Matchmaking dates back to as early as 1600 and single people's dating and relationship needs since then haven't changed much hundreds of years later. In the library of Cupid, we asked fellow professional cupids about their process, their most memorable matchmaking moments, and why matchmakers still matter. They also serve some really practical advice for those who are seeking eternal romantic bliss.
Previously, we featured Michele Fields, Julie Ferman, and May Hui.
Image courtesy of Saskia / saturdaynightsalright.comNothing is more rewarding for a matchmaker than seeing singles she paired turn into a happy couple. Being awarded an iDate award for stellar matchmaking work probably feels just as gratifying, and Caroline Brealey is one of the few who would know exactly how that feels. This week, we feature the founder of UK-based Mutual Attraction, a professional matchmaking and introduction services that prides itself for its bespoke approach to matchmaking.
Matchmaking seems like one of the most exciting professions there is. Have you always seen yourself as a professional cupid? What made you decide to become one?
I often joke there is no degree to be a matchmaker, though wouldn’t it be amazing if there were?!
Becoming a matchmaker isn’t something I ever thought of doing. In fact, my background is in children’s services, in particular children with complex needs. There were two reasons why I became a matchmaker: firstly, I recognized there wasn’t a matchmaking service that appealed to me at the time – a young, smart woman who wanted to take a proactive approach to dating. Many of the services were geared towards older women or at least, I perceived them to be old-fashioned. There were no matchmakers who didn’t say how ‘exclusive’ they were and how they only worked for ‘refined’ people and the wealthy. The seed was planted, and after hearing about a friend's terrible experience with a high-end matchmaker (second reason), I started doing some serious research. To cut a long story short, a few months later Mutual Attraction was born!
What are the most important factors to consider when creating a match?
Because each person we work with is so different, what’s going to be really important for one person won’t be for another. For that reason, it’s down to the matchmaker to really get to know their client, understand what makes them tick, and get to the crux of who they are searching for.
We always look at certain topics such as values, morals, energy levels, interests, goals, plans for the future, views on family, deal breakers, holidays, what their friends think, and how they define themselves (good and bad!). Because we meet everyone in person, we also like to imagine the scenario of two people on a date. What would they talk about? How would they be dressed? Where would they go? It’s really helpful for us to visualize two people on a real date.
Who are the best candidates for a matchmaking service? Why do you think certain people turn to matchmaking to find a partner?
I think people who use a matchmaking service are switched on to the fact that it is a great way to meet like-minded people in a safe and time-efficient way. Mutual Attraction members are busy Londoners. They’ve often done the whole online dating thing (which totally works for some people), but find they aren’t meeting the right type of people. When time is precious, it’s a bit soul-destroying giving up your free evenings after a long day at work to find that within two minutes, the person in front of you is not right for you at all. We’ve all been there, right?!
The best candidates for a matchmaker service are:
Want quality, not quantity (if you want three dates a week, you’ll be better off using online dating)
Willing to really get to the bottom of what it is they’re searching for in a partner and relationship and more importantly, why they’re looking for it
Open to feedback, suggestions and working with a matchmaker closely
Happy to take themselves out of their ‘typical dating zone’
Image courtesy of Saskia / saturdaynightsalright.com
Is there a specific trait that prevents someone from being successfully paired? Do you have some requirements for your clients?
We don’t have specific requirements as each person who comes to us is so different that they can’t be put into a box. We do, however, ensure that all our members are actively looking to meet someone for a committed relationship as opposed to a bit of ‘casual fun’, shall we say! We also work with professional people who live life to the fullest.
I often use the example of work. We work with the type of people who, if they were unhappy in their job, they would make changes, wouldn’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves, and would take action. They are dynamic, intelligent go-getters!
In what ways is professional matchmaking more effective than online dating?
The key differences are that matchmakers:
Meet everyone in person so people can’t fib about things like their height!
We take time to really get to know all our members, they aren’t just a ‘profile’.
We do I.D checks so we know the people are really who they say they are.
We only work with people who are actively looking for commitment.
Are trained and can get a real feel for people – something a computer can’t do.
Put those things together and you have a recipe for more compatible matches!
How have dating apps such as Tinder changed the matchmaking industry?
I think dating apps like Tinder, which are all about looks, create a difficult dating environment for everyone – unless you’re super hot! I completely understand its popularity, but isn’t judging a potential life partner by one photo a bit ridiculous? What smart person would do that? The impact is we create a shallow dating society where people are more interested in how you look than what you’ve got going on in your brain (or a least a combination of the two!). I find that quite sad and I hope people don’t get caught up in the ‘game’ of it.
I find that more and more people are moving away from using dating apps if they are serious about finding love. Apps can be great if you want to have a bit of fun, but for those looking for a committed relationship, it can be a bit of a challenge to suss out who is serious and who is with their work buddies having a laugh!
Any unforgettable matchmaking anecdote you would like to share?
I was working with a client who wasn’t sure whether she wanted to meet the guy I had matched her with. After lots of ‘He’s amazing, give it a chance, it’s just coffee’ kind of conversations, she agreed (and I did a little dance!). Thank goodness she said yes because they are now married and are starting a family!
Is matchmaking as fun as it looks or is the stress level equal to that of a neurosurgeon? Would you recommend professional matchmaking as a career option?
Matchmaking is a fantastic career, but I have to hold my hands up and admit I thought it would be more of a straightforward career than what it is. Just getting a matchmaking service off the ground takes huge amount of work and time, particularly to build up a network. If anyone out there is thinking of becoming a matchmaker for an easy life, then all I can say is… don’t do it! But, if you’re prepared to put in some serious leg work and truly want to help people find love, then it’s a very rewarding career.
I am lucky to coach and support matchmakers in their journey through my matchmakers training program and one-on-one mentoring. You’ll be seeing more and more matchmakers emerge as the industry grows.
Image courtesy of Saskia / saturdaynightsalright.com
How much do you charge for your service? Are there significant differences in rate? Some matchmakers are more expensive than others, but differences in fees aside, what makes your services special?
A 3-month membership with Mutual Attraction is an investment of £3,900 + vat. For that, we do what most matchmakers do in a year in three months. We quickly realized that people don’t want year-long memberships where they meet one person a month – it’s a long time to wait! Our members are professionals who are looking for love now. Why meet your special someone in a year when you could meet them now?!
Mutual Attraction is the only London dating agency to have won the prestigious ‘Best Matchmaker’ iDate award and we were also the 2014 winners of the Matchmaker of the Year award at the UK Dating Awards. We keep our members at the heart of everything we do. It’s easy to go off on tangents and offer lots of different services within your matchmaking package, but we keep our focus on matching clients with compatible like-minded people. Our job is to help introduce people to the love of their life and that’s exactly what we do.
If you were to pick a popular figure to match, who would you pick and what kind of date would you set?
Love this question! I would absolutely love to match Taylor Swift; I think she is completely misunderstood.
If there’s one piece of advice you’d have for singles who are looking for a partner, what would it be?
Be proactive. If you're dating online, make sure you set aside time each day to do it. If you enjoy dating events, get your tickets early and put it in your diary so you make it happen. If you are matchmaking, then embrace it, take the opportunities to meet lots of like-minded singles. Whatever you do, get stuck in and approach dating with a positive mindset. Just think: your special someone is out there and you’re taking the first steps to finding that someone. :)
To find out more about Caroline Brealey's services:
Visit her site - www.mutualattraction.co.uk
Drop by her Matchmaker Training website - www.carolinebrealey.co.uk
Like Mutual Attraction on Facebook - www.facebook.com/pages/Mutual-Attraction
Check Cupid's Library's blog every week as we feature more matchmakers.