Non-Digital Social Networking for Love - Social Week


By Jess Goulart

Photo courtesy of al fernandez.

“Wow very sexy think me and you would have some great fun in and out of the bedroom love a sexy girl and was seeing if you were up to some fun tonight seeing where close by each other drinks and hot kinky play all night.”

That is an actual pick up line used by an actual man on OKCupid, who thought it would actually land him a date. We even toned it down from the original, which you can read here. It’s pulled from Soon2BeCatLady, a hilarious blog about online dating helmed by the anonymous Cat Lady. She tells BTR that after signing up for OKCupid she discovered her membership afforded her both dates and a never-ending supply of ridiculous anecdotes on questing for love through the Wild West of Cyberspace.

“When I first joined, I got a message on OKCupid that said ‘I’m not afraid to fuck a mime, let’s go get coffee sometime,’ and I nearly wet myself,” Cat Lady recalls. “I thought, this is it, I need to write a book, I need to do something with this, and my blog was born.”

Of course, Cat Lady isn’t the only one waking up to distasteful messages in her inbox, but the risks of online dating extend beyond X-rated invites. Anyone using dating websites like Match or Tinder knows when you agree to a date the reality of the person who shows up often differs from their profile. Sometimes you build up expectations in your own head and the person falls short, sometimes they are purposefully lying to you.

So, how do you find love? Emma Tessler thinks she can help.

Tessler and friend Lauren Kay recently co-founded a company called The Dating Ring. Unlike the aforementioned outlets, it’s not an app and it’s not online. There are no profiles, no pictures, no messages. Instead, old-school matchmakers meet and get to know each applicant in person, then arrange group outings and one-on-ones based on who they think will hit it off.

“The Dating Ring is unique in a couple ways,” Tessler tells BTR. “First, in 2013 it’s extremely rare to be offline based. Also, we’re working with the same client base as online dating sites–Millennials, people in their twenties and thirties–but unlike traditional matchmakers, we are able to access that demographic because we’re cheap. A lot of other similar services cater to much older, much wealthier people.”

Tessler is referring to companies like Kelleher International, a well-known matchmaking company only for people of a specifically high income and social status. While these companies are deliberately exclusionary, The Dating Ring seeks to have as wide a social network as possible, believing that is the secret to their high success rate. Thus, initial access is only $20.

For clients like New York resident and Dating Ring member Melissa Brady, The Dating Ring’s personal touch is one of the most attractive elements of service.

“Maybe it takes a little bit of time for the matchmaker to get to know me, but I found that part to be one of the coolest things about The Dating Ring,” Brady explains to BTR.

Brady says she gets excited about events for both the matchmakers and the great people they draw in. Even when a potential date doesn’t materialize, she’s happy to make new friends.

In a move that spurred some media coverage, The Dating Ring recently held a cross-country event where they flew women from New York to meet with men from San Francisco. The trip was funded by a Crowdtilt campaign in which singles talked about the gender disparities of each coast, claiming there were too many single women in New York, and too many single men in San Francisco.

Tessler reports the event a success, primarily because it inspired The Dating Ring’s new premium membership. With the premium package, patrons have access to a personal matchmaker who will work dates into the customer’s schedule as well as meet to discuss how the dates went and better hone in on their clients’ tastes.

“The cross-country trip was so great because we got to know the women really well since we kind of went on vacation with them,” Tessler says. “We really liked the attention we were able to give to the women during the trip, so afterwards we launched the premium membership plan where we’re able to spend a lot more time just focusing on you.”

Brady and Tessler both say that dating can be challenging in today’s busy world, in which it seems we’re moving away from lasting relationships.

They’re not wrong. Green State University’s National Center for Marriage and Family Research reports that the marriage rate is down to a historic low of 31 marriages per 1000 unmarried women, as compared to 92 in 1920. The Guardian reports that the birth rate is declining dramatically in Japan as young people insist they have no interest in relationships at all.

Stanford University published a report claiming the internet has largely replaced family ties, school, and work as influences on meeting potential mates. As a result, people who don’t have access to the internet are substantially less likely to find partners.

Clearly, the need for dating services is there.

“Our parents didn’t go through this because they didn’t have the internet, but there’s always been help in dating–matchmakers, betrothals, blind dates,” Tessler explains. “It might be something besides the internet in the future, but there will always be help in this area. That is timeless.”