A new matchmaking agency wants us to put the smartphones down. Amy Dawson tests it out.
Award-winning dating blogger Katy Horwood has tried every dating site going and she’s had enough. ‘I met my ex online and we dated for 18 months’ she tells me. ‘A week after we broke up, he was back on the same site. To me, that sums up the horrors of traditional online dating – where everyone is disposable.’
With her sister Dominique, Horwood set up new matchmaking agency Four Letter Word. We meet over a glass of wine and she explains their motivations and what makes Four Letter Word different.
‘Men have forgotten how to approach a woman in a bar, they just stand there swiping away at Tinder,’ she says. ‘It’s the impersonal online aspect we want to get away from.’
Rather than filling in lengthy online profiles and uploading pictures of yourself, signing up to Four Letter Word involves having an informal meeting with one of the team.
Nothing goes up online and there’s no trawling through profiles. Once they have a feel for what you’re looking for, they will choose a couple of people they think you might get on with. They don’t give out email addresses and discourage texts because they want their clients to pick up the phone.
There’s no specific criteria for membership (apart from an ability to pay the annual fee, which ranges from £1,500 to £3,600 depending on which ‘tier’ you choose) but Horwood is looking to match ‘dynamic, attractive and successful’ singletons – and if someone didn’t fit that bill, she would discourage them from wasting their money.
The team goes out headhunting at ‘exclusive’ events, looking for eligible guys and girls who they add to their books for free. ‘We don’t have a shopping list,’ says Katy, ‘but let’s just say we’re not going to go into a Camden Wetherspoons.’
Though I’ve had it sold to me as the promised land, my forays into Tinder haven’t exactly thrilled me – it seems to be full of men posing with dolphins, sending winky faces. But some of the best boy meetings I’ve had have been engineered by a wily mutual friend – so I’m keen to see if Horwood’s approach offers a good middle ground.
I go on two dates with interesting men: one with a guy who runs his own ethical beauty brand and another with an actor who used to work for the MoD. Although that elusive chemistry isn’t quite there with either of them, they are both good-looking, polite and clever. Horwood contacts me before and after each date to see how I got on. So all in all, it’s a pleasant experience.
I’m probably not quite in the right demographic for the agency – both men are around a decade older than me and are far more financially solvent. But if you are the super-busy sort with adequate funds who wants something hassle free that doesn’t involve spending hours and hours scrolling down a screen, it’s well worth giving this a go.