The Hamilton Spectator

Maybe Money Can Buy Love

- By ANGELA CHEN

For most of Mati Roy’s life, dating was far down on his list of priorities. Though he halfhearte­dly tried dating apps, and would have welcomed a relationsh­ip if it developed naturally, pursuing love did not seem worth the effort.

But as Mr. Roy entered his 30s, his priorities began to shift. In December 2021, he put together an online dating bio and encouraged people to share it online. He noted that he was 188 centimeter­s tall, did not drink, smoke or do drugs and leaned less interested in spending time together than typical couples. Children were important, so he offered $2,000 to whoever introduced him to the person he would end up legally co-parenting with. (Mr. Roy chose that wording so it would not rule out adoption.)

Mr. Roy, now 33 and a project manager at OpenAI, called the reward a “dating bounty.” One friend offered an additional $1,000 with an easier requiremen­t: It would go to whoever introduced Mr. Roy to a person who brought him “a lot of joy” for at least 18 months. Another friend, Anatoliy Zaslavskiy, who goes by Toli, added $500 with the same condition.

Mr. Zaslavskiy, now 31 and an engineer at Dropbox, decided to offer his own dating bounty: $100,000 to be paid out on a four-year vesting schedule. After the first year of the relationsh­ip, the matchmaker would be paid $25,000. Then the person would receive monthly payments of roughly $2,000 until the full amount was paid out or the couple broke up.

Mr. Zaslavskiy, like Mr. Roy, posted his bounty online. Commenters derided the idea. The term “bounty” conjures images of reward posters for catching criminals. But Mr. Roy’s and Mr. Zaslavskiy’s dating bounties can be considered a return to old-fashioned matchmakin­g.

They want to incentiviz­e connection­s to find a match — once the main way people met their partners, said Michael J. Rosenfeld, a sociologis­t at Stanford University in California.

Mr. Zaslavskiy, who lives in New York, hoped the bounty would attract the kind of open-minded person he would like to date. At the time he was making around $200,000 a year, so the monthly bounty payments would have been around 12 percent of his salary.

“I looked at all these things in my life that don’t bring me as much value,” Mr. Zaslavskiy said. “At that point I’m spending maybe $13,000 a month, but do I need all that stuff that I’m buying? Absolutely not. If I could spend $2,000 of that on finding somebody I love, then that’s absolutely worth it.”

Rachel Greenwald, a profession­al matchmaker and executive fellow at Harvard Business School, said it was not surprising that usually men were the ones offering dating bounties. “Women think it sounds desperate, and men think it sounds like a power move,” she said.

After Mr. Zaslavskiy posted his bounty, he received about five introducti­ons, two of which turned into video calls, but none became dates. Following a reunion and breakup with an ex, he is dating again, and the bounty remains active.

Mr. Roy received about 27 introducti­ons, which turned into five video calls and one in-person meeting. None ended in romance, but his friend Carrie Radomski shared his bounty on her Facebook page. It quickly attracted attacks, and the eye of Carissa Cassiel. The honesty appealed to her. But the selling point was noticing how he took the criticism.

“I observed in the comments how he was responding to people,” she said. “He was very gracious and would say, ‘That’s a great point’ or ‘I should change that’ or ‘I could add something like that’ or ‘That’s not how I feel.’ He just handled everything beautifull­y, and that felt very significan­t to me.”

Ms. Cassiel, 39, decided to defend Mr. Roy. He was in Canada and she lived in Georgia, but the two began messaging. Mr. Roy went to stay with Ms. Cassiel for a few weeks, then spent time in Mexico with her and Thane, Ms. Cassiel’s son from a previous relationsh­ip.

Eventually, Mr. Roy moved to Georgia. The couple married last April and are raising Thane together. Since the relationsh­ip has lasted more than 18 months, $1,500 of the bounty has been paid to Ms. Radomski. The remaining $2,000 will be paid out if Mr. Roy formally adopts Thane. Ms. Cassiel believes that without the bounty she and Mr. Roy might never have met.

“I think it’s brilliant, and it really gets people involved and caring,” she said.

 ?? DUSTIN CHAMBERS FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES ?? A family snapshot of Mati Roy and Carissa Cassiel with her son, Thane. The couple met after Mr. Roy posted a dating bounty online.
DUSTIN CHAMBERS FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES A family snapshot of Mati Roy and Carissa Cassiel with her son, Thane. The couple met after Mr. Roy posted a dating bounty online.

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