We are the generation of time poor women. With so much to juggle – work, family, relationships, friends, social life and what I like to call “life admin” – finding love has become second priority. We just don’t have the time or patience to suffer through the intolerable first dates, guys who try to chat us up at bars, parties or other social gatherings or guys that just keep looking because they are too scared to say hi. I mean really – is there a sign on my forehead saying “Caution: Her name is Medusa, she has snakes for hair and she will turn you to stone.”? Look I know my hair is super curly but seriously no venomous snakes reside there! I promise! But with the help of technology and third parties willing to do the due diligence for you (for a fee of course), an opportunity arises to delegate the task of finding the one without leaving the office or your home when you feel like staying in and binge watching romantic comedies and 90s teen flicks (maybe the last one is just me).
Here’s my review of the top methods for finding love in unconventional (although in some cases this is the new norm) ways. The opinions here are based on my experiences and the experiences of my friends. Be warned: This isn’t the kind of thing fairy tales are made of and a small piece of my hopeless romantic heart dies a little each time I think about it but such is the world we live in!These are in no particular order.
So this blessed app has been around for a while. I’ve personally known about its existence since 2012 but I think it has been around much longer. If I could describe it in one word it would be “convenient”.
If you are new on the singles scene, Tinder is a dating app. Profiles of people within a selected proximity of your location will pop up – swipe right if you are interested, swipe left if you are not. You can filter the results by setting any age settings as well. Overall, it is pretty easy to use. You create your profile – if you don’t have time to do that it can just copy your FB profile, choose the hottest photo you can find of yourself and within minutes, without even leaving the office or your home, you are chatting with multiple options. The game is simple – swipe right if you think the guy has potential (however you choose to define that potential) and swipe left if not interested. The upside is you are not at a loss for options. The downside is there are a LOT of frogs in that pond! Personally I would call the whole activity outsourcing a booty call as opposed to outsourcing love. But hey, you could be an exception to the rule. Or, you might not be looking for love. You might not even be looking for a relationship. In which case, be free! Have fun with all that tinder has to offer! Having said all that, the reality is 50 million peoplereportedly use Tinder and as of February 2015, over 60% of these people were men. So laws of probability would say that at least some of them are interested in more than a hook up. Right? My experience and the experience of my friends has not supported that theory but hey I would love to hear a tale of a tinder love story!
This app is very similar to Tinder. The key difference is the people that show up on your screen are people whose paths you have crossed. For any Americans, this is like an online version of “Missed Connections”. I think it has a certain appeal to it as it is likely to appeal to the romantics who saw someone randomly but didn’t have the courage to speak to that person they were admiring from afar. Having said that, in the same way you come across all sorts when you are out with the girls at a bar or dinner it is very hit and miss with this app. But it is a lot of fun. How does it compare to say Tinder? I think the crowd is better on HappN. Don’t get me wrong HappN has its share of disappointing men but the pool of men is a little less depressing.
3. Matchmaking services
So this one has gained traction recently but in reality it has been around since the days of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility! Although it has evolved since then. Back then a nosy old woman had a lot of connections and knew a handsome well to do man and would introduce him to someone from the same “class”. Nowadays it comes in different forms:
(a) Matchmaking agencies for professionals: This involves you paying a substantial fee to a matchmaker who sets you up with compatible partners based on what you are looking for. The matchmakers have a database full of professional men and women. Each person has to fill in an extensive questionnaire so the matchmaker can profile all candidates and introduce their clients to suitable matches. But beware! As reputable as these agencies seem I have heard some nightmare stories. Ultimately these matchmakers do not conduct the due diligence you would think. On top of that my friendsthat have used them feel that they couldn’t care less whether you met someone. All they care about is their fee and they always ask for it upfront. I’ve had friends set up with guys who are already in relationships, have guys cancel on them before their first date and been reduced to tears by the matchmakers claiming to help them because when they called the matchmakers out for not delivering the services they were paid for they told them that the problem was that they were not good enough to be in relationships. That they were unworthy of being loved. Then there are the horror stories of agencies whose conduct is so heinous that the NSW Supreme Court has characterised it to be unconscionable conduct. The reality is,despite what these agencies say, they are no different from online dating other than the fact that someone claims to do a lot of due diligence and takes a significant fee (usually at least $5000) to do absolutely nothing. Nobody needs to go through that level of emotional trauma. In my view you are better off taking your chances online.
(b) Online matchmaking websites targeted at different ethnic groups: Perhaps the most famous one is the Indian Shaadi.com. I have a few Indian friends and it seems to be the agency of choice for Indians living abroad who want to set their kids up with “suitable matches”. The website says it is for people in the UK but I have heard of people from Australia and the US using it. Of course every ethnic group has their online agency and they all work in much the same way. Your details are on a website, you get matched up and you explore the possibility of whether the person you arematched with could be the love of your life.
4. The Chinese Marriage Market (You know if you are Chinese or at least your parents live in China)
When SK-II released their #changedestiny movement ad campaign earlier this year showcasing a gut wrenching video (see video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irfd74z52Cw) about the Chinese Marriage Market Takeover it resonated with me.
I’m not Chinese but as a professional single woman it definitely struck a chord. I actually cried and that doesn’t happen often. Why? Because it shone a light on all the expectations society placed on women. And to be honest with you, it isn’t just Chinese women. If you really think about it, every single woman (no matter her age, career or ethnicity) faces this pressure from society to get married. The Chinese call unmarried women over the age of 25 “sheng nu” or “leftover woman”. In western society once women get into their 30s and are still single the attitude is (albeit at times not said) is that she is an “old maid” or a “spinster”.Society is perpetually obsessed with a woman’s marital status. For example, if you are like me and you are in your 30s, the first question you get asked is “Are you married?” Even at work. When I respond with “No” the reaction is one of the following: “How is that possible? How are you single?” or my personal favourite “What is wrong with you?”
The marriage market might be a rather confronting means of looking for love, given it involves your parents effectively placing a personals ad in a public place with your photo but how is it any different from your family or friends trying to set you up with someone?
I asked a Chinese friend of mine about the marriage market and she said it wasn’t unheard of or uncommon for parents to place an ad (even today) to try to set up their children. She also mentioned that some Chinese women do find their partners that way. So I guess it’s an option.
5. Speed Dating
One of my close friends in Sydney, *Miranda* went to a lot of speed dating events when she was single. The buy in for *Miranda* was that it was an efficient way of dating. You go to one of these events, you spend about 5-8 minutes talking to at least 15 guys in an evening and you decide whether or not you want to see any of them again by noting whether you are interested in the ‘scorecard’. If both people are keen to meet up their details are exchanged and they get in touch with one another through the organisers of the speed dating event.
I’ve personally always viewed theseevents as being far too much like a networking function that you are obligated to go to for work. Being a solicitor in private practice that whole set up doesn’t appeal to me. But *Miranda* met her now boyfriend at one of those speed dating events and she is blissfully happy with the guy. So she made me swear to try at least one speed dating event. I reluctantly agreed. When a speed dating event came up I dragged two other single gal pals of mine and the three of us went to the event. Needless to say we left feeling pretty depressed because we thought please don’t let this be all that is left in Sydney. The three of us agreed the night was a bust and the words “never again” were uttered at least 10 times in a time span of about 5 minutes. My friend *Vicki* said “I’m sorry but did that guy actually think he had a shot? I mean look at me and then look at yourself buddy. It aint happening.”
If you don’t mind the vibe that comes from a speed dating event and you want an efficient way of dating, then by all means give it a shot. *Miranda* went to several speed dating events for years. She was in a couple of relationships with guys she met at those events including her current boyfriend and she is really happy.
So what’s my take on this?
A client of mine once said that I was a hopeless romantic at heart.My friends and everyone who knows me say the same. I have a tough exterior and come across as cynical and perhaps a little jaded but at heart I probably am a hopeless romantic. So perhaps it comes as no surprise that outsourcing love is something I would advocate from a logical perspective but my entire adult life the “universe” has rejected the notion of me finding love this way. If I was truly honest I would probably agree. I’m the person who wants to tell her kids that she met their dad at a café or an airport lounge (by the way, great pickup place) or at the gym even. Or even better, maybe I could get hit by a car and this guy is the one who helps me.Serendipity. For me that is at the very core of a great love story.
But the logical and entrepreneurial side of me steps in and I think why not diversify your portfolio and try out the other options out there. Keep the gateway open for the serendipitous way but pursue outsourcing as let’s face it life is pretty busy. Best case scenario you meet the love of your life and if you like you can tell everyone you met at your local café or something. Worst case scenario the man ends up being a giant douche and you never see or speak to each other again.
In the meantime, as the universe steers me into some cosmic collision with the love of my life, I’m going to use Nikki Goldstein’s label and say I’m #singlebutdating!