ated: BST, 2 January She's a self-confessed hyper-fussy divorcee who'd rather kiss her pet lambs than any man. So what happened when Liz Jones joined the world's swankiest dating agency to hook herself a millionaire? Until now, I always thought people who resort to dating agencies must be a little desperate. True love should happen by chance, shouldn't it?
In the films, people lock eyes on the train, start a conversation and then fall in love. In reality, we are too awkward and British to act on impulse. If you have crossed paths with another user, they'll show up at the top of your Happn page. If you like what you see, you can send a heart and, if they send one back, instigate a conversation. Your exact location is not shared - just the approximate area.
To set up a profile, you need more than just photos and a one-line bio. Instead, you must answer three questions e. Andrew Garcia" and potential matches can 'like' your answers and start up a conversation. The app is free to download and you have unlimited access to profiles, swiping and sending messages. However, you can upgrade to a Preferred Membership, which allows you to better filter results i. Tinder, the photo-heavy app with 2 billion views per day, allows you to swipe right to potential partners, then message and arrange a date.
The app is responsible for 1 million dates per week, according to the site. Tinder seems geared towards casual dating. Profiles are not as detailed as on other apps, but you can include your name, job, company, education, location and links to your Instagram and Spotify accounts.
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If you want to be spoiled for choice, give - thefoodlumscatering.com a go. Profiles consist of basic personal information and you get notifications when someone likes or messages you.
This, however, can be overwhelming as there are so many users.
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However, it certainly brings something different to the dating game. Its stand-out USP is that the site only sends you one match every day, which means you have to really consider whether this person is a good match, as opposed to swiping left without giving them a second thought. If you match, the app suggests a personalised icebreaker e. However, you can upgrade for a Premium membership to tell if you messages have been read and to access stats on your match - how long they typically take to reply, for instance.
You can filter results based on age, height, religion, mother tongue, location, marital status and whether they have children. Membership is free, but Premium membership allows you to connect directly with matches and view their detailed profile information.
On Christian Connection, users can create detailed profiles, outlining their jobs, political views, dream holiday destinations, favourite films and, of course, religious standpoints. Membership is free but this only allows you to match, send waves and preset replies.
The app is free for you to swipe, match and chat.
Dating in the UK!
However, you can upgrade to Instant Match, where you can talk to someone before they have liked you back. They met at 5pm in the upstairs bar and spent an hour and a half talking about what she wanted in a partner.
Should I join a dating agency?
One was called Wayne, the other Tim. Reassured by this, Ms Fontaine agreed to join. But there was some good news. Wayne wanted to meet her. She was given his email address and sent him a message.
But she heard nothing back. They emailed her some more details, for a man with a Persian-sounding name, who was 56 and worked in financial investments.
In further emails, she found out that he had only been divorced for two months. But when Ms Fontaine rang to complain, Elect informed her that they had received a complaint about her, from the Persian gentleman. All I had asked was where he worked and how long he had been divorced. I was planning to get out before I had to pay any more money. She was offered another introduction, this time to an IT worker called Terry, who was in his 50s and from Pinner.
They met at Sloane Square, in Chelsea, where Terry emerged from the Underground station wearing an anorak and carrying a rucksack. He was hardly the City slicker Elect were promising. He was such a nice guy, a really decent bloke, but it was a total mismatch.
I prefer St Tropez. But there was worse to come.
They had taken its members on to their books. It meant that I was being sent to meet people who were a million miles from what I had been promised. Looking for love: Many women are turning to one of the new breed of 'boutique' dating clubs, promising a bespoke service for busy high-flyers. Ms Fontaine, who was awarded an MBE in for her charitable work, is now being chased by a debt-collection agency for outstanding fees. If you are 25 you can have two dates a week ,but when you are in your 40s with specific requirements it is more difficult.
I tell her I'd prefer someone around my own age she tells me I don't look 50, and am in fact 'slim, fashionable and gorgeous', which makes me want to date herbut they must be boyish rather than Steptoe-like I tell her Imran Khan could be her template, although I wouldn't date him as I don't think my cats would want to live in Pakistan.
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I'm not interested in the boring banker types that make up the bulk of her clients. She tells me I seem to have narrowed my options to Paul McCartney but, rather valiantly, accepts the challenge to help me find Mr Right. This is how it works. Once a client has been interviewed and then vetted - Mairead visits them at home, checking out passports and, if necessary, decree absolutes - she will then introduce them to prospective partners all over the world rich people, it seems, have no truck with annoying things like distance and time zones.
She never sends clients photos, but instead supplies a brief resume of their qualities. She has, she says, an instinct for knowing who will hit it off. I feel as though I'm about to sit my A-levels all over again. My first date takes place in London.
Mairead phones to tell me about M, who is 46, in wealth management, whatever that is, and a divorced father of two grown-up boys.
He lives between London and Oxford. I ask whether he is handsome. The next night, he calls me. He sounds young, and is surprisingly open.
He says he likes good hotels and restaurants, long walks and log fires. I tell him I live in the middle of Exmoor, have horses, dogs, cats and rescued farm animals, and am recently divorced.
We agree to meet the following night in the bar at Claridges. I tell him I have dark hair, and will be wearing purple Burberry platforms.
My friend Kerry, tired of my moaning, had told me about an upmarket dating agency that takes on only high-achieving rich people. 'You need someone generous,' she .
He laughs. I go to a lot of trouble to prepare for this date. I buy a black lace skirt and silver platforms from Prada, and get my hair done. I invest in a Hollywood wax, and an all-over light sheen of fake tan. When I get to the bar I'm so nervous I down a glass of champagne in one go, then text to tell him I've had a 'slight change of shoe: silver platforms, not purple Burberry'.
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When he arrives I am disappointed: he looks ordinary, in a normal, brownish suit, clutching a briefcase. He has nice brown eyes, but is not quite tall enough for me. He sits down. God, I think, this is awkward. He orders me another glass of champagne, and tells me about his ex-wife. I find it annoying that, when I tell him I work for a newspaper, he doesn't even ask which one.
After precisely one hour he asks for the bill, which immediately tells me he doesn't fancy me. I hobble off into the night on my shoes and text Mairead: 'Am V depressed.
He couldn't wait to get shot of me. I think I looked pretty good. Who are these men expecting, Elle Macpherson? Contrary to popular opinion there are, according to Mairead, a glut of rich, single men in New York. I find this hard to believe, having watched a great many episodes of Sex And The City, but I valiantly call skirt and shoes into service yet again wearing the same outfit acts, I as a sort of scientific controlmeet Christie, from Mairead's sister agency, Premier Matchmaking, who is hand to arrange everything.
Our chat reveals straight away how different the dating scene is in the U. She tells me where my prospective date went to school and college, lists his many degrees, tells me he is 6ft 2in, divrced with no children, and is the CEO of a bank. She hopes very much I 'enjoy him'.
I agree to meet P at a restaurant on Madison Avenue. I sit down at a table. He arrives, and although he is indeed tall and dark, resembling none other than Mr Big, I know in less than five seconds that I will never fancy him. But, after a few minutes, and much to my surprise, I start to enjoy his company immensely.
What do you look for, I ask. He says women in New York are only interested in how much money a man makes. Don't you fancy the over-groomed, immaculate Manhattan type?
I ask. The test is what they look like straight out of the shower. Oh dear.