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The cost of finding love

Hearts and valentines, boxes of chocolates and sexy lingerie, that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you meet that special someone ... ah, love. But how do you find that special someone?

It's not easy. And, admitting that we need help finding love and companionship isn't a snap either. Many of the nation's singles are taking advantage of dating services to help them in their quest.

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"People are working long hours, some with children, and they don't have the time or the opportunity to meet people," says Mary Ann Siersdale, co-founder and president of a personalized dating service, Lunch Couples Company.

"In these uncertain times, people value sharing their lives with someone," she says.

But, how do you find that someone special with limited resources and a busy schedule?

"It's gotten harder and harder to meet the right person," notes Trish McDermott, vice president for romance at

"Bars and nightclubs don't seem to be the right environment."

Enter the matchmaker
Matchmaking has been around for over 300 years, says Will Knedlik, executive director of the now-dormant trade industry group, International Association of Introduction Agencies.

"Matchmakers and video-dating services were the greatest influence 25 years ago. The Internet now is filling the primary need," he says.

Today's dating service industry offers a variety of choices for finding love such as matchmakers, Internet and video-dating services, radio datelines, newspaper personal ads and online-dating Web sites.

So, how much do these various dating services cost and what does each offer?

Finding love on the Web -- for a fee
The Web has brought introduction services to the masses in a convenient style at extremely affordable prices.

Meeting someone online is actually quite similar to the way we used to date, says McDermott of

"We'd put on a pretty dress and makeup and we'd go out to bars or events hoping to meet nice people. Now we put on a pretty dress and makeup to demonstrate our best self in a picture to post up -- only the pool of potential life partners is bigger.

"It's not much different, we're just using better technology," she says.

"Beyond Valentine's Day, the quest to find modern love online is a prevailing trend 365 days a year. Today's singles want more than a date, and they are increasingly savvy about how to use technology to their advantage," says Neil Clark Warren, a psychologist and the founder of, the fastest-growing Internet relationship service.

The costs? is the nation's largest online-dating service and boasts a high success rate. For $24.95 a month, $44.85 for three months or $65.70 for six months, you can have access to its nearly 1 million subscribers.

eHarmony's services cost a bit more at $49.95 for a one-month subscription, $99.95 for a 3-month subscription, $149.95 for a six-month subscription and $249.95 for an entire year of membership.

Newcomers to eHarmony are encouraged to take a 436-question inventory. From that they get a six-page personality profile. Each newcomer selects 10 must-haves and 10 can't-stands about potential partners and selects a geographical area. If a compatible match is found, then they're asked to become subscribers.

"If you want to communicate with the people we find for you, then you are asked to pay a fee. But you can get all this valuable information about yourself for free," notes Warren.

Some of the online services are branching out beyond basic matchmaking. rolled out what it calls its advisers and assistants. For a per-minute fee of $1 or $1.50, you can talk with an expert to get advice on dating. For $40 you can get help writing that all-important profile that gets posted on the Web and tells all about you. also offers event and travel services getting single people together, whether in cooking classes or on trips abroad.

Meet with the matchmaker
Competing with,,, Yahoo personals, Love @AOL,,,, and many more are the brick and mortar operations -- those with a physical location and an on-site staff.

There are an estimated 1,000 independent full-time matchmakers in America, usually one-person operations.

They've survived the Internet explosion by serving niche singles such as millionaires, religious groups, executives, gays and seniors. They don't use the Web, but rely on word-of-mouth and networking. But fees can be astronomical, sometimes topping $25,000 and up.

-- Posted: Feb. 12, 2004




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