Let’s GaiGai – How My First Matchmaking Experience Went
Chances are you’ve read my review on the online dating app Paktor; if you haven’t, shame on you – read it here.
In the words of a friend, Paktor is a localized version of Tinder (read my review of Tinder here). But if it’s a situation of TL;DR for you, here’s a quick summary of what I thought:
What sets Paktor apart from Tinder is its Wink feature. It’s a semi-customizable feature, which allows you to choose a number of standard lines that gets sent out to potential matches on the app.
Don’t underestimate this feature’s ability to start a thousand conversations for you. If your goal on an online dating app is to meet as many people as you can, Paktor’s the perfect app.
What I didn’t know about Paktor was that the company running the app goes an extra mile with an offline dating service – GaiGai.
The team behind Paktor contacted me a couple of months ago (having read my review of Paktor) and invited me to experience GaiGai. As Singapore’s self-proclaimed worst dating service/app critic, of course I had to give it a try.
Before I get started on my experience, here’s what you need to know about GaiGai.
As an offline dating service, GaiGai offers the physical opportunity to meet potential partners. They’re the matchmakers - the middleman between you and the hundreds/thousands of singles in their database.
It’s a safer platform to meet new people, as compared to the online dating apps. No worries about having your confidential details leaked on either platforms as GaiGai holds a strict no-sharing policy with regards to the two databases. Simply put, if you’re on Paktor, your details will not appear in Gaigai’s database unless you specifically sign up for GaiGai’s dating services.
GaiGai also holds an SDNtrust accreditation. This means the agency follows a strict Code of Professional Conduct for Dating Agencies. One guideline GaiGai abides by is the firm security checks on all the individuals who sign up for their service. Only Singaporeans, PRs and Employment Pass holders can sign up for the service at GaiGai, and every individual who signs up for the membership has their marital status thoroughly checked. Read as: Rest assured, you won’t meet any married scums looking for an affair.
Apart from scouring their database for suitable partners and arranging dates on your behalf, GaiGai physically prepares you for the meet up. Fleek is GaiGai’s date coaching, and image and styling consultancy arm. They cover everything from conversational skills to personal grooming, with a highly certified master stylist.
Think of GaiGai’s events as speed matchmaking activities. GaiGai offers a variety of events under 3 categories: Dining, Sports, and Interactive/Activity-based.
For example, this month (amongst a plethora of other events), GaiGai’s hosting a Sunset Dining experience at a Vineyard, a Kickboxing Mania session, and a Magic Workshop.
There are also age-restricted events, e.g. ‘Under 35’, that guarantees all attendees are below or above a certain age.
The best part? All events have limited vacancies, which ensures that events are never too packed, or imbalanced in its male-to-female ratio.
3. The Personalised Date
This is GaiGai’s main service – arranging highly personalized and meticulously handpicked dates based on every individual’s in-depth profile analysis.
GaiGai’s matchmaking service offers a two-tiered membership system – paid and free.
Here’s the difference (apart from the obvious payment):
Anyone can sign up for the free membership by filling out an online GaiGai profile. This enters your profile into GaiGai’s database, where you’ll be searchable for potential matches.
Members who hold a paid membership account are assigned a personal GaiGai Relationship Manager who crafts their online profile and screens them right at the beginning. Members’ prerequisites (likes, dislikes) in a partner are noted, and the GaiGai team scours the database for the perfect match.
Simply put: Basic members are not guaranteed dates - their profiles exist in the database in the hopes that they might be a suitable match for a paid member. Paid members are guaranteed a number of dates depending on the package that they’ve paid for.
Simple enough, yes?
Let’s move on to my experience.
Creating my GaiGai Profile
I was assigned a personal GaiGai Relationship Manager, Kaile, who promptly arranged a meet up session at Paktor’s office over at Cecil Street.
My meet-up session/screening took place in a cosy private room in their office. Kaile ran through a detailed explanation of GaiGai before setting up my online profile. She was easy-going and affable, setting me very quickly at ease in opening up about my dating history and partner preferences.
The supposedly quick meet-up session took over an hour because we were chatting too much.
I hadn’t exactly figured out what I was looking for in a suitable partner, but Kaile was patient and helped me sort out the confusion.
Preferences for my potential partner’s age range, race, religion, income range, and personality traits were detailed, along with my characteristics – to ensure I was matched with someone who would find me equally as interesting.
Waiting for a Match
I am an impatient creature, and waiting does not suit me one bit. I was forewarned that Dolly – GaiGai’s professional matchmaker – usually takes 2 to 3 months to find a suitable date. Thankfully, I was only made to wait for slightly over 2 weeks.
Dolly called me in the afternoon as I’d just settled into a couch at a Coffeebean in the CBD area (completely irrelevant, but I just wanted to throw that in).
The first thing Dolly did was to provide a quick briefing of the match she had picked for me. Apparently, she had already called the guy up beforehand and he was agreeable to meeting me. When I gave the go-ahead, she asked for my available dates and arranged a date, going back and forth between my match and I to settle a date, time and place.
After making a reservation at the restaurant, Dolly sent us both an email reminder for the date, as well as an email detailing suggested guidelines for the date – like a smart casual dress code, and following a dutch payment for the meal – and a brief profile of my match for my reference.
Here’s the write up for my match.
Jerome* (Not his actual name)
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Civil Servant
Profile: Jerome is spontaneous and extroverted in his ways. He is witty and humorous at the same time. Jerome is someone who always strives to do his best in whatever he puts his mind to. During his free time, he enjoys watching TV drama series. Some of the series he watches are (eg: Game of Thrones, House of Cards, How I Met Your Mother, Suits and etc. He loves music, and his favourite bands are The Killers and Muse. Other than listening to music, he plays the drum and jams with his friends as well. Jerome likes fashion (more on street brands) and used to do retail consultancy. As much as he is a foodie, he keeps an active lifestyle. He plays basketball, darts, sails and kayaks. Jeremy enjoys travelling. Paris, London, Japan and Korea are some of the places he has travelled to.
I was pretty excited for the date because it was my first matchmaking experience, and I wanted to meet the guy thought to be so compatible with me based on our personality and partner preferences.
But two days after confirming the date, Dolly called to tell me that Jerome had chosen to cancel on me because “he has changed his mind about the meet up as he’s swamped with work at the moment”.
Alright Jerome, bye.
Dolly promised to find a second match for me after the first let down. I was honestly very worried that I would be made to wait 2 or 3 months for a second match, but thank God Dolly works fast.
She called me in less than 2 weeks’ time with a second match. Same procedure – she had called the guy beforehand and gotten the go-ahead for me, gave me a brief introduction of my second match and waited for the go-ahead from me, then arranged a date, time and place based on our preferences.
She made a reservation at the restaurant under my match’s name, and sent us both an email reminder for the date, as well as an email with the suggested date guidelines and the match’s profile brief.
Here’s the write up for my second match.
Jacob* (Not his real name, but I told him I would be writing a review and he requested to be called Jacob with a ‘c’)
Marital Status: Single
Religion: Free Thinker
Occupation: Corporate Communications
Profile: Jacob is originally for Belgium and has been living in Singapore for 5 years. He has an optimistic and easy going personality. He is creative and analytical at the same time. His friends would describe him as someone who is witty and caring. Jacob is spontaneous and adventurous in his ways. Having a love for travelling, Jacob has been to Vietnam, Cambodia and Italy to name of few. Over the weekend, Jacob enjoys exploring to find the best food in town or doing a sporting activity like hiking or wakeboarding. He would also sometimes go for a long run after a stressful week. Living independently in Singapore, Jacob tries to maintain a close relationship with his family.
We scheduled a date on 19 November at Mozza at MBS.
2 days later, Dolly called to tell me that Jacob cancelled on me. I might have flipped a table or two at the news– honestly, two dates in a row cancelling on me?!
Thankfully, Jacob simply took a raincheck, and proposed alternatives for the date.
We scheduled a second date on 23 November at Dempsey House.
I got to the restaurant exactly on time – 7pm.
I was expecting to do a little waiting but surprisingly, Jacob was earlier.
Hand to God, Jacob was crazy good-looking. I’m amazed I didn’t stumble on my way to the table he was seated at, because I might have been had some difficulty focusing on walking what with his stupidly gorgeous face staring at me. Thankfully, he was on the phone, so I had some time after sitting down to compose my (most probably) retarded expression into something somewhat decent.
Dinner was great and conversation flowed. True to the profile brief, Jacob was witty and easy-going. The feeling must have been mutual, because he proposed going for drinks after dinner. (Thank you Lord, for not allowing me to embarrass myself to the extent that my date would run off at the very first opportunity.)
We called it a night around 11pm, as I had an event to attend right after, and he had a crazy workweek ahead.
We exchanged numbers before splitting, and yes, if you’d like to know, we did text after and might have made plans for a second date. ;-)
Forget your preconceived notions that matchmaking is passé. I started out a little skeptical that the team at GaiGai would be able to find me someone I would be satisfied with, and guess what happened? Wait, no, don’t guess – I told you exactly what happened.
With Valentine’s Day coming up in a month’s time, I would highly recommend that you give GaiGai a try. You don’t have to sign up for the paid membership if you’re skeptical; you can give the free membership a try – you might be matched with a paid member for all you know.
Check GaiGai out here!
Here’s wishing you all the best with love and life.
Cue completely irrelevant photo, but I needed a cover photo, and hey! There's my pug!
Also, how great is my iPhone 7 depth camera feature? Granted, the photo's not perfect, but still, this is pretty awesome.