The history of dating agencies goes back more than 370 years. The first such office in the world was opened in London in 1650, and centuries later, in 2010, it was decided to make February 12th International Marriage Agency Day. Read our article on how these agencies live today, how they differ from dating sites and what goes on "behind the scenes".

Dating agencies - the "dinosaurs" of our time?

It seems that today dating sites have completely supplanted dating agencies. In fact, there are more differences between them than it seems at first glance.

"On the site, no one checks the reliability of the information provided, whether that person actually exists or whether it is simply a fake profile. The risk is great: the candidate can make up anything he wants about himself and, in the end, he turns out to be a crook. If a person comes to the agency, we carefully check his or her background, and we only take a questionnaire based on real photos", - says the founder of the High Touch agency, Tatiana Bartyuk.

Another major difference from the agency's dating site is that the dating agency selects a couple based on the client's deepest request. This takes on average six months to a year, and the result is promised to be much more effective than the online format. Of course, it is also possible to meet a partner on a dating site and have a solid relationship for life, but, according to Tatiana Bartiuk, it takes much more time and emotion.

"Often, marriage agencies work in the classic way: they put clients in a database (men and women) and then filter "offers" for them. And, in my opinion, this approach is slightly outdated. The statistics of success stories in many marriage agencies are unfortunately deplorable. That's probably why hardly anyone advertises them," explains Julia Lanske, founder of a marriage agency.


According to Julia Lanske, only 1 to 2% of people who go to a marriage agency find a soul mate within a year. Of course, these agencies, if they don't develop new approaches to their work, will soon disappear like dinosaurs. And both parties are responsible for these sad results: the agencies make no effort, and the clients offload their responsibilities.

Yulia Lanske shares the rule by which she manages to increase the probability of creating a couple - the "two date" rule. After the first appointment, it is very difficult to draw definitive conclusions about the candidate. Girls are therefore strongly encouraged to meet a man again to understand whether they should continue to communicate with him or not. After all, many people may be shy and not open up completely on the first date.

"The advantage of dating agencies is the support and assistance of a couple selection consultant because difficulties often arise not at the dating stage but in communication, arranging meetings and developing relationships. Dating sites offer access to a very large number of people, the choice is much wider. But there are particularities: you have to find your own diamond among millions of candidates, spend your time on cards, read thousands of profiles, untangle fictitious accounts, check your real age, the authenticity of photos. If you don't know effective algorithms for working with dating sites, you can quickly become disillusioned with such resources," explains Yulia Lanske.

Executives and programmers: who are they - the clients of dating agencies?

Julia Lanske notes that men often perceive dating agencies in a slightly different way than women. They may go there simply to find a life partner. And they will search until they fall in love enough to get married. A woman, on the other hand, expects to find the man of her dreams. But until she works out and understands what she needs in life and what kind of man is right for her, it will be very difficult for the agency to solve this problem for her.

Julia Lanske admits that many wealthy suitors can be found in the dating agency: senior executives, doctors, programmers and even very high-ranking dignitaries. They are not deterred by the bride and groom: each of them has a higher education.

"We have different age categories: from 20 to 65 and even older. Based on our personal experience and vision of life, we manage to form great couples. But the main criterion is not the amount of money or higher education, but a sincere desire to create a happy family," - comments Julia Lanske.

Tatyana Bartyuk confirms that it is true that finding a rich groom in a marriage agency is quite realistic :

"We only work with the business class: managers of large companies, business owners. This category of people spends all their time doing business, so it is quite normal that they delegate the search for a spouse to the agency", - says Tatiana Bartyuk.

"Developing communication and meeting in a crowded place: how to avoid running into a scammer?

Scammers find their own ways to make money in almost all areas, and marriage agencies are no exception. To avoid risks, Julia Lanske recommends dealing only with projects that have proven themselves and have good references, with those that have many years of presence on the market and that care about their reputation.

In addition, the first meeting should only be scheduled in a busy location, such as a café or park. Do not immediately accept the invitation "somewhere to drive". This could be dangerous, said Tatiana Bartiuk. You don't know if the person is pretending to be who they are. Behaviorally, scammers may act differently, but each knows how to pretend, for example, to ask for money in connection with business problems.

Hence the second rule of safety: never lend money to someone you don't know. In the first instance, we meet independent and mature people who are financially capable of supporting themselves. And if this is not the case, think about whether you need such a partner in principle?

"As far as websites are concerned, the recommendation is that you should get out as soon as possible to communicate by video or organize a meeting in reality. "Developing communication is ideal to avoid running into a cheat and at the same time to look at yourself in real life," - says Julia Lanske.

A first-hand story


Blogger Lilit Bagdasarova shared her experience of interacting with marriage agencies with a correspondent from her newspaper:

"My history with the world of dating agencies is intense. When I was 20 years old, I signed up with one of them for... a free photo shoot. Yes, the agency did such shoots for free for its clients. Soon I became an employee of such a company: as a student of international relations, I was present at the appointments of foreign princes with our daughters as an interpreter. And here's what I noticed: the men were generally well over 50 years old. They presented themselves as "gods of success", but on their faces I could read the modest "that they never marry me at home".

Moreover, I don't remember a single man from a larger or smaller city. The choice of our daughters was much wider - to any taste and color. From students to retirees. There were many women with children in their arms who had divorced. In the former Soviet Union, many people thought that getting married and going abroad was the last chance for these "abandoned" women to settle down. Although I have dreamed all my adult life of settling in the United States, I have clearly decided for myself not to put myself in the shoes of my wife-clients. Men don't like the fact that girls don't speak English. So they offered to take me out several times. The presence of children in the lady's home did not bother anyone.

After graduating from university I moved to St. Petersburg, where I continued to work in international marriage agencies. At the same time I opened my own, sincerely trying to bring together the right people. I didn't have much time to work on my agency, that's why it didn't last long. I met a man from Germany during one of my part-time jobs as a translator and he asked me to be his interpreter for several dates in one day. Always. He didn't like anyone, although there were a few decent girls. I spoke good German at the time, so he and I talked a lot.

Finally, he asked me to be his wife. It was the only time in my entire career as a translator that I decided to consider this offer. I loved him very much, to a certain extent. Shortly after I returned to Germany, he offered me a move and practically bought us tickets to Baden-Baden. I was asked for my passport details. Then one of the most unpleasant events in my life happened - one of my close friends died. I was in a state of shock, I couldn't talk to anyone. The man, whose name I don't remember, sympathized, but he said that life goes on, and we have to go and see him as soon as possible. Then he started complaining about the lack of attention. I was still in shock. We finally decided to end our communication. On that note, I also ended my relationship with the world of marriage agencies". 

"The immense grey mass of the go-betweens" and the "naive infantile faith": an alternative point of view

Elena Gorovaya, an online consultant and blogger, believes that marriage agencies are a business designed for a child audience. Agencies thus play on the naive belief of children that happiness can be obtained ready-made, turnkey.

"As long as women don't understand what kind of man they need and for what purpose - marriage agencies will be in high demand. Because there is no psychologist to make you think about you. There is the promise of a ready-made man at your disposal. The client is always right. I have many acquaintances who have found a life partner on a dating site. And not one who did it through a dating agency. What is the difference between a dating agency and a dating site? The position of the researcher. It can be active or passive. On the site, the person does research, is active, gets to know each other, communicates, makes a decision and makes appointments. In an agency, you can pay and wait. One day, you will receive a call and you will be told: "Husband served. You are welcome to pick him up". - agrees with Elena Gorovaya.

Indeed, dating applications are a tool for mass use, here everything is designed and optimized for finding a couple. All you have to do is create a profile, upload a good photo and that's it - you can get to know each other. But in some cases, a person cannot find a couple online, even after studying the documents about photos to upload, how to fill out a questionnaire and how to communicate by correspondence.

"This could be for a variety of reasons. For example, the person has been married for a long time and has forgotten how to flirt, or they have no communication skills at all and have socialization problems, or they have a complex character or a non-standard appearance. In such a case, mass tools are really not suitable, and you should turn to a specialist who will take care of you personally", - says the executive director of the dating site "Mamba" Yaroslav Sergeev.

People who can't find a couple online have one thing in common: they don't understand why it happens. In their failures, they usually blame either the dating application or the opposite sex. The marriage counselor's task in this case is not only to find a couple for him or her and bring the meeting to the desired result, but also to work as a personal relationship coach.

In the West, there is a whole professional community, these people are called "matchmakers". Their services are quite expensive, but they have their own system of certification and upgrading, their own professional events. In other words, this is a well-established industry whose services are quite expensive. In Russia, this market is represented by a tiny number of professional agencies that really work well, and by a huge grey mass of matchmakers, divorcees and con artists, who not only discredit the marriage agency market, but also parasitize dating sites, creating fake accounts to collect contacts from singles, explains Yaroslav Sergeev.

According to RusDate Roman Levy, Director of Development of the International Dating Service, it is much easier to find interests and criteria on dating sites: currently, according to various estimates, there are about 8,000 dating requests. New services are constantly being launched in search of a new audience. Niche or thematic services are being actively developed. There are also services of interest.