Dating — it’s a dizzying process that can leave people feeling insecure, inept, or just plain exhausted. Apps and the internet have changed dating for good, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the desire to find a perfect match. Many have tried online dating or dating apps, but what about hiring a professional matchmaker?
Matchmaking means different things to different communities. Over the centuries, matchmaking has evolved along cultural, ethnic, and religious lines. Sometimes matchmakers arrange marriages, in certain religious communities, but the term can also refer to people who simply help others manage their dating lives, on and offline, or arrange opportunities for like-minded romantics to meet.
“It’s a cultural deal. It’s taken a little less seriously here in the Midwest,” said Suzanna Matthews, founder, head dating coach, and matchmaker at The Date Maven. “I kind of envy my Jewish friends who are in the business because they’re like, ‘Well, of course, you have a matchmaker.’ No one even blinks at it.”
The Date Maven defines matchmaking as “the process of bringing two people together, for the purpose of friendship, romance, and eventually committed, long-term relationship.”
The Date Maven is Wichita’s only locally-owned and operated dating and matchmaking consultancy for singles, connecting people across the Midwest.
“I like to teach people the concepts and the strategies that we use in matchmaking and how they can activate those themselves and function as their own matchmaker,” Matthews said.
Matthews said much of the work that takes place at The Date Maven is about coaching people through the dating process, because not everyone is in the market for a matchmaker.
She said her target market isn’t a certain gender or age group — it’s growth-minded individuals who aren’t interested in being limited by their past narratives or beliefs.
“They are interested in personal growth. And living their best love-life,” she said.
The Date Maven has a five-step date coaching process which includes mindset management, an action plan to meet new people, a digital strategy, social coaching, and text and email coaching. The “just in time” texting service allows people to text The Date Maven when they are on dates if something goes sideways or the conversation takes a bad turn.
“We’ll help save the moment as best we can if it’s worth saving,” Matthews said.
They also offer a five-step matchmaking process that focuses on discovery, research and identification, recruitment, presentation, and evaluation.
Matthews said clients usually come to The Date Maven for one of two reasons: they’ve tried to go it alone without getting the results they wanted or they have so many limits on their free time and energy that they decide to outsource the search for love.
“There’s a high burnout rate for people who are online dating,” Matthews said.
But that doesn’t mean she’s anti-online dating. The Date Maven offers programs to help people make that process more successful, which means profile-writing and teaching people how best to create a real connection online. She said young adults who have lived their lives online could benefit from this expertise because using social media doesn’t equate to understanding how to create intimacy through digital tools.
Matthews’ cohort at The Date Maven, Michael Rivera, developed a system called “power openings.” It’s about creating a sense of adventure, fun, and intrigue with someone online.
“Sometimes we actually hijack their profile, and I mean that in a positive use of the term — we take over and sit in the driver’s seat . . . just to get the conversation off the ground and at some point, read you in so that you’re joining the conversation just at the point of, ‘Hey would you like to meet up for coffee?’
So what does Matthews have planned for Valentine’s Day?
She said The Date Maven is co-hosting a singles event this week and teaching a flirting workshop next week. It’s generally a very busy week for the business, so there’s not a lot of time for her own love life on Feb. 14. But she has a plan.
“My boyfriend and I are going to run up to Kansas City fast on the 13th for our Valentine’s Day,” Matthews said. “Our secret life is that we’re totally into EDM (electronic dance music) or a Rave couple, so we go to these concerts and party with the young kids and headbang all night. Then we come back and be adults.”
Her advice for students looking for the perfect match is to start a conversation.
“It’s not going to be as weird and awkward as you think it is,” she said.
“Love favors the brave.”