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Once you mix in the vague rules of netiquette and a healthy fear of catfishing scams, it’s easy to see why someone might want to outsource their online-dating profile to a pro, if only to keep themselves sane.But where does the digital social assistant end and the con artist begin? In November 2017, I ran across an ad seeking “people with good Tinder skills” for a job as a “Virtual Dating Assistant.” At first I thought it was a joke, but I completed their online form out of pure fascination. Apparently, professional writers make for good online-dating assistants; knowing how to seduce strangers with the written word is the company’s mandate, after all. I log into the Tinder account of a 45-year-old man from Texas—a client.
Originally a sales guy with no time for “real dates,” Valdez grew Vi DA’s brand out of his own experiences in the dating world.Before Tinder normalized “DTF” (“Down To Fuck”) as an opening salute, Valdez would send copy-and-pasted pick-up lines to dozens of women a day and track their effectiveness on spreadsheets.“Online dating is a numbers game,” he would write in the Vi DA training manual years later.The matches I speak to on behalf of the Texan man and other clients have no idea they’re chatting with a professional.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these ghostwriting services exist.
“I consider myself to be a marketer, a matchmaker, and a dating expert.” He lists the books he’s read that inform his methods: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Online dating takes effort, and effort equals time,” he continued.