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Looking for love (or a hookup), but find the online dating world just too much? You’re not alone.

A new trend of online dating consultancy is emerging and Fiverr is capitalizing on it.

Israeli-based Fiverr is an online marketplace that offers freelance services from $5 upwards, and its users are currently capitalizing on the for online dating consultancy. Given the courtship climate of seemingly infinite apps and unlimited swipes, it’s no wonder that people are looking for guidance in new places.

But how different is getting someone else to tell you what to say, which photos to use, to people who are outright catfishing? Where is the honesty in forming those initial connections? And how far would people take the consultancy aspect when they’ve hooked a potential match?

Services Provided

On Fiverr, you can find a range of online dating services on offer – from tweaking your existing profile, creating a whole new one, and full coaching on finding and making reliable matches. The aim is to swiftly hand over the conversation or phone number to the client.

Emily Shugerman from the Daily Beast reported that some sell their “best response opening lines” from $5 each. However, Fiverr takes a 20 perfect cut, so it’s unlikely these freelancers are doing this as a full-time job – or ones that are, perform a huge number of services each month.

Fiverr is by no means alone here – indeed, it’s simply a platform where people can offer all kinds of services. There are, however, existing sites dedicated to being online ‘wingmen’, such Personal Dating Assistants, which exists to help men find women.

Necessity or Catfish-y?

On KCBS Radio, Shugerman says people who pay for Fiverr’s online dating consultants do so because they cannot fit swiping and messaging multiple people at a time into their otherwise busy lives. Some others just need a confidence boost.

In an interview with dating expert Nichi Hodgson on BBC Two’s The Ranganation, she explains that “we suffer from what psychologists call cognitive overload. We can only actually make a good decision between five and nine people, and past that your judgement is impaired, and you can’t make a good decision any more.”

In this case, perhaps a consultant, emotionally separated from the situation, could overcome that hurdle. Or would they also suffer from their own cognitive overload?

Hodgson goes on to say that dating apps are gamified to keep you hooked. “They want you to go back on even if you’ve had perfectly nice date.” Perhaps having a consultant hired to do it all for you might help change those negative online dating habits.

Shugerman said that while most services only offered a profile tweak and opening lines to initiate matchmaking – not dissimilar from standard matchmaking services – one consultant said they had several clients who “volunteered to turn over their passwords and have her run their entire accounts for them.”

Though that particular consultant said she dismissed those offers, it is likely that people paying for such services are indeed potentially fuelling catfishing.

It’s a trend that follows hot on the heels of the recent phenomenon of people hiring dating app photographers to spruce up their profile pictures. But where is the line drawn to completely falsifying your online self?

Alternative dating apps

When looking at the hookup culture, versus using apps to form long lasting romantic connections, Hodgson said that “even on Tinder now, people are mainly on there for relationships, it’s over 50 percent now.”

The issue with Tinder is that users are split between wanting hookups and relationships. Were people to use the right dating apps for them, perhaps there wouldn’t be much need for online dating consultants at all.

Recurringly, more and more dating apps are specialized to accommodate people’s specific dating desires.

Fwbdr, which stands for ‘Friends With Benefits’, for example is an app specifically designed for hookups, where there is no animosity about what people are there for.

Whereas French dating app, Pickable, created by Clementine Lalande, caters to women who want to create meaningful relationships, and retain complete anonymity and control over their matches.

A spokesperson from Pickable told SEXTECHGUIDE that it is the “only dating platform to completely remove women’s exposure in the online dating world […] where women no longer feel like their dating life is exposed to the public and where they have control over who sees their photos or information.”

While stereotypically women are thought to be on dating apps for more romantic connections, Becky from Fwbdr told SEXTECHGUIDE that “in recent months, hundreds of female users join Fwbdr each day.”

Whether you’re looking for a hook-up, or looking for the love of your life on a dating app, there’s always a chance that the person you’re speaking to isn’t who they claim to be. If dating consultants become more commonplace, that’ll only become more likely.

Ultimately in a dating dynamic, the authenticity of both parties should be a priority, otherwise, we’ll all just end up drowning in a big ol’ bowl of catfish soup.

Read Next: Dating apps removed from app stores for not obtaining parental consent

Oli Lipski
Oli is a freelance sex tech researcher based in London. With an MA in Sexual Dissidence, researching sex tech, and a BA in History, researching gender and sexuality, she has a keen understanding of the past, present and future of sex.

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