In our latest relationships article Liz Newmark looks at a dating agency aiming to make your first rendez-vous the best in your life.
Looking for love these days is more likely to be online than at your local sports club. But in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, people turn more and more to serious dating agencies which regard their clients as more than just a number or photo to swipe left or right.
Marie de Duve started working for one of these agencies – a2 rencontres, created by Valerie Dax in 1970, in 2006 and took over the business in 2017. “We are a serious dating agency adapted to today’s way of life,” she tells Together. “Our clients are single, active, entrepreneurs, professionals, civil servants and above all ready to make a commitment.” With its headquarters in Brussels and agencies also in Namur and Braine l’Alleud, a2 rencontres has 771 clients, 480 women and 291 men on its books and people wanting to join all the time, de Duve said, adding she has received three times more enquiries post than pre-pandemic.
The clientele is Belgian and also European thanks to the innumerable European institutions, not just the European Commission, European Parliament and European Council, in the capital. For de Duve, people are returning to agencies like a2 as they want to gain time, meet people more successfully with discretion and keep their profiles confidential. Clients at a2 benefit from her 20 years’ experience in matching single people: “We make the contacts and get to know each of singles here, not a machine.” This means that a2’s address book is full of motivated, serious people. “We are a super filter. Desperate cases will find it easier to join dating sites,” explains the self-confessed ‘head-hunter for the heart’.
De Duve sees her job as “the most beautiful in the world, making people happy.” But finding true love takes time, she tells Together. “We are living in a world where everything goes very quickly, we can get many things rapidly in one click. But it takes nine months to make a baby for example. Finding your soulmate will not happen with a snap of your fingers. We are not in a supermarket.”
This year, a2 clients also benefit from the services of Diane, a counsellor and ‘love coach’, de Duve says. Diane gives everyone a ‘love test’ to find out how clients behave in matters of the heart; advice on how to be “attractive and sparkle while still remaining true to yourself” and tips for your first meeting or start of a relationship with that hopefully special someone. “It’s just a meeting,” de Duve adds, but “perhaps the best of your life.”