I have never before even been set up by friends or been on a blind date. But then I reached the first anniversary of my divorce and, much to my surprise, having sworn off men for life, I started to wonder, with the prospect of a great big yawning new year stretching ahead of me, whether there might be someone out there for me and, if so, how on earth am I going to find him?
Meet the matchmakers who find love for the international jet-set dating elite
Miraculously, given that I was the editor of a woman's fashion magazine, before meeting my husband in my early 40s then a BBC journalist, he came to interview me; as soon as we got married, he gave up his job and started having sex with other women , I had only ever had three boyfriends, two of whom hadn't even liked me that much. I think the reason I never met men was that I was either working, or sat at home, wishing they'd come to me, which, of course, they didn't. With such a terrible track record, I started to realise that, if I couldn't meet someone when I was in my prime, how on earth was I going to meet someone now I'm 50?
My friend Kerry, tired of my moaning, had told me about an upmarket dating agency that takes on only high-achieving rich people. And so, just before Christmas, I meet Mairead Molloy. Irish by birth, and having made a fortune in hotels, she now divides her time between Cannes and London. Five years ago, with an address book positively bulging with successful but often lonely men and women, she decided to set up a dating agency.
Surely, I ask her, rich men have no trouble attracting women? These men - actors, plastic surgeons, bankers, lawyers, entrepreneurs - not only don't have time to meet women, they've had enough of dating model types who are just after their money.
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That's what I like to hear, but I'm still dubious. Men say they want intelligent, independent women who are their equal in every way, but do they, really? Mairead, who is 38, blonde and delightfully blunt, asks me to fill her in on my background, and tell her what I look for in a man. I tell her I was married to someone much younger who never paid for anything.
I'm a romantic in that I expect the man I'm with not to even look at other women - to be like my dad, in other words - but then I come over all feminist if he attempts to pay for dinner. I'd never allow a man to take me on holiday. I'd feel like a prostitute.
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Mairead says I am, compared to her other female clients, all of whom want to be looked after by a man, very unusual. Otherwise, the qualities I am looking for are pretty standard: 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 her , but 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.
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.
4 matchmaking services for the ultra-wealthy
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. 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: When he arrives I am disappointed: He has nice brown eyes, but is not quite tall enough for me. 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: 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 control , meet 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. A contrarian, non-commercial streak in me embraced the romanticism of it all.
Certainly I was persuaded that it would be odd, and probably indeed impossible, to pay a financial bounty upon meeting a romantic partner. Moving in together, marriage? None of this adequately explains why per cent of the fees needed to be paid up front. This was never convincingly answered, perhaps because my agency never needed to. It would be unfair to call introduction services confidence tricks, but my role in the arrangement increasingly came to feel like that of the mark.
There would be no close matches — not even a short-term relationship, let alone anything serious or marriage.
One of the very first matches was the most promising: But a month later, her calendar miraculously opened up. Within six months, my matchmaker had gone on maternity leave and was replaced by two other staff members.
Before long, I asked for a partial refund and you can guess how that went. One curiosity throughout these match-made dates was that I, the man, invariably felt an obligation to foot all bar and restaurant bills. This was, apparently, the norm in these higher-end dating arrangements: Why should this be, in an era of greater gender equality?
Just how unbalanced could things get on this expensive dating journey? I was about to find out. Here, a deeper truth about the way this exclusive dating world works was revealed: There are different theories as to why this is, one being that women are more willing to invest substantially in finding the right life partner, another being the perception of a depleted pool of eligible men in other walks of life.
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- Meet the matchmakers who find love for the international jet-set dating elite.
Unwittingly I asked whether this was pounds or dollars. It was pounds, of course; we were sitting in a Chelsea pub, not in the West Village. Her own eyes narrowed. Finally I offered alcohol. Champagne, that ever reliable pick-me-up. Most dates were pleasant enough. Indeed, two women became friends. Matchmakers meet clients in person for just a couple hours of their lives, and feedback given after each date does little to alter this reality.lavizuzexyro.tk
4 matchmaking services for the ultra-wealthy | Fortune
Understandably, everyone wants to put their best side forward on paper and in photos; profiles tended to be of little use ahead of dates. Of course, the most famous example of a cross-Atlantic love affair is London-based human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and her Hollywood husband George Clooney. Having launched an international arm three years ago, founder Rachel MacLynn reports that those seeking an international match now account for 30 per cent of their revenue - she anticipates three-quarters of her clients will be looking for a transatlantic relationship by There are practical considerations at play too.
Courtship in these elite circles is often a matter of logistics. Clients have the best experience if we work around their existing schedule. It all sounds very glamorous, but when it comes down to it, arranging dates around packed itineraries can be very challenging. Almost straight away, I was paired with Jennifer, who worked in finance in Manhattan and also did a bit of back and forth across the pond.
I was staying in Chelsea and suggested dinner in Del Posto, an amazing Italian restaurant. It was a great first date that spawned a seven-month relationship. The key is rigorous profiling, says Mairead Molloy, global director of Berkeley International. Molloy is not the only one bringing impressive credentials to the table — MacLynn moved into matchmaking in following a career in business psychology, while Seventy-Thirty founder, Susie Ambrose, ran a successful psychotherapy practice prior to setting up the company.