The National Post

May 11, 2020

Can buy me love There's no shortage of cupids willing to play matchmaker -- for a fee Two years ago, Constance Wrigley of Burlington, Ont. wasn't meeting any eligible bachelors via the traditional dating channels such as singles bars and nightclubs. So, she decided to pay a visit to the far reaches of cyberspace in her quest for a mate. The result? Soon after logging on to, Constance Wrigley was sporting a new moniker: Constance Wrigley-Thomas. "I consider myself the poster child for Internet dating," enthuses Ms. Wrigley-Thomas, noting that husband-hunting online proved fun, safe and efficient. After Ms. Wrigley-Thomas signed up with Quality Soulmates, she posted a detailed description of herself listing all the qualities she was seeking in a man (including age, height, race and location). The cost of using the service is $20 a month, which entitles clients to an unlimited number of e-mail contacts. Within days of posting her description, Ms. Wrigley-Thomas says she received about 500 hits from would-be suitors. "I was astounded," she says. Her next task entailed separating the romantic wheat from the chaff. "If they couldn't spell or their description consisted of one or two statements, forget it," she says. "They had to provide me with the right amount of information for me to make a decision." Prior to meeting her eventual husband, she went on four dates. While none could be described as disastrous, she wasn't romantically interested in any of the men. Then she began corresponding via e-mail with the man who would become her husband, John Thomas. "John wrote beautifully," she recalls. "I got the sense he was a good person and he was not trying to hide anything. His intelligence caught my attention." Mr. Thomas's photograph also scored points given that he "was holding a golden retriever puppy." She began corresponding with Mr. Thomas in early June, 2000. By mid-June they were dating. "Our values matched and I thought that this [relationship] could work," she says. By December, Mr. Thomas proposed marriage. These days, Ms. Wrigley-Thomas has nothing but praise for Quality Soul Mates. "It is very effective for eliminating the doofuses of the world," she says. "It's efficient and you can avoid the surprises that come with blind dates." Although The Beatles scored a number one hit in 1964 with Can't Buy Me Love, the fact is, those longing for companionship can buy everlasting love. And these days, thanks to the Internet and several new twists on traditional dating services, there is a plethora of cupids all too willing to engage in matchmaking -- for a fee, of course. Toronto-based DinnerWorks operates by bringing together four single men and four women for a casual dinner meeting. DinnerWorks director Liisa Vexler says she strives to ensure all the dinner guests "share like-minded" interests based on their personal profiles. DinnerWorks charges an annual membership fee of $149 plus a service fee of $15 each time a person goes to dinner. As well, each member is responsible for his or her own dinner tab. To date, DinnerWorks has signed up more than 500 members between the ages of 28 and 50. Ms. Vexler says most of them tend to be people who "don't have family here [Toronto], so beyond their work network, it can be really tough for them to meet new people." (About half of the members using the service have moved to Toronto within the last five years, she says.) If time is of the essence, a single might want to consider 9 Minute Dates -- a service that seemingly resembles a romantic version of Beat the Clock. Tanya Whyte, operations manager for Toronto-based 9 Minute Dates, calls her service a "power dating organization" based on a concept that is both simplistic and efficient: Nine women take their seats at nine different tables within a café. Nine men then shift from table to table every nine minutes to engage in conversation -- sort of like musical chairs but without the music. Only first names are used and no personal details (such as workplace, addresses or phone numbers) are given out. At the end of the evening, the clients hand in cards outlining with whom they would like a follow-up date. If the same two people have indicated that they would like to meet again, the organizer phones them and offers to put them in touch with one another. Ms. Whyte says her "fun, safe and efficient" service is "geared toward busy professionals. Our clients include dentists, doctors, lawyers -- they are all well-established singles and have everything going for them in life except a meaningful relationship." And while nine minutes is obviously too little time to get to know someone, Ms. Whyte says it is a perfect allotment for a blind date. "After nine minutes, you'll know if you are or aren't interested in someone," she says. Clients pay $49 for the first event (which includes a voucher for food and non-alcoholic beverages); subsequent events cost $35. Ms. Whyte says most clients -- grouped together based on an age range -- typically attend three meetings. So far, the service has amassed more than 2,500 clients, most of them ranging in age from their early 30s to 50s. But if you are not Internet savvy and dinner dating is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of traditional matchmaking services around. Hearts Introduction Service has offices in Toronto and Vancouver and represents more than 1,300 clients in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean, according to Hearts president Ruth Claramunt. The cost of hiring Ms. Claramunt as a cupid-at-large is $1,000 for an unlimited membership. Ms. Claramunt says her clients run the gamut from "multimillionaires to people living paycheque to paycheque." Ms. Claramunt notes that investing $1,000 is not steep for her services, given that "a lady will spend more than a $1,000 on a new wardrobe or to go on a holiday in the hopes of meeting someone." The first stage of her service entails conducting an interview with would-be clients at their place of residence. Ms. Claramunt says she asks "all kinds of direct questions" to determine everything from a person's likes and dislikes to their values and goals. She also uses the interview to screen people in case they might be hiding something, such as that they might be married. For those who are not on a tight budget, Ms. Claramunt also conducts what she calls "specialized private searches for wealthy businessmen." With this service, Ms. Claramunt will place prominent ads in the lifestyle sections of newspapers that will be very specific about what her client is looking for in terms of a mate. The responses come directly to Ms. Claramunt, who then screens applicants for suitability. The typical cost for this service ranges between $10,000 to $20,000, but Ms. Claramunt justifies the price tag: "If you were to use a headhunting service, you'd pay more just to hire a sales associate," she says. As for her success rate as a matchmaker, Ms. Claramunt responds: "Let's put it this way: I get invited to a lot of weddings." Yet, what if someone is already in a committed relationship but is looking for something extra on the romance front? There is a new service that purportedly serves such a need by actually arranging extramarital affairs. Toronto-based Ashley Madison Agency goes by the slogan "For attached women and the men who want to meet them." In a press release, director of marketing Darren Morgenstern notes that "adultery is becoming more common" and that anecdotal evidence suggests that the majority of married individuals -- male and female -- will at some point cheat on their spouses. The service is free for women who can post a personal profile, classified ad and up to three photographs on the agency's Web site, Men, however, must pay $300 for their first ad and agree to pay an additional $10 per month "to gain access to the esoteric world of impending lady lust." As to the morality of such a service, Mr. Morgenstern is unapologetic. "We don't encourage someone to cheat and don't pass judgment when they do," he states. However, for Ms. Wrigley-Thomas, having an extramarital affair is the furthest thing from her mind these days. Indeed, thanks to her online dating experience, she is now happily married. And considering she only had to pay for one month's worth of service at Quality Soulmates, "that was the best $20 I've ever spent in my life." By David Menzies National Post 11 May 2020. Brought to you by London Ontario Dentist - Expressions Dental Centre and Ottawa exterior painting contractors from