Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned

I cancelled my membership yesterday with the absurdly expensive dating service I’d prepaid for. I’d been holding onto it because I was trapped in a sunk-cost fallacy mindset: I paid way too much for it, now I need to wring everything I can out of it.

But the reality is that it’s been a sucky experience. Here’s how they work: you talk with them for 45 minutes and pay them a truly ridiculous amount of money (literally, 4-figure money here) for 6 months of membership. They then set you up on lunch dates with people who match your tastes.

Except the reality is: A) they don’t seem to have enough people to really care about your tastes, and B) no one actually does lunch dates.

I should never have signed up, but the woman I talked to was so good at it, I was giving credit card info before I really understood that I was doing it.

My first date was set up with someone I remember literally nothing about, who backed out very quickly saying he was going exclusive with someone. Cool, I’d wait for the next one. Weeks pass. I get another phone call, and we set up my date with Duncan for a few weeks down the road. I believe (although I may be misremembering on this) that Duncan and I had to reschedule once, but I didn’t really mind, because it was a lunch, and it’s easy for me to shift my schedule around lunchtime. I’ve written about how that went. I called afterwards to debrief with them, per their instructions.

The next step was an in-person meeting with the service, so I set something up for after work and went into their office. That appointment was August 28, and was apparently to assess who would be a better fit for me. I’m pretty sure that was bullshit. I’m fairly confident the entire process is set up to make it feel like you’re getting value for your money, when you are absolutely not.

The next date they set up for me cancelled. Twice. Each time after I set up a 6:30 PM evening date, because that’s all he could make. I really don’t want 6:30 midweek dates, because it means I’m not seeing my kids, and makes me feel like a crappy parent, but hey, I’d paid the money, I should get my money’s worth out of it, right? Two cancellations. I said I wasn’t interested in trying again. They put me back in the pool.

They called with another guy, gave me his basic info, asked what evenings were good for me. No evenings! Evenings are bad for me. Weekend evenings, I want to spend doing things I like with people I’ve at least exchanged 2-3 words with, and weekday evenings, I want to not spend an hour wrestling with traffic to go make awkward conversation with someone. But I pick the least bad day, because hey: I should get my money’s worth, right?

Apparently, that guy didn’t work out, because my next phone call was for someone else, someone who lives an hour away from me with no traffic, both living and working in the heart of the city. They suggest a compromise city, I come up with my least bad day, and they ask about times. “Earlier?” I suggest. “Hm,” they say. “Maybe 7?” Fine, whatever. I’m frustrated. I don’t want to do this, but sure, I’ll fight rush hour traffic to go into Arlington and meet this guy who lives too far away from me. Maybe he’ll cancel, too, and I won’t have to worry about it.

This is the point where I realized I was being a monumental idiot. In 2.5 months, I’ve spent literally hours on the phone with these people, rearranged my schedule multiple times, built up multiple cycles of excitement and nervousness for exactly one crappy date.

So I sent them an email: On second thought, I’m going to pull out of this, and ask you to take me out of the matchmaker pool. This is becoming a very frustrating and unpleasant experience for me, with arranging childcare for days when people end up cancelling on me, and setting things up with people who are realistically living too far away from me to make things a real possibility. This service is obviously just not a good fit for me, and I’m going to stop pouring time and energy down the same well as the money I wasted on it.

Today, they called to try to talk me out of it, using the most patronizing language imaginable: “There’s no reason to stop dating because one guy cancelled on you!” “I hate to see you giving up like this!” “If these guys aren’t right, we’ll help you refine!” I tried, in return, to explain that they are not actually the only way in the world to date, and that I am stopping using them because they are actively getting in the way of me doing dating activities that might actually, you know, work. They kept trying to put me back in the dating pool. I said no. Finally, I just said, “Look, I’m done,” and hung up.

I’m pretty sure they’re still planning to call next week to try and get me to change my mind.

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