The Corner

Courting, 2010

There are online dating assistants? As in:

Hartshorn is a hired gun, ghostwriting correspondence on behalf of single men unwilling, too busy or too inept to do it themselves. His online dating is done on commission for Virtual Dating Assistants, one of the first full-scale Internet-dating outsourcing companies. For $600, Virtual Dating Assistants guarantees clients two dates a month; the “executive service” package promises five dates a month for $1,200.

“I get paid for each woman who writes back positively,” explains the modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac. “It’s very analogous to sales . . . like a cold-caller or a telemarketer.”

A telemarketer who toils anonymously in pursuit of love for the lonely. Darkly romantic, no?

No. “I don’t care that much if it becomes a date or not,” Hartshorn admits. His job is “lead generation” only. Sealing the deal is up to the company’s “closers.”

And going out on actual dates? That, unfortunately, the men have to do all by themselves. And the women never need know who hooked them.

I guess if you grew up with shortcuts to winning Super Mario Brothers, it’s only natural? I’m open to the merits of online dating, but you’re losing me here.

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