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Monday, 20 February 2012

The Price of Love by Nathalie Kyrou

(published in Gold International Magazine - Feb Issue)
According the wisest of men, love is free. Philosophers, educationalists, spiritual and religious people of all cultures and backgrounds will agree: the most universal and powerful thing on earth is love, and deep down all of us desire to love and be loved, and the good news is that love is free to spread around. So why is it that so many people nowadays believe they need to pay for it?
While it may be true that you can’t really buy happiness or love, the reality is that money gives you a chance to rent the idea of potential love. In our constantly growing population, people are paradoxically starting to feel more isolated and lonely. They have developed the need to connect online in a society which has become over-dominated by technology. It follows that they will use the internet to do what traditionally they did in person, which is to go out and meet someone new, go on an actual date and maybe even find love.
No one leaves things to chance anymore. Today, we control our own fate with access to the web. The Internet has changed the way we get our news, watch television, read books and shop - why wouldn’t it also change the way we date? We still may not be able to buy love, but we can buy our ticket into the lottery of love. The cost is minimal, compared to the chance of finding that special someone (the jackpot). So why deny ourselves that little help – everyone else is doing it - even if it costs a little something. It is so much easier and arguably safer to connect to the web and click to find yourself a date or at least have fun chatting online to someone, it is no surprise then that entrepreneurs have tapped into this evolving trend in psychology and social behavior as an easy way to enrich themselves from other people's innate and human need and right to find love. Online dating sites have become the answer.
Take for example, Europe’s largest dating network, offering thousands of men and women the chance to find love. The scenario is usually the same with most sites: at first you are asked to enter some basic contact info about yourself, followed by an option to add more personal info. This first-stage registration - which is usually free - allows you to browse photos of thousands of friendly singles who are looking for love (a clever way to hook you and tease you) and by answering questions about yourself and what you are looking for, you can narrow down your search according to what you are hoping to find in a partner. Create a valid and interesting dating profile which will give others an idea of not just how you look but also your personality and interests and you may increase your chance of getting noticed. But when you do find someone you are interested in there is a catch: you must subscribe in order to connect with them… and this is where money comes in (to the website owner’s pockets).
On, without a subscription all you can do is “favourite” someone or “wink” at another online. In order to view a profile, send or reply to messages and emails, you need to subscribe first. You can choose the Special Offer for 6 months at €12,90 per month, 3 months at €24,90 per month (which the small print says you will be invoiced in one payment for), or a Monthly Subscription at €34,90 per month. This may not seem like a lot of money at first (much less than you would probably spent on a date or a night out looking to meet someone) but it does add up, especially if it becomes a lifestyle habit. Not only is love not free, it is not guaranteed either. Of course if you are wealthy then money is not going to be the issue. You will probably not mind paying a small enough fee to get yourself a date, since you probably have a lot of cash to blow. You may see it as an investment of sorts. Which is why dating sites targeted to the rich (or those wishing to meet them) work on a slightly differently basis. Mixing business with pleasure may be considered a taboo, but putting business before pleasure is just smart.
The sites out there right now for wealthy singles, or singles who wish to date wealthy singles, understand this – so much so, that most of them verify member’s income levels in order to assure the people joining that they are visiting a professional and safe place where you won’t waste your time beating about the bush. Designed for those with money in mind, these dating services take a different marketing approach. They are blatantly reserved mainly for those looking to enjoy a wealthy lifestyle or want to find someone with a certain income. As long as you are clear about who you are (how much you make) and what (who / how much) you want, you may actually stand a chance of making it worth your while. It may sound shallow, but like all other materialism marketed to our emotions and needs, it is also serious business. is rated one of the top sites catering for wealthy singles and it is one of the original dating services for affluent individuals. It offers members the chance to post a lifetime personal ad and respond to messages for free, which is one of the reasons perhaps for its popularity. The community has voted Millionaire Match top pick in the "Wealthy" category for 4 years in a row, and it won top choice from the 18 Wealthy Dating Websites that reviewed recently. Millionaire Match Homepage’s states: "This is the first, most effective and largest site in the world to connect with, date, marry successful, beautiful people. Our members include CEOs, pro athletes, doctors, lawyers, investors, entrepreneurs, beauty queens, fitness models, and Hollywood celebrities, just to name a few.” A strong statement indeed, but it is supported by two of the leading financial publications, and The Wall Street Journal. Both chimed in their opinion of Millionaire Match's premier status and leadership in the wealthy dating category.
Romance, sex and lifelong partnerships are such fertile grounds for money-making that dating website services are multiplying constantly. Take’s spin-off service, MatchAffinity, which promises you the chance to find someone on your wavelength for a lasting relationship «with real affinity». Compared to its sister company, is MatchAffinity for the more serious (desperate?) individual who wants a genuine connection with a real match? Apparently their matchmaking system seeks to recognise members’ core beliefs and characteristics through a questionnaire / personality test in order to find like-minded members with whom they could be destined for a strong, lasting relationship. You even get an affinity score (another tactic in which to hook people like with online games ?) Yes, you may be able to send a first message for free, but if you want to carry on the conversation, surprise surprise… you need to subscribe and pay in order to enjoy the full benefits. Yet another way to make you gamble away your money.
If money is no issue (or if money is the only issue), then is an extremely well-known dating service for people who focus on the financial fruit of love. It shares the same slick fashionable look of other similar sites, with good quality photos of good looking people. The home page states: “Ladies, meet successful men with verified photos, professions and incomes, and ask men who are gentlemen with a great career and make over $85k/year and want to meet beautiful and interesting women to sign up for free as well”. Options are presented to sign up or if you want to test the waters first, you can perform a search. The parameters offered at this stage are minimal with options for sex, age, and location. As a visitor (non-registered user), you can see the first page of members' listings after performing a search (venturing beyond the first page will land you at the registration page). If you have an interest in your search prospects and want to initiate contact, you will have to register, which means to choose between two Premium memberships types. ‘Silver’ allows you to respond to messages while ‘Gold’ lets you use e-mail to initiate contact or respond to interesting members. The site has few extraneous features; there are no 'flirts', chat, or Instant Messenger features. Basically, it is a site that offers a member database and communication system (e-mail), which makes it useful for those who know what they want from a portal like this, and are not embarrassed to ask for it.
In fact, in the world of the wealthy - or those intent on joining it - there is no room for being shy. No matter what you want, there is no shame in being transparent about it. Whatever you are into, you are bound to find a service which promises to help you find it., for example, which has been featured on television programs such as the U.K’s ‘Richard & Judy Show’ and the U.S’s ‘Dr. Phil’, is a place where you can join and find millionaires and models. Not too different from, which sees itself as an 'arrangement' website, a growing sub-category in wealthy dating. Their welcome page serves as a quasi-advertisement, geared at getting you to try the site with some attention grabbers. "Join free" is the most prominent message on the page. The site is unabashed in stating loud and clear that it is “The Elite Sugar Daddy Dating Site for Those Seeking Mutually Beneficial Relationships” So, if you’re a “goal seeking sugar baby” looking for a “modern sugar daddy” then look no further. Yes, it may be more than a little kitsch, but it can work if you understand the lingo. Check out the bottom of the page where you will find definitions for the common terms: sugar daddy, sugar mommy and sugar baby. If you’re still not sure what they are going on about, click on the button “What’s an arrangement”, where you can read a whole spiel about how it’s human nature for successful people to want younger and more attractive partners and that it’s also natural for younger men and women to seek out more experienced, sophisticated, wealthy and generous partners, specifically those who have the means of providing them with comforts and luxuries. It even goes as far as to remind you that anthropologists say these tendencies are ingrained in our genes and that it is only human instinct to be attracted to beauty, wealth and power!
Typically, as with most wealthy dating sites, you can register as a Sugar Dad or Sugar Mom and use the site as a Standard (free) member or upgrade to a Premium membership. Benefits of the upgrade are primarily the ability to contact all members through e-mail, use the advanced search section and see who has viewed your profile. A search, like on other similar services, will turn up a cross-section of beautifully photographed members and this particular site even has a feature for identifying verified millionaires. It's good in theory, but does it actual produce any real results? Overall, the site is interesting but somewhat confusing, and you will end up not sure what is really being offered, and to whom (perhaps another successful business snare). These specialists in 'arrangements' may offer good value for money, according to reviewers online, but these are probably retrospective comments from some members lucky enough to have gotten a date. In the big business of online dating, although there may be some successful stories about people clicking their way into love (and maybe even money), daters in general are not the ones who are getting the real reward out of this at the end of the day.
Dating services may have challenges to face, such as overcoming the widespread notion that people who use escort services and personal ads are undesirable in some way, but these sites are trading on the powerful desire of singles to connect… something that works to make them a lot of money. How successful have online dating sites been when it comes to revenues? You might be surprised. They generate more income than online pornography. In fact, online dating sites rank as the third most popular internet revenue-making machine, behind only digital music and video games. Online dating revenues are also growing steadfast; in 2007, dating sites earned about $1.03 billion in revenues, and in 2012 that figure is expected to climb to $1.65 billion. The price of love keeps going up, and the slow-down in consumer spending hasn't cramped this industry at all - if anything, it seems to have made people more eager to settle down.