When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

True love is only one well-written online profile away...
True love is only one well-written online profile away...
Lenka Jaloviecova

MUNICH - Wearing a bright checked shirt, the man is strikingly tall, fit, with very short brown hair and brown eyes. He smiles a lot. Right now he’s looking for a suitable female partner – not in cafés or bars as such a search might have been conducted just a few short years ago, but in the virtual world.

In his profile it says that Freddie (not his real name)doesn’t smoke and eats a lot of fast food. But he also likes healthy fare – particularly Italian, French, Asian cuisines. Like lots of other guys, he’s into movies, travel, playing sports, listening to music, and going out.

One thing stands out about him, however: Freddie can cook. At least so it says in his profile. "It’s true," he confirms. His profile picture, where he’s shown in a suit, makes him look cool – cooler than he does in real life, at least this evening. The photograph is geared to make him appeal to as any women as possible.

A 40-year-old doctor from Munich, Freddie has had it with being single. And Andreas Laufer is helping him change the situation. Laufer wrote Freddie’s online profile, and is actively looking for a suitable woman for him on the net. This isn’t a friendly thing – it’s a professional service. Laufer earns good money doing this for men like Freddie.

Meeting women? For a windsurfing pro like Andy Laufer – this is no problem. Dubbed the "German sailing legend" by the international press, the 43-year-old Laufer recently announced his windsurfing comeback. But after he officially quit his sporting career in 2005, he launched another: first in finance, which he came to realize was not for him, and then – always having been one for unusual ideas – in Sept. 2012 an "online ghostwriting agency."

He started Suredate with 47-year-old business partner Ingo Möbius, to help people like Freddie.

His job is to get dates for lonely hearts – finding a partner on the Internet is hard work and requires a great deal of time, which is something that workaholics like Freddie don’t have a lot of. The doctor is presently one of four clients the agency is focusing on. Laufer and Möbius have so far had 20 male clients.

Freddie corresponds exactly to Laufer’s ideal client profile: well-paid job, very busy, middle-aged – and looking for someone. "I don’t have the time or the inclination to do a lot of writing and checking out profiles," Freddie says. Laufer and Möbius, who have known each other on the windsurfing scene for over 25 years, are familiar with this attitude from their friends. It gave them the idea for their agency. They tried their business concept out on a friend who was desperately seeking a partner but held a low opinion of online dating. The test run was a success.

In Germany – where a study by online dating site Partnersuche.de revealed that eight million people use online singles sites – the concept filled a gap in the market although it’s nothing new in the United States where "virtual dating assistant" services have been up and running for three years.

Munich couples therapist Andrea Bräu says she knows why so many people are looking for partners on the Internet: "The Internet is ever more a fixture in our lives. I can get anything I want on the Internet, so why not a partner?"

But Laufer’s ghostwriting agency goes a bit further than online dating sites, according to Bräu. She may find it "decadent," but she’s also convinced that relationships that originate online can last: "Ten years ago meeting people through the Internet was kept very hush-hush. That’s totally changed now."

A tradition from the Middle Ages

While Laufer can do a lot, he can’t do miracles: "The client has to be realistic," he says. If he hasn’t organized a minimum number of dates within a month, the client gets his money back. All-around service costs 699 euros a month. "That’s cheaper than in the U.S.," Laufer says.

As soon as a date is lined up, the client gets a memo listing a place and time and enough information about the woman so he can take up where the dating assistant left off.

According to the two business partners, they’ve had a high success rate – even when the dates have been in other cities. "I’ve had three dates, one of them in Berlin," says Munich-based Freddie, adding that his Berlin date is coming to Munich to visit for a couple of days. He says he’s thoroughly satisfied with Laufer and Möbius’s selection so far, and that the agency has been thoroughly professional.

Any moral scruples about any of this? Freddie hesitates, looking for the appropriate way of putting it. "It’s a little stupid, but it’s so convenient. And what you write isn’t so important. Eighty to 90% is your picture and the impression on the first meeting." Couples therapist Bräu sees it differently: “When you chat with somebody you can read a lot between the lines and learn quite a bit about a person. Even just how quickly somebody answers and the things they bring up say a lot," she says.

But Laufer and Möbius disagree: "Politicians have assistants who write their speeches. We’re picking up on a very old tradition. In the Middle Ages you had members of the elite using scribes to write their love letters."

So far they have one love story to their credit, but "the big goal is to be the ones behind a wedding," says Laufer.

Maybe that person will be Freddie, because at the moment things are looking up what with the visit from his date in Berlin. He has already told her, he says, that he was not the one who contacted her and flirted with her on the Internet. Her reaction? A short moment of silence. Then laughter. She thought it was funny, says Freddie, adding: "But I only told her after it was clear we were really getting along."

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Economy

Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

in the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading – and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

Protesters on Thursday in the German state of Thuringia carried Russian flags and signs: 'First our country! Life must be affordable.'

Martin Schutt/dpa via ZUMA
Stefanie Bolzen, Philipp Fritz, Virginia Kirst, Martina Meister, Mandoline Rutkowski, Stefan Schocher, Claus, Christian Malzahn and Nikolaus Doll

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ