Regardless of your opinion on online dating, I think we can all agree that the odds aren’t always in our favor. Apps like Bumble, Hinge, Happn (…the list could go on and on) provide a variety of visual options that often lack the defining components that help us determine whether or not someone is a good potential match. How do you gauge someone’s maturity level, sense of humor, or overall personality based on a few token photos that “sum them up?” You’ve seen the photos – holding a baby (This is my nurturing, sensitive side), traveling abroad (I can be adventurous too), in the company of friends (I’m a social butterfly), participating in some kind of physical sport (Look how athletic I am). But the truth is, you never really know what you’re getting until you meet the person, in person.
As matchmakers, we are active on these dating apps in an effort to recruit potential matches for our clients. What separates us from the pack is that we have a clear purpose that extends beyond the initial flirtation that people engage in when they’re dating for themselves. When I come across a potential match for one of my clients, it’s my responsibility to dig deeper and uncover the real person that’s hiding behind the token photos. It’s been about a year since I stopped using dating apps for my personal love life, for reasons I’m sure many of you can relate to (you name it, I’ve naively swiped right on it). But as far as matchmaking is concerned, these apps are incredibly useful when we have to recruit beyond our existing networks.
It was a Tuesday afternoon when I downloaded JSwipe (aka a grownup version of Tinder, but for Jewish singles) for the first time. To keep it professional and upfront, I indicated in my bio that I was a matchmaker seeking potential matches for my clients. When I matched with men, I messaged them under the same pretenses, making it clear that I was not on JSwipe to find a date for myself. I expected some men to ignore my messages, or refute the idea of blind dating. I expected others to get out of their comfort zones and try a new kind of dating.
And when I thought I’d considered every possible outcome, the universe laughed in my face and granted me with a situation that no one could expect.
While perusing on JSwipe, I came across a guy whom I thought would be a good fit for one of my clients. We matched, I messaged him something standard explaining that I'm a matchmaker and thought he would be interested in meeting my client or potentially being set up in the future. He immediately started asking questions - which happens all the time - but eventually the conversation turned into an interrogation. He asked if I was single, which I disregarded, and instead reiterated my purpose for contacting him.
Here’s where it got weird:
"I'm assuming you're single because you're using this app. And if that's the case, why would you ever be fit to be a matchmaker if you can't even tackle your own love life?"
Now, aside from the fact that this guy is clearly an ignorant know-nothing and I could spend the rest of my existence content with never having to speak to him again, his comment perplexed me. Do other people feel this way? Are people more comfortable taking advice from someone in a relationship rather than someone who is single? Is this a qualifier that determines whether or not people trust your perspective on romantic relationships? If you’re reading this, debating whether or not his argument is valid, allow me to persuade you toward the latter.
EVERYONE’S GOT A PAST
History – it’s something we’ve all got. If you think back to your most recent string of dating experiences, it’s safe to say that no matter the outcome, you learned something. Perhaps it was about yourself; what you ultimately want out of a romantic relationship and the things that are important to you. Maybe it shaped your perspective of dating; identifying areas you need to work on and be aware of in the future. But regardless of the circumstances, every dating experience is an opportunity to pick up some knowledge. Personally, I’ve had relationships that have failed and thrived, taken the form of confusion and resolution, ranged from frustrating to effortless – and they all have one thing in common: I’ve grown as a result. So whether you are someone who is perpetually in a relationship or hasn’t introduced a man to your family in three years, it doesn’t dictate the validity of your advice on relationships. In fact, it’s what separates you from the pack.
RELATIONSHIPS ARE RELATIONSHIPS ARE RELATIONSHIPS
Since when are romantic relationships the only ones to learn from?
I can’t even begin to explain the shared correlations between romantic encounters and other kinds of relationships. Problems with your roommate, verbal altercations with your best friend, tension at work – all of these situations boil down to how well you communicate based on the cards you’ve been dealt. The same can be said for the positive experiences that emerge as a result of having a solid relationship. A perfect example of this dates back to 2014 when my roommate/best friend turned 26. I was inspired by an episode of Parks & Rec and decided to make her go on a scavenger hunt around our apartment. All the clues rhymed (naturally) and represented funny/ridiculous memories; not to mention I hid them in places only she would have been able to figure out. The last time I put that much energy into surprising someone with a gift was for a boyfriend, and why should they get all the love and thought? The point is, romantic relationships aren’t the only ones that teach you lessons. In fact, sometimes our non-romantic relationships are what make us even more romantic.
THE CONNOTATION OF CONFRONTATION
Maybe it’s the nature of being Italian (or because I’ve been elbowed in the ribs for a seat on the R train and lived to tell the tale), but I’m not a person who shies away from confrontation. In fact, I enjoy it. Now you may be thinking to yourself: Does this girl look forward to arguing? No, I’m not on the edge of my seat waiting for WWIII to erupt. When I say I enjoy confrontations, what I mean is I appreciate when people are real and say exactly what it is that’s on their minds, and own it. How many times have you been borderline furious with someone and, because you’re fearful of the backlash of a verbal altercation, chosen to sweep it under the rug and not deal with it? Chances are you have (more than once), and chances are it’s resurfaced (perhaps creating more tension than there was initially).
So, to prevent further bitterness for myself and other single Matchmakers who may face criticism, this is my confrontation of an ill-informed notion.
Yes, I am single. I’m also 87.5% Italian, and 12.5% Venezuelan. I’m right-handed and still manage to throw a mean left hook/uppercut combo in boxing class. I take the stairs instead of the escalator and only wear heels when it’s been confirmed that I won’t have to stand for longer than 20 minutes at a time. I laugh really hard when I find something funny and yell at the top of my lungs when my patience has run out. I’ve never been a morning person and only wake up because breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Every time my baby sister tells me she likes my hair that way, I do her hair that way, without question. The song “Tenerife Sea” makes my eyes well up with tears for no reason at all.
Most relevant to today's squabble, I am also a first-rate Matchmaker, who is passionate, hard working and successful within this role.
And let it be stated for the record that my current relationship status has zero bearing on my ability to do this job and do it well. I have flaws and wear them like a crown. Every brush stroke, every loose strand of hair, every single mistake has led me to where I stand today; a flawed, ferocious woman who doesn’t let being single define her or her profession.