Holly Dunlap is married to her business. And, "as my mother has pointed out many times, businesses do not produce grandchildren," says the 32-year-old founder of Hollywould, a women's boutique with locations in New York City and Palm Beach, Fla. Dunlap works 14-hour days and doesn't have time to find a boyfriend -- she rarely has time for lunch. Such is the Catch-22 of many singles who run their own firms: They work so much they don't have time to find a mate -- and often without someone waiting on the other side of the dinner table (or bed), there's no incentive to shut down the computer and go home. One increasingly attractive option is outsourcing the task to matchmaking services. There are many, yet few well-suited to entrepreneurs. Dunlap abandoned one Web dating site after receiving correspondence solely from men who claimed to be massage therapists or nurses. (For the record, she's seeking an independent "genius" tall enough to tower over her 5-foot-10 frame when she wears four-inch heels.) Here we list services that cut down on the work of meeting someone and let you be as picky about a partner as you are about hiring an employee. But keep in mind that once you find a match, you may have to spend less time with your laptop.
It's an instant dinner party. What happens: Members in seven major cities dine in a group of four single men and four single women. Everyone has similar interests and is the same age. After dinner, you can exchange numbers with someone, or ask the company to see if he or she likes you too (if so, it will give you the digits). Requirements: Professionals with an e-mail address and photo. Ages 21-45. Fee: $250 to $350 per five dinners, plus the food bill (the restaurant keeps separate checks). www.8at8.com
This company specializes in psychological profiling. What happens: Founder and psychologist Neil Clark Warren says there are 29 indicators of successful marriages: kindness, sociability, sexual passion are a few. You take an extensive online personality test, and the site matches you with potential soulmates for online chitchat and, presumably, a real-life date. Given the stringent pairing technique, subscribers may wait a few days before they get a match. Requirements: None. Fee: $250 a year or $50 a month. www.eharmony.com
It plans everything, down to when and where you meet. What happens: Once staff members find a good match, they'll tell you about your date, coordinate your schedules, and select a nice spot for lunch or drinks. You take it from there -- continue dating that person or ask the staff for someone more outgoing, taller, etc. Requirements: Join through one of 70 local offices. Fee: $1,000 to $1,500, for six months to a year. If you get in a relationship, you can put your membership on hold for up to a year. www.itsjustlunch.com
All counselors are former headhunters who apply those principles to matchmaking. What happens: All clients are men. Women join free and make up a 10,000-person dating pool. SSI reps search the pool (or, say you request a 5-foot-11 raven-haired banker from Toledo, scout to find her) and give you a photo and dossier. If you like, you can call her up for a date. If a few dates give similar negative feedback ("He eats with his mouth open"), SSI will tell you. Requirements: For men only. Fee: $5,000 for 10 introductions, up from there. www.selectivesearchinc.com