The dish on dating services

Dating is not what it once was when two people met through a place of worship, mutual friends and family, their school, workplace and/or their community. People do still meet this way, but more often their dating search takes them to online dating and social networking sites and to offline dating services that act as surrogates for the social networks of the past. Dating now involves carefully crafted personal ads and utilizing a whole host of dating services that promise to connect singles to the kinds of people they seek. Finding love today is not only a lot more complex and potentially draining--it can be very expensive and disappointing as well. So what is the savvy single supposed to do?

For starters, they should spend time upfront doing research on any dating service before making a financial and time commitment. I have written many articles on how to have a more successful online dating experience and welcome you to view them on For this article I will be presenting an overview of dating services that go beyond online dating to in-person events and/or opportunities to connect, communicate and move quickly to a first meeting. I've broken them into types of services, and recommend you go through each and look at how they rank overall, how long they have been in existence, how many members they serve and what their member satisfaction rate is (if available) . It's impossible to get completely accurate statistics on each as they self-report, and some have been accused of misleading potential members with false claims and statistics. So as always, Caveat Emptor applies.

Speed Dating Services

The following services are usually ranked in the top 10 on speed dating reviews. They are not the only best ones available, but they can give you a good overall view of the range of features, membership numbers, costs, and successful connections that can be expected from speed dating providers.

* Fast Cupid- This is a hybrid speed-dating and personals site with a huge database of members. Members can customize their profiles with many more features and upgrades than other services offer. Membership is wide-spread and worldwide and there is a free account option where folks can sign up and check out different features before making a financial commitment. It doesn't offer offline, in-person meet-ups, rather it helps members connect quickly and communicate through a wide variety of options/tools.

* Hurry Date- This site offers users the option of only paying for in-person speed dating events and parties, or choose a monthly subscription which allows them to also use many other features found on their site. They are large, host events across the US and Canada, and they guarantee at least 8 potential matches from each event attended, or the next one is free.

* Speed Date- This service connects its users through many its online communication features. Its membership is vast and it boasts thousands of singles being online at all times. It does offer a trial membership, but in order to access the features used to connect with others, you must become a paying member. Many subscription plans and payment options are available to choose from. Something for everyone is supposed to be available here.

* Slow Dating- This is a UK based service only and the site is free of charge. Members pay to attend in-person events that range in cost based on location and what each offers. Slow dating rates the probability of getting a date from one of these events as very high. If you live in the UK, this could be a great one to check out.

* Pre-Dating- Membership to this site is free of charge as members only pay for the speed dating events they choose to attend. They are in more than 70 cities across the US and Canada and have a "match guarantee," and user testimonials and success stories available on their site.

* Cheeky Flirt- This service is unique for speed dating as it does not offer any offline events. It is more like the traditional online dating site model, but members hail from all over the world and have the opportunity to connect quickly and easily with far away singles from other countries or those who live nearby. Members can join for free but need to pay in order to get full access to. They offer video and non-video messaging, and community forums and message boards.You can read user testimonials and success stories that are archived on their site to get a feel for how well this one might work for you.

* Social Grid- This service provides social networking and online dating for free-- with no hidden or added costs. Users don't need to complete profiles or fill out questionnaires as their existing online information is used. It's not strictly a speed-dating service, but its goal is to provide quick connections without the time constraints and other hassles that come with more traditional online dating sites. It provides good safety features, is relatively new but growing--and at no cost, may be worth a try.

Matchmaking services

Under this category, I'm listing online matchmaking sites, offline matchmaking services, ones that match singles in groups or one- to -one for lunch or dinner, and exclusive matchmakers who offer a very high-end service.

* Sparkology- This is a site where young, educated professionals must be invited to become members. The requirements for men are tighter here and this is based on Sparkology's experience with women reporting a dearth of quality men on most online dating sites. Therefore, this site heavily emphasizes success and professionalism in their male members as a reason for their successful matches. Pricing is different for males and females. Women pay a membership fee while the guys pay for packages that are priced according to how many messages they send out to women. The idea behind this is that men will not send out boilerplate messages to women on Sparkology--their choices will be thoughtful and their interest high as a fee will be incurred with each. They boast white-glove service and quality matches.

* It's Just Lunch- This is an offline service that uses questionnaires and professional matchmaking services to connect compatible singles for an introductory lunch date. It claims to be the #1 personalized matchmaking service. Clients fill out their questionnaire and get a set amount of dates with the package they purchase. If a date is a no-show or if there is a problem, they will be offered another date for free. They are teamed with an It's just Lunch staff member who acts as their matchmaker and follows up with them on how it is going. If you look them up you will see their claim to many happy clients and successful matches. If you dig a bit, you will also find information on clients who were very dissatisfied with the service for a variety of reasons.

* Together- This matchmaking service has been around for years. According to them, they offer one-to-one matchmaking services, dating help and coaching, and guidance throughout the dating process. They claim to make a match every 17 minutes and one marriage every day. If you check them out online you will find many complaints listed by former clients around the US. Apparently they are good marketers who do the hard sell with prospective clients. The cost is fairly high, so I recommend you really do your homework before signing on the dotted line.

* Eight at Eight dinner club- The concept here is matching 4 women with 4 compatible men for a dinner that starts at 8. Singles are matched based on their age, background, professional level, hobbies and interests. They can purchase dinner packages as they go, deciding on either weekday or weekend get- togethers. A hostess greets them, makes introductions, buys the first round of drinks and helps break the ice. This service has had national attention and been well recommended. I have had clients who tried it and reported good food and company, nice atmosphere, and a way to meet even same sexed, compatible friends. If you like dining out with a group, you should have a nice evening even if it doesn't result in your perfect match.

* Tawkify- This service provides dating agents who do the work of finding that compatible single you seek. The cost is much lower than that of traditional high-end matchmakers and all you have to do is answer 10 questions, then wait for a call from your personal matchmaker who will learn about you and set up a date with someone they believe would be a great fit for you. Worth looking into-- especially if you hate the time and hassles that come with dating sites and/or privacy is an issue for you.

* Janis Spindel Serious matchmaking, Inc. - Ms. Spindel has been in the business for 20 years and calls herself the #1 matchmaker. Her services include a great deal of individual attention and she works with clients locally and at a distance using Skype. She's not inexpensive--her services go up to 10,000.00 for her Janis Spindel university. If you have the ability to afford her services, want the personal attention of someone who is well-known and respected, you might want to give her first one-to-one meeting a try and see how it goes.

* Premiere Match- This is another high-end matchmaking service that caters to successful, attractive professionals, who consider themselves to be regular people too. Premiere match is located across the country and just perfect for that high-powered and too busy for dating professional who would like to find love as long as they don't have to invest too much time and energy in the process. They consider themselves to be very selective and cater to clients who meet a certain selective criteria. They do background checks and match according to your specific needs and wants, personality type, income levels, etc. if this sounds like you, consider giving them a try. Think of how nice it will be not to spend all that time reading all those profiles that sound so much alike that you can't keep them straight once you scroll down to the next one.

* Kelleher International- This agency is known as the "Beverly Hills matchmaker," and "the world's premiere millionaire matchmaker." The owner is exclusive, high-end, and has celebrity clients and many exclusive clients around the world. If you are even curious, you can check her out.

Though this list might seem very extensive, it is just a sampling of what is available. My purpose was to provide an overview of what is available and help you to figure out where you needs might best be met.

I still consider online dating to be a valuable tool and have worked with many couples who met online. It may be that you find you are dissatisfied with your online dating experiences and want to try something else, or perhaps you seek greater privacy and anonymity in your search for love. The key is to do your homework upfront and spend some real time checking out your options and deciding which one might best fit your needs. Remember there are no guarantees--luck and timing do enter into the equation, so practice patience and try to live a happy single life while you look for that special person to help you create a life that meets you needs for intimacy and a shared future.

Want to read other articles on this subject?

"Would you want to date you?"
List of more "Help With Dating" articles

" Best relationship resolutions for singles"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.

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