May 1, 2015

Confessions of a Matchmaker: How to spot a person ready for love

Being in the love business is NOT like selling t-shirts. If you sell t-shirts and someone comes into your t-shirt shop, you happily sell them a shirt, no matter who they are. If the customer wants a particular size, color or style, you do what you can to find them exactly that, or at least try to sell them on the color that you have in stock. There is no such thing as not being “ready” for a t-shirt. 

Matchmaking, on the other hand, is a whole other story. If you wanted to hire a matchmaker, you’d probably assume the decision is yours whether or not you purchase his or her services. However, if you start meeting with matchmakers, you will soon discover that you aren’t the only one with questions. The matchmaker is interviewing you just as much as you’re interviewing them, and maybe moreso.

 As matchmakers, we have to have confidence that we can help our clients find the love they are looking for. Before we decide if this person should be a client, we have to assess: Is this person ready to fall in love?

The only “readiness” you need for a new t-shirt is the money to pay for it. But love is a lot more complicated than a t-shirt (understatement of the year alert!). Here are the top 3 factors I look for in a potential matchmaking client:

1.       Realistic expectations

Some people treat hiring a matchmaker like hiring a house painter. This room has to be ecru, this one eggshell, this one the perfect shade of periwinkle. They treat the matchmaking process as the way to get exactly what they want in exactly the package they’ve always envisioned.

The reality is, humans can’t be ordered like paint swatches. We all have our preferences, but if a client believes she’s going to meet a string of former pro-tennis playing, multi-millionaire rocket scientists who look like George Clooney, she’s living in a fantasy world.

That’s obviously an extreme example, but more often than not having unrealistic expectations of their partner is one of the major factors keeping people single.

If you’ve never met, much less dated anyone who meets the list of criteria you give to a matchmaker; there is no reputable matchmaker who will take you on as a client. Our business is built on the success of our clients, and there’s no way to please someone who isn’t able to prioritize what is fundamental to their relationship happiness and also be realistic about who they can attract.

2.       Willingness to grow/learn from past mistakes

I always ask potential clients to tell me honestly why they think they are single. This is really key information for me to learn how much responsibility they take for who they’ve chosen in the past and their role in their romantic interactions.

 As much as we’d all like to blame the ex for what went wrong in our past relationships, the truth is it takes two to tango. At a bare minimum that ex is someone you wanted to be with at one time, possibly a lot!

Some of our past mistakes are years ago, and some of them happened on our date last night.

My first three matchmaking clients taught me invaluable lessons about how to spot a person ready for love. They were three women, all roughly the same age and education level. As part of the matchmaking process, I collect date feedback from not only my clients, but also the men I set them up with.

Feedback is crucial – and I learned this lesson very quickly. Men, as it turns out, are much more astute than most women give them credit for being. Relationship-minded men are making a lot of assessments about the women they meet very quickly. Master matchmaker Rachel Greenwald brilliantly breaks this down based in her post-date “exit interviews” with 1,000 men in her book Have Him At Hello.

Of my first three clients, two were incredibly open to the feedback they received. They wanted to know what they were doing well and the ways in which their actions might have been misinterpreted.

The third client treated feedback as something to endure. It wasn’t all terrible, but there were some consistent observations made by all of the men she went out with. Observations I myself could see in my interactions with her. She tended to be critical and could be demeaning when she was disagreed with.

The men gave this feedback in different ways, but they all gave the same feedback. It might not feel great to hear, but what an opportunity to turn her whole love life around! But she wasn’t open at all to hearing what the men had told me. Her defensiveness led her to justify any constructive criticism as “that’s about him, not me.”

For months I witnessed the contrast between the two women who wanted to grow and increase their ability to connect with the men they met and the third, who dug her heels in and expressed her unwillingness to grow or change her behavior in any way. In the end, it came as no surprise to me that I was able to successfully match the first two women, and I was unsuccessful with the third.

3.       Desire to connect on a deeper level

This is really the key to knowing if a person is ready to fall in love. When a woman has reached the point in her life when she’s learned that dating someone just because he’s sexy, or just because he’s rich or tall, or just because he wants to date her is not a recipe for lasting love, I know she is on the right track!

When the notion of experiencing unconditional love, joy, shared values and shared relationship goals is a bigger priority than a particular “shade of periwinkle”, I immediately feel optimistic for their chances of truly falling in love! 

On the flip side, when it’s hard for a potential client to articulate anything she wants to experience with her partner, as opposed to moving past a list of superficial traits, I know she’s not a good candidate for matchmaking.

I fell in love with coaching after speaking with dozens and dozens of single women who were jumping ahead and focusing on an idealized man without taking the time to figure out what they needed on a fundamental level. They were looking for the perfect shade of periwinkle without even knowing what was most important to their happiness. In the words of Marie Forleo: “When you focus on what’s important, it’s easy to ignore what isn’t.”

Ain’t that the truth!

If you’re looking for love and would like some help figuring out what’s important to you and how to find it, let’s chat! I am taking on six new coaching clients this month and you could be one of them!

You can schedule a complimentary call with me by clicking HERE