Professional matchmaking used to be a service used almost exclusively by wealthy men with the disposable income to have someone else sort through the choppy waters of the dating pool on their behalf. Many matchmakers, including New York's Janis Spindel, work exclusively with male clients, and the standard business model was largely built on the premise of bringing potential brides to rich, single men. But that guy-seeking-girl tide has turned, and just as many -- if not more -- gainfully employed women have begun turning to matchmakers to make their romantic dreams come true [source: Froelich]. Industry statistics report women typically comprise 60 percent of matchmaker customers, in fact [source: The Matchmaking Institute].
Matchmakers attract clients in one of two ways. People will either seek them out through advertisements, online searches or word of mouth, or matchmakers will proactively recruit wedding-band-free singles at parties, high-end restaurants, airports and other places where affluent adults congregate [source: Spindel and Raymond]. Before potential clients purchase an official membership, matchmakers will often conduct an initial consultation, sometimes for a nonrefundable fee, to find out what type of relationship they're interested in and with what type of person. From there, the official process will begin, and membership dues will be paid; or a matchmaker may refer the person to another service better tailored to his or her interests. Fetching men and women on the other side of the set-up equation who wish to be included in a matchmaker's bank of potential date picks for clients may come directly from the professional's social network, or they may attend formal recruiting sessions or auditions [source: Thernstrom]. Those ladies- and gentlemen-in-waiting may also fork over a fee to get a spot on one of those matchmaker lists.
To determine the best possible coupling, a matchmaker will first dive into a client's romantic psyche by finding out information, including:
- Family background
- Educational background
- Hobbies and interests
- Religious background and observances
- Personal values and morals
- Whether and how many children he or she wants
- Previous relationships and relationship deal-breakers
As matchmakers sift through their Rolodexes to find ideal suitors, clients may undergo more prep work to prepare them for the dating process. Particularly with higher-end services, matchmakers will double as dating coaches, teaching clients how to spark conversation, avoid dicey topics and wean them away from negative interpersonal habits, such as excessively talking about themselves rather than focusing on the other person. Makeovers may also be in order, and image consultants may assist clients with sprucing up their wardrobes, addressing unflattering hairstyles and sculpting their bodies.
Getting clients into the dating mix will vary, depending on the matchmaker. Some serve as escorts to parties and introduce them around to appropriate singles; others may arrange events specifically for clients to meet a number of men or women on their dating rosters. Or, if a matchmaker has somebody in mind who seems like a good fit for the man or woman in question, a one-on-one date may be arranged. After a first date, the matchmaker will check in with each party to find out how things went from both perspectives, which allows the matchmaker to gauge whether a client needs more date coaching or if the match can move forward. The best-case scenario is for an arranged couple to hit things off and eventually head down the aisle, but those looking for love shouldn't expect things to happen overnight. Generally, these pricey interventions last for at least a year, which is far longer than matchmakers in other cultures expect couples to get to know each other before making a lifelong commitment.