LOOKING FOR A PARTNER IN A HYPERCONNECTED WORLD: A TRUE LABOUR OF LOVE
A Nobody could deny that today’s world is hyperconnected. Home computers and smartphones are rife and we are used to being able to get anything we want with a simple tap or click or swipe on a screen. Online business is incontestably booming. Indeed, this holds true even for our most elemental needs: food, clothing… and, some might say, even love.
B The dating game today is definitely played very differently to how it was in the past. Dating apps abound and provide access to hundreds upon hundreds of potential partners you would probably never run into in real life. This is one of their great selling points, particularly for clients who may find it difficult to meet new people in their current circumstances: for example, singletons who hit thirty-five or so and suddenly find everyone they know is getting married and having babies, or divorcees in their forties and fifties whose social circle includes neither anyone available nor any occasions at which they could meet someone new.
C Of course, another advantage of dating online is how easy it is: all the information you could want is packaged into a simple, easy-to-read profile, complete with pictures, and the only effort required is to take a look and then indicate your approval or disapproval with a single swipe. But there are downsides to such facility too. Those who are after a serious, long-term relationship may find that online daters are seeking something much more temporary. And naturally there are plenty of creeps and weirdos out there in cyberspace who have unhealthy expectations of the opposite sex, representing a definite risk and a certain sense of insecurity, particularly for female daters.
D In addition, online apps require their clients to put their needs and desires into neat little boxes, specifying characteristics such as age or height with definite numbers and excluding those who don’t measure up. This type of filter may be necessary when sifting through a large number of potential mates, but who’s to say if you met someone an inch shorter or a year older than you wanted, the magic might not be there? Being forced to describe the person you are looking for in strict, immutable detail means potentially missing out on the spark you might feel on meeting someone who doesn’t exactly match your expectations.
E For all of these reasons, people are starting to grow weary of looking for love online and turning to an age-old solution: matchmaking agencies. Far from a new concept, this type of institution was originally run by 17th century vicars in the UK, who hoped to help their local parishioners find someone to marry from within their own social class. Matchmaking agencies then moved away from churches and became businesses in their own right, but still retained the same notion of trying to marry people with the same status in society. As time passed, the notion of status fell away to a greater or lesser extent and matchmakers began to focus on love matches rooted in predicted compatibility. One famous TV show in the UK even exploited this idea on screen, with candidates required to choose a partner without seeing them, based simply on the answers given to a series of questions posed by the host.
F In more recent times, especially once dating apps arrived, matchmaking agencies began to seem old-fashioned and out of touch… but now that people have become weary of the perils of Internet love, they are making a definite comeback. Topnotch modern matchmakers have in fact decided to offer the best of both worlds. As before, they do offer the security of putting known clients into suggested couples, but they also help them install dating apps and curate their profiles. This may mean rewriting the description they give of themselves, replacing their photos with ones taken by a professional who knows how to make them look good and perhaps even writing the first few messages they send out to a potential mate. Having professional help of this kind can make a huge difference to someone’s chances of meeting a partner, even more so since matchmaking agencies vet their clients carefully. This can be extremely reassuring for those who have fallen afoul of the worst online experiences, perhaps due to predatory behaviour or hidden secrets (such as discovering that one of their contacts who presents as single is in fact married and looking for an affair).
G In conclusion, online dating may be easy and cheap and provide access to greater possibilities while professional matchmakers represent a greater cost in terms of both time and money for a smaller pool of potential mates. But it’s an investment that may be worth it: after all, you can’t put a price on love!
Reading Passage 3 has seven paragraphs A-G. Which paragraph contains what information? Write the correct letter, A-G, in boxes 29-34.
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Information about the history of matchmaking agencies
Examples of clients who use dating apps
The kind of details people may be looking for in a romantic partner
The reputation matchmaking agencies had when dating apps were invented
The disadvantages of how easy it is to date online