Irish matchmakers are increasingly catering to gay men and women who need help finding life-long soulmates and are tired of the superficial encounters proffered on online dating sites.
Irish matchmaking agencies for same-sex singles, such as Elegant Duo, Gay Set and Match, and Intro, an introduction agency for all sexual orientations that generated 25% of its business from gay customers, are cashing in on the burgeoning market trend.
The Elegant Duo agency was opened in February by husband and wife team Denise and Paul Sheridan, along with their friend Louise Murphy, after hearing gay friends complaining they could not find love in the bar scene or on dating websites.
“Our gay friends thought it was a great idea because a lot of people have become disenchanted with bars or they tried online dating and it didn’t work for them,” said Denise Sheridan.
Murphy meets new members and asks nearly 120 questions to determine their interests, hobbies, professions, family, health, and their preferences in a potential partner.
After creating a profile and looking for suitable matches, the company will then send each member on four blind dates over six months. The dates are, essentially, blind — neither party knows what the other looks like or their full names.
Into was set up in 2011 by couple Feargal Harrington and Rena Maycock. A quarter of their 1,000 members are gay or lesbian.
“We have gay men from their early twenties who really want to settle down but there are so few options for them,” said Harrington. “They are not interested in one-night stands. Nobody on our books would dream of going on Grindr.
“When you’re a 30-year-old gay guy and you’ve been dating since you were 18, Grindr and the bar and club scene can become tedious. With us, it’s always going to be about long-term relationships and, if the time comes, marriage.”
Civil partnership was introduced in Ireland January 2011. Currently, the Labour Party is driving draft legislation to amend existing laws that presume marriage to be between a man and a woman, and the Constitutional Convention will discuss the introduction of same-sex marriage this week.