define('DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT', true); define('DISALLOW_FILE_MODS', true); mX Column: The New Online Dating | $30 Date Night
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MX Columns

mX Column: The New Online Dating

Outsourcing is de rigueur in our technologically savvy world.

There are personal organisers, personal stylists and people to mow your lawn.

Virtual Dating Assistants

And now you can even outsource your dating life – or at least the more annoying aspects of it.

Online Dating consultants will, for a fee, do the hard work it takes you to get a date.

Trawling the online dating services, they whisper sweet nothings with a keystroke and do the all-important preliminary chit-chat.

From flicking emails back and forth and taking care of wink-management (if you’re not familiar with online dating, think the poke function on Facebook), you don’t have to worry about a thing except for turning up to your real-life date on time.

Considering it takes two separate professionals to do this job, it’s no wonder us mere mortals are finding it difficult.

US company Virtual Dating Assistants employs full-time ‘openers’ to get the e-conversation going, which is followed up by a completely different group of ‘closers’ when it’s time to seal the date deal.

These virtual love gurus will create your profile, retouch your photos and pre-screen your candidate list to present you with a shortlist of date leads.

And, for a hefty $720 a month they’ll even guarantee you two dates a month.

The online dating community spent a long time building trust. The early days were full of horror stories; how could we trust that people were who they said they were? What incentive did anyone have to be honest about who they were and what they looked like in a faceless virtual world?

My friend E had a date recently with a man who said online he was in his early 40s, but turned out, upon meeting, to be her father’s age.

The concept of Virtual Dating Consultants is morally ambiguous at best, and only add to the confusion of who we are online.

Imagine sitting down to dinner with someone you thought you’d sparked with online. You’re under the impression that you’ve been trading witty, flirty emails for weeks. That there’s chemistry with this person.

Meanwhile, they have just for the first time read a briefing sheet on you an half an hour before they arrived.

They have no emotional connection with you – sure, they’ve read the emails their virtual assistant sent, but they struggle to recall the details of these in full. Because they didn’t write them.

I think most people would feel cheated.

However, there is one argument for outsourcing your love life: If it gets you there, sitting in front of what turns out to be the love of your life, what harm is really done?

Perhaps it’s the collateral that you might gather along the way that warrants a bit more consideration.

First published in mX newspaper on Friday August 6, 2010.

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Writer, dating columnist, wife, coffee addict, foodie, fashionista... Melburnian through and through. Muser, dancer, blogger, tweeter. Likes to get her head on telly now and again. Sleeper, dreamer, a sucker for romance. And of course... a cheap date.


4 comments for “mX Column: The New Online Dating”

  1. Posted by David Patrick | August 9, 2010, 11:21 pm

    Wow, that’s like having someone coaching you from the bushes. The fall in love with words of another person. Might as well date the consultant.

  2. Posted by Kimberley | August 10, 2010, 5:38 pm

    Hmm, I don’t really like this idea. I mean, it just would come across SO phony if it was found out that a profile was ‘professionally’ written you know? It would just seem all too, well, fake and that doesn’t bode well for a great first impression.

  3. Posted by Emma | August 11, 2010, 9:22 pm

    @David – good analogy!

    @Kimberley – it’s definitely not a good way to start a relationship is it?

    These people would be better off learning how to woo prospective loves themselves rather than paying other people to do it for them, don’t you think?

  4. Posted by Angello | November 23, 2010, 5:10 am

    When i was in my country the word “dating” was a fancy western thing. we were pretty much made our choices between love marriage and arranged marriage… “online dating” … no wonder ma mum was freakd out when i was leaving to aussi to continue ma higher studies…let me send this article to her and see her reaction..:)

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