Professional matchmaker makes dating less of a chase
A hundred married and long-term couples attest to Julie Ferman's intuition: she may know more about your 'perfect' date than you do.
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And it's scary: A 2006 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found 66 percent of Internet users believe online dating is dangerous.Skip to next paragraph
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Matchmakers like Ferman, a board member of the Matchmaking Institute with an A rating from the Better Business Bureau, provide a human touch in the increasingly webcentric dating world. Of course matchmakers aren't new, they've been around for centuries in various forms, whether it's parents in Bombay arranging marriages or Yente in "Fiddler on the Roof."
"There have always been external influences in dating, both formal and informal, from traditional matchmakers to parents saying 'I don't really like your boyfriend,' " says Michelle Janning, a sociologist at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., who teaches about mate selection.
Online dating, she says, can be isolating and impersonal: "It would almost be strange to me not to have this thirst for human touch. Communities have always functioned this way."
Yet seeking the services of a matchmaker – even a high-end one like Ferman, who gets $25,000 for top-of-the-line packages – feels somewhat illicit, which may be why Karen asked not to use her real name. But Ferman says it's that clients are concerned about privacy, about being "out there" on the Internet, she says, "where friends, colleagues, clients, family members, ex-spouses, and ex-lovers can all see that they're looking for love."
Karen admits to having dated online.
Ferman smiles conspiratorially, saying the trouble with online dating is that "the same 12 girls get picked all the time. People ask me, 'Why does a beautiful girl come to a matchmaker?' Because I specialize in people who are highly desirable, but selective. That's why."
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"Now we'll dive in and look at men!" says Ferman, after the paperwork is done. The computer comes alive with color photos and résumés of male clients – older and distinguished, tall and dark, athletic next to a surfboard, intellectual with rimless glasses. The bulk of Ferman's clients are between the ages of late 30s and early 60s.
"Oh, he's cute" Karen says about one photo.
"He's not a paying client, just a registered member," says Ferman. "I'd rather show you my higher paying clients first." After all, this is a business. Ferman has about 12,000 registered members in her database – potential matches for clients who she has prescreened, but who don't pay for her matchmaking services ... at least not yet.
At the end of their meeting, Ferman says Karen will be an easy client, and not just because she's skinny and smart – but because she's happy.