I am a huge fan of online dating. I met my long-term boyfriend on Nerve.com and the majority of the weddings I’ve been to over the past few years have been between people who met online. Though I still have friends who are reluctant to try it (you know who you are!), I encourage every single person looking for love to give it a whirl.
But even I raised an eyebrow last year when I read writer/comedian Carrie Seim’s NY Post story on how she entrusted her love life to a virtual assistant in India. It’s one thing to weed out dudes using their blurry photos and attempts at wit; it’s quite another to have some stranger pick your dates for you. After suffering through too many disastrous fix-ups, I even stopped letting my friends set me up.But Carrie had a good experience. Suresh, her VA, found her two amazing guys with very little guidance from her. “I’m very type-A with all aspects of my life, so it was tough for me to give up the reins,” she says. “He himself was a single guy looking for love in Bangalore, so he had a romantic streak. He was absolutely intent on finding me the perfect match. His enthusiasm was contagious—he even went to the point of penning love letters for me!”
Since her story, I’ve read several accounts of people outsourcing their love lives. An expert at outsourcing almost every aspect of his life, Tim “Four-Hour Work Week” Ferriss also tried it with excellent results.
A brief look through virtual assistant websites (there are tons) showed rates ranging anywhere from $4 up to $100 an hour, depending on what was expected and where they were based, with the average hourly rate being around $30. So I was intrigued when I got a press release for a new(ish) company called Virtual Dating Assistants. When VDA began, they only serviced men, but have recently expanded their parameters to include the ladies. For $480 a month, they guarantee you two dates every 30 days. (They count on spending about 40 hours per month on each client, averaging out to about $12 an hour.)
Please note, I’m no supermodel, but for $20-a-month online subscription I was able to get two dates a week—more if I had the energy. But then not everyone has as much free time as I do. VDA not only figures out which sites are the best fit for you, they select candidates, craft your profile, help you pick the best photos, and then correspond with potential dates. I asked Scott Valdez, one of the founders, how catering to women differed from servicing men.
“When a guy is less attractive, if he has a lot of other things going for him, he can still attract a woman,” Valdez says. Translation: money can buy even the fugliest dude love—a lesson I think we all learned from “Millionaire Matchmaker.”
Apparently this is not so true with a less-attractive woman, regardless of how successful she might be. Valdez and Co ran into a problem when one of their less-cute lady clients wanted them to bag her a fox. “She was picky from a physical standpoint which made it very hard,” Valdez tells me. “It didn’t matter that she had money or confidence.” Ouch.
While she does have good looks going for her, a year after her original outsourcing, Carrie Seim remains pleasantly surprised by her outcome. “I think when women search for dates online, we can get so carried away with external qualities, like a man’s education or job or height or bicep size, that we forget to look for values like integrity and kindness,” she says. “Suresh had a knack for sieving out the bad guys and finding treasures.”
So hey, you send out your dry-cleaning, why not give your love life a try?