Blind dates with your friend’s cousin’s college roommate’s brother. Saturday nights at the bar making small talk with strangers. Valentine’s Day with that girl who works in your office just so you’re not alone. This is not how being single needs to work!
Meeting new people doesn’t have to be scary, challenging or stressful—there are several fun, easy and successful ways to meet like-minded individuals. One of the most common ways to meet people is online dating—sites like Match, eHarmony, OkCupid and Plenty of Fish (POF) boast millions of users and the revenue from online dating sites is in the billions. But how do these sites work…and are they successful?
OkCupid and POF are both completely free services. Both sites offer the opportunity to build a profile for better matching. However, because they are free, the type and sheer amount of matches can be unwieldy. Those with little cash and lots of time to sort their matches will probably prefer these sites.
Some sites, like Match and eHarmony, require users to fill out more lengthy personality questionnaires in order to better match their profile to compatible matches. It’s free to sign up and fill out the questionnaire, but to communicate with matches, you need to subscribe. Monthly fee information can be tricky to find; Match runs about $20 per month while eHarmony offers a three-month subscription for $40. The benefit is that those willing to pay for it are typically more serious about dating than those browsing similar free sites.
Natalie Wingrove Scott of Franklin Park turned to Match.com in 2005. She had taken an out-of-town job and returned to Pittsburgh to find that most of her friends had scattered. “That’s when I decided to try this new-fangled online dating, even though it was still taboo at the time,” she explained. “I joined Match.com and went on many dates—some were fun, others were nightmares. Either way, they made for a great story!”
During this time, she received several messages from a man named Dave. She was less than impressed with his profile but eventually relented and went on a date with him. “He was nothing like his profile. He looked better than his pictures. He had an amazing personality,” Scott explained.
She was on Match.com for only two months before meeting Dave and becoming exclusive. Eight months after their first date they were engaged, and one year after, they were married. “We have been married now for 8-1/2 years and we have two beautiful children; I love him now more than the day we were married,” said Scott.
If online dating makes you uncomfortable, you can always turn to a professional. Matchmaking has been around for centuries, but the idea behind it hasn’t changed. Professional matchmakers meet with their clients one-on-one in order to make personalized matches. Susan Dunhoff, president of The Modern Matchmaker, Inc., explained it this way: “All of our clients can get a date, but they come to us to meet the right date. It is difficult to meet people without hanging out in bars, and dating in the workplace is taboo. Professional matchmakers blend traditional matchmaking values with modern technology. We customize introductions for selective clients that lead to a committed relationship or marriage.”
Potential clients—Dunhoff describes her clients as professional singles ages 21 to 85—register on her website or call the office to make an appointment with a professional matchmaker. During the meeting, the matchmaker learns more about the client and what they’re looking for in a perfect match, and the client views other clients from the organization’s private database. The Modern Matchmaker also takes professional, up-to-date photos of all of their clients and performs background checks on each. Once the profile is complete, the matchmaker recommends compatible matches, makes the introduction and follows up on each date. “This lets us know if the client needs to be matched again and helps us refine future profile searches for them,” explained Dunhoff.
Dunhoff knows that her clients are serious about finding love. “All of our clients are looking for a minimum of a committed relationship,” she said.
So how does she measure the success of their matches? “Success is measured by the compatibility and longevity of the match. We also evaluate if the match meets both parties’ long-term goals, such as getting married and having children,” she said. Dunhoff estimates their success rate at around 85 percent.
There are some significant fees involved with a matchmaker, and the Modern Matchmaker offers three levels of membership, as well as image consulting for those looking to update their look before they look for love. However, Dunhoff believes that those who are serious about looking for a long-term relationship are the ones willing to pay the fee. “People won’t pay the fee to play games,” she said.
Finding love can be a little work at times, but the payoff is worth it. “I guess the moral is that sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone and just take a chance!” said Scott.