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Every morning I wake up to the same routine. I log into the Tinder of a year-old man from Texas—a client. Men and women though mostly men from all over the world pay this company to outsource the labor and tedium of online dating.
But as e-romance hits an all-time high, our daily dose of rejection, harassment, and heartbreak creeps upward, too. When I tell people that I work as an online-dating assistant, their initial reaction is of morbid curiosity. I received a callback three days later. Was I dating anyone currently? Despite hiring writers to do this work, virtually none of what the company does requires creativity of any kind.
If a client has a dog jackpot! The process for Closers is a bit more complicated. At first, my trainer encouraged me to get creative with my replies, but by the third week, I was still getting back extensive rewrites. My most frequent mistake was asking career-oriented questions, which were deemed too difficult for some women to answer.
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The manuals have titles like Women On Demand and The Automatic Date Transitionand are loaded with his personal insights into the primal female brain. We are to treat them as dating-assistant gospel. So if you want to have a chance at meeting your most intriguing matches, you need to have the best possible profile, photos, and messages. For example, does Client X like to travel?
When a client pairs up, they leave the service. His idea for a digital-dating-assistant service started inwhen he was frustrated with the amount of time it took to search for matches online.
I asked my coworkers how they handle the moral flexibility that the work demands. To this end, every message I send is logged into an automated system that analyzes response rates. There are required monthly team meetings, in which Closers help workshop opening messages and pitch new ideas.
I sit on my couch and wait for messages to arrive in their inbox. I was three weeks into my contract when I encountered a client whose age was listed as So big lies about important facts undermine that goal. We make sure our clients understand that.
Every client must answer 50 or so questions about themselves when they first up and go through a minute interview, supplying Profile Writers and Closers with nuggets of mundane information. After working as a Closer for two years, Doug had asked to switch to Profile Writing.
But the Closer is no longer allowed to reply, so he ghosts her. It was easier for him that way. What kind of person would pay strangers to score them dates online, and then not even bother to call? These clients tend to be younger men in high-powered finance jobs. Valdez said that the typical client profile tends to be somebody between the ages of about 28 and 52, with most being in their 30s.
He also claims that one third of their clients are female. We get a lot of them.
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These types of professionals are money rich but time poor, he explains. Valdez referenced a recent survey that shows online love seekers are spending 10 hours a week on dating sites and apps. So the need a company like ViDA fills is allowing them to delegate this particular aspect of their lives to an expert, just as many have financial planners, landscapers, personal trainers, and mechanics on speed dial.
Indeed, there are plenty of older men seeking age-appropriate, long-term relationships online.
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These are the types of clients Doug and Valdez always refer to when justifying the service, as our work helps them navigate unfamiliar territory. After all, internet culture does not come naturally to some, and many of our clients are widowed or divorced retirees. I asked one of my trainers if the company takes on any married clients.
Matchmakers will select their best photos, Profile Writers will make them sound appealing, and Closers will do all the flirting for them. My trainer was quick to reassure me that they refuse those prospective clients. When asked about this policy directly, Valdez pointed out that their website clearly states that they do not take on married clients or those looking to cheat; he also said that the extensive on-boarding process tends to weed out any immoral actors. But legality aside, these cut-and-paste flirtations perpetuate negative gender stereotypes, and they reinforce an oversimplified and destructive view of romantic expectations.
As dating platforms become flooded with calculated, flirtatious spam, men and women on these sites learn to emulate personalities that yield quantifiable. This means playing down unique traits and unorthodox views to the point where a total stranger—like me—could literally do it in their place. By trying to appeal to dozens, if not hundreds, of strangers at the same time, we forfeit our ability to take risks and experiment with social norms; only placing safe bets robs us of new and genuine experiences.
I wrote out an apology for her loss and sent it to my instructor for approval. I expected to never hear back from her, but three exchanges later, she was sending me her phone. Or was she learning—just as I was—that reaching out for a unique connection online would lead only to awkwardness and rejection?
As the disillusioned masses learn to offer less and expect nothing, companies like these can take advantage of this extraordinarily low barrier to entry. As a result, businesses such as these are an economic inevitability.
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I was given my first female client after two months with the company. Women seeking out our services require a very different approach.
Are they looking for something serious? Are they dating anyone else right now?
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None of the men fit her description of what she wanted, so by the end of the first week, I had not pursued any phone s. Another Closer was given my .
My initial curiosity about these dating assistants had morphed steadily into deep disgust: with the company, with Valdez and his manual, and—above all—myself. The sight of my first paycheck sent me crawling back to bed in a guilt-ridden panic. I grew suspicious of my own dating s—not just of the men I matched with, but of my own ability to present a likable version of myself online. Every new conversation felt like a minefield, filling me with equal parts boredom and dread.
To my dismay, I started to want my own virtual dating assistant. This all begs the question: Have you unknowingly flirted with a professional Closer? Me, even? As we grow accustomed to foisting more and more complicated emotional tasks onto digital butlers, we lose our ability to tolerate inelegance or find value in social failure.
Moments of awkwardness and heartbreak are an inevitable part of the dating experience, and they are essential in our evolution into mature adults. By outsourcing our courtship to robots and robot-like humans we might save ourselves some pain in the short term, but it degrades us, simplifies us, and fails to provide for our ultimate goal of finding someone accepting of our flaws. Follow Chloe on Twitter.
Ftc sues owner of online dating service www.bemato.info for using fake love interest to trick consumers into paying for a www.bemato.info subscription
Learn how to write for Quartz Ideas. We welcome your comments at ideas qz. Note: This piece was updated with a more recent opening line currently in rotation that is sent by Matchmakers. These are some of our most ambitious editorial projects. From our Series. By Chloe Rose Stuart-Ulin.
Published April 26, Last updated on May 4, This article is more than 2 years old. As an animal lover, I want to find out your opinion… dressing up your dog: yes or no?
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Men and women on online-dating platforms therefore learn to emulate personalities that yield quantifiable. me up. Update your browser for the best experience.