These men - actors, plastic surgeons, bankers, lawyers, entrepreneurs - not only don't have time to meet women, they've had enough of dating model types who are just after their money. Champagne, that ever reliable pick-me-up. Men say they want intelligent, independent women who are their equal in every way, but do they, really? In exclusive dating as in life generally, much comes down to happenstance. However, matchmaking is different. For years, people did not seem to know who they were meeting online, where photos and profiles could be notoriously misleading. If we took a fee from every person who contacted us, then we would probably be retired by now. After about ten minutes, a man asks if I need help. Why should this be, in an era of greater gender equality? He orders me another glass of champagne, and tells me about his ex-wife. She tells me where my prospective date went to school and college, lists his many degrees, tells me he is 6ft 2in, divrced with no children, and is the CEO of a bank. Understandably, everyone wants to put their best side forward on paper and in photos; profiles tended to be of little use ahead of dates. When he arrives I am disappointed: 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. I have never before even been set up by friends or been on a blind date.
I'm not interested in the boring banker types that make up the bulk of her clients. As I am chauffered through the streets, alone yet again, I comfort myself with the realisation that I could, if I'd really wanted, have landed my very own Mr Big. He lives between London and Oxford. She never sends clients photos, but instead supplies a brief resume of their qualities. He stands up; there is little difference. Irish by birth, and having made a fortune in hotels, she now divides her time between Cannes and London. Rich pickings in my search for Mr Right Updated: And so, just before Christmas, I meet Mairead Molloy. 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. For years, people did not seem to know who they were meeting online, where photos and profiles could be notoriously misleading. I was drawn to the idea of a personalised service that would be discreet yet effective, so I used the web instead to search for a traditional matchmaker. Don't you fancy the over-groomed, immaculate Manhattan type? He calls me, and I don't like his voice, which is on the soprano side. For everybody else, my advice would be to consider your alternatives. 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. But, after a few minutes, and much to my surprise, I start to enjoy his company immensely. Men say they want intelligent, independent women who are their equal in every way, but do they, really? Exactly how all this fed into the matchmaking process, I never would come to know, aside from it perhaps confirming that I was good for the fees. This is how it works. God, I think, this is awkward. Her own eyes narrowed. One of the very first matches was the most promising: My first date takes place in London. Then, a house call. Daniel Pembrey is an author and freelance features writer.
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