Story of a… Matchmaker
Love guru Michelle Valentine holds the secret formula to marriages that go the distance.
Life before Tinder. Valentine started in the love field long before dating apps and the Internet. She got her start at a newspaper selling personal ads. “Remember those? Single White Male seeks Single White Female.” Her boss asked her to drum up more business among women, which led Valentine to pen a love advice column. That column led to a book deal, which led to public speaking, which led to readers asking her to help them find a partner. “It just exploded from there.” Valentine has now been a matchmaker for more than 20 years and just finished shooting the pilot for a new TV show, “Love, Eat, Travel” about her international journeys to find matches for her clients.
All in the name of love. No, Valentine isn’t her real name. “I changed it when I became an advice columnist. I’m Polish, and my last name is too hard to pronounce or spell. Plus, I have always collected hearts, so this feels like a good fit.”
Cut to the chase. Valentine’s typical clients are single professionals who don’t have time to search for a potential mate through online dating apps. “I’m like a Realtor. You give me your list of must-haves, and I get back to you when I have a list of ‘homes’ you would like.”
No trophies. Sometimes clients are looking for someone who doesn’t exist—or won’t be an equal match. Valentine recalls a client with unrealistic demands. “He was adamant he did not want a woman unless her body was a 10, and his body was not a 10. I had to tell him that I do not do trophy-matching.”
First things first. Valentine is happy to take on most people who are looking for love, but she asks clients who are separated to hold off until they are officially divorced. Even then, “I don’t take anyone who is what we call ‘freshly divorced.’ They’re just not ready to work with a matchmaker. Instead,
I tell them to do the dating apps.”
Starbucks is out. Clients are not allowed to go to coffee for the first date. “You can’t have sparkles and hearts and stars under fluorescent lights with the grrrrr of the bean grinders and chairs scraping across the floor. That is not romantic.”
The business of love. “This work is not as glamorous as people think. It involves a lot of networking, phone calls and lots of paperwork.” Plus, Valentine does what most other matchmakers will not: She matches clients with people she meets at events or finds online. She casts a wide net to make sure her clients find their one and only. The work pays off: Her success rate is higher than 80 percent.
The great reward. Valentine is a big believer that searching for love pays off. She followed her own advice when she met her husband online. “Ours wasn’t love at first sight. When I looked at him, I thought, ‘This guy needs a makeover!’ But he made his interest known. “We were long-distance, and for the first three months he drove up every week to see me. We both knew we had a major connection.”