To be very frank, I would have never approached a dating agency to set up matches for me. Yes, it is still a stigma in the Asian context especially and people generally feel somewhat embarrassed if they have to rely on an agency to get dates.
However, when professional dating agency Lunch Actually invited me to try out their services, I thought, “Why not?” I wanted to find out for myself how these agencies work and getting to personally experience it is the best way – since I’m single anyway.
In addition, Lunch Actually is a reputable agency, with 11 years in the business and branches in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Bangkok.
So how does it work? The process is quite simple:
A dating consultant spent about an hour and a half with me at their office, speaking to me, doing a profile of me and also getting a grasp of my personality. You fill out Level 1 criteria here, such as basic preferences of age, religious beliefs, height, academic background, activities, hobbies etc.
It is mandatory for Lunch Actually to meet all potential clients in person before they decide to accept them. For example, if they are mentally unsound, have stringent demands or are not serious about finding a life partner, Lunch Actually will turn them down. You also cannot buy packages on behalf of others.
After you go home, another questionnaire – more thorough this time – will be sent to your email so you can take your time, in your own space and comfort, to fill it out. These questions are more in-depth and they cover aspects of past relationships, how your friends think of you, things and people you cannot live without and other interests.
Along with these completed answers, you also send in your highest education certificate, latest income statement and annulment/divorce papers if applicable.
Armed with all these overwhelming information about you, your dating consultant will then spend the next 4-6 weeks (or shorter) to find you a match. It took them nearly 2 months to find me a match, which started to get me a little worried about the preferences I stated. During this matching period, you can also attend image coaching and date coaching courses to help you prepare.
When a suitable match is found, your dating consultant will pitch your profile across and vice-versa. If both are agreeable to meet after hearing what the other party is like, an available date and time will be planned for the date.
I was initially to meet someone else, but something unforeseen happened and another person was matched to me instead. He didn’t tick all of my boxes, but he sounded interesting enough for me to agree. Which I did.
I told my dating consultant that I preferred Japanese cuisine, but I’m not particular if he decides to have something else. I gave a list of my available dates and times, and a couple of minutes after the call I received an email with the details of the date.
As it got closer to the date, I received an email and a couple of texts from my consultant with tips for the first date. First impressions count she said; don’t talk about exes she advised; be positive and don’t set high expectations she cautioned.
I promised I would wear a dress with heels, apply make-up and comb my hair – though I really wished I could just go in my usual tank top, booty shorts and slippers. I made the effort and I ended up with blisters at the end of the night, but the dinner wasn’t a nightmare thankfully.
Picking up the tab is not a must for the guy – we went Dutch – and it’s totally up to either party to initiate the next step. For example, if he doesn’t ask for your number then you should know where you stand. But even if he does ask, it might be out of courtesy!
(More details of my blind date here.)
The next day, my consultant called me to ask for my feedback on the date. It is up to you to share as much detail as you want about the date, but most importantly, be honest about your experience so they can help you better. Do not expect the feedback from both parties to be exchanged – if it’s meant to be, it will be.
I admit going on an arranged date is not something that I would do, but I was curious to find out how this works. No, this is not a disclaimer. I’ve heard horror stories about blind dates from my friends, especially those who go on Tinder, but Lunch Actually is a professional agency that takes thorough efforts to do their homework and research before matching you with someone.
My advice is not to expect to find instant love through these dates. Take it as a way of meeting like-minded singles; like-minded in the sense that they are looking for lifetime partners but have no time to go through too many hits and misses. Lunch Actually helps to narrow the search so you don’t have to keep meeting random strangers whom you barely know anything about.
They have different packages that you can sign up for, like three or 10 dates. Note that they are all first dates, so you meet a new person each time. Some of these packages come with trial dates, before you decide to commit to the entire package.
If you are single, busy and have no time to do filtering, give this a try. I have a giveaway here:
Win a 1-date package from Lunch Actually (worth over $1,000 each!)
Participants must be strictly singles who are Singaporeans, Singaporean PRs or hold working permits. This also depends on suitability. Three lucky singles stand to win:
To take part in this contest, go here and submit your details. This contest is only valid till the end of October so you will have to go down for the free consultation by the end of this month.
*This is brought to you by Lunch Actually.