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August 2008

An alternative approach to dating

10 August 2008 By Áine Maguire

Anne-Marie Cussen, a psychology postgraduate who had done her thesis on alternative dating methods, was looking for something different to do when she spotted an ad in The Sunday Business Post.

It was offering the franchise opportunity for an Irish branch of US specialized dating agency It’s Just Lunch (IJL). Now, she is celebrating her first year at the helm of the Irish venture.

IJL, which markets itself as a ‘‘first date’’ specialist for professionals between the ages of 20 and 60, was launched here in May 2007.

It has arranged almost 5,000 first dates in its first year of business. About 50 per cent of its clients have gone on to have second dates and some have been together for more than a year.

‘‘A lot of our clients are people at a senior level in business who are not in a position to date colleagues or clients,” said Cussen. ‘‘We take what we do very seriously and spend a lot of time establishing exactly what people are looking for.”

The first meeting with potential clients is, according to Cussen, a two-way process - as it would be in a business venture. ‘‘They must decide if they want to use our services and we must decide if we want to have them as a client.”

IJL conducts an in-depth interview with the client to build a detailed personal profile, and identify their requirements and preferences. They also verify all clients’ identity and ages through their driving license or passports.

A fee of €799 guarantees 14 introductions in the following 12-month period. If you meet someone you like early on, you can put your remaining introductions on hold for up to one year.

Based on the person’s profile and preferences, the company matches people who appear suited. It also organizes the time and place of the meetings - and if lunchtime doesn’t suit, alternatives such as drinks after work can be arranged.

Although IJL does not exchange clients’ full names or contact details, the person they are meeting will be given some details. These include age, height, eye and hair color, profession and information about their interests and hobbies. After the first meeting, the couple can then decide if they want to exchange personal contact details.

IJL is based in Dublin but has satellite locations in Cork, Galway and Belfast. For more details, visit

Dating Trends of Singles...

According to a survey by It’s Just Lunch, 80% of singles still believe that a relationship is more important than a career and over 90% of singles want to get married someday.

“Singles today are more proactive about meeting other singles then they were ten years ago. We have found that singles are using many different avenues to meeting that special someone." “52% of women and 48% of men have used a dating service, compared to only 8% over a decade ago.”

Over the past decade while the goal of meeting someone special has remained the same, the age singles believe they will tie the knot has changed.  In the 1990’s, 54% of single women believed they would marry in their early to mid 30’s; 59% of single men believed they would marry in their mid 40’s.  Today, the timing has reversed. 56% of single women believe they will marry in their late 30’s or 40’s, while 54% of single men believe they will marry in their 30’s.

Dress to Impress

Once you’ve agreed on a time and place for your date, it’s time to figure out what to wear.

Though clothes can never be a substitute for self-confidence or a positive attitude, they can go a long way in making a good impression and give you a head start on landing a second date.

What’s most important about dressing for a first date is wearing something that you feel comfortable in, both physically and mentally. Just reach for your favorite confidence-boosting outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks.

If you don’t have one, get one immediately. Every single should have at least one outfit that they look and feel amazing in. You should be able to put it on at any time and know that you look great and feel confident and sexy in the clothes. Pick out something classic that you can wear to any type of date. You want an outfit that can be dressed down for a more casual date, or dressed up for a more formal date.


1.    If you’re a picky eater…order something you know you’ll like.  Sending back food or modifying something is obnoxious.

2.    Talking about how great you are is super…for a job interview. Ask questions, but stay away from salary, weight and ex’s.

3.    Be kind to your waiter or waitress. Be generous and add at least a 20% tip.

4.    Chewing gum may be great for fresh breath—but the smacking will pop the flow of any good conversation, so don’t blow it. Have a Tic Tac instead.

5.    Create a business card just for your social life—it’s a great way to express your creativity without giving out all of your professional information.

6.    Most definitely turn your cell phone ringer off.  They came to talk to you, not to listen to you talk to someone else.

7.   Ailments and current health issues should be saved for a later date.

8.    Everyone seems so busy these days, but be careful. You may seem so busy that the other person thinks you have no time for a relationship.

9.    Leave work at work.

10.  Actually be a good listener. If you’re doing all the talking, you’re not on a date; you’re on stage giving a speech.

What Men Look for on a First Date

  • Does she complain about men?
  • Is she open to trying new things?
  • Do I like her clothes and sense of style?
  • Can she speak intelligently about more than one thing (such as her job)?
  • Is she emotionally available or is she still talking to her ex a lot?
  • Can she maintain eye contact? Is she nervous? Is there some energy between us or is it flat? (Nervous is better than flat).
  • Is she generous or is she confrontational? Can she hold her own opinion without making me wrong?
  • Does she have a good sense of humor and a “fun” attitude? Does she get my sense of humor? Is she happy?
  • Do we have chemistry? How does she respond when I put my hand on the side of her arm or in the small of her back? Is she open and not afraid to show that she likes me?
  • Is she high maintenance? Does she talk about nicer places than the one you are taking her to in a way that makes you think she would have rather gone there? Does she pick the most expensive thing on the menu on a first date?