My daughter’s experience of online dating has been almost uniformly disastrous. She’s a bright,
pretty, twenty something, living in London with a good job and lots of friends, yet still, she’s met
some real stinkers. It’s true, some of her friends have been luckier and found their ideal partners
this way, but not before experiencing many bruising encounters. For those of us who are older,
with more self knowledge and varied life experience to inform our views, jumping into such a freefor-all appears quite risky behaviour.

When Tinder became available to all smartphone users in 2013, it heralded a new chapter in love
and romance. It immediately gave us easy access to a huge pool of prospective partners that we
otherwise would never have had the chance to know about or meet. And finding special people to
form relationships with has never been easy, despite what romantic books and movies tell us.
Nowadays, it is no longer considered strange or a bit of a failure to have met your partner through
an online dating app or website and dating in this way is becoming the norm, particularly amongst
younger age groups. Yet recently a survey found that using these sites was found to be fairly
unsatisfactory to many, particularly amongst highly educated individuals, with 28% of people
across all groups reporting the experience had left them feeling hopeful, but 45% saying they just
found the experience frustrating.

7 in 10 online daters think it is very common for people who use these platforms to lie in order to
appear more desirable, and it has become a common joke, even featuring in adverts, to find that
in real life your date appears much older/balder/ fatter/ weirder than you had been led to believe.
Like many other facets of the internet, online dating can exist in a world of its own, with
encounters taking place in a social vacuum, divorced from usual social constraints. In the past if
you went on a date with someone from work, or a friend of your brother’s and they behaved badly,
there were consequences. Others would get to hear about it. Not so in the realm of online dating
where dates can be numerous and casual and take on the appearance of a dystopian game show.
This may be one reason why many people, across all age groups, still say they would prefer to
meet a partner ‘in real life’.

With all this in mind, traditional, face to face matchmaking offers a happy medium. Opportunities
to move outside our immediate sphere in order to find interesting people we can form meaningful
connections with, but always with a human element. A matchmaker can get to know us well, our
past experiences and our hopes for the future and guide us towards others who are compatible.
The human input of a matchmaker can also spice things up a bit and perhaps offer the
opportunity and encouragement to meet someone we previously may not have considered. The
gatekeeping aspect of personal matchmaking also ensures we are meeting people who are
exactly who they say they are, and look as they do in the photo. And of course, privacy and
discretion are at the heart of this personal service. Over the past few months, Coronavirus has
made us all extremely aware of what a vital role others play in our lives and how the personal
touch continues to matter.

A guest blog from Julia Ruskin