked about Internet dating. In fact there are many drawbacks to such a virtual strategy in finding the perfect (or merely adequate) partner. Compare the actual rather than virtual equivalent ...

In physical reality you zoom down to the disco, club or party where you are sure to encounter other people in the dating game (why else are they there?). You get a chance to physically check them out (a pretty good evolutionarily-honed filter) and if they pass muster you can engineer a quick encounter: a dance or a drink. Within ten minutes it's a rejection by one or both parties (go forth and iterate the process!) or you have the basis for developing some kind of relationship. If you feel nervous about it all, have a few drinks first.

In Internet dating, the process is much, much slower. It takes far longer even to get to physically meet. And then the basis for arranging a meeting leverages far less information, and that of dubious quality (what did you really write about yourself? Which photo did you use?). Finally there's a lot of stone-cold sober involved in getting to that first encounter ... it's got to be nerve-racking.

I sometimes think that the only people who can actually make Internet Dating work are those people who really have no need of it at all. The owners who run these profitable sites are like the proprietors of gyms: many pay their subscriptions but few get to call.

The alternative is match-making. In "actual reality" many people meet their partners through the good offices of friends who "know someone who would be a good match for you" or through working in an environment where soulmates are likely to hang out.

The Internet equivalent is the Internet Introduction Agency. You will meet with an advisor and based on their assessment of you, they will suggest suitable prospective dates and facilitate the arrangements. The nerves are, I suspect, mostly the initial interview and that's not a date at all.

Here's a list of Introduction Agencies for professionals with their charges. At the top-end you could pay more than £10,000 to avoid having to pair-off with any old riff-raff. If the global elite is too constricting a social base for you, rest-assured that alternatives are cheaper: Drawing Down the Moon will be familiar to Guardian readers over the years.