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Signing Up for a Personal Matchmaking Service

Personal matchmaking services vary enormously, depending on their population; the credentials, training, skill, professionalism, and ethics of the matchmaker; whether the company is a nationwide franchise or a more personalized boutique service; whether the matchmaker meets you or not; and whether the service is a real business or a hobby the owner is doing to meet a special someone. A difference also exists between businesses run predominantly to make money and those run by someone who actually cares about the service sold.

Most personal matchmaking services will interview you extensively, asking questions about your relationship goal and match preferences. The service screens and researches matches for you and then notifies you via mail or phone that your match is ready. If both parties accept the match, names and numbers are exchanged, and you and your match get in touch to arrange a date. The service does the work while you have all the fun. Not bad, eh?

Prices vary from almost nothing ($150) to $4,000 or more, depending on your city and the type of program involved. Good services cost at least $1,000 because of all the work involved and the cost to the company. Services go by time (one or two years) or by the number of matches you receive. Prices for personalized matchmaking services tend to be firm — and should stay firm.

In contrast to library-type matchmaking services, where you basically do all the work and can consequently bid down the price, personalized matchmaking services do as much of the work for you as possible. Your membership fee has to cover the more in-depth interviewing and screening, the matchmaker's time, and the salary of the people informing you by phone or letter about your match. Just like library services, personal services have to pay for rent, office expenses, advertising, and direct mail. Therefore, these services reap much less profit than library services and, hence, have less room to cut costs. The benefit of all that, however, is that you'll feel less like you're buying a used car!

Pluses: There are many advantages to using a credible matchmaking service. If you're a busy person with many responsibilities, you'll appreciate the convenience and time saved. Because the service does everything that you don't have to do (interviewing, screening, and researching your matches), and you spend your time doing what only you can do (dating the people and figuring out who's more compatible for you), this is the easiest, most time-efficient way to meet people. Everyone burns out when they do too much of something for too long, so allowing a service to do what you don't have to do enables you to date longer before burning out. Since dating burnout is often a problem with other methods, this is a big advantage over library services, personal ads, and any other dating method where you do more of the work.

The personalized, confidential attention is often more comfortable than flipping through photos of prospective mates in a large room filled with strangers — or putting your personal information on a library shelf or in an ad for others to review. In addition, because the matchmaker has to match you, she has to keep the numbers relatively even with regard to sex, age, and other variables. This is a huge advantage over the library services.

Minuses: Nothing in life is perfect. So like all methods of finding a special sweetie, personal matchmaking services have their drawbacks, too — the amount depending on the specifics of that service. For example, some services have you fill out forms and interview with someone other than the matchmaker. Others claim to send your data out of town to a person or computer program that supposedly matches you. Do not use these kinds of services.

If a matchmaker hasn't met you, then that person knows very little about your personality, so your matches are less likely to be compatible. Also, be wary of any service that says it's testing you. Valid, standardized psychological tests must be administered, scored, interpreted, and kept under lock and key by a psychologist. Chances are, the tests you take are just quizzes, and results may not even be taken into consideration. Quizzes aren't necessarily bad, but don't let a service convince you that it's best simply because it uses non-standardized, unreliable quizzes.

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