The pros, cons and bottom line ($$$!) from a matchmaker
Matchmaking has long had a bit of an old-world rep (thanks, Fiddler on the Roof!). But lately, it’s been getting a modern-day makeover.
There are an estimated 2,000 matchmakers in the United States, while about 100 more come into the business of love each year. And it’s all about demand. Thanks to online dating, people are becoming increasingly comfortable with blind set-ups. Meanwhile, online databases allow matchmakers to offer their clients more prospects.
So as more singles watch shows like Millionaire Matchmaker and Miss Advised, many women are left wondering, what’s this matchmaking thing really all about? We sat down with Jason Silver of We Just Match in Chicago, to find out.
How Matchmaking Works
In a nutshell, here’s how it goes: You meet with a matchmaker, answer all sorts of (tough) personal questions, go on a date with a potential match, and then report to the matchmaker about what you did—and didn’t—like about your match. Then you go on a date with another match, and repeat. However, there are two different matchmaking business models, Silver says. First, some matchmakers pair paid clients with other paid clients. The benefit of this, Silver says, it that it ensures everyone is truly committed to the process. “This helps weed out a lot of bad prospects,” he says. However, it can also weed out a lot of good prospects. “If they know a great match for you, but that person isn't a member, they will not match you up,” he says. Second, other matchmakers pair their clients with whoever they think will be the best match. They could be paid clients, free members in the company’s database, or even acquaintances of the matchmaker. The pool of potential matches is larger, but it could include some duds.
The Benefits of Using a Matchmaker
While online dating systems—and your friends, for that matter—are supposed to take a hint when you list your must-haves in a mate, chances are your past dates are still the picture of incompatibility. “Matchmakers pre-screen all potential dates to ensure they are aligned with our client's values, beliefs, interests, and life goals,” Silver says. The result: less time wasted, better dates, and, hopefully, a perfect match. Also, what most people don’t consider about a matchmaker is the dating advice they provide. After each date, the matchmaker pow-wows with each party to learn what may have gone wrong, and provide pointers for future moves.
The Downside of Matchmaking
So what's the catch? Money, mainly. While, on average, prices for matchmaking services range from $5,000 to $10,000 a year, some matchmaking companies command as much as $20,000 a year. “Only a small portion of the cost is actually for matchmaking services,” adds Silver, who charges clients between $3,500 and $10,000 depending on their needs. “Matchmaking services usually include support services such as date coaching, image consulting, and concierge services,” he says. If you can’t afford to be a paid client, it can’t hurt to see if the matchmaker you like has a free database you can join. You could still score some dates, you just won’t get all the extras.
Picking the Right Matchmaker
How many fishes do you want in your sea of potential matches? What is important to you to find in a mate? Are you looking for marriage on the horizon? Different companies specialize in clients looking for different thing, both in a match and in a relationship, Silver says. Some work exclusively with busy business professionals, while others look not only locally, but internationally, for matches. Run a simple Google search for what type of service you want. You’ll be surprised how many companies are out there (because they are discrete!). If a company peaks your interest, put in a call and interview the matchmaker before you spew your soul—or hand over a credit card.
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