There are many
ways to meet eligible people but, for most of us, the singles bars,
pubs and clubs leave a lot to be desired. They are nicknamed
'meat-markets' because patrons feel they're on display for prospective
takers to eye-off and choose from. It's not a pleasant feeling,
especially if you are passed over for others. Some unattached
men and women who frequent these places go home feeling far more
alone and miserable than they did at home. They're all right
for a fun night out, but you're asking to be disillusioned if you
believe you're going to meet a relationship prospect.
The alternatives are
social groups, the personal ads or introduction agencies.
I'd like to say a little about the last one because I have been
asked repeatedly over the years if they are reputable and if serious
relationship-hunters should use them. As with any other industry,
there are rip-off traders and genuine traders. The important
thing is to find out the difference before you sign on the
dotted line and pay over good money. On the whole, agencies
don't have a good reputation because the ones that do charge a lot,
and then don't provide a service, prey on a particularly vulnerable
section of society. The media focuses on this and a lot has
been made over recent years of these scam artists who open up shop,
make a bundle, and then disappear before consumer protection societies
can get them. So, it's a case of 'buyer beware', as always.
Here are some guidelines:
- Shop around and ask
a lot of questions before you decide on the agency for you.
- There will be a range
of services on offer. Check what you can expect for the
fee you're paying. Don't come away with unrealistic ideas
about the ideal partner you're going to meet, but nonetheless,
keep up a positive attitude so that you're not cynical about your
prospects before you even start.
- Don't be pressured
into signing up if you're not absolutely sure. If you're
asked to leave a deposit, no matter how small, don't agree unless
you're ready to commit to the agency, as even one dollar could
legally bind you.
- Find out what happens
after you sign up and leave the office, as one of the most common
complalnts about agencies is that they never keep in touch and
sometimes months can pass without a word.
- Be very clear on your
choices and requirements regarding prospective partners, as you
don't want to be matched up with one unsuitable candidate after
- Ask other people who
have joined agencies what their experiences were so that you can
make the best choice.
Another option is the
'personals' in the paper. These ads don't have a very good
reputation because women complain that the guys who respond only
want sex and the guys declare that the ads written by women are
misleading. Some local community papers have taken up the
challenge and offer more scope and variety in the way that males
and females can meet each other through advertising. I'd say
give it a whirl but be realistic and be careful. Phrase
your ad honestly, be as original as possible because that'll attract
more interesting prospects, but also answer ads with both eyes open.
If an advertiser says they're 'gorgeous', don't expect Tom Cruise
or Sharon Stone. Ads are often written with tongue in cheek.
Be very careful about
giving out any personal detalls in your initial reply and arrange
all meetings in a public place. After the first date, say
honestly if you don't want to continue the association so that no-one
gets mixed messages or led on.
If you're advertising
yourself, be sensitive to those brave souls who've taken the trouble
to answer you. Don't just ignore the letter because the person
doesn't sound interesting enough or 'your type'.