My people will call your people


A number of people have been hiring "virtual" assistants in lower-wage countries to do all the tasks in their life that don't require a personal presence. Such assistants are found starting at a few bucks an hour. I have not done it myself, since for some reason most of the things I feel I could pass on to such an assistant are things that involve some personal presence. (Though I suppose I could just ship off all the papers I need scanned and filed every few weeks to get that out of my life, but I want to have a scanner here too.)

Anyway, last weekend I was talking to an acquaintance about his use of such services. He has his assistant seducing women for him. His assistant, who is female and lives in India, logs onto his account on a popular dating site, browses profiles and (pretending to be him) makes connections with women on the site. She has e-mail conversations and arranges first dates. Then her employer reads the e-mail conversation and goes to the date. (Perhaps he also does a quick vet before arranging a date to be sure the assistant has chosen well, but I did not confirm that.) I must admit this one surprised me. It seems very likely to backfire when the time eventually comes to reveal the truth. There may be women out there who would be impressed at the efficiency of it, and be more amused than offended, but I suspect they are a minority. Enough of a minority so that this would not be productive in that the time wasted on women who are going to drop you like a rock should exceed the time saved in not having to do the preliminaries. Of course, if you just enjoy the early rounds of dating, and don't get emotionally invested before dropping the bombshell, this might work out for you. And, of course, it is possible to simply never reveal the truth, and perhaps the sort of person who would do this would be comfortable with that.

It's quite possible that a woman hired to do this might be better at knowing what to write to take things to that first date level. On the other hand, it is not necessary for that much to actually take place in the e-mail phase. It's been a long time since I dated but I always wanted to move from email to phone ASAP -- something not possible here -- and there was always phone conversation before the first date. One can seduce and be seduced by text, of course, in fact it's rather easy to do if one is a decent writer, but it lacks so many important elements from a real connection that it is often a false connection.

This story was interesting enough, but I soon realized that if the trend continues, eventually we will find a case where both parties had assistants handling their first round, and so the two VPAs would banter with each other and arrange a date for their employers, nobody knowing this is going on. In this case, when the first one reveals the truth, the other can hardly be offended and storm off, and it might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Doing this overtly would actually take us back to the era of arranged relationships and the yenta, though the yenta was usually hired by just one side and marriage was always the goal. It does seem practical to have overt high-end data for the (relatively) wealthy where two VPAs, who know their employers better than most such assistants would, held open discussions to figure out if their employers should meet. That's what computer dating always pretended to be, and matchmaking services also worked this way with a human being doing the matching, but rarely were there representatives on both sides.

Thinking this through I had to imagine the plot of a Hollywood romantic comedy. One VPA is engaged with another VPA and they somehow realize it, and they fall for each other, possibly leaving their employers in the lurch, or possibly helping them along as well in a dual-couple (dual country) romantic comedy. We'll see how long it is until this movie comes out.


In the CBC Radio show, "WireTap", there is a plot similar to this in Season 5, but with friends rather than dates.

On character, Howard, "outsources his friendship" to host Jonathan Goldstein, to an Indian call center. Goldstein retaliates by doing likewise, and soon their assistants are bonding about how awful their jobs are.

When the truth comes out, I would imagine the appropriate end result is that the VPAs themselves date each other!

What is the VPAs work at nearby work stations? or what if they were one and the same person?
This could definitely get interesting.

Swedish public radio (which has had a quite progressive comedy department for a long time) took this scenario one step further in the late 80ies by calling two different live phone sex lines and connecting them together; both parties to the somewhat confusing conversation were in professionally suggestive ways trying to find out what sexual topic the other was interested in but not getting very far...

Reminds me of the jokes people used to play with ELIZA.

Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Workweek has a post about this a while back. "The result? More than 20 dates in one weekend and a long-term girlfriend."

Why would you EVER tell the girl? I suppose if you were getting married or something you might tell at that point, but if she's really going to marry you I seriously doubt something that silly would be a deal breaker.

Why do you say "yenta"? That is not the correct use of the word "yenta."
I think you mean "shadkhnte" -- assuming you mean a woman. (More often it is a man -- a shadkhn.)

It may not be the traditional usage of the word but you've been under a rock if you were not aware it has in modern times also come to mean matchmaker.

And the domain name "" has been taken years ago...

"Long Distance Relationship", coming sometime never to no theaters near you.

The guy executive and the girl VC financier both hire in with the personal-matchmaking service. The two matchmakers start "arranging" things. But Guy and Girl meet independently, and start dating--but because they've only been meeting through the service, they don't know that they've already "met"! Thus far, they've only been talking to (and falling in love with) the people from the matchmaking service! Wacky hijinks ensue as we explore e-love in cyber-space, and find out whether it's possible for your lover to cheat on you with yourself.

(The heartwarming finish, of course, involves a commandeered fire truck, two hundred pink soccer balls, the New York Yankees, an untrained dalmatian puppy, and the world's strongest man in a race to make it across town before the Staten Island Ferry leaves the dock. And, in the post-credits stinger, the two matchmaker employees both hang up their phone simultaneously in a split-screen shot--that drops the split and reveals that they're sitting in the same cube! What a twist!)

As somebody who uses an online dating site, this brilliant post had me laughing hysterically. Good stuff.

I just stumbled across this while reviewing the RoboCar blog... great idea.

The funniest part was the Google Ad placement for Valenti International ... "The More you Have to Offer, The Harder It Is To Find Someone Special. Experience A Professional Matchmaker"...

You couldn't get a better rimshot than that :-)

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