Lunch Actually Review, Part 1: Joining Lunch Actually (Why I’m Joining a Dating Agency and My Lunch Actually Review Series)

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This is part 1 of my review series with Lunch Actually, a lunch dating company in Asia, after trying out their service in 2012. Opinions expressed here are my own.

Lunch Actually

Update, Jan 2015: It’s been 2.5 years since I wrote this series and I’m returning to update and wrap it up.

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Cliff notes: After enrolling at Lunch Actually (with my date package sponsored by them), I went on 4 dates over a 10-month period. I didn’t meet someone compatible though it was an interesting experience. I eventually met my soulmate — as it turns out, he’s someone I already knew back in school — and we got married in May 2014. 🙂 For more on our love story, read: How to Find Your Soulmate (series).

After I got attached in 2013, I closed my account with LA. I also returned to update this review series with concluding thoughts. If you’re here to learn more about Lunch Actually, this series details my experience going through the dates. Hopefully it’ll give you some insights into their service.

Separately, I’ve written many in-depth articles on dating and finding love to help you achieve relationship success. Check them out at my Articles Section (under “Love”).

Hello everyone! 😀 Today’s announcement is sort of random (but not really too). I’ve been thinking of joining Lunch Actually, a premium matchmaking service that arranges one-to-one dates between compatible singles, and I’m intending to blog about my upcoming experience with them.

Interest in Lunch Actually

Some of you may remember Lunch Actually from the feature I did on Celes.TV longgggg ago in 2010; it was basically an interview I did with their CEO Violet Lim about dating tips for singles. Incidentally, she and her husband Jamie (who is the co-founder of LA) knew about me and had been following PE even before I approached them, which I thought was really cool!

During my interview, I got to know more about LA and thought it seemed like a great avenue to meet compatible people. However, I held off from doing anything about it as I was busy with other things then (namely growing my business), and dating wasn’t my priority.

It’s been 2 years since then and I think I’m now ready to give Lunch Actually a try. LA is present in several countries in Asia; since I’m in Singapore, I’ll be enrolling at their Singapore branch (also their head office if I’m not wrong).

Negative Stereotypes Toward Arranged Dating

Because I think arranged dating and being proactive about meeting people (especially in a romantic context) are quite frowned upon in some places including Singapore, I decided to openly blog about my experience to let everyone know that there’s nothing negative or embarrassing about going on arranged dates. Such a thinking is silly at best.

Case in point: I had already intended to join Lunch Actually and blog about my experience a few weeks back and briefly mentioned it to some people. The most common response I got was, “Why would you want to write about something like this?”, suggesting an undercurrent belief that joining a dating service was taboo, shameful, and perhaps even “desperate.” Which is really unfortunate!

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The funny thing is, meeting compatible people is something that many singles think about (trust me, I know many singles and this is something we talk about all the time), but many shy away from taking action. I think this is ridiculous and a result of limiting beliefs. This further reinforces my desire to blog about my experience, because I don’t think there’s anything to be ashamed about! Also, I figure there are probably some who are curious about LA or arranged dating in general, so hopefully this series will give you guys some insights into that. 🙂 

Why I’m Writing this Review

Prior to contacting Lunch Actually, I tried searching for “Lunch Actually reviews” on Google but found nothing helpful. In fact, I didn’t find anything! -_-” I did find a blog where the blogger talked about his (or her?) first and second dates, but there was no update after that.

My guess is that people who have tried the service are probably resistant toward talking about it, probably due to stigmas like being seen as a loser. Another reason is that some of these people may be busy managerial executives who don’t frequent forums or write blog entries, which is also LA’s supposed target audience.

My plan is to write about my experience with LA at the key stages of their service, from consultation to enrollment, to date arrangement, culminating to my final review of their service. I’ll be writing this review in an authentic manner, like with all things on PE.

I will not be writing about the people I meet or anything considered proprietary to their company. The former is to protect the dates’ privacy, so I hope you can understand! Rather, I’ll focus on sharing the agency’s date arrangement process and my experience with it. I seek your help to respect others’ privacy by not asking me about them, thank you!

Don’t expect weekly posts about LA because it doesn’t work that way. Apparently they don’t send people on weekly dates — from what I understand, it can take anywhere from 2 weeks to a couple of months for someone to go on a date. This depends on your date criteria, the candidates they have in their database, and whether you match those candidates’ criteria. I’ll also not be going on “dates” right away until after about 4-6 weeks; according to them this is standard for new members.

By the way, none of this writeup is sponsored in any way. I’m paying for the service myself (or rather, I’m intending to pay for it, because I’ve not even signed up yet). I’ve already booked for a consultation with them later today (they offer free consultations) and will blog about how it goes later.

* Update, July 3, 2012: Lunch Actually kindly offered to sponsor my membership of a 5-date package, but rest assured that this review will remain entirely objective as with everything I write on PE. My objective is to share my experience and provide a transparent account of what arranged dating can be like.

I was told that LA rejects people if they are not confident of finding good matches for them. I know someone who was rejected before as the agency didn’t feel that they would have the right matches for her. This makes sense since it’s a 2-way process; if they enroll everyone but can’t get matches for them, it’ll only create a very bad customer experience in the end.

Opening Myself Up

Maybe you’re wondering why I’m joining LA. Is it to find love? To get into a relationship? What is it?

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For the most part, I’m enrolling to open myself up to meeting new, compatible people. I’m not sure how their matching system works or how good it is, so to hope to find love through it will be a bit of a stretch. Moreover, I think dating takes time. It’ll be nice to meet your match right away, but often times it’s a discovery process for you and the other person too.

For the record, I’m not expecting to meet THE ONE from it—it’ll be nice if that happens—but I’m mainly doing this for the experience, to open myself up, and to see what unfolds. Yes I’m open to meeting a romantic partner, yes I’m open to being in a relationship, but I don’t know how possible it is to meet the right person in 3 or 5 dates. What I do know is that I haven’t tried such services before, that the idea of being set up on dates sounds fun and exciting, and I’m excited to see the kind of dates I get matched with.

If you’re hoping to enroll to meet your ONE, I’ll recommend that you reconsider. If you are short on money or it’s too expensive for you and you still want to sign up because you think that investing this money will bring you your soulmate, I’ll also recommend not signing up because it may well not happen. Dating is a process and it’s not realistic to expect to meet the right person in just 3, 5, or 10 dates. Chances are you will be disappointed and it’ll create a negative experience for yourself in the end.

Why Not Try Other Avenues of Meeting People?

Well, I’ve never tried Lunch Actually or such services before, so I think it’ll be fun to give it a shot. I’m always keen to try new experiences.

For the record, I’m already meeting a lot of people organically — through friends, business events, social events, etc. I do so simply because I love meeting people. I’ve come to realize from my Europe/U.S. travels that I’m very people-centered and I love making new connections. Not a surprise considering my life purpose is all about people! 🙂

Based on LA’s high pricing, I see that as a filter to remove casual daters*, because it suggests that the people who sign up with them are considerably serious in dating/ meeting someone*. Plus I’m ready to meet my partner, so why not sign up for a service where others are in it to date? It’ll be interesting to see who I get matched with based on the consultants’ expertise!

* Update: After going on some dates and reading accounts from some online forums, I realized that this can be a bad assumption. I think it really depends on the individual. There can be people who sign up for premium dating services as a way to procrastinate on finding love (i.e., by having an agency send dates constantly, it gives the person less reason to act and look for dates), to “shop” around for dates, or just to “check out” what it can offer.

Obviously majority of the people who sign up for an expensive dating service will be people serious in finding a relationship sooner than later, but I thought it’s important to flag out that the assumption that paying a lot for dating = serious isn’t necessarily true. I’ve been on dates with guys who are serious but we didn’t meet through a dating service. So it can go both ways and just because someone is paying to date doesn’t necessary mean he/she is a serious dater.

As for avenues like online dating, I’m open to it, just that it’s not a channel I’m using now.

Proceed to part 2:  Initial Consultation and Membership Enrollment

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