A new dating service designed to take away some of the “fears and awkwardness” associated with blind dates is proving popular with Auckland singles.
Date With Eight is an events focused dating service where singles, aged between 22 and 60, register their interest in upcoming events online and meet up in groups of up to eight people in Auckland.
Via the online portal, participants select events that appeal to them based on their age, what they like to do, where they like to dine and how much they’re willing to spend.
The dates include food and beverages and vary in price from $25 for a coffee date, to $60 for a cooking class – more dates are added regularly.
However, participants do not get to meet or see the other singles until they arrive at the date.
Kohimarama resident Jess Page launched the company a year ago after identifying a gap in the market for “real human interaction” on the Auckland dating scene, she said.
“Prior to launching, there was lots of discussion around the negative experiences people were having with online dating and apps, it being time-wasting and in some cases quite unsafe,” Page said.
“Although I can’t say I’ve ever online dated, I can vouch for blind dates. I met my husband on a blind date in London, which might be how the blind element of Date With Eight came about.”
Dating apps like Tinder have come under some scrutiny in recent times for the risks associated with going on a date with a stranger alone.
“People genuinely want to make real connections offline. Rather than relying on technology, algorithms and psych tests for something as important as meeting a potential partner,” Page said.
“My company is about delivering a service that’s a little bit old school and isn’t an instantaneous judging platform where you’re ‘swiped’, but instead encourages people to put their mobiles down and enjoy new experiences while meeting like minded individuals.
“There is far more to learn about a person face-to-face in five minutes than in a week over text.”
A number of singles who met on one of the group dates had gone on to one-on-one dating after – though Page said she was yet to hear of any wedding bells.
Currently the small business has a staff of one, though Page outsourced much of the online design elements.
A Neighbourly poll which attracted 41 votes showed 63 per cent of respondents felt online was the most common way people were meeting these days, while just 12 per cent felt it was either through friends or social outings.