Dating Stories

How I Found My Husband in San Francisco…

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After several years of fun, but unsuccessful husband hunting in San Francisco, I discovered that the love of my life lived only 2 blocks away. Dating pretty much every single college-educated guy over 6 feet tall in New York and San Francisco during my 20s was a thrill! Meeting men through friends, in bars, and on Match, Tinder and eHarmony, I certainly met my fair share of men who never asked questions, expected to split the check on a first date, older men who claimed to be around my age, and extremely short men who claimed to be over 6 feet. Despite a few uncomfortable conversations and awkward hugs, I feel so fortunate to have met so many interesting men, several of whom have become good friends and business contacts. Most importantly, my active dating life enabled me to determine exactly the type of man who would be my ideal match. All I needed to do was find him…

I remember feeling frustrated when people told me that I would only find someone when I stopped looking. How can you find someone when you’re not looking? As I approached my late 20s, I decided to take this advice, but with a twist. I deleted my dating accounts and stopped going out as much socially. I also worked with Amy Andersen to complete my ideal match profile, which helped me become very clear on the traits I valued most in a life partner. Instead of Tindering to find the tallest, hottest guy, I set forth my intention to the universe to find a loyal, intelligent, charismatic man, and I stopped looking for him.

To fill my free time, I pursued my two passions – rowing and yoga. I signed up for a 200-hour yoga teacher training and started a group of Bay Area women who rowed in college. Between work, yoga and the rowing group, I had virtually no time to date, and guess what? I met my husband right away. In the first 5 minutes of a co-ed rowing event I helped organize at an upscale bar near my office, my future husband and I locked eyes. Our chemistry was off the charts, and we quickly discovered that we had several common interests a ton of mutual friends in San Francisco.

After 6 months, I moved 2 blocks away into his apartment, after 9 months, we were engaged, and 2 years later, we are married. As cliché as it sounds to find your match when you aren’t looking, it’s exactly what happened to me. I feel so fortunate to be married to the man of my dreams, and I’d love to share some tips I learned along the way.

5 Tips to Meet your Ideal Match

  1. Enjoy dating! Interacting with new people helps to broaden your horizons, learn more about yourself and the traits you value most in a partner, and to appreciate meeting the right person for you.   Especially in San Francisco, dating is an opportunity for you to grow both professionally and socially. In such a small city, you will run into former dates frequently, so focus on building a strong brand in the dating world. Your future husband may be your awkward Tinder date’s best friend! And meeting people through location-based apps like Tinder enable you to meet new friends and tour guides while traveling.
  1. Identify the traits you value most in your ideal partner. Spend time thinking about similar traits in people you have dated, in your parents, and what you value most in a life partner. Be specific on the key traits, flexible on others, and understand your non-negotiables. Write everything down and discuss with friends, family, a therapist, or a matchmaker. Don’t write off someone whose company you enjoy just because they don’t check every box. It wasn’t until I became clear about what I wanted in a relationship and shared this vision with people that my ideal partner walked into my life.
  1. Focus less on finding Mr. Right and more on becoming Ms. Right. Be the best version of yourself. We hear this advice all the time because it’s so true. If you aren’t into watching sports and you love running, join a running club instead of trying to meet men at a sports bar. I am not interested in watching sports and have been guilty of this many times! If you don’t like your job, get a new one. Don’t pretend to have your life together and rely on Mr. Right to fix your problems. We continue to work on ourselves throughout life, so get to a good place where you and your future partner can work on yourselves together.
  1. Choose happiness! – Life is full of challenges. Make a conscious decision to be happy and stay positive though the worst of times. Radiant, happy women attract similar qualities in others. Be the happy, upbeat person people want to be around. Greet others with smiles and compliments. I have always found volunteering, celebrating others, and travel to lift my spirits and open my heart to endless gratitude. And it’s so easy to meet new people while volunteering and traveling!
  1. Refine your body and mind. Exercise, drink more water, and get enough sleep. Your body will thank you, and fit, healthy people are valued in athletic cities like San Francisco. Attend classes and groups you enjoy, to meet like-minded people. Your husband may be waiting for you in your next boot camp, rock climbing or meditation class! Go outside, breathe deeply, feel the endorphins, and appreciate the natural beauty around us. Get into the best shape of your life, take care of yourself, and SHINE!

Christine is a 30-year-old, Ivy League educated, East Coast transplant in San Francisco.  She believes that the meaning of life is to love and be loved, and she is passionate about volunteering, technology and yoga

San Francisco Dating | Just Be You…Relaxed & Simple

We all know that San Francisco dating can be tough to say the least! Ladies maybe you can relate….from the guy who shows you his TED talk on the first date and the other aspiring entrepreneur who whips out an NDA before your appetizers even arrive… to the man who appears 30 minutes late and explains that his time is worth more than yours and the other who tells you over cocktails that he doesn’t believe in second dates, but offers you a job at his start-up!

Some could argue San Francisco is the toughest city to find a good commitment-minded guy in. Dating is a skill for both men and women and it does take practice. Some young professionals are simply out of practice, while some have practiced a little too much (players!) and some are late bloomers to the dating game.

I recently came across this great video from a friend of mine who portrays a nerdy teen turned fashion magazine queen who has everything she wants except the right guy. Enjoy!

Fess Up

young lovers kissWhat would you do if someone you were dating didn’t tell you about a potentially devastating sexually transmitted disease they had in fear that you’d reject them from the start? We live in an era where STDs are rampant – some of these are curable and many are incurable such as HPV, herpes, and HIV/AIDS. Thousands of people find themselves single, searching, and living with incurable STDs everyday. These folks could be your neighbors, colleagues, fellow churchgoers, Soul Cycle patrons, former classmates, and potentially… your future lovers.

Today there are websites that are created for matching one STD carrier to another. It’s a smart way to date and not have to worry about a) having to disclose a dark secret about your personal life to someone who won’t understand and b) worrying about transmitting anything since you both might very well have the same STD (especially if you meet through sites like h-date.com). These sites create a community of like-minded people to feel normal again, sexy, desirable, supported, and safe.

Although there appear to be a lot of choices for meeting other educated professional men and women who share one’s same STD, many people opt-out of these community sites in favor of mainstream sites and apps like Match, Hinge, Tinder, and jDate. In theory there isn’t anything wrong with someone with an STD enjoying the benefits of these various sites/apps, or of working with a matchmaker, assuming they practice full disclosure with whomever they meet.

There is a lot of shame and regret involved with having an STD and a lot of folks never know the “right time” to communicate that they have contracted something awhile back. I know someone very well who met a seemingly amazing guy on one of these apps out there. He was the perfect on paper prototypical guy many girls would swoon over: Ivy League educated, founder/CEO resume, well-rounded, cute, affable, and well…she felt he could be “the one.” They enjoyed dinners out, laughed a lot, cooked together, and she even met some of his family members.

A red flag arose when he wanted to go exclusive early on. It seemed too good to be true to her- especially after so many misses happening with non-committal guys. He came on really strong, flowers on date two, lots of cuddling, consistent communication, wanting to see her, and what really felt like old-world courtship. Since she felt he could be too good to be true, she really didn’t want to mess things up with sex too soon. He didn’t pressure her, in fact, after many dates they didn’t even “go there.” She wanted to wait till she was really ready and sure that everything felt right.

About two months into dating pretty exclusively, he pulled out of nowhere a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on her. You know how someone can have a quick shift in personality and go from chill and fun one second to bizarre and distant the next? That’s precisely what he did to her. She called him out on it asking what was wrong. He grew increasingly weird that weekend afternoon and said that it wasn’t working between them. Wasn’t working, she thought? What on earth? Where’d he pull that crap from? They had just had a fantastic lunch with his family, held hands, kissed, and laughed about some silly inside joke.

She knew there was more to it and he was holding something back. Was it an ex? Was he not the guy he represented himself as online? Sadly it was the latter. After tears shed and arguing back and forth, he admitted that he was afraid to tell her that he has a serious STD and THAT was the reason he wanted to break-up. She couldn’t believe he had never disclosed that upfront. Every thought raced into her mind- could she have contracted the STD, what are the symptoms, why didn’t he tell her sooner, where are all the honest men out there…..

The saving grace was that they had never slept together nor been intimate in any way. She was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief and move on with her life in that regard. What bothered her beyond the momentary STD scare was the fact that yet another “douche bag” of a guy failed to be honest and upfront about something so serious.

A lesson here is that the devil really is in the details when you’re our there dating on your own. Although someone could appear dreamy and like a total Romeo online, tread extremely cautiously until you have fully gotten to know that person. A lot of people withhold life-threatening information in fear of rejection or simply hoping they don’t have to have the talk as it is “so heavy” and there is “never a good time.”

Be smart, wise, prudent, protective, and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to have the talk and be the first one to ask your partner if they have had an STD screening or an HIV test, and when they had their last test. If you’re getting serious and thinking about having sex, the only right way is to openly communicate with your partner and then go get tested together. I emphasize going together as some people say they will but never do.

There is never a right time to bring up if you have an STD or suspect you might. Bring it up early on (think date two or three time frame). If your date is supportive, awesome! There are lots of ways to have safe sex together without having to worry. If your date closes the loop from getting to know you further, I’m pretty sure they will be thankful you saved everyone time, energy, potential heartbreak or more by being upfront early on.

Cinematic Greatest Kisses of All Time

On this holiday, enjoy TIME Magazines greatest cinematic kisses of all time. They left out some of my personal cinematic favorites (Sixteen Candles, Romancing the Stone, Something’s Gotta Give to name three) but still a great montage.

Why I stopped playing the numbers game

By: anonymous male, San Francisco VIPI_next_to_his_description

When I first rejoined the dating scene several years ago I followed the well-worn path of many other people my age and joined a handful of online dating sites. After a few false starts, a friend explained to me that I was completely doing online dating the wrong way. She said that it was a “numbers game”, and that I should try to go on multiple first dates a week, week after week, until I find “The One.” I didn’t realize at the time that this was how many people treated online dating in the Bay Area. I said, what the heck, and gave it a shot.

At the beginning I found it to be fun. I realized I was meeting people that I would have never met before, and this gave me a huge amount of confidence that I would run into the woman of my dreams. I also made two very good friends and met one woman with whom I had a multi-year relationship. Even though it didn’t work out, I am still grateful that she was in my life.

After some time of playing the numbers game, I became frustrated and disenchanted with the entire process. I started to realize I was going out on dates where nothing progressed beyond small talk and running through lists of shared hobbies and travel destinations. Even if we both felt there was the potential for something more, follow-on dates started becoming fewer and fewer, mostly due to scheduling conflicts, and that quickly became a lack of interest.

Worse, I realized that the disappearance of my date didn’t bother me, as I knew that there would be someone else who was, well, let’s just say a “swipe right” away. While intellectually I knew that this was the same thought process my date was going through, I still felt a bit icky about the whole experience. As a family-oriented guy that has been in long term relationships for the majority of my life, I felt that this isn’t the behavior of the man that I thought I was or wanted to be.

I could not understand how, with all of the opportunities to meet someone that were available to me, that it was so incredibly hard actually to meet someone. Recently an article appeared in the New York Times that spoke to how I felt. The author reaches the conclusion that all of the online dating technologies have caused us to think in terms of the “numbers game”, and that there was an infinite number of possible partners, and we should toss each aside until we find the perfect mate. If this is our dating mentality, why should we ever bother committing to a person, as a better option could be right around the corner?

I knew the numbers game didn’t work for me, and stopped playing some time ago. I started to pick up on when I was a participant in someone else’s rapid fire dating game, and was able to understand how it felt. When you are playing the numbers game, every person you date becomes a number and not a human being.

Whenever you go out on a date, you have to remember that the person sitting across from you is a person, like yourself, with their own hopes and dreams, anxieties and fears. They have felt both joy and hurt in relationships, and are very possibly hoping that the first date they are on, with you, right now, will be their last first date ever. I can’t think of a more disrespectful action than what most serial daters do, namely walk into the date with the intention of making a judgment in the first five minutes, then hopping back onto Tinder.

The numbers game causes you to focus on quickly observed superficial qualities, such as hobbies, material possessions, and clothing, rather than what really determines the suitability of a partner. The important stuff, like ability to communicate, shared values, empathy, and capacity to provide support in stressful situations, can’t be determined from only one date.

The numbers game relies upon the idea that not only there are an infinite number of partners, but also that you have an infinite amount of time. We don’t. As a guy in my mid 30’s, I for one don’t want to be an “old dad”, and want to be in good enough physical shape that, if I get to have children, I would not only play with my kids on the floor but also be able to walk any future daughters down the aisle when I am twice my current age.

Women, well, they have much more defined biological clocks, with 35 being the medically recognized fertility cliff. While the numbers game can go on forever, our bodies can’t.

There are some things I miss about rapid fire dating. I miss finding instant chemistry. I miss learning about someone’s way of viewing the world. I don’t think it works, however, and would much rather spend time getting to know a small number of quality people than get three cocktails a week with complete strangers.

Most Eligible Bachelors in Silicon Valley

Linx is featured in Entrepreneur.com today and we thought it would be fun to share on the blog this must read bachelor list!

By: Tanya Benedicto Klich

It may be the epicenter of innovation, but Silicon Valley is also teeming with smart, wealthy bachelors. As her Menlo Park, Calif.-based matchmaking service Linx Dating has grown over the last decade, Amy Andersen says she has gained unprecedented access to the “finest caliber of singles… in an area that is already a bubble of the best and the brightest.”

While she wouldn’t reveal Linx’s hottest clients for confidentiality reasons, she tapped her deep local network and social circles to round up the most eligible bachelors in the tech metro. Read the embedded dating expert’s commentary on why these dashing men are the most sought-after suitors of Silicon Valley:

JEREMY STOPPELMAN1402088230-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-jeremy-stoppelman Image credit: jdlasica via Flickr

Andersen: “This Yelp co-founder and Harvard Business School graduate is a five-star catch as far as I’m concerned. Given his love for reading non-fiction, I think this guy might be ready for a bit of true romance.”

DYLAN SMITH1402088214-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-dylan-smith Image credit: box.com


Andersen
: “This Box CFO might be a former Duke Blue Devil, but he looks like a complete sweetheart. I also spot him fairly often in my neighborhood, and he literally is the cute ‘boy next door.”

JOE LONSDALE1402088205-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-joe-lonsdale Image credit: TechCrunch via Flickr

Andersen: “A local Bay Area native and Stanford grad, Joe certainly made good as the co-founder of Palantir. These days, he appears to be more interested in media than in finance and defense, but surely this former chess champion knows that every King is vulnerable without the love of a strong Queen.”

BEN RATTRAY1402088193-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-ben-rattray Image credit: personaldemocracy via Flickr

Andersen: “The handsome CEO of Change.org is definitely empowering all of us to be the change we want to see in the world, but I hear that he claims to not have the time to invest in a relationship. Where do I start a petition to change that?”

MATT MULLENWEG1402088177-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-matt-mullenweg Image credit: Silicon Prairie News via Flickr

Andersen: “I hear this Texas-born bachelor and founder of WordPress claims to be married to his work, but it’s hard to believe that this soulful saxophonist isn’t looking to jazz up his personal life. My comment for this famous blogger? Find a lady love to occupy those lips of yours, and make your work your mistress.”

SERGEY BRIN1402088167-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-sergey-brin Image credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Andersen: “My sources tell me that this brilliant billionaire is back on the market. I’d like to see him find happiness, but when it comes to dating he needs to leave his infamous tech specs at home; a woman wants to look into a man’s eyes on a date, not into the transparent screen of his wearable computer Google Glass.”

TIM COOK1402088158-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-tim-cook Image credit: igrec via Flickr

Andersen: “It’s hard to think of a job more high profile than being the CEO of Apple, and yet Tim Cook is one of the most private men I can think of. I’d like to see him step away from work just a little bit, and find a partner to call his own.”

VIVEK & ANEEL RANADIVE1402088143-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-vivek-aneel-ranadive Image credit: Aneel Ranadive via Twitter

Andersen: “Between the two of them, this father and son duo has degrees from Columbia, Harvard, and MIT. They also hold a significant stake in the Sacramento Kings, so we know these tech magnates understand the importance of being more than ‘all work and no play.’ Good looks and great minds definitely run in the family, so I think finding love for these two should be a slam dunk.”

JACK DORSEY1402088134-10-most-eligible-bachelors-silicon-valley-jack-dorsey Image credit: jdlasica via Flickr

Andersen: “The St. Louis-born, NYU-educated founder of Twitter has kept his Midwestern charm and Manhattan style, but I’d love to see him settle down and grow some real West Coast roots. I just hope his love letters include more than 140 characters.”

Three’s Company

A topic that seems to creep into the happy relationships of many couples is the threesome or ménage à trois . Many guys like to flirt with the idea of engaging their girlfriend in a threesome with another hot chick for a steamy night of wild fun to indulge his longest-standing fantasy. iStock_000009128562Small

Mainstream cinema (“Threesome” with Stephen Baldwin, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Josh Charles, “Wild Things” with Neve Campbell, Matt Dillon, and Denise Richards to name two films), the porn industry, and literature fetishize the idea of threesomes from girl girl guy, to girl girl girl action, guy guy girl, and guy guy guy.

Some men even go so far to share with their girlfriend that in order to get really serious about the prospect of marriage, he needs to romp around in the bed as three in order to check that fantasy off his pre-marital bucket list. Sometimes he feels he has leverage because his girlfriend shared she once kissed a girl in college. Seems nearly half of college campuses experiment sexually at some point but that doesn’t mean someone is necessarily “into” other women because of that.

These “bad boy” boyfriends will often slowly work their charm over on their girlfriend. It could be as long as a year in the making of slowly chipping away at this male fantasy of his and how it would be REEEELY fun…just once he promises! I’ll love you SO much more- he might say!

No matter how much this sexual encounter is carefully planned (picking out a friend who consents to this) or spontaneously both picking up a cutie in a bar (after a few too many cocktails on the town), the inevitable is that a threesome brings someone else into the relationship. Three. Not two. Three. Cheating with another woman

A third person into your relationship that you’ve worked hard to make solid complicates things no matter how you look at it. Jealousy, regret, shame, anger, and sadness can all spin out of a night of consensual fun. There’s no predicting the emotions and feelings that could happen during or afterwards.

Men telling their girlfriend that a threesome will help the relationship, or get them down the aisle, or that they’ll be better for it, are all lines of bullshit. That’s correct- complete crap, ladies. Threesomes can wreck your relationship and take it on a wrong turn down an unknown path laden with downside risks.

A female has less power and mastery of her relationship when she gives into this bucket list item of her boyfriend. She indulges his wishes yet automatically rewinds the clock on their relationship. He might make her think, through his clever manipulation, that there is “progress” now that he got to sleep with someone else right in front of her. Yet, chances are that the mere act of his having sex with another partner is a reason to make her feel emotionally and physically unsafe with what was once sacred between the two. That is a major reason why if you are considering engaging in a threesome with your partner, you need to have ground rules and an open dialogue before you start. Really ask yourself if your relationship can survive a threesome. Beyond that, ask yourself why you’re even considering engaging in this kind of thing.

Not surprisingly, there’s even an app out there called 3nder to help coordinate threesomes between consenting adults. It might be ‘safe, simple, and awesome’ as 3nder’s motto states but surely complicated if you’re in an existing monogamous and loving relationship.

Some people do say a threesome can help strengthen a relationship and the couple actually becomes closer as a result if the encounter is one where the ground rules are set up front and details carefully planned out with the third participant.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer about this other than my stance that if you are in a monogamous relationship with the hopes to get engaged and married in the future, don’t fall for something that is not right for your value system.

There are plenty of good men out there who wouldn’t think of jeopardizing all the good that you have going on just between the two of you! I’m a believer that he’ll put you in his “play” bucket if you go there with him, instead of being only in the more rigid “future Mrs.” bucket. A good man who is marriage-minded certainly has sexual fantasies, and hopefully will include you in some of these sexy dreams of his, but doesn’t necessarily need to act on them.

Fascinating Academic Insights into the Matchmaking Industry

A few months ago I was contacted by a professor of sociology at St. Thomas More College University of Saskatchewan to participate in a study on matchmaking in North America. We spoke for around an hour by phone and after she completed her research, she sent me the research document filled with incredibly interesting discoveries about matchmaking. 535451_10150747499285804_895856513_n

Interviews lasted 52 minutes on average, and were conducted between March and May 2013. Participation in the research project was voluntary and entirely confidential, and the project obtained research ethics approval from the University of Saskatchewan’s Research Ethics Board. The final sample discussed here consists of conversations with 20 matchmakers representing 19 different companies (the one instance of matchmakers from the same company involves 2 matchmakers at different company branches in 2 distinct regions of the country).

This professor presented to a group of national and international colleagues in June and in a recent email to me said, “I was surprised to discover that many sociologists who study relationships and dating have little awareness of matchmaking’s place in the dating industry, and of why clients tend to seek out a matchmaker.”

This project’s main aims are to improve social scientists’ understandings of the North American matchmaking industry by interviewing matchmaking professionals and gaining insight into 1) why North Americans are turning to offline, personalized matchmaking services to assist with serious dating/couple formation, 2) the extent to which use of matchmaking services is connected to geographic and time constraints in clients’ lives, and 3) identifying other major motivations, choices and constraints involved in clients’ decision to work with a matchmaker.

I have extracted some of the findings for this blog yet did not include the entire publication. The publication is titled: MATCHMAKING IN NORTH AMERICA: An emerging option for couple formation

Findings:

The sample consists of 11 Canadian-based and 9 American-based matchmakers, for a total of 20 matchmakers. While 6 of the matchmakers say they frequently work with clientele or seek matches for clientele beyond the country in which they are based, most carry out the majority of their work and source matches for their clients within the country where their company is headquartered Sixteen of the matchmakers are the founder/co-founder and/or CEO of their company, while 4 are COO and/or senior matchmaker. The matchmakers have worked an average of 7.3 years in paid matchmaking work, and 18 report that matchmaking is their sole or primary job. (Some matchmakers noted that they had engaged in unpaid matchmaking work prior to working as paid matchmakers, but since this work was largely sporadic and casual, it is not included in the average years of experience.)

Matchmakers’ educational backgrounds, from most common to least common field, are 1) social sciences and social work, 2) business, finance and management, 3) arts (general), 4) hospitality and tourism, 5) law and education (tied). In terms of major field of employment prior to paid matchmaking, participants mentioned (from most to least common) 1) sales, financial services and client services (including sales at online dating agencies), 2) hospitality and the cultural sector, 3) management and headhunting/corporate recruitment, 4) social work.

When asked how and why they have chosen to work as matchmakers, participants spoke to a combination of factors that influenced their career choice. Consistently, matchmakers mentioned how their awareness of having the right skills or aptitude for the work influenced their decision to become paid matchmakers. They highlighted either excellent people skills (in particular, being highly intuitive or gifted at reading personalities and sensing others’ needs, and relating easily to people from a variety of backgrounds) or a combination of people skills and business acumen (namely knowing how to attract desired clientele and market their services effectively) as core components of their skills and aptitudes. In addition, several matchmakers mentioned that their extroversion is an asset, and that they feel energized by their interactions with others. The matchmakers’ core skills and aptitudes were most often recognized and praised by others (friends, family, former colleagues, mentors) prior to individuals making the transition into matchmaking work; in a few instances, successful attempts at casual matchmaking with friends and family members fueled individuals’ desire to take up matchmaking professionally.

The skills and aptitudes noted above, however, were necessary but not sufficient causes for individuals to pursue work as paid matchmakers. All matchmakers also noted awareness of a business niche to be filled in their geographic area— either no other matchmakers worked in their focal geographic area, nobody in their geographic area focused on the target demographic they had in mind, or nobody in their geographic area used the particular matchmaking approach or method that they intended to use.

In the study, several matchmakers emphasized that being self-employed and/or having a flexible schedule added to matchmaking’s appeal, and 5 matchmakers spoke in detail about how their decision to work as a matchmaker came after (or as part of) a major—and often jarring—life transition that pushed them to reevaluate their personal and professional goals. For these matchmakers in particular, but for several others as well, there is a clear empathic dimension that they bring to their work with clients.

Seven matchmakers spoke openly about having “been there” in the same dating trenches as their clients, and could attest to the challenges and disappointments of dating, particularly in mid-life with diminished opportunities and venues for finding a long-term partner. Read this feature on Linx in Fortune to hear about my having been there ‘in the trenches’ just like so many readers here. I get it! Young beautiful girl in love

Along with demonstrating empathy for clients’ situations, most matchmakers also emphasized, but usually spoke positively about, the significant emotional labor involved in matchmaking. They stressed that matchmaking is “not easy money” for the emotional investment it demands, involves “intensive coaching,” “a lot of hand holding” and “being like a sister or cheerleader” who will offer reassurance and support through a process that often leaves clients feeling vulnerable. That said, most emphasized that they find their work immensely rewarding and feel that the satisfaction of creating lasting matches offsets any emotionally draining aspects of the work. Two matchmakers said that they have been “yelled at many times” by clients, and attribute these incidents to clients’ unrealistic expectations (this theme is explored in greater detail below in the Major themes and trends section). These matchmakers went on to explain that matchmaking requires a thick skin, and that matchmakers must actively coach clients in setting reasonable expectations.

I couldn’t agree more with the paragraph above. This work is NOT for anyone who is susceptible to becoming overly emotionally over their work. I’ve remained a systematic Silicon Valley machine for over a decade now as I keep incredibly focused on my business. I am a tightly scheduled, master of organization, and relentless in the pursuit of my clients happiness (often it means running on limited sleep and my friends being irked with my contestant hamster wheel work ethic approach-especially when I am so hard to schedule fun things with.)

I also have learned to have a thick skin due to the nature of this business. For instance, yesterday I got a scathing email from a passive member client because this particular person has not found love yet (granted this person has received many matches and I’ve been extremely judicious and professional along the journey.) A “Patti” would have YELLED back and told the client to go “F-yourself and Get Out Of My Club!” but I’m not like that- AT ALL. As clinical and calm as I had hoped to be, I was really affected by the nature of the email. It was just so out of the blue. When I had been this clients cheerleader…then all of a sudden what felt like poisonous arrows being thrown my way had totally engulfed me. A fact for everyone- I’m not Copperfield as much as I think that would be tremendously cool, I just don’t seem to have been given those talents to perform matchmaking “magic.” Thus, at the end of the day, I too, am human.

An interesting trend I have found in running Linx is that I am not surprised by the number of eager, bright-eyed folks who want to open their own matchmaking firm. Most of these people contact me wanting to “team up” and “create a strategic approach to merge networks” when they are in the infancy stage of their businesses. Sometimes I hear “at Harvard Business School” we learned that “you are supposed to create alliances as such.” Um, ok?!

I listen and hear what they have to say but in most cases, I have turned them away. I wish them success, luck, and know they will be swimming in a big ‘ol sea, probably feeling a lot of anxiety about how to even begin. Yet that feeling of anxiety can be channeled into good stress as it happens to be THE MOST exciting time as the seeds have been planted and the business starts to blossom. Once you begin something like this, it starts to multiply very quickly taking on complex new directions, a whole host of wild demands/requests. I hate saying this but the fact is most of these aspiring matchmakers sink and move onto a new career. They are unable to handle the pressure, have the sheer focus to get the business off the ground, maintain their professionalism, be ethical, establish a brand, grow a network, do a good job at the actual matchmaking and so on. iStock_000008297937XSmall

Back to the study…Major Themes and Trends from the study

1) The role of the Internet and Internet dating in clients’ work with matchmakers

Matchmakers estimate that an average of 2/3 of their clients have tried online dating before seeking out their services. Within this population, the majority have ceased dating online by the time they contact a matchmaker, and most have turned away from the method because of frustration and dissatisfaction. While 2 matchmakers said that they see Internet dating as a positive or worthwhile strategy alongside working with a matchmaker, the rest spoke to how it has negatively affected dating and/or daters’ mentalities by fostering a “kid in the candy store” mentality whereby daters are always searching for the “bigger, better deal” instead of focusing on getting to know the people they date. Several matchmakers noted that this attitude of trading up or treating dates as disposable had soured their clients’ attitudes toward online dating, and the majority said that they do not advocate Internet dating, whether as a stand-alone dating strategy or strategy alongside working with them. Matchmakers against online dating also noted that the strategy does not offer a worthwhile return on the dater’s time investment, particularly in the case of the high-earning professionals who make up the bulk of matchmakers’ clientele; further, it does not offer the discretion that matchmakers’ clients typically seek. Matchmakers also noted the tendency for dishonesty and misrepresentation among online daters, and said that their female clients, in particular, often turned to matchmaking as a way of avoiding the disappointment and frustration connected to daters’ misrepresentations (namely surrounding martial status, age, current physical appearance and financial/career stability).

While not directly connected to online dating, but also concerning the negative impact of new(er) technologies on dating and couple formation, 8 matchmakers spoke extensively about the negative effect that they see text messaging has had on dating and relationships. They explained that communication by texting is problematic insofar as it 1) is prone to causing greater misunderstandings, and therefore greater insecurities, in a couple (particularly in very early stages of dating); 2) is less polite than speaking over the phone or in person (again, particularly in the early stages of dating), and fails to convey respect or serious intent when a man uses text messaging to ask a woman out on a subsequent date; 3) takes new couples away from the face time and phone time that help them develop a deeper understanding of one another and determine compatibility and chemistry. Five matchmakers said that they give explicit phone and texting etiquette instruction to clients—their suggested texting etiquette usually involves zero text interaction until the relationship is firmly established and exclusive. Once the relationship takes off, matchmakers suggest very limited use of texting for very quick logistical conversations (e.g. “Meet me at the restaurant at 6 p.m.”). Matchmakers spoke of their extreme disappointment when clients do not heed their advice about texting, and say that texting has caused unnecessary dating “drama” in clients from the 20s up to their 70s. There does not appear to be a particular age group that is most likely to ignore matchmakers’ texting etiquette.

2) The role of career/career development in men and women using matchmakers

Particularly in younger clients (i.e. those up to their early 40s), matchmakers noted a common theme of work/career demands that have kept clients from looking seriously for a long-term partner until they reach an age when opportunities to meet eligible singles have dwindled (i.e. until most peers that they meet through social and work activities have married or paired off into relationships). In particular, they see this in their clients who are entrepreneurs, whose work has been particularly all-consuming and left little time for dating. There appears to be no significant gender gap regarding career demands and use of matchmakers—in this sample, matchmakers spoke equally of men and women whose careers have left minimal time for forming relationships. For matchmakers’ clients, career development has precluded relationship formation mostly because of time restrictions, but geographic mobility and multi-city living connected to the client’s career also appear to play smaller roles (and male clients cite mobility and multi-city living as factors more often than women).

Whereas some matchmakers spoke of their clients’ career demands and impact on dating factually and uncritically, others took a more critical view that clients have not “had” time to find a serious partner because they have not made time to do so. Those who took a more critical approach said that they frequently coach clients on the importance of carving out time for dating and building relationships and the need to prioritize relationships or find reasonable work-life balance in spite of career demands. On this note, 3 matchmakers expressed disappointment in some of their clients’ “stalled” relationships that have not progressed (or have progressed very slowly) toward marriage because partners continue to invest heavily in their careers at the expense of their relationship.

3) (Un)realistic expectations about the product and process

When asked what they find most frustrating or challenging about their work, matchmakers most commonly spoke about their clients’ unrealistic expectations with regard to the matchmaking process and outcomes, and relationships more broadly. Several matchmakers commented that when meeting and developing a rapport with a new client, they are careful to say that they do not sell or offer love per se, but rather the opportunity to meet high-quality individuals with whom a client may form a loving and committed relationship. Particularly at the outset of the matchmaker-client collaboration, matchmakers note that some clients have an unrealistic expectation that they will meet the love of their life, and that this will happen quickly. While matchmakers agree that meeting the love of one’s life is a central aim of the matchmaking process, and are pleased when this happens within a short time frame, many must remind clients to be patient and to realize that a match with a compatible individual may not yield the chemistry and mutual interest needed for love to develop. They are also careful to balance statements about how successful they have been in matching clients with a disclaimer that they cannot guarantee a long-term match as an outcome of their collaboration. Matchmakers also expressed concern at several clients’ conflation of compatibility in a relationship and the idea that a relationship requires no work or compromise; they were surprised by how often clients expect a serious relationship to thrive with little work at communication and compromise.

Several matchmakers pointed out that their clients tend to be “Type A” personalities who are highly driven and used to getting whatever they ask for. In some cases, this manifests in unrealistic demands or expectations about who they will be matched with. Did you ever read the incredibly well written piece featuring a Linx client as he searches for the one in San Francisco Magazine? This story showcases some of the wild demands from Linx clients.

Specifically, 5 matchmakers said they often work with clients who expect to be matched with people who are, in the matchmakers’ words, physically “way out of their league” (namely, older men asking to be matched with much younger and/or much more attractive women, or women requesting matches with much younger and/or physically fitter men). In these cases, most matchmakers take a soft or diplomatic approach in suggesting that these unrealistic clients broaden their search criteria. Typically, the client acquiesces to the matchmaker’s suggestions, but 2 matchmakers cited repeated instances of being yelled at by clients when the clients perceived their matches or the matchmaker’s suggestions to be sub-par. Another matchmaker, who did not report having been yelled at, nonetheless spoke about how being a matchmaker requires developing a “thick skin” to deal with difficult and demanding clients.

4) Stigma and awkwardness

According to matchmakers, most people who self-select into working with a matchmaker “get” the idea of hiring a professional to help them with their love life. Many clients outsource work in other areas of their lives, so do not see anything awkward or shameful about extending this model of efficiency into the realm of their relationships. That said, nearly half of all matchmakers noted that they have clients who express feelings of embarrassment during initial meetings. Matchmakers consistently noted that this is more common amongst their male clients, for whom “ego gets in the way,” than it is for women who tend to approach matchmakers with greater confidence and minimal or no feelings of shame about using their services. For male clients who express initial embarrassment, matchmakers say that this feeling tends to fade as the client becomes more involved in the process.

But, whereas most clients express little or minimal embarrassment to matchmakers about working with them, most also tell matchmakers that they keep their use of the services a secret from friends, family and colleagues; this is largely out of fear that they will be negatively judged for their inability to find a partner on their own. Matchmakers are very rarely invited to clients’ weddings, since clients do not like to go public with how they met their partner. I am invited to many weddings and in some cases not. Often clients will share their stories here.

Overall, matchmakers spoke optimistically about their expectation that the practice will continue to lose its stigma and become a more widely respected form of couple formation. They also mentioned that many clients view matchmaking as a much less stigmatized activity than online dating.

5) Issues surrounding gender

Several of the themes outlined above touch on gender, but the issues below deal most directly with gender. When asked about what their clients are seeking in a partner, matchmakers responded that clients typically say they are looking for a mixture of traditional and modern elements in a relationship. Specifically, clients of both genders prefer dual-career relationships, regardless of whether they also desire children within the relationship. As one matchmaker puts it, men are showing a strong preference for “Michelle Obama” type partners (i.e. true equals in the private and public spheres). Another matchmaker summarizes a similar trend in clients’ desires as “bimbos are out,” and explains that male clients find career women most desirable. While matchmakers and clients express a preference for egalitarian relationships, 5 matchmakers said that they encourage their clients to blend the egalitarian model with male chivalry and believe it is always a man’s job to organize and pay for dates. As one matchmaker phrased it, couples should get “back to the basics” of men taking the lead romantically while respecting fundamental gender equality.

6) Defining “success” in matchmaking

Although the majority of matchmakers interviewed say that marriage is the ultimate goal of their services, they define “success” in matchmaking as anything from a matched couple going on a second date to a matched couple getting married. Another matchmaker defines success as finding the right caliber of person for a client—someone who is outstanding, regardless of where the match leads after the first introduction. Most often, matchmakers define success as the moment when a matched couple becomes exclusive, regardless of whether the relationship culminates in marriage. Many matchmakers emphasized that success, to them, is not just about making matches that last—a collaboration with a client is always a success if it engages the client in a process of personal growth (and, oftentimes, improved self-confidence) that opens the door to finding love and living authentically.

Matchmakers reported mixed feelings when matched clients (typically clients whose contracts have since expired) “fall of the grid” and quit keeping in touch. Some matchmakers are diligent in keeping in touch with former clients long after their collaboration has ended, but most do not—typically because they do not want to “pester” former clients. Some “snoop around” (e.g. online) to find clues as to whether a couple they matched months or years prior is still together.

7) Reality TV: Helping or hurting matchmaking’s reputation?

This was not a topic that I expected to discuss consistently with matchmakers, but it came up often. Matchmakers spoke positively about how reality T.V. shows about matchmaking—i.e. Millionaire Matchmaker (Bravo), Arrange Me a Marriage (BBC), Love Broker (Bravo) —have raised the overall visibility of the profession. At the same time, they expressed concern at how some portrayals of the matchmaking process, particularly those on Millionaire Matchmaker episodes, are highly sensationalized and do not reflect typical client-matchmaker, affiliate-matchmaker or client-affiliate relations. In particular, matchmakers noted that their approach is more “subtle” than the approach of matchmakers typically found on reality T.V. shows, and that their clientele is “classy and discreet” as compared to the brash clients featured on Millionaire Matchmaker. They are confident, however, that the general public is aware of the disparity between matchmaking in reality shows and typical matchmaking processes.

The Rise of Intermarriage | According to Pew Research Center

The increasing popularity of intermarriage. About 15% of all new marriages in the United States in 2010 were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another, more than double the share in 1980 (6.7%). Among all newlyweds in 2010, 9% of whites, 17% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics and 28% of Asians married out. Looking at all married couples in 2010, regardless of when they married, the share of intermarriages reached an all time high of 8.4%. In 1980, that share was just 3.2%. newlyweds-race-earnings-pew

Intermarriage and earnings. Couples formed between an Asian husband and a white wife topped the median earning list among all newlyweds in 2008
2010 ($71,800). During this period, white male newlyweds who married Asian, Hispanic orblack spouses had higher combined earnings than did white male newlyweds who married a white spouse. As for white female newlyweds, those who married a Hispanic or black husband had somewhat lower combined earnings than those who “married in,” while those who married an Asian husband had significantly higher combined earnings.

Higher education is often associated with higher income, although it is not exactly true for couples whose husband and wife are both Asian. More than half of Asian newly married couples (53%) are college educated (including both husband and wife). In contrast, about four in ten white/Asian newlyweds (41%) are college educated. Yet, Asian couples have less combined earnings than white/Asian intermarried couples.

Regional differences. Intermarriage in the United States tilts West. About one in five (22%) of all newlyweds in Western states married someone of a different race or ethnicity between 2008 and 2010, compared with 14% in the South, 13% in the Northeast and 11% in the Midwest. At the state level,
more than four in ten (42%) newlyweds in Hawaii between 2008 and 2010 were intermarried; the other states with an intermarriage rate of 20% or more are all west of the Mississippi River. (For rates of intermarriage as well as intra-marriage in all 50 states, see Appendix 2.)

What Women Are Looking For in Silicon Valley- one perspective

A Linx blog reader submitted this information anonymously about her perspective on what she is looking as she is dating in Silicon Valley.

Last Thursday, I went to the Rosewood after work for happy hour

Here’s what I am looking for in rank order:

1) A sexually attractive man. I don’t know that I would call it ‘beauty’. From the neck up, he doesn’t have to look like a model. But he MUST take care of his body – hit the gym regularly and not have a belly and be toned/have some muscle. When I was at Rosewood, I was amazed by the number of men who I just did not find sexually attractive. They may have great jobs, but they don’t take care of themselves. Men say they need to be attracted to a woman. Well I am no different, I need to be attracted to men.

2) Humble. Also, as I looked around, I was struck by the number of men who appeared to me to be self involved and arrogant. This is from observing their body language, facial expressions, and interactions. The true gem is the man who has an education and a good career, yet at the same time is humble. He is grounded. That tells me he has good values, is introspective, and is authentic with himself and others.

3) Mature. I went to a beer party at my tech company last week and I was struck that the majority of men at the beer event seemed like and looked like boys. From how they dressed, to how they groomed themselves, to their social skills. I know some executives in my department who are MEN, but they don’t go to these beer events. Maybe that’s why.”

Readers, what are you looking for as you are dating in and out of Silicon Valley? Do you agree? What might trump your wish list? Would love for you to send me an email and I can post anonymously too.