Rachel Greenwald, a Denver matchmaker, dating coach, and author of “Find a Husband After 35 (Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School)” and “Have Him At Hello: Confessions from 1,000 Guys About What Makes Them Fall in Love . . . or Never Call Back,” estimates that more than 5,000 matchmaking businesses exist in the United States today, compared to about 200 a decade ago. That number can include sole proprietors, a team of two or three partners, large corporations with offices in several cities, and even online companies that take applications virtually before progressing to in-person interaction.
With so many options, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are a few tips for those looking to hire their own personal cupid:
“Word-of-mouth is so important in this industry, because there are a lot of unethical matchmakers out there,” Greenwald said.
She warns that a Google search can present agencies that have great search engine optimization but little else.
The New York-based Matchmaking Institute, which offers education, training, and business coaching for aspiring matchmakers, can give recommendations among the matchmakers who have earned its certification.
Although the industry has no official governing body, a matchmaker who can tell you about her training and credentialing could stand out as a person who takes her trade seriously. (On a personal note, this method is how I found the matchmakers who introduced me to my future husband.)
Online sites such as Three Day Rule and Tawkify offer access to matchmakers in your area after you submit an application. (More on that below.) If you do try the search engine route, you could find a gem — just ask plenty of questions, do your research, and run from high-pressure sales tactics.
Sounds good so far. When can I sign up?
Not so fast. All options aren’t available to everyone. One secret of the industry is that many matchmakers accept only men as paying clients. This doesn’t mean women are out of luck, but they might have to search a little harder for companies that will work directly for them.
Almost anyone, however, can join a matchmaker’s database for free by filling out an online application. It’s a passive approach, though, and you have to hope a matchmaker finds your profile to be a good fit for a paying client — which could happen in two weeks, two years, or never.
How much is this going to cost?
If you want to hire a matchmaker, prepare to open your wallet. For access to a Three Day Rule matchmaker, you’ll pay $5,000 in most areas of the country for a three-month package, which equals one date per month. Premium options for more matches or wider geographic searches start in the five-figure range, which is also the going rate for higher-end matchmakers like Greenwald, who can perform a nationwide, executive-level search for The One. The more you want your matchmaker to do, the more you’ll pay.
A growing number of matchmakers put on local events for singles to meet in a casual environment, such as paint-and-sips or restaurant happy hours. You might pay only a small fee for a ticket, and who knows, your match might be there, too.
This is also a good way to meet a potential matchmaker and get on his or her list of potential matches.
Trust your matchmaker
Now that you’re in, don’t expect to order up a tall, dark, and handsome neurosurgeon who runs marathons, cooks gourmet meals every night, and loves your pet rabbits.
Matchmakers aren’t short-order cooks, and they’re quick to tell clients to drop the rigid lists. Sure, they’ll work to meet your most important preferences, but they’ll also interview potential dates to see if they’re a match for your personality and values. Have an open mind and trust your matchmaker’s coaching. Good matchmakers also follow up after your date to get feedback, which helps them fine-tune their match-selection process to get it right for you.
When should I start planning my happily ever after?
Again, not so fast. Greenwald compares retaining a matchmaker to the psychology of buying a lottery ticket.
“Hiring a matchmaker should be ‘pay-to-play’ rather than ‘I can buy what I want,’ ” she said.
“You can’t simply use money to outsource your love life to a matchmaker, then sit back and stop looking on your own. A successful dating strategy requires buying several lottery tickets because you never know which one will pay off first.”
In other words, keep swiping, keep asking friends to fix you up, keep frequenting events, and keep checking out the hot guy or girl at Whole Foods.
But it certainly can’t hurt to give the matchmaker route a try — it might be the beginning of your modern-day love story.
“I think it’s the same with how online dating was in the beginning,” said Goldstein, of Three Day Rule.
“There was a little bit of a stigma. People may not have shared how they met and now everyone says I met on Tinder or OkCupid. I think we’re finally turning the corner with matchmaking. It’s normalized now.”