By Mitch Conway
For people on a budget, there are free dating sites like plentyoffish and okCupid. For those interested in paying a bit more, there are paid sites like Lavalife and Match.com. And for those who are short on time and willing to pay for the privilege of saving some of that time, there are professional dating services. Designed to be one-stop-shops for people looking for a relationship, professional dating services take care of every aspect of setting up date. They find out what you’re looking for in a mate, search for that kind of person, coordinate your schedules, set up the date… and generally coordinate everything so that all you have to do is show up. It’s not for everyone, and it’s expensive, but it’s also very convenient. Over the next few days I’ll go over some advice to help you get the most for your money if you choose to seek out a professional dating service.
Tip #1: Take your time and choose wisely.
Dating services stand out as an option for meeting people for many reasons. One of them is the simple fact that they can be pricey. For that reason, take your time and look at all the agencies out there before choosing one and shelling out your hard-earned cash. A reputable agency should take the time to work with you on a one-to-one basis, so you should think about how you’d like to work and choose a provider accordingly. For example, do you prefer lunch dates during the week, or weekend dinner dates? Also, you should think about the kind of person you’re looking for. Agencies have a certain clientele, so make sure that your needs match what they can offer. Spending a lot of time considering these factors upfront will save you a lot of headaches – and money – in the long run.
Tip #2: Set yourself a budget before starting.
Once you’ve chosen some dating services that you think are a good fit, starting comparing prices. While you shouldn’t shy away from a interesting option just because it’s a bit more expensive than the others, you definitely want to have a budget in mind. This budget should be a kind of “experimentation” budget. In other words, ask yourself how much you’re willing to “lose” in order to experiment with a dating service. While you should never assume the worst, you have to assume that you’re going to have to spend some money before you find your soulmate. By setting yourself a budget, you’ll become more comfortable with spending a bit of cash on a dating service, and you’ll also set yourself a point at which you’ll stop if it just isn’t working for you.
Tip #3: Write down a description of what you’re looking for in a soulmate.
The first step of a starting with a dating service is an interview where you’ll be asked questions about yourself, and what you’re looking for. You want to make the most of the interview, because that’s how the dating service will search for singles for you. So it’s a good idea to write down what you’re looking for before you begin. By taking the time to really think about what your ideal date would be like, and then writing it down, you’re going to paint a clearer picture of what you actually want in a soulmate. The better this picture is – and the closer it is to what you NEED in partner, and not what you WANT in one – the better your dates will be.
Tip #4: Get some quality face-time with a prospective service provider.
One of the great things about dating services is that you get something which is getting very rare these days: quality face-to-face time with someone (or at least, phone-to-phone time). This face-to-face time usually takes the form of an “interview,” where the dating service gets to know what you’re looking for. Make sure to squeeze all you can from this interview. Personalized service is great, so don’t let yourself be rushed at any point. Answer all the questions they have for you truthfully, but also, ask them anything you want. Take your time. Get their advice. You never know what you may learn, and the more they know about you, the better your matches will be.
Tip #5: You’re the boss, so make sure they do the work for you.
A dating service is just that: a service. You’re paying someone to look for potential matches for you – so make sure they look hard. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to be critical of matches they’ve made, to give them constructive feedback, and to do anything else that you feel will help them find great dates for you… and that will make your life a little easier. Remember, a dating service can be a great time saver if you put the onus on them to work hard for you. And they’re not just there to listen: so don’t forget to ask questions. Pick their brains and squeeze them for everything they’ve got… it’s one of the nice perks of hiring a dating service.
Tip #6: Be upfront about the fact that you’re using a dating service.
Don’t be shy about the fact that you’re using a dating service, either with the people you meet on that service, or with your friends or family. Instead, be proud of the fact that you’re taking matters into your own hands, and taking a very proactive approach to meeting people. By taking this position, you’ll come across as being confident, instead of being insecure. This will help you on the dates you get through your service: by being upfront and confident about the fact that you’re using a dating service, you’ll put your date (who may be insecure about it) at ease, and instantly break the ice. Have fun with it. Laugh about it. It’ll make your date that much more pleasant.
Tip #7: Make sure your behavior on a date is in line with your dating service.
Make sure your behavior on a date is in line with your dating service. What does that mean? Quite simply this: if you decide to go with a dating service designed for young business professionals, don’t show to up to a date you got with your service dressed in ripped jeans and an old t-shirt. Remember that by definition, a dating service is matching you up with other members of that service, which means that you’re joining a group of like-minded individuals. This is one of the big advantages of going with a service, because you have a pretty good idea of what kind of people you’re going to be matched with. So make sure that you fit in to that group.
Tip #8: provide feedback to your service provider after a date.
Don’t be afraid to provide your dating service with feedback. Their job is to match you with suitable people, and while they should be good at that (it is, after all, their livelihood), one thing they can’t do is read minds. That means that if you go on a date, and the person you were matched up with just wasn’t your type, you have to tell your dating service. Tell them exactly why the fit wasn’t good: give as many examples as you can. The better your service knows your tastes, the better they’ll be at getting you on dates with potential soulmates.
Tip #9: Don’t be afraid to ask for a credit or refund.
It’ll take some time, and a lot of constructive criticism in order for your dating service to get to know what you’re looking for. So expect a couple dates that just won’t work out, because the person just isn’t right for you. That’s perfectly normal. But if you go on several dates, and they’re all with people who just aren’t right for you, and you’ve given what you feel is a fair a mount of feedback, then don’t be afraid to ask for something back. It’s fair to ask for a credit, or even a refund. If the service is a professional one, they should give it to you, because the last thing they want is a disgruntled customer.
Tip #10: if it didn’t work for you, try another one.
If your dating service helped you find your soulmate, then give them a big thank you. But if they weren’t able to find you someone, then evaluate your experience before giving up on the idea of a dating service. If you you were happy with the process, then try another one. There are many different kinds of services out there which cater to different demographics. Each has a different group of members, and one of those members could be your soulmate. So try another one, ideally with a different philosophy. For example, if you tried a business-oriented service like It’s Just Lunch then try a more generic service to see what it does for you.
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