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Should You Use a Dating Service?

Copyright 1996 by Harlan L. Jacobsen 

I spent over 20 years researching the subject of dating, divorce, and getting your life back together after divorce, attended seminars, conventions, psychological meetings all over the country, and conducted classes on the subject myself for ten years (for a period, up to 150 per year). At each class I learned a lot from the experience of those in attendance. I have a library of over 200 books on the subject, as well as films and audio tapes. In addition, I have personal experience in running a dating service as well as friends and acquaintances who were in the business.

One of the books on the subject, The Mating Trade (written by an Australian who spent two years researching the meeting methods in the U.S.), states that the only dating service method that has any history of working successfully is those few operated by an individual, the old-fashioned matchmaker who knows both parties.

Show me one other person who ever thoroughly researched the subject who can or ever did honestly say that dating services work. The fatality rate each year of dating services going out of business alone should serve as a sharp warning.

The worst part is it all sounds so feasible and workable when salespeople (high or low pressure) selling dating services pitch a person who has been cut-off from a relationship. That person doesn’t get to talk, prior to paying his money, to hundreds of other single people who have previously invested money in the hopeful promises of meeting someone great. I have talked to thousands in my classes and the overwhelming majority’s response regarding dating services has been that they got little or nothing for a large amount of money, and those reports are over a period of time and a large number of dating services.

Let’s go back to logic and show the average reader, unacquainted with dating services, how and why they generally do not and can not deliver what they promise.

We’ll say a dating service has 1000 members. Does that 1000 members include people who signed up two years ago? The dating service salesperson, as you know, often pulls unsubstantiated numbers out of the air, but we’ll say, for discussion, that one thousand signed up in the last year (about three a day).

Today, probably only about 20% of that thousand, or 200, are still actively open to a new relationship. But let’s be liberal and say they have all had such bad luck meeting people (including through the dating service) that 500 out of the thousand are still available to some degree, even though some have been registered for a full year. We will use the premise that the average person does not like to date a person much out of a ten year age spread (exceptions, of course), but to show what we are talking about we’ll divide the 500 remaining available into five age brackets: A. 20-30, B. 30-40, C. 40-50, D. 50-60, E. 60 and up.

Once again, we will contend, despite your objection, that the history is that very few if any women register and pay a dating service in A. and practically no men at all in E., but plenty of women. We won’t go into arguing about A. and E., though, and will suppose there are equal quantities of women in A. and some quantity of men in E. The point is that with a ten year age spread compatible with myself, as the client, the 500 (theoretically equally distributed) are down to 100 of my eligible age group. Half, if equally distributed, are the wrong sex.

Now, there are 50 to match me up with. I won’t date anyone who outweighs me, and I contend an above average percentage of women in dating services are overweight, but we’ll say only 10%. Now we are down to 45.

But I won’t date anyone who smokes, and at least 25% smoke. Now we are down to 32. Twenty percent of the 32 women left insist on someone who is a "professional, has a college degree, or is financially secure." I might come close, but do not make it on any of these. Now we are down to 24 women remaining out of the thousand original members. I had two restrictions, weight and smoking, they had one. Add any more restrictions on either side and we are down further.

If we weed out anymore I’ll soon be down to ten left. I should pay hundreds of dollars to have the possibility of meeting ten women?

Unfortunately, a large percentage of the people who get into the dating service business are not well-intentioned, further increasing the probability of getting little or nothing for the money.

Therefore I conclude that those who sign up with dating services are optimists, not realists - the same people who see going to Vegas as a solution when they are broke.