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How Much is True Love Worth?

This article was written by in People. 23 comments.


Matchmaking is a big business, particularly when the matchmaking services are geared towards the wealthy. With these services, women join for free, and men pay hefty fees to be matched with these women. This is a one-sided arrangement, but it is based on the demographics of the clientele; for the most part, the dynamics follow the stereotypical partnership: a wealthy man looking for a younger woman.

The Millionaire’s Club is probably the best-known of these matchmaking services for the wealthy, thanks in part to the reality television show, Millionaire Matchmaker, hosted by matchmaker extraordinaire, Patti Stanger. The basic membership level for men costs $45,000, and this includes unlimited dates and four hours of coaching and counseling sessions. You’ll have to pay extra to receive service from Patti or any of her senior staff.

It helps to look past the reality series, though. I would have to imagine only the wackiest people are selected for the show.

Selective Search, a similar matchmaking service run by Barbie Adler, costs $20,000 for men, and there is no cost for women “affiliates.” Barbie’s experience comes from executive recruiting, and she applies what she knows about finding the right executive for a job to finding the right partner for her clients.

While there are some wealthy women who sign up, I would assume that most women who sign up for free membership are simply looking for a wealthier man. Perhaps they are expecting to find happiness in a relationship where they believe they won’t have to worry about money, but wealthy people do worry about their finances. Perhaps some are just looking for some wealth to transfer to them in the future.

In an article in Sunday’s Time Magazine, Joel Stein went behind the scenes at Selective Search to find out who joins this type of service:

The women don’t pay anything, but they aren’t assured of a date, just like in the real world. To my shock, none of them seemed like gold diggers. They had great jobs, went to impressive colleges and had other priorities — namely, that they would under no circumstance date a man under 6 ft. (180 cm) tall. He could be bald, fat and jobless as long as he was at least one standard deviation above average height…

More shocking than the non-gold-digging women, however, were the men. Who were hot. And socially well adjusted… Basically, they were older guys, often divorced, who were serious about getting married and having kids and hated dating. Ironically, because of all the gold diggers.

Busy people outsource various aspects of their lives. I recently outsourced housecleaning; although I am a single man living in a relatively small space, I find it’s worthwhile to allow professionals to do the job right once every few weeks. Finding people to date can be difficult for busy people, particularly those who aren’t interested in bars and don’t have time for the socializing that comes from being involved in a variety of activities. Do-it-yourself dating websites can be a lot of work, and you need to weed through quite a few less-than-stellar matches and go on more than a few lackluster dates.

It makes sense to leave the dirty work to professional screeners. But how much would you pay to find true love? $20,000? $50,000?

Time Magazine

Published or updated March 28, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Ceecee ♦796 (Dime)

Wow, I hate this idea. Just like I hate that show, “The Bachelor.” How often does that work out. Great relationships seem to happen by surprise, when you aren’t looking. I don’t believe anyone can look at a bunch of papers and see chemistry.

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avatar rewards ♦31 (Newbie)

I agree. My favorites are organizations that run group activities (like Events and Adventures) with an emphasis on going out and doing *social* things. It’s a completely different feel from one-on-one dating, the bar scene, speed dating, etc.

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avatar Peter Koenig

Great relationships seem to happen by surprise, when you aren’t looking. ……….and those things can not be bought!!!

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avatar shellye ♦107 (Cent)

I paid $1800 to meet my true love. I met my fiance’ through a MM service (none of the ones mentioned in this article, though). He paid a little more than I did, and could have had a date with a different woman every night of the week; there were about 10 times more women in the service than men. I would get a call for a date once about every ten days to two weeks. He was the 6th guy I dated from the service; for him, I was at least #40. LOL That was nearly three years ago and we’re getting married in a month.

I wouldn’t say it’s any better or worse than some of the online dating sites like match and eharmony. Just more expensive, but in this economy, a really good negotiator might be able to strike a deal with a MM service becuase they are desperate for clients these days.

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avatar Craig

Can’t say I’d want to pay to find true love…but I may have better luck with that than on my own.

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avatar tbork84 ♦1,867 (Half-Dollar)

Love is another element of happiness. Money can’t buy it, but it can make it a lot easier to find. Especially when you can afford to have someone do the leg work of looking for you. I find it very interesting that the idea of a matchmaker has made such a large come back recently. But I suppose people can afford to be pickier when they can cast a much wider net for a partner than was possible a few generations ago.

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avatar Kyle

I used to absolutely love dating; even the bad dates were fun for me, so I would never do something like this. But hey, if it works, why not? Good luck to those who have the money.

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avatar krantcents

The concept is real interesting! I can say that since I married my college sweetheart 42 years ago. If things were different, I think I would try a few other things first. For example, joining organizations with people who are interested in the same things or rely on friends to meet new people. I am not opposed to these services, but it would be my 3rd or 4th choice.

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avatar cubiclegeoff ♦896 (Dime)

Just an expensive way to try and bring back arranged marriages. It might work for some, as long as they have the right goals, needs, and wants in mind. I don’t need one of these, but if I did, I don’t think I would use one.

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avatar rewards ♦31 (Newbie)

With the difference being that most arranged marriages were forced upon the children, while most modern matchmaking services allow you the complete freedom to opt in and opt out on a whim.

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avatar cubiclegeoff ♦896 (Dime)

To a point, yes. Although many arranged marriages are treated much differently than they used to be.

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avatar Will @ HackingTheBank.com ♦258 (Nickel)

I don’t think there’s anything against this, especially if you’re working from home. I think workplace is one of the top places people find a mate. There’s also friends and social organizations that lead to dating and sometimes love. If one or two of these don’t apply, that really cuts down on the number of people you’re meeting and potential dates. I think a matchmaking service can be perfect for a lot of people.

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avatar Kathryn C

I would totally pay big bucks to find true love. But, I’d only pay the big bucks if it was 100% that I would find true love with that service (which obviously is unrealistic). So for now, I’m on the cheap with match.com which is a complete waste of my time….but it definitely gives me some good material to blog about.

But I agree, I don’t think you meet *that* person that easily these days, so when you do you’ve gotta go for it.

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avatar Jenna

Wonder what the success rate between match making services and online dating is?

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avatar 20andengaged ♦367 (Nickel)

I wouldn’t pay anything. I believe true love happens, it’s not paid for. But good luck to the people who do pay.

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avatar DonnaFreedman ♦2,497 (Dollar)

It seems kind of sad to me…paying to find love?
Although these women are screened and may seem “great,” with college degrees and good jobs of their own, I’d be awfully cautious if I were a man. There are other dating services out there, so what is the motivation behind a woman’s seeking a rich guy? Does she expect to be able to quit her job and live in luxury? If he lost all his money would she dump him?
Some women carp about men only wanting beautiful women. Is specifying “rich and at least 6 feet tall” any less shallow than the quest for a trophy wife?

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avatar wylerassociate ♦906 (Dime)

the one thing that people who use online dating sites need to be aware is that these sites are full of dating & marriage scams. If a girl or guy accepts your interest and says that she’s stuck in nigeria, end all contact right there and then.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,387 (Platinum)

There’s a difference between online dating sites and the services mentioned in the article. There certainly are dangers to online dating, and in general to meeting new people you know little about, but at least with the high-prices matchmaking services, there is an amount of personal screening embedded in the process.

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

i stick to the words of one john lennon…life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. i feel when a relationship is meant to happen, it just will.

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avatar Shannon

FYI – the people who appear on The Millionaire’s Club are not real members. They were picked to just appear on the show. There is a disclaimer on the show credits or something.

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avatar Jarich

I’ve never considered a matchmaker service, but I have enjoyed dating through OkCupid. Absolutely there are losers on the site, and I’d guess there are only about 20-30% women, even though it’s free. The match algorithm is what originally got me interested, and I’d have to say I’m pretty impressed with it still. Turns out that I’ve gotten along very well with almost every single person I have a high match rating with, and gotten along poorly with almost everyone else. And the best thing about all of that is that each user gets to choose how picky they are about the ideal answers.

I can’t imagine using a match making service that cost thousands of dollars, but it’s worth remembering who is the client here. The MM team are looking to find someone for the man; they are not looking to find someone for the woman. While their selection pool may be large, it is also possible that they would look outside the client base to find someone for him. That is what he’s paying for. As such, for a woman on the site, it pays to be attractive, well educated, financially able already. If you dug deeper, you’d probably find that the most successful women on the site have tended to be independent, financially savvy, business women who were single and also didn’t have time to do the whole dating thing; (and also who didn’t want to have to filter out the gold diggers directly). I’ve got no idea about the minimum height thing.

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avatar Randi

Haha, shouldn’t you be crahgnig for that kind of knowledge?!

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avatar Jason Jenkins

P.T. Barnum had it right – “There’s a sucker born every minute.” To the men who sign up for these things I say, “Be careful, you might get what you pay for.” To the women I say, “How does it feel to be lined up like the merchandise at a bordello?”

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avatar Pearl

I’m about a year late in finding this online article about matching services. I have been trying Selective Search and find the experience to be awful. The men they’ve matched me with have been unattractive older guys – or nerdy types – who cannot find dates but are making a decent salary (or they claim to be making decent salaries). So it is a way to try to hook a woman. But for me, that doesn’t work as money means very little to me. So this Selective Search matching doesn’t work (not for me). The two men who I’ve met – though perhaps they’ve been earning a decent living – have been boring nerds, unsexy, unappealing mean who would never find dates if they weren’t able to boast their earning power. Awful service. I’ve always done much better meeting men the old fashioned way (in person) where the spark or attraction is known from the start. Match ups are so artificial with too much pressure to make a relationship work. Also, with Selective Search, the men are paying for the service because they’re boasting that they make money as a way to lure in younger women (gold diggers). It’s all sickening. I’m a women in my mid-forties and I often attract slightly younger men who are about 40 year old up to my age. At Selective Search, they’ve only matched me with older guys who are so unappealing. Awful service – I don’t recommend any of the matching services. Much better to meet someone in person on your own!

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