First-date nerves are par for the course and Jake was no exception. As he made his way to Marks, the Mayfair private members' club frequented by David Cameron and Boris Johnson, the 47-year-old venture capitalist struggled to contain a "rush of anxious energy". He needn't have worried. Utterly charmed by Anna, a glamorous 38-year-old PR executive ("She was so stunning I almost knocked over my glass of water"), Jake married her seven months later.
But this was no ordinary whirlwind romance. Jake had travelled more than 3000 miles from New York to meet London-based Anna, to whom he was introduced by Seventy-Thirty, a matchmaking service that helps high-net-worth individuals find love, wherever in the world they are based. The couple are typical of this new jet-set dating elite - the super-rich whose lives are so international they don't see a few oceans as a barrier to true love.
Seventy-Thirty has a global membership of around 2000, with the majority of its clients aged between 30 and 60. When its managing director, Lemarc Thomas, told Jake he had found the perfect match for him in London, Jake saw it as an opportunity, not a problem.
"The dating scene in New York is too aggressive for me," he explains. "I travel a lot and I'm more drawn to the effortless sophistication of European women. Anna sounded intriguing so I flew out to meet her the following weekend."
It was reported this week that Berkeley International, another elite dating service, which has 5000 clients - "a mix of CEOs, barristers, doctors and hedge-fund types" - has seen a 50 per cent rise in Londoners seeking to be introduced to New Yorkers.
Anna sounded intriguing so I flew out to meet her the following weekend.
The most famous example of a cross-Atlantic love affair is London-based human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and her Hollywood actor husband George Clooney. Meanwhile, media mogul Rupert Murdoch demonstrated that a couple of thousand miles needn't stand in the way of romance when he tied the knot with Jerry Hall at the weekend.
It is a trend that has also been noticed by Vida Consultancy, a Mayfair-based company that seeks to find "life partners for the world's most exceptional people" and has a network of thousands of registered users. Having launched an international arm three years ago, Rachel MacLynn, its founder, reports that those seeking an international match now account for 30 per cent of the company's revenue. She anticipates three-quarters of her clients will be looking for a trans-Atlantic relationship by 2020. "People tend to complain about the dating culture where they live," she says. "Many view big cities on the other side of the pond as having a more romantic and cosmopolitan approach."
Cash rich, time poor
There are practical considerations at play, too. MacLynn and Thomas's clients may have the cash to spend on wooing prospective partners but little time to do so. Courtship in these elite circles is often a matter of logistics.
"We'll have people come to us and say they're looking for a match in multiple cities or countries," says MacLynn. "The locations tend to be based around where they have offices or do business. Clients have the best experience if we work around their existing schedule. It all sounds very glamorous, but when it comes down to it, arranging dates around packed itineraries can be very challenging."
A healthy international client base was part of Vida's appeal for Michael, a 47-year-old property developer and entrepreneur from London. He says: "My work takes me overseas on a fairly regular basis, so the fact that Vida could offer a service in both the UK and the US really appealed.
"I've been a member for about 18 months. Almost straight away, I was paired with Jennifer, who worked in finance in Manhattan and also did a bit of back and forth across the pond. As I was in New York the following week, we set up a date – I felt like a character in Love Actually. I suggested dinner in an amazing Italian restaurant. It was a great first date that spawned a seven-month relationship."
The science of matchmaking
So what's the secret to helping the time-starved super-rich making it work? The key is rigorous profiling, says Mairead Molloy, global director of Berkeley International. A qualified psychologist, Molloy and her team conduct a 90-minute "lifeline" for each client, quizzing them on their interests, past relationships and what they do and don't want from a partner. "The time it takes to find a suitable match all depends on the psychology of the person," explains Molloy. "If somebody is an open book and they're prepared to listen to us as a group of professionals, they'll have more success."
Molloy is not the only one bringing impressive credentials to the table – MacLynn moved into matchmaking in 2006 following a career in business psychology, while Seventy-Thirty founder, Susie Ambrose, ran a successful psychotherapy practice prior to setting up the company. There's clearly something in a scientific approach to romance – Lemarc Thomas makes the impressive claim that eight out of 10 of his clients will find a relationship.
Unsurprisingly, such expertise comes at a price that acts as the first dating filter. Fees for an international search with Vida start at £18,000 ($33,795), while Berkeley International commands £40,000 for a global service. "It's very bespoke," says Thomas. "Some people will want a matchmaker who's completely dedicated to their case and will travel to meet prospective dates, or they might want some life-coaching as well as a dating service."
Membership with Seventy-Thirty begins at £18,000 but can go up to £60,000. But then, finding love is a serious business, insists MacLynn. "People who have the resources want to approach finding someone in same way they'd use a personal trainer rather than going to their local gym."
Once a potential suitor has been identified, the matchmakers usually back off, though if requested, they can arrange the first date. "These are capable people" says Thomas. "We introduce clients, then it's up to them how they meet. We try not to be the overbearing aunt."
But what happens when things get serious and the romance of jet-set dating gives way to mundane (yet crucial) considerations, such as where to set up a home together - or, should the patter of tiny feet follow, where the children go to school. How do you even countenance settling down when you are constantly on the move?
"We're talking about a group of people who lead very international and transient lifestyles," says MacLynn. "It becomes the norm to expect to send any children to an international school where the curriculum can be accessed at any point from whatever international centre they are closest to. Part of the initial discussion we have with new clients include considering long-term factors such as who might move where. If we have a male client with homes and businesses in several cities, he'll typically expect to meet someone who's fairly flexible. Many of the women we deal with have the kind of skills and careers which mean they can work anywhere in the world."
It's an arrangement that sits easily with Anna and Jake - given she works with international luxury brands, she found it easy to relocate to New York early on in the relationship. The couple have been happily married for 18 months.
It is perhaps unsurprising that the ever-expanding international business networks of the super-elite should have a knock-on effect on their romantic relationships. Molloy says: "We're changing the way we work and live, and this is now changing the way we love."
Some names have been changed.
The Daily Telegraph, London