Need a Match?
Love-broker agencies part of matchmaking tradition
By John Boudreau
Love-broker agencies part of matchmaking tradition His head shot on the Internet dating site didn't tell the whole picture. Anne Koechel agreed to meet him for a drink. From his photo he appeared to be a pretty good-looking guy. But when he rose from the table to greet her, Koechel, a 110 pound program manager, knew this was a mismatch. "He was extremely, extremely heavy," she recalled. That 21st-Century dating experience led Koechel to seek out a practitioner of an ages-old custom: matchmaking. She picked one of several services that offer Bay Area singles (ones willing to part with serious money - up to $10,000) customized "introductions".
"You know the people you are meeting are legitimate;" says Koechel, who used CheckMates, which has offices from San Jose to Walnut Creek. These love brokers reflect modern life: busy professionals experience dislocated lives, often apart from relatives families and close communities such as church, says San Jose "relationships coach" Soraya Khalili.
"They are a societal adjustment she says. "They haven't become totally mainstream yet". Those who sign up usually get an hour or so assessment interview: What are you looking for? What type of bodies and personalities are they attracted to?
In the case of 12-year old CheckMates, individual stats, age, profession etc. are verified according to Carole Shattil, founder of the "introduction" service. On the Internet, women tend to lie about age and weight; men lie about how much money they earn and height, she says. Because CheckMates reviews profiles and photos, she guarantees that what her clients see is what they get.
Shattil who has a background in counseling and executive search, shows clients profiles and photos of people she thinks could be possible matches. She then acts as an intermediary.
Table for Six, which provides social settings for small groups of singles, recently added Table for Two, a more personalized matchmaking service. However, people are not given pictures ahead of time, to avoid "shallow" initial attitudes about attraction, says Julie Paiva, founder and president of Table for Six.
"We have a good gut about who is going to get along," she says. Mountain View resident Susan Pasquinelli, 43, tired of meeting guys online, experiencing good phone karma but then in-person letdowns. But she found a keeper after just one date through CheckMates. "We've been together for seven months," says Pasquinelli, a busy executive assistant at a high-tech company. "We had our. anniversary on Monday. We played tennis." "People lie about their height, their weight, their occupation - even what they are looking for," she says. "If you want to be with quality people, you have to go with these types of more exclusive services."
Her guy, Dave Cunha, a 46-year old mortgage lender who lives in Los Altos Hills, says "pre-qualified" dating saved him a lot of hassles by eliminating the random and time consuming aspect of meeting people cold. And, he adds, the debriefings Shattil provides helped him focus on what he was looking for and to be open to new possibilities. Cunha figures hiring a matchmaker might actually have saved him money he would have spent on bad dates. He met Pasquinelli after just a few dates with other people through the service. "My time is money," he says. "It's more than worth it to have a professional qualify potential matches."
Khalili advises those thinking about hiring a matchmaking service to ask for references: Were there timely follow-ups? Was the data accurate? She also suggests people review their past relationships, what went wrong and think specifically about the kind of partner they are looking for. Distinguish between needs and wants, she says.
"If you don't do that, you'll end up spending a lot of money, "Khalili warns. And you'll still be sleeping alone.
By John Boudreau at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 278 3496