Online dating: are you really talking, not to a person, but to a search committee?


I suppose it was only a matter of time, but it seems even online dating services are now becoming just another business.

One day when I was trawling through writing jobs on LinkedIn, I stumbled across an interesting-looking role as a creative writer with what appeared to be a dating company called Vida (Virtual Dating Agency) Select. As the position looked vaguely interesting, I sent off an application and was pleased to receive further details of the role and a link to a writing test. But when I looked at the job specification I became a little uncomfortable. 

Where I had expected that the role to mainly consist of spicing up and correcting clients’ profiles, it wanted me to do much more. They wanted me to create a range of ice-breaker messages for client correspondence alongside communicating with matches until a date was set or a phone number was provided. It was made clear that, after this hurdle had been reached, the client would then take over the communication with the match. 

. . .

This whole experience left me with a lot of questions: why were people doing this? Was their work/life balance so consuming that they were unable to set aside the time to use dating apps? And, if this was the case, what did this say about our society? Did I really live in a world where everything had been commercialised to the degree that people were outsourcing themselves as products to be sold?

. . .

Vida Select charges anywhere between $695- $1695 per month for 2-12 dates. The more you pay, the more dates you get.

Depending on the package selected, a vast team of people from ghostwriters, stylists, and photographers help to create a version of yourself which is likely to get a positive online response. The client oversees the process right from the first meeting with a ghostwriter, where the writer is able to get a sense of the client’s personality in order to mimic them in future correspondence. 

Valdez explains, “We get to know our client during a 90-minute conversation, select the best platforms for their search, send a photographer out to meet them if needed, write their dating profiles, select the most optimal photo lineup, touch up their pics, and get their accounts fully configured. Our matchmaking team then identifies promising potential matches who meet the client’s ‘must-have’ criteria”.

From this meeting, the client must approve the presented dating profiles before they are posted on major dating websites like Tinder, OkCupid, and Bumble. Then, the client need only sit back and watch as the writer takes over to begin the introductory process with witty open-ended banter.  Clients are able to view and contribute to the conversation as well – and this has apparently only led to a couple of close shaves where both the ghostwriter and the client have simultaneously sent messages about entirely different subjects.

Clients are free to take over correspondence at any time but, as said, it is automatically passed over once the match provides their phone number or a date is made (and the writer received their $1.75 commission). Obviously, with such a degree of effort constituted, clients generally have multiple matches each week and have the luxury of being very picky.

There’s more at the link.

So, you won’t find “true love” so much as “true merchandising” through such services.  It makes my gorge rise.  Now romance has become just as much of a con game as anything else that’s been financialized, consumerized, pixelized and automated.

I have no idea what modern dating is all about, but in my youth, it was all about meeting people in the flesh and deciding whether or not they appealed to you.  Friends would introduce you to people they felt might be compatible, and it was all done face-to-face.  There was little or no possibility of third parties controlling the process in the initial stages, to “package” you as rosily as possible.  Although Miss D. and I made initial contact online, it was through a mutual friend who felt we needed to talk, so we had that initial sense that this wasn’t just a random encounter.  (Thanks again, Oleg!)

Here’s a challenge for my more technologically inclined readers.  How can we introduce a virus or two into the automated dating process?  I want something that strips away the shallowness and stupidity, and exposes who’s really doing the talking.  Have at it!



  1. "How can we introduce a virus or two into…"

    No. Don't do it. Just because it's something you or I would disapprove of, doesn't mean we have the right to sabotage it for others.

  2. The Romance game has always been a con-game combined with a shell-game. People are taught to act differently, dress differently, be different during the Romance phase in comparison to the Married/Shacking Up phase.

    The old saw of 'look at her mother to see what you're getting' is more true than not.

    And I have heard the office wahinis planning with each other as to how they'll trap, ensnare some poor snook.

    So, well, it is the 21st Century….

  3. Haven't advertisers and businesses ALWAYS objectified humans as being merely "potential consumers"? Simply entities to "make money off of"?
    Why is this trend necessarily so surprising?

  4. Here's another challenge: How can we introduce a virus into the outmoded-mainstream-news publishing racket? They've already outed themselves as puerile biased inaccurate lying useless sources, so why don't we help them along in their rush for insignificance and irrelevance?

    For that matter, why don't we help our politicians in the same manner? As well as those mouthpieces who enable them?

    I've often thought our TLAs, IRS and ATF in particular, would benefit from 'citizen advisory committees'.

  5. I met my wife through the internet. Married 14 years, not without problems – but then what marriage doesn't have problems.

    Looking back with 2020 hindsight, not just at the cultural differences between myself and my Kazakhstan-born wife, if I were to suddenly wake up in my 18 year old body I'd have joined an Orthodox synagogue, been a regular and very active/involved, and made it known I was single.

    Pretty sure the invitations and match-making would have ensued.

    I have so recommended this to my kids, not that I think they'll actually listen.

  6. Nitzakhon, what you want for your children is yet another reason the powers that be want religion de-emphasized. Sadly.

  7. Tried the online matching services for a while until I figured out that they were selecting a few possibilities out of a much larger pool of "compatible" matches. Ditched them right quick…

    Wound up meeting my wife of 13 years at church, the old-fashioned way.

  8. Aaron Clary talks about the pernicious effects of online dating in his latest book "The Book of Numbers". I see no reason to be surprised about this service.

  9. I note several video stories discussing "why dating is so hard now". I also note that they are 2 to 3 years old. Seems like a "hold my beer" situation.

  10. I've always assumed that dating services were just businesses, and furthermore that they'd target large demographics and not people like myself (morning person; can't handle crowds, noise, nor alcohol; not wired for promiscuity).
    As for "third parties controlling the process in the initial stages"… matchmakers? Negotiations between families in advance of the principals being introduced?
    Looking back on my life, Nitzakhon is making a lot of sense here, with regard to more than one aspect of life.

  11. Wow is that ever a bait and switch.

    Little guess what happens when the real product doesn't match the marketing.

    Better yet I wonder what happens when they're both parties that were bait and switch.

    May as well just thrown a dart at a phonebook.

  12. A least their is an actual person at the focus of this, unlike allegations made elsewhere about fake profiles being used to keep people (mostly men) paying fees… There have even been allegations of actresses sent on dates to keep wealthy subscribers…

  13. It's nothing new.

    Probably 25 or so years ago I worked with a woman who used a dating service. To say she was at a disadvantage in the dating department is an understatement. She was quite overweight, showered approximately once a month (whether she needed it or not, and I'm not joking), looked like she took a tumble out of the ugly-tree and hit every branch, and didn't even have a nice personality. Well she showed us her pictures, where her make-up was professionally done, as were the photos. We couldn't believe it was the same person, she looked quite attractive.

    She eventually did find someone, proving that there's someone for everyone. I understand they honeymooned in a cabin with no running water.

    Mark D

  14. If it ain't free, you have just found the sucker at the poker table: it's you.

    The internet has simply made Nigerian gold smuggling schemes able to be packaged as honeytraps: the same scammers are inventing women to entice the gullible, instead of inventing tons of gold. (Evry major company has only only been caught at it about 9000 times. Take a hint.)

    90% of everyone online looking for love, or a reasonable but briefer alternative, are dudes. and that number may be low-balled. (You should forgive the pun.)

    If you do manage to meet someone online, great.
    But it's no better, and potentially far worse, than trying to met people everywhere they are IRL.

    And remember kids, if she swiped right to find you, she'll swipe right to replace you too. To a metaphysical certainty.

  15. @Beans: If one worships and fears Hashem (or Jesus) then one's worship / fear of The State is diminshed. Agree.

    @Eric: Thanks. Again, she's given me two beautiful kids whom I wouldn't trade for anything. But I look back at some of the conflicts we HAVE had and many of them stem from differences in culture and values that could not have been anticipated through how we met.

    @Jonathan H: As a "hobby" to kill time, on occasion, I go to several Russian/Ukrainian women sites, click on profiles I find interesting, and then search for the "real person" at the Russian Sometimes the results are hysterical – the woman's profile will say "I'm a quiet, shy, demure woman…" and while I understand the women over there tend to dress more sexily than here – you should have seen the looks my wife got when she first moved here* – some of the party scenes the women have on the profiles I find are "amusing". And yes, doubtless some of the women are paid to get the guy to keep talking.

    @Mark: A few years ago I saw a funny cartoon. A truly homely woman in the first panel. Then… plastic surgery after plastic surgery until she was smokin' in the bar. Then came the marriage, then the kid, who was as b*tt-ugly as she was. (And I'm going to have to borrow that fall off the tree and hit every branch thought. Seems it could have quite a lot of utility. 😀

  16. Billl reminded me of the joke that is approximately,

    "If apples are purple and fish fly, how old am I?" asked the teacher.

    Johnny replies, "You're 42 years old."

    "Th..that's right! But.. how did you get the answer?!"

    "My brother is 21 and he's only HALF nuts!"

  17. I met my first wife in the AF. I retired to her home town. She died 12 years later. Five years later, the women whose houses were next to mine set me up for a blind date at a restaurant. I liked that; there were 3 exits from the parking lot, "just in case". We hit it off. Got married. Still going.

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