The general conclusion I have arrived at after actively seeking a serious partner for 5+ years, is that paying to meet someone, either via online dating or in real life, is a poor choice.
When someone tells you to compare what their dating service costs per day to a cup of coffee, the answer is to tell them to keep their service, go buy yourself a cup of coffee in a busy coffee shop, sit in the shop and converse with people there. At least, when all is said and done, you are guaranteed to get a cup of coffee and the odds are no better than you get with any sort of dating service.
The whole story
To supplement my rather limited dating repertoire having limited myself to free dating sites (which more or less boils down to OkCupid!) I decided to give speed dating a try. I naively thought that it might be a better than online dating since there is no facade of profiles.
I looked around at the various companies that put these events on. Looking over the selections, quite a few looked very much “fly by night”. I selected what appeared to be the most reputable company in my area, which has franchises in other cities and appeared to be the least shady. The photos of actual singles at the events looked promising.
For those unfamiliar with the event format, women are usually seated at numbered stations and the men rotate from station to station with a bell indicating that time is up and to move to the next station. One typically gets about five minutes with each person and a brief break scheduled at the halfway point. After talking with each person, you get a few seconds to jot down notes and decide if you would like to have further interaction with that person. Some events, you turn in the card and others you do so via the Internet after the event. Some events will have a mixer beforehand so folks can mingle and generally people do so after the event (it is probably a hint that if someone leaves during the event, as soon as it ends or don’t want to talk afterward that they are probably not interested in you). Most of these events are usually held at a bar/nightclub, as it seems that most folks need or want alcohol to have a conversation…
My first event was very disappointing. Of the women that were there, if they were online dating profiles, I only would have found 25% of them as “attractive” if they posted a decent face and full-length photo. Definitely not a representative sample of the photos on the website. Upon talking to them (ignoring the physical part) 0% were “interesting”. At the conclusion of the event, there were two that maybe I could consider dating but they did not seem to be giving signals of mutual interest. I elected to respond “no” to all of them given I figured they were not interested and get a “do-over” for free, as many of these events have in their policies. If you pick even one person, then you lose your free “do-over”, which is where these companies are making money left and right. Ignoring formal statistical/probability analysis, I figure that you either need to be very selective and pick no one and use the “do-over” or select “yes” for everyone to maximize the money spent.
The second event was about the same as the first. I found about 25% attractive in terms of physical attributes. In general, the “profiles” were a little better in terms of conversation but it was still about the same in terms of interest for a serious relationship. I figured, what the heck, I’ll just say yes to anything that seems to be “reasonable” (about 75%) and see what comes back. I got one mutual yes and they were not at the threshold that I felt like going out again with them.
A quick reference, quoted on Mr. Ardenghi’s website from a study as interpreted by him:
“Assuming that one has to pay 30 Euros for a speed-dating event lasting 3 hours including everything, finding a relationship partner requires investing 75 hours and 750 Euros on average.”
So, 25 separate events and these events run about $25-35, so more or less the same in dollars. Really? I can think of far better ways to spend $750 to attract someone, like keeping it in the bank for when I do meet someone special to treat them to a nice meal/vacation. Better yet, I should do some stuff that I want to do, in hopes that I run across someone else at those activities. I would be curious to know what that $750 buys you with a traditional matchmaker (like the ones that had/have TV shows).
These events have odds of 4-6% success, according to the paper cited. This is such that you would be better off dating online, where it can be closer to 10%, like this boutique dating site that actually cites some success statistics among members. One might be better off to bet the money in a casino on poker if you are skillful player where you might increase your money in the long term…
I wish that I had seen those stats ahead of time but the price I paid to do two events and see the abysmal results for my own eyes was worth it.
When you think about it, your success rate in general is probably the same 10% or less in just about any dating venture. Speed dating is arguably less effective and more expensive than online dating and more effort than just going about your business, doing things that you enjoy and just stumbling on Mister/Miss Perfect while you carry about your business.
Do not pay for online dating or dating services…
Recommendations that seem to make more sense
- “Get a life”
- Try some new hobbies
- Talk to people
- See a therapist if you are not happy with your life or about being single
- Move, if you are in “bad” location for dating