On a recent flight from Miami to New York City, I flipped through the current edition of American Way, a magazine published specifically for American Airlines customers, and as the woman to my right claimed the armrest and the child behind me hung from the back of my head rest, I stumbled upon two separate ads peddling the dating services Itsjustlunch and Selectivesearch.com.
While internet dating services are nothing new, these two companies deviate from the wealth of eharmonymatcheswithcupid.com sites that prompt you to make a profile, copy and paste redundant date proposals, and juggle offers to meet other singles; IJL and Selectivesearch offer to outsource your love life to someone who has more time and is more qualified to tell you what you would prefer.
These sites are not alone in this endeavor. In a September 13, 2010 article on Marieclaire.com, Lauren Iannnotti writes, “busy singles are hiring ghostwriters to manage their matches,” while Good Morning America offered a Valentine’s Day 2011 segment about ghostwriters for online dating profiles.
In other words, these two sites – and various others — are taking the hassle out of dating, but they are also wading into ethical gray areas. Admittedly, the popular online dating sites are not foolproof and free of fabrication: Photoshopping visuals of yourself 20 pounds lighter or a few hundred hair follicles heavier resides in the gray area of dishonesty as well, as does posting a profile that might be a bit more flattering than truthful. However, these sites, ideally, require that the date surfer be the one doing the surfing, sending out messages, winking at different singles, and arranging times to meet in a more effective, asynchronous environment than a bar in which you spend time trying to get to know one person only to have it end with a last-minute mention of a “boyfriend,” “girlfriend,” or “partner.” The time spent on being rejected is consuming, so online dating allows the surfer to multitask at his or her own pace and cover many bases at once.