Lunch Actually Review, Part 4: The Date Process (And Conclusion of my Lunch Actually Review)

This is part 4 of my review series on Lunch Actually, a lunch dating company in Asia, after trying out their service in 2012. Opinions expressed here are my own. If you are new to this series, read Part 1: Joining Lunch Actually, Part 2: Consultation and Enrollment, and Part 3: Going Through Image Coaching  first.

In this article, I will be sharing about the date process and my topline thoughts on my dates, before wrapping up my LA review!

Proposed Match by Lunch Actually

So after you enroll at Lunch Actually, they will do some screening and evaluation before proposing a match. First, they will run the candidates in the database, after which the database will match the candidates based on certain algorithm in the system. Second, the date consultants will then select the shortlisted matches from the database and evaluate them before finally picking the best match from the list.

After which, they will then call you to tell you that they have found you a match!

Coffee with a heart shape

(Image: Irene)

The date consultant that called me for my first match was Adrina, a very lovely lady. Adrina gave me an overview about this person, his occupation, age range, hobbies, and overall physical appearance. For the first match they picked for me, he is in his late thirties, a senior manager, taller than me, and presentable-looking — basically matching the initial physical criteria I had specified during the enrollment interview. She asked if I would be interested to meet him.

With Lunch Actually’s dates, the agency allows its members to reject proposed matches for up to 3 matches or half the total number of dates in your membership package (either 3, 5, or 10 dates). So if you have signed up for 5 dates, you are entitled to reject up to 3 proposed matches. If you signed up for 10 dates, you are entitled to reject up to 5 proposed matches.

So after you say “yes” to meeting the match, the consultants will then proceed to arrange your first date with him/her!

Pre-Date: Arrangement for the Date

Since you as the client will only meet and get to know the other party during the date itself, LA consultants will make all the arrangements for the first date, from the venue to the date, to the time. Rose was the consultant who helped me coordinate my first date and she’s a very sweet and meticulous lady.

LA takes into account your dietary restrictions, if any, when arranging the dates. Then, they pick a date-conducive restaurant for you. My first date was at Nosh Restaurant & Bar (a restaurant about 10 minutes away from Buona Vista MRT Station by foot). My second date (about 3 weeks later) was at Original Sin, a restaurant at Holland Village. Each time, the date details were finalized and emailed to me.

Oh, even though LA is called Lunch Actually (based on the notion of lunch dating), the dates are not necessarily over lunch. For example, all my 4 dates were dinner dates! I think they try to arrange dinner dates as it gives their clients more time to connect. I’m also not sure if lunch is a good time for dates as it can be quite rushed? (Imagine being in “work mode” before the date, packing the get-to-know-each-other questions within that 1-hour lunch slot, perhaps answering urgent work calls during that hour, and then rushing off to work right after the date!)

Once the date is confirmed, the LA consultant will send you an email with details of the appointment, details of your date, and details of your date’s interest and hobbies. You’re then set to go!

The Date Itself

One day before the date itself, the consultant will send you and the other party a text reminder so that you will not forget it. You are expected to notify LA at least 48 hours in advance if you can’t make it for the date; otherwise it will be considered as a forfeit and this date will be deducted from your date package despite it not going through.

You are then expected to show up at the specified location on the day and time itself and meet your date at that very place. A reservation will be made by LA under the gentleman’s name. If you think you will be late or if you can’t make it for any reason, call the LA date consultants—they will be on standby in case of emergencies.

Post-Date: Feedback to Lunch Actually

After the date, usually the next day or a few days later, LA will call you to collect your feedback. The questions asked include (but are not limited to):

  1. What is your overall feedback of the date?
  2. On a scale of 1-10, how confident was your date?
  3. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the physical appearance of your date?
  4. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the restaurant (in terms of food, ambiance, location, etc.)?
  5. How was the dining etiquette of your date? (Haha, cute question!)
  6. How long did the date last?
  7. How did the date end?
  8. Did you feel there were sufficient discussion topics between you and your date?
  9. Are there any qualities you liked about your date? What are they?
  10. Is there anything you didn’t like about your date? What is it?
  11. On a scale of 1-10, how was the chemistry between you and your date?
  12. Would you exchange email contacts with your date?
  13. Would you go on a second date with your date?
  14. Would you like to make any changes to your dating preferences?
  15. Would you like Lunch Actually to continue sending you new dates? (Some people may want to put their accounts on hold as they might feel that they want to explore the current date further or they want to take a break from dating.)

All feedback shared with Lunch Actually is kept confidential and will not be shared with your dates, so you can be perfectly honest. It’s important that you do that so that they can pick the best matches for you.

In the event that the feedback is really dire, LA will provide feedback to the other client, not to tattletale, but to help him/her improve and maximize his/her chances for the next date, whoever it may be.

The Next Match

At this point LA will check with you if you want to continue being matched.

Let’s say you are currently worn out from dating and you want to take a break. Or you’re too busy with other priorities and you don’t want to date for now. You can tell LA to put your account on hold so that the consultants will stop matching you with new dates. After you feel you’re ready to be matched again (this can be after a few weeks or months, up to you), you call LA again to reactivate your account.

If you say “yes” to getting new matches, LA will continue to match you with new dates, based on the criteria you provided during your enrollment and the feedback you provided of past dates.

LA’s Service Attitude

One thing I really like about LA is that the service attitude of the staff is grear. Everyone is well-trained and polite. There is a standard process that they adhere to for each date, so it creates a lot of structure and predictability. It also makes the client feel as comfortable as possible in an ambiguous setting where you don’t know who you’re meeting.

Total Dates I Went on and Date Frequency

During my membership period from July 2012 to May 2013 (10 months), I went on a total of dates. Here’s the timeline for those of you who are curious:

  • My first date: One month after I signed up
  • Second date: One month after the first date
  • Third date: 2.5 months after the second date
  • Fourth date: 4.5 months after the third date

The dates I specified are the dates I was informed by LA about the match; it typically takes 1-2 weeks after the notification for the date to happen since LA will need to arrange for the venue/day/time based on both your availability. Sometimes it may even take 3 weeks if you and your date are very busy and your schedules clash etc.

For me, there was quite a big period of no-activity between my third and fourth date, which to me was extremely strange. As you can see above, it was a gap of 4.5 months which is almost half a year. So I followed up with LA after a few months and they said that they had been trying to match me but this match they had in mind for me was constantly overseas. They also said that my height made finding a match challenging. (I’m 1.70 m tall; The average height for Singaporean men is 1.71 m, though I did specify that I was okay with men with my height or slightly shorter. It’s possible that most Singaporean men prefer women who are much shorter like 1.6 to 1.65 m, I suppose?) I was sent on my fourth date soon after that. This would be my last date as I subsequently got attached with my boyfriend and now-husband, though we didn’t meet through Lunch Actually.

So overall, the frequency was about 2.5 months between each date. I’m guessing the male clients are matched more frequently since LA has a higher proportion of females in their database (60–70% females vs. 30–40% males). I’m sure other criteria are involved as well, like your criteria, their male clients’ criteria, your eligibility, and so on. I’ve heard of members (females) with more than a 6-month gap between dates, though it’s not clear why.

I do think it’s better to have LA take time to find a good date though than to randomly match you, so a long wait period isn’t really an issue to me. As every date is quite pricey on a cost basis, it’d be a waste of money to be randomly matched for the sake of it.

However if there is a long period of inactivity, I think it’d be good to check in with the member at least once every 2 months. When I was going through the long period of inactivity, I did wonder if I was being “missed out” because they had many clients to work with (small fish in a big pond?). I think this can be easily addressed by giving a call or dropping an email just to let the clients know, Hey, you’re still in our radar, you’ve not been forgotten, and we’re still looking out for dates for you! :)

Overall my guess is that a typical female member will have a date frequency of once every 2-3 months assuming she’s in the median bracket in terms of age, societal eligibility, and criteria. For reference, when I joined I was 28, 1.70 m tall, normal weight; looks-wise you can see how I looked when I was 28 in this Channel News Asia interview. A typical male client in the median bracket would probably be once every month I think.

My Thoughts After Going on 4 Dates (and Conclusion)

So like I mentioned above, I closed my account after 4 dates as I got attached with my now-husband Ken. I didn’t meet him from LA; we already knew each other from back in school as I shared in my soulmate series.

Because Ken was never enrolled in LA and he’s my soulmate, I’m not sure if LA would have ever worked out for me. Out of curiosity, I asked if he would ever consider joining services like LA if we had not met and he said “No.” A big reason is that he had always been in relationships since university, so he was never single for long to think about using dating services. Very importantly, he had never considered getting married until we met; he just never thought that there was a point to marriage. Since he never considered marriage nor getting a life partner, a dating service naturally did not cross his mind.

I’m sure that LA has its success cases for other clients/couples. They don’t track stats (or maybe they do but they don’t share them) on the number of clients who get together and eventually get married, though they track the satisfaction score of the first dates. I can understand why as there are so many factors involved when it comes to a successful relationship that are out of their control.

My thoughts are, as with every dating service, you need to manage your expectations. Know that it’s not a service that you join and expect to meet your perfect man/woman in the first 1, 3 or 5 dates. Because it’s love and there are many variables involved that cannot be controlled by any dating agency. It’s possible that the guy/lady you’re matched with isn’t what you’re looking for, just as it’s possible that you are not what he/she is looking for. Perhaps both of you are what each of you are looking for on paper but there is zero chemistry, in which case you need to think deeper about what you really want. It’s also possible that your future partner isn’t even in their database, which was what happened in my case. Some things to think about.

The other thing is price point. LA is a premium service so it’s pretty expensive at SGD 1,300+ / USD 450+ for a 3-date package (3 dates is the minimum). (Update: This was as of 2012. I was told by Reader Songxin that their 3-date package is now SGD 2,100 / USD 1,600 as of 2014.) So if you’re okay spending this amount for 3 dates (or more for a higher date package), money is not a concern, and you don’t have any expectations about meeting “the one” in these dates, then you can give it a shot. I was personally open to signing up as a paying member before they suggested a sponsorship. I thought I could just invest this money for their lowest date package and see what would come out of it. Even if I didn’t meet anyone, then “whatever”; at least I gave it a shot, yeah? After all, no harm in having an extra channel to meet new people, and it’d be interesting to who they match me with using their matching process.

But if you have financial constraints and you have other important areas to spend the money, then I definitely don’t recommend signing up. There are many other places to meet people/dates, eligible people, and it’s about looking for these channels. Many of these channels can be free or come at a nominal fee (like say, attendance fee for a meetup group or event fee for a workshop), and you can join one or two of these on a weekly basis. Arranged dating tends to come at a very premium cost due to the specialization of the service, where there are 1-1 consultants working with you. However, the dates can be a hit-or-miss, and you shouldn’t expect miracle results just because you have spent a big chunk of money.

At the end of the day, whether you sign up for LA or not, understand that love is a multi-faceted process, involving many variables other than just getting dates. Meaning, you need to work on yourself, your goals (as part of self-development), and being a better date/partner as you work on the romance area of your life. Love isn’t just about going on dates again and again; it’s also about being the right person and having the right mindset to attract the right person to you. I share more about how to attract your highest love in my soulmate series.

Also, as opposed to relying on Lunch Actually for dates, expand your social circles through other channels too. LA is just one avenue to meet singles; there are many other avenues like meetups, networking sessions, house parties, social gatherings, courses/workshops, group dating events — and some of these are great ways to meet many like-minds at one go.

For example, when I signed up, I was only using LA as an additional channel to meet dates. On my own I was meeting dozens of people weekly, going for business events, social outings, meeting friends’ friends, meeting business collaborators, and going on my own dates with people from my own networks. If you are busy with barely any social life (or you’re just private and sedentary), read: Cooped Up Indoors? Get a Life with These 7 Tips. You definitely shouldn’t sign up for LA and passively wait for them to send you on dates while doing nothing about your romantic life. That will definitely leave you disappointed; you need to take proactive action in other areas too.

End of My Lunch Actually Review

I hope you’ve found my review helpful. :) Love, like anything, is a process, not a one-hit thing. LA offers a helpful, premium service for singles who are hoping to expand their network and meet more compatible matches. So weigh out what I’ve written and decide if it’s for you.

Most importantly, whether you join the service or not, you need to shift your mindsets, work on being the right person, and be proactive. I’ve written many articles on dating, how to find YOUR one and create your best relationship which you can read in my Articles Section, under “Love.”

Continuing on: Date Coaching Series

While I was going through Lunch Actually’s service, I was also invited to try out their date coaching service, also sponsored as well. This is totally separate from their date-package and image coaching service. Proceed to Part 5: My Date Coaching Series to read about my experience.

This is part 4 of my review series on Lunch Actually, a lunch dating company in Asia, after trying out their service in 2012. Opinions expressed here are my own. If you are new to this series, read Part 1: Joining Lunch Actually, Part 2: Consultation and Enrollment, and Part 3: Going Through Image Coaching  first.