Ghost dating the next big thing online?
Too embarrassed to shop for a partner? — people will do it for you
Stacie Ikka has had more relationships end than most people have had dates. Ever. And she gets paid for it!
But before anyone jumps to conclusions, Ikka is a ghost dater, amongst the other matchmaking services she provides through her business Sitting In A Tree.
So, just what is ghost dating?
“ ‘Ghost dating’ is a term I coined after ghost writing,” Ikka explains. “My understanding of that is that someone else pens a book for you. So, from my perspective, I date on behalf of someone else. Basically, people are looking to outsource their online dating these days.”
Matchmaking services, online or otherwise, are becoming a popular option for those who fit into three categories: They are either too busy to find dates on their own, too well known, or they just don’t know how to navigate or have the skills to deal with the numerous online dating options.
These people come to Ikka and ask her to do it for them.
“It is overwhelming for people. Dating is so hard,” she says. “There is a sense of entitlement that ‘I deserve the best guy or girl.’ And Internet dating can be a double-edged sword. There’s a lot of people out there looking, but that means there are just so many options.”
But she doesn’t ghost date for just anyone. “If someone says to me, ‘I just don’t want to go on the Internet to date,’ with no legitimate reason or rational, even if I feel I can help them, I’ll try to encourage them at first that they can do it on their own. And it will cost them a lot less money than hiring me.”
Both females and males hire her, and for each sex the process is slightly different. For women, she’ll go on sites with her own profile and photo and, as they say in the world of online, creep around. Then she’ll e-mail men, saying that she is a matchmaker and may have a woman for them.
“Some men say, ‘No thanks. If she really wants to meet me, then she can contact me herself,’ ” she says. “Some men are really mouthy and lippy, and I’m just like, ‘I’m trying to facilitate a love connection.’ But others are game for it.”
“Jo Jo” is a client of Ikka’s. She calls Ikka her “man-chiatrist” because they talk about men and dating (and what can go wrong or right so often.)
She is not embarrassed that she uses Ikka to ghost date or work on her online profile or outsource her dating. She’ll often sit beside her while Ikka does searches for her.
“I can see how her approach was different from mine and learned that I should consider doing things differently online.”
Even though she has met men that Ikka has screened (gone on a previous date with, before Jo Jo had the chance to meet them), she is still, sigh, single.
One woman actually dumped Ikka (before meeting her client) because she didn’t like the fact that they had met at a Starbucks. (So, YOU were dumped, I ask, before your client even met the date? The answer is yes! Who said women aren’t picky?)
It’s not all easy. Along with being dumped and dumping, Ikka spends, on average, three to five hours a day on dating Internet sites. And, it’s not always easy finding someone even with all her hard work and searches. Which is why she can’t charge a flat rate for everyone.
“If you are a 65-year-old and you only want to date a Jewish person, then it’s going to take a lot longer to find a quality person than if you were a 27-year-old willing to at least try and go on dates with a lot of people.”
Ironically, Ikka is single, too (like a depressed clown or unfunny comedian). I can’t help but ask, because I’m sure it’s on your mind, too, if she doesn’t ever find someone for her or have the urge to date someone she meets while ghost dating for her clients.
“No.” She laughs. “I’m professional that way. Plus I’m usually attracted to emotionally unavailable men and that’s not what I’m looking for, for my clients.”
Part of her services also includes “dating post-mortems.” Both daters have it in their contract with her that they must have a 15-minute phone conversation with her after the date.
“That can be hard, too. One person told me she didn’t want to go out with a certain person again … thought that the person hadn’t taken their Prozac that day, they acted so depressed on the date. That was hard to break to the [other] person, but I explained it in a nicer way.”
Ikka really does have the best intentions and wants to make matches. She wants more happiness in her life and making couples makes her happy.
However, I did ask one single 35-year-old, who is cute and employed, if he would ever hire someone to ghost date for him.
“I think it’s creepy,” he said. “If I can’t manage to find someone on my own, then I probably don’t deserve to be with someone.”