Love In The 21st Century

What Are Singles Doing To Find Love In The 21st Century

Looking for love in all the wrong places? Well, you might not be alone. The number of single adults has reached all-time highs. Nearly 90 million Americans need all the help they can get to land a date, let alone find their ultimate soul mate.

It's no wonder they're fueling a booming dating industry, one that is now pulling in more than a billion dollars a year.

With spring in the air, the dating season has officially begun. Correspondent Bob Simon takes a look at what single Americans are doing to find love in the 21st century. It ranges from new high-tech services on the Internet to parties that will make your head spin. And it has transformed the business methods of the second-oldest profession in the world — the matchmaker.
You can read about matchmakers in the Bible, but Janis Spindel is a one-person industry, offering one-stop shopping in a very new world.

"I am so good that it is beyond belief. It scares me how good I am. I just know who belongs with whom. It mind boggles me," says Spindel.

Simon caught up with Spindel at the New York coffee shop where she meets her new clients, and asked her about her work.

"He's looking for the perfect woman to get married, start a family, live happily ever after. I'll have him done in three months. Totally done," says Spindel. "Married. Well on his way to marriage."

Interested? Spindel's fee starts at $16,500, and her clients include celebrities, lawyers and Wall Street types -- people like 44-year-old businessman Neil Kessler, who paid Spindel to set him up on 12 blind dates over a 12-month period.

But that's just the beginning. She won't let him out of the house until her image consultant, Elena, gives him a makeover. It starts in his closet.

"These gotta go. These have sort of seen their day, this one," says Elena, while cleaning out Neil's closet. "Clothing's not furniture, it wears out."

So why does Neil, a good-looking, athletic guy, need Spindel's help?

"Because he's 44 and never been married," says Spindel.

"I haven't met the right girl. I've spent time in relationships that were not the right people," says Kessler.
People are lonely in America, and it's tougher meeting the love of your life than it ever has been.

And Spindel says that men, in particular, need an incredible amount of help: "Men are clueless beyond any imaginable belief. Men have to have things done for them. Just my expertise."

But are all men shallow and superficial? "I have never heard a man tell me he would go out with an unattractive woman," says Spindel. "Ugly doesn't cut it in my business."

To please her clients, Spindel has to find the most beautiful women out there. How does she do it? She shops for them in glamorous Fifth Avenue department stores like Henri Bendels.

"I'm shopping for women," says Spindel, who stalks her prey like a big game hunter. Once she decides whom she likes, she goes in for the kill. And she says she's never had a woman tell her to get lost.

"Never. I will not take no for an answer," says Spindel. Even if the woman isn't interested? Her response: "Then she has a friend or a sister."

She's shameless, but she says her aggressive techniques work – and she claims that she has married off more than 90 percent of her clients. And every time wedding bells ring, she collects a bonus.

"It doesn't necessarily have to mean money. It could be anything from a ring, a necklace, a car, a home," says Spindel.

"A home? You have a home that is a marriage bonus," asks Simon.

"No, but I have an offer of, 'You get my son married, and I will buy you the townhouse of your choice in New York,'" says Spindel. "He's a tall, handsome, phenomenal guy, and he has issues. There's no doubt about it."

Spindel says she can sell just about anyone. And in a good year, she claims she can make up to $5 million. But as much as that sounds, it's just a tiny sliver of the billion-dollar dating industry.
The big money is online and the biggest online player is Dallas-based Match.com.

For $24.95 a month, Match allows you to create an online personal ad and then lets you communicate with millions of other single Americans -- all via email. We talked with Match.com's Trish McDermott, the world's first vice president of romance.

"On Match.com alone we register about 55,000 new people a day in the United States," says McDermott. "More than 40 million people each month log onto an online dating service."

That's nearly half of America's 90 million singles. And McDermott says Match.com generated revenues of $185 million last year. "So there's some money in love," she says.

And with all that money coming in, Match.com says it's turning love into a science. It's developing futuristic technology to predict the kind of person you'll be attracted to. McDermott insists on giving Simon what she calls "a physical attraction test."

A series of images pops up on a computer screen, and Simon has to rapidly click on the ones that were most appealing. The computer notes his likes and dislikes, and when he's done, it creates a picture of his "ideal" woman.

"This is basically the prototype of your ideal woman," says McDermott.

Match.com's state-of-the-art computers then searches its 12-million member database to find all the real women who look like Simon's "ideal" woman. It's then up to him to contact them, and the company collects all kinds of information about its customers and their preferences.

What is McDermott learning about single people in America today? "Some very interesting things," says McDermott. "Gentlemen do not prefer blondes. Gentlemen actually prefer women with light brown hair."

Is there a revolution going on with dating in the 21st century?

"The love train is taking off into the new millennium. More and more people are electing to get on it," says McDermott.

"People who just a few years ago might have felt stigmatized to use an online dating service are now getting on that train. And I think the question now to a lot of single people is, 'Are you coming or not?'"
But the love train is not just running on the Internet. It's steaming to cities all across the country, and it's creating all kinds of new companies that get people together.

In San Francisco, at an upscale restaurant, Simon attended a group blind date organized by a company called Table for Six. For a $1,600 fee, singles can attend as many group dinners as they desire. It's civilized, and holds special appeal for people in their 40s and 50s.

"My friends are married. They're going to soccer games and birthday parties. And they aren't interested in going out," says one woman.

"In your 20s, you go to bars. I find going to a bar by myself, or even with a friend, you know, it's unpleasant," says another man.

"If you've been married, like I was for a while, and you've raised children, this is almost like a second childhood," says another single. "And once you get into the groove, and you get past the newness of being single, it's like this whole world opens up. And it's wonderful."
If Table for Six is too refined for you, then come to New York City, to a trendy restaurant called Suba, where a blind date is literally just that.

Down that hallway, singles pay $90 each to look for love at an event called Dinner in the Dark. The only people who can see here are the waiters who wear night vision goggles – and 60 Minutes II cameras.

The customers can't see a thing: not what they're eating, and certainly not who they're talking to. That way, they can get to know each other from the inside out. The moment of truth comes at dessert, when the candles are lit.

And for those of you who have no time to waste, and a little less money to spend, New York's Gaslight Lounge holds an event called speed dating. It's a modern-day version of musical chairs, where for $40 a head, busy professionals spend three minutes with 25 different dates.

At first, it seemed silly. How could a person possibly bare his or her soul in just three minutes? Simon asks one female participant what she wants to happen at tonight's event.

"Ideally, what I'm trying to do is, I think, meet a population of men who are looking for commitment. Or looking--," says the participant, who says she's not shy about telling people she goes to these events. "I told everybody today at work."

These dating systems work so well, because the shame of looking for love is disappearing. More people are asking for help today than ever before, and that's why there's so much money involved.

Of course, people have always been willing to empty their pockets to fill their love life. But if there's more money involved now, it's because, like everything else in American life, most everyone is in such a damn hurry.

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