My First and Only Experience With a Dating Service
The Old-Fashioned Dating Service
With the advent of online dating, the dating service seemed to fade away, but it is making a comeback. Most of us have probably tried one or more online dating sites but few have used an actual dating service. A dating service can be expensive but it does have its benefits. For one thing, you're basically guaranteed to meet high-quality individuals. Also, they take a lot of the grunt work, like choosing a place and making arrangements, off of your hands. That being said, overall, I'm not a completely happy customer. I'm not completely unhappy either, but I probably wouldn't recommend it to a friend.
The dating service I opted for was It's Just Lunch and it was far from being a magic pill. I never would have guessed I'd experience what I did, so I'll share it with you. My intention is not to discourage anyone from trying a dating service but to give you the benefit of what I found out through experience. This may come as a surprise but none of this stuff was printed in their brochures. I hope that you find this helpful or, at the very least, you get a laugh out of it.
A little over a year ago, I realized I had spent the previous two years in celibacy. This unpleasantness started after a tough break-up. I was just over 40 and decided I didn't want to deal with relationships anymore. Two years later, I came to realize just how long "anymore" was and said to myself, "I sure do miss sex. Maybe I can give it another try." I thought, I'll be smart this time. I'll invest in a dating service. I researched the one I wanted. I was satisfied that it was a quality establishment even though there was no way to find out the rates without calling. So, I figured it was time to give them a ringy-dingy.
I called and spoke with a match maker. She was quite perky and friendly as I expected. I told her my age and then I noticed a change in the tone of her voice. The best way I can describe it is that it sounded as if I'd just dangled a steak in front of her and she was coming off a week-long hunger strike. She said that I was right in the middle of their prime age group. It was about this time that she launched, as if propelled by a starting gun, into a very well-rehearsed pitch. I've had some training in marketing and sales. Evidently, so had she.
It put me off just a little but I had already decided I wanted to do this. So, I told myself, "Of course they have a pitch. They have to convince those people who don't know what they want." I gave her every "yes" that she was looking for. By the end of the 8 - 10 minute conversation, I was signed, sealed, and delivered. So, I authorized the charges for just about 12 hundred bucks. Don't judge. What had I gotten for all that money you ask? I had a year-long membership to the service with an additional 3 months added because they were having a Valentine's Day special. Ain't that cute?
Right about now most of you are probably thinking "suckah!!!" but I worked at a job where the only people I spoke to all day were married, I didn't have much time for social interaction plus, I live in the Pacific Northwest. Men are so freaking polite here that I can't tell the difference between one who wants to ask me out or one who wants the last doughnut. I guess I'm weird, but I like men who act like men. At this point I would have been happy to have a man who acted like a fire engine so I paid the woman. I say again, don't judge.
So, to clarify what "the service" is, they promise no fewer than 12 dates, in my case 15 because of the special. By "date" they mean they will pick out a person for you based on your preferences, they will choose a time and place, and then contact you and your date. Once both of you have agreed on the time and place, the arrangements are made and all you have to do is show up. Once I paid my fee, the match maker set up an interview with me. I live far from her office so we opted for Skype, though normally she'd have done a face-to-face. I will say this: the interview was fun. She asked me all manner of questions about myself, my ideal mate and what kind of things I did and didn't like to do. We had some laughs in the process, and all in all it was a good time.
I ended the interview in rock-solid optimism. She was taking notes. I was honest and very specific. What could go wrong? The first date seemed to confirm of all this, too. I met the guy at a wine bar, he was tall, good looking and interesting. We had a great date, lots of laughs and the conversation flowed freely for a good 90 minutes. We exchanged numbers. An overall success. So, of course at this point I turned into a complete spaz. I shook his hand and said "take care," then I bolted for the bathroom because I really had to pee. DON'T JUDGE! I told you people it'd been over two years. I never heard from the guy again.
But I wasn't discouraged yet. Part of the service includes a follow-up call a day or so later so I can give feed back. I figured this would help them select an even better date for me the next time just as my match maker said it would. So an assistant called me and I told her it had gone well and he has attractive and I liked this and that, etc. She was very engaging and asked leading questions. I figured this would be how all the follow-up calls would go in the future.
So I waited for the next date. It came a few weeks later with, oh, let's call him "Melvin". However, the service later cancelled it because of scheduling conflicts. So I was set up with another gentleman. This date was your garden variety disaster.
I hit traffic on the way to the restaurant. I pulled over and called and left a message for my date, then I got lost. So I got there 20 or 30 minutes late, feeling bad but thinking "I did the right thing, I called, it's not a tragedy." This lovely gentleman did little to conceal his irritation. When I apologized, he said nothing. I remember thinking "if you get that angry when your date is late, I think I can guess why you're single." He told me he wasn't feeling well because he'd run a half marathon that morning. Why would you schedule a first date the same day? But we limped through it. Luckily I drank 2 beers with dinner since I found I was the one burdened with keeping the conversation going. I'll say this for him, he was tall.
Other than that, he was the stark opposite of my previous date. It was now that I began to wonder how effective my "feedback" was. But, I decided it was a fluke and would keep positive and enthusiastic for the next date.
Then I met "Edward". No, I'm not using anyone's real names, folks. We had a great time! Eureka! The feedback worked! We had a great conversation and we really clicked. We even made tentative plans for a second date. I thought, "Wow, we're on a roll now! I hope she's got more guys like him lined up for me!" I'll tell you the rest of the story on Edward some other time if you find you're eager to hear it. We didn't end up together but it wasn't a total loss either.
Now I've had a great date! I'm chomping at the bit for more! A different assistant called for my feedback and I was sure to tell her how much I liked Edward. Her tone seemed a little indifferent but I just figured that was a touch of the "Seattle Freeze". Now I was wondering who I'd get to meet next.
A couple weeks go by and the service calls to set me up with Melvin again, his schedule freed up. I was crestfallen. I had nothing against Melvin, it just became clear to me that despite all my feedback, my match maker still didn't have me on the fast track to meet more guys like Edward. Oh well, why not give Melvin a chance. You never know, right?
I have to admit, Melvin was a fun date. We laughed quite a bit and he was pleasantly chatty. I'd totally hang out with him again. I felt absolutely zero attraction to Melvin. Strike two for Melvin came when he said his weekends were either spent at work or with his parents. I'm guessing that's why he had to cancel our first date. Well, mamma's boy or not, I had a good time with Melvin. I would recommend him to any of the fine ladies who stand under 5'4".
Now that Melvin's out of the way, I get to meet more Edward types, right? That's surely what will happen. My match maker is carefully honing in on the perfect guy for me! Three or four weeks go by before I get another call. She must have really taken her time to pick me out a great one!
I get to the date at this great little Italian place. The food was delicious! I had this seafood pasta alfredo dish with fresh local crab ... you 'gettin the picture folks? "Adam" wasn't a disaster. Adam wasn't a dream. Adam was, let's see, if people were colors, Adam would be beige. I would almost have said that Adam was the complete antitheses of everything I had described to my match maker as my ideal mate.
He was decent and polite and made an effort to converse but he had no spine and it was obvious from the first minute to the last. At the end of the date, he seemed like he couldn't get out of there fast enough. We shook hands just outside the restaurant. He seemed quite disturbed when we had to walk in the same direction to get to our respective cars. He then walked really fast and veered off awkwardly just to avoid me. It was a little uncomfortable.
I was quite disheartened. I put off the feedback call for 2 weeks because I didn't feel confident that I could give feedback without sounding angry. I tried to stay positive for a while but kept imagining another evening wasting half a tank of gas and money for dinner out just to have another guy run away from me like he thought I had rabies. I put my membership on hold. What that means is, they won't call you for any more dates until you remove the hold. However, your clock is still ticking and there are no refunds.
After some thought I realized that someone with a devious mind might say that I just paid for services not rendered. Maybe they sent me out on some bad dates thinking they wouldn't have to earn the rest of their steep fees. Someone with a devious mind might think such a thing.
Another thing that bothered me later was that in their monthly newsletter, they chose a bachelor and bachelorette of the month. I noticed that both were always unattainably attractive and I don't remember seeing one bachelorette who wasn't blonde. For what it's worth, it started to remind me of high school. I got the impression that if you didn't fit in to a certain predetermined mold, you wouldn't be featured. How was that fair to the rest of us?
Well, that's my dating service story, folks. I'd be happy to answer questions about it if you'd like more details about the service and what they do. Again, my intention is not to discourage you from trying it. This was just the experience I had. I hope you found this helpful or comical or both. My sincerest wishes of luck to those of you still looking for your soulmate! You deserve to find each other!
© 2017 Liz Portelle