Digitised dating has put cupid’s foot on the accelerator. Our capacity to find a new partner has exploded with left/right swiping, Tindering; reducing love and dating to a process of elimination.
The language of love consists of new verbs; ghosting, emoji etiquette and other colloquialisms which describe the transitional dread where someone is trying to pursue or determine the state of their romantic circumstances. Compassion is faltering in the face of the data economy.
That there is an underlying expectation for a large proportion of gay men to fulfill a promiscuous identity and engage in hook-up culture is something Jacqueline Burns, Founder of The Echelon Scene matchmaking, has noticed throughout her career, and this is something she is looking to change.
She created the first global, matchmaking service for eligible gay men, 20-60’s, last year, after leading a Gay and Lesbian division at a previous agency. Her interest dates back to focusing her postgraduate degree in Psychology at Westminster on relationship longevity.
Burns’ works with men seeking long-term monogamous relationships who have not had the opportunity to connect with others because of their busy, active lifestyles. Some clientele are working in investment banking, or run multiple businesses and need someone who will match their structured routine.
Her Canadian dual-citizenship has seen her build ties across New York and Toronto, as well as London, building an elite empire of daters at just the age of twenty-nine.
The perceived importance to find an ‘equal’ partner within high achieving gay couples can sometimes negatively impact how long the relationship will last, compared to straight where there has been a tradition of acceptance for being good at different things. Often they are attracted to someone who is equally passionate about their job, but in a completely opposite creative role.
‘Homosexual gentlemen [I meet] look after themselves physically, generally, have a high level of sociability and seek those on an equal level playing field,’ according to Burns. This focus of equality within gay relationships can sometimes hinder men from maintaining a monogamous relationship. The changing dynamics and ups and downs of life means upholding this standard is not always conducive in the long-term. As long as there is communication and an understanding of these changes, however, monogamy is achievable and the focus for all of her clients.
Opportunities for gay men are filtered; having to work out whether the ‘other person is gay, after a relationship, share the same values’ before even approaching them at a bar.
Burns uses a pro-active approach, working with ‘Echelon’ clients from the first consultation to matchmaking for a year and keeping in touch every week. Her home visits and profiling one-to-one sessions enable her to understand their energy, character, values and ‘brings things back to basics’.
She said: “I enjoy the depth of what I do, meeting people and getting to know their stories.”
The entrepreneur has noticed a gradual difference in the way gay men respond to questions about what they are looking for, naturally hearing more ‘yes’ to marriage since legalisation in 2014 and starting a family.
“Some of my clients have come out later in life but they are comfortable with themselves and in a positive frame of mind for dating.”
There are intricacies where only a matchmaker who has been in the industry for eight years might pick up on, now, often Jacqueline uses gut instinct. “Pairing someone who runs at one hundred miles per hour with someone equally passionate is key but perhaps with a more grounded, calming energy,” she said.
Members can invest £7,500 for a six-month membership and £12,500 for a year, receiving at least six matches for the former and twelve for the latter. VIP members are interested in a ‘global search’, aided by Jacqueline’s upbringing across London, Toronto, and New York.
“Some of my clients might be splitting their time between different cities.
“[For example] have a gentleman in New York who travels between there and London, so he could ultimately relocate.”
These clients are entitled to unlimited introductions with other members and get top priority with matches when they join The Echelon Scene. The capital is moving towards a new understanding of matchmaking as ‘more glamorous’ and ‘similar to investing in a personal trainer or buying a house’.
“It is not a 9-5 job because I’m working with busy people and in different time zones.
“I’m waking up and speaking to clients in Asia, first thing.”
A large proportion of the clientele are business owners with high disposable income, leading large teams, so Jacqueline does not reveal surnames and a confidentiality agreement is paramount.
“If there is someone in the top income which can be the case for a lot of clients, I would be careful about disclosing their exact profession; unless I’m sure the match is ‘in it’ for the right reasons.
“I would tell them about all the other parts of the matches personality and their shared and complementing values.”