March 28, Both worked in sales and were too busy to search for dates. There are 60 million single, divorced, and widowed adults in the United States. Demanding careers, mobility, and the fraying of the family, social, and church lifelines that used to bring people together have left many singles stranded. In step dating services. They're not Aunt Minnie keeping her eye out for a potential spouse for Helen or Ed.
Today's matchmakers are corporations whose names -- Equal Partners, People Network, Great Expectations -- are as high-powered as the successful people they serve. And the matching is often done with the help of thoroughly '80s equipment -- computers and videotapes.
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Although they have been around for 10 years, dating services are still struggling with an image problem. Richard Marcus of the Manhattan Sex Crimes squad, are legitimate services that provide escorts for an evening. There are other problems. Originally some dating services were fly-by-night operations that took big bucks, promised big romance, and then left trusting customers high and dry. A woman in Dennis, Mass. Some customers even take legal action. Together, a personal introduction service based in Boston, was sued last summer by a woman who was dissatisfied with the clients she met. She won the suit.
Together's president, Brian Pappas, says that the company did provide the professionals she requested -- including a veterinarian and a biochemist -- and that one reason the client didn't meet with more success was that she lied about her age. In spite of their problems, however, dating services are gaining a foothold in public acceptance. Major newspapers and television and radio stations, reversing policy, are now running their advertisements.
The complaints, she says, stem from unhappy customers who want their money refunded but are instead offered only an extension of their membership. And the services are sprouting up everywhere.
Together has 30, members nationwide. Its parent company, Together Development Corporation, has grown from eight franchises in to 55 company-owned or franchised offices in 14 states. Six more franchises are due to open by June. A typical dating service interviews clients, asking them to fill out lengthy questionnaires stating their feelings about alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex, hobbies, religion, and so forth. The rest, as they say, is up to you. Chris Taft used the video approach. Then the company told Rod of her interest and he came to view her tape.
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Only after both parties approved were their names and phone s released. Five months later they were married.
What makes people plunk down hard-earned money to entrust decisions of the heart to a microchip, the eye of a video camera, or the decision of a strange counselor? But I was very busy and not meeting the people I wanted to meet. It saved me time to have someone else do the discriminating for me.
The lengthy processing involved in ing a dating service apparently helps ensure the clients' confidentiality -- and safety. None of the services contacted had ever heard of a rape stemming from one of their introductions -- nor had police in Boston, New York, or Los Angeles. This system also screens out married people who may be seeking a fling on the side, he adds. Dating services stress that they are not guaranteeing marriages -- only introductions.
If you go into it thinking you'll find your perfect mate, you'll probably be disappointed. Already a subscriber?
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