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Romantic relationships can begin anywhere. But sometimes cupid’s arrow needs a little help to find its mark. Humans have been using matchmakers ever since Adam and Eve. Traditional matchmaking was often a role for rabbis and priests, friends and family. Now singles are increasingly looking outside their immediate circles to find a mate. Online dating has become a billion dollar industry. The professional matchmaking business is thriving. And some are even willing try a blind date arranged by their local newspaper. Diane and her guests discuss looking for old fashioned love in the modern world.
- Amanda McGrath Innovations editor for lifestyle and entertainment at the Washington Post. She edits the paper’s “Date Lab” column.
- Eli Finkel Associate professor of social psychology at Northwestern University and lead author of a study of online dating published in the February 2012 issue of the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest
- Janis Spindel A professional matchmaker and author of two books, "Get Serious About Getting Married" and "How to Date Men."
In fiction, one person randomly meets another, sparks fly, they marry, and live happily ever after. But in real life, finding a romantic partner is not that easy. Singles are increasingly employing technology and non-traditional methods to find a mate.
The Changes Online Dating Have Brought
Guest Eli Finkel said it’s important to remember that online dating only really began around 1995; now, 17 years later, it’s the second most-popular way for singles to meet, trailing slightly behind meeting through friends. Online dating represents a radical overhaul in how people are meeting potential partners, Finkel said. Spindel, a matchmaker who said she specializes in finding people’s soul mates, thinks online dating can allow people to build up a rapport before they ever meet in person.
Spindel emphasizes the difference between what she does as a one-on-one matchmaker and what most online dating sites have to offer. She charges $50,000 for her services and an additional $50,000 “finders fee” when a relationship works out, and all of her clients are men. “Men are very simple,” Spindel said. “You deliver exactly what they’re asking for and you leave the rest up to chemistry and the universe,” she said.
Callers Ask For Advice
A young man called and asked for advice on how to get started dating, as he has reservations both about traditional dating and online dating. McGrath suggested he join a team or a club, or take up a class. Whenever people seek membership in a community or try something new, they’re putting themselves in situations where they can meet new people they wouldn’t have otherwise met, she said. “Even if you don’t hit it off with that person, it’s opening doors to a different social circle,” she said.
“Absence of Serendipity?”
Another caller, Joann, decribed the circumstances in which she met her husband, in a Boston nightclub in 1974. “I have some concerns about the absence of the concept of serendipity and magic that comes with meeting people sort of spontaneously,” she said. McGrath said it may be true that we’re not meeting people in public places as much as we used to. “I have my iPhone. I’m on it all the time. You’re walking down the street, you’ve got your headphones in. So I feel like a lot of that sort of casual interaction where you might spontaneously meet someone is, you know, a
little muted these days,” McGrath said. “That magic is such an intangible, surprising, unexpected, unpredictable quality. When we send people out for a Date Lab we’re always trying to make a good match, but it never fails to surprise us whether or not people will actually have that chemistry or not have that chemistry,” she said.
You can read the full transcript here.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. In fiction, one person randomly meets another, sparks fly, they marry, live happily ever after. But in real life, finding a romantic partner is not that easy. Singles are increasingly employing technology and non-traditional methods to find a mate.
MS. DIANE REHMAmanda McGrath of The Washington Post is here to examine modern methods of matchmaking. Social psychologist Eli Finkel joins us from Northwestern University. He's the lead author of the new study rating online dating and from a studio in New York, professional matchmaker Janis Spindel. She's the author of the books ''Get Serious About Getting Married'' and ''How to Date Men."
MS. DIANE REHMI hope you'll join us this morning, give us some of your tips for finding that perfect person. Join us on 800-433-8850. Send us your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Join us on Facebook or Twitter. Good morning to all of you.
MS. AMANDA MCGRATHGood morning.
MR. ELI FINKELGood morning.
MS. JANIS SPINDELGood morning.
REHMGood to have you all with me...
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1...on Valentine's Day.
REHMAnd happy Valentine's Day to you as well. Eli Finkel, if I could start with you. How has online dating fundamentally changed the dating scene or has it?
FINKELIt has there's a sea change afoot in how people date and I think the best way to think about that sea change is to recognize that, you know, online dating basically didn't exist before 1995. Here we are 17 years later, it's now the second most popular way for singles to meet and just trailing a little bit behind meeting through friends. And if you contrast it with the way people used to date in this sort of way, like the personal ads or video-dating, that was never more than about half a percent of relationships. So this is a radical overhaul on how people are meeting potential partners.
REHMIt's really grown a lot. And to you, Amanda McGrath, tell me what the operating principles are behind The Washington Post's "Date Lab."
MCGRATHWell, Date Lab is a weekly column in The Washington Post magazine and online where we take two single Washingtonians or people from the D.C. area, match them up based on questionnaires that they've filled out for us and we send them out for a date on the Post's dime, usually to dinner.
MCGRATHThe application process is sort of a long questionnaire filled with the usual questions. What's your type? You know, what's great about you? And some unusual questions, what DVDs and what three people would you like to have with you on a desert island? When you see your soul mate, what song should be playing, those sorts of things. So it's sort of a mix of the practical and the quirky and we try to match people based on those interests.
REHMAnd turning to you, Janis Spindel, how did you get into the business of matchmaking?
SPINDELWell, to make a very, very long story short, the gift of gab that I was given since I was nine years old allows me to go up to anyone, anywhere, anytime and talk to them, find out more information in three minutes than a normal personal dating that person could find out in six months.
REHMHow do you do that?
SPINDELIt's just what I do. It's what I do. I just do it well and I have been gifted also with an uncanny sixth sense where I am literally clairvoyant and I can sit across the table from somebody and within 40 minutes tell them who they're going to marry.
REHMHow did it get started for you? I mean, did you do this sort of on a personal basis with friends or what happened?
SPINDELI introduced 14 of my male friends and within an eight-month period, they were all engaged to be married.
REHMOh, my God.
SPINDELAnd that's when I looked at my husband and looked at the phone and said, I think I can do this and a matchmaker was born. And that's almost 21 years ago, 992 couples married later.
REHMWow, that really is an impressive record. And that is the voice of Janis Spindel. She's a professional matchmaker. She's the author of two books, "Get Serious About Getting Married" and "How to Date Men." Do join us 800-433-8850. Eli, what do online dating sites do well?
FINKELThe single best thing that online dating sites do is they introduce singles to potential partners that they wouldn't otherwise encounter in their everyday life. And one of the things that I like the most about that service is that it's especially helpful for those people who otherwise would struggle to meet potential partners through more conventional ways of dating.
FINKELSo for example, if you are a single mother of four and don't really have the time to hang out at the bar or if you are somebody new, you've just moved to a new city and you don't have an established social network yet, online dating provides an opportunity for you to go online and meet potential partners in a way that is different and, in some ways, easier than would be available to you otherwise.
REHMJanis Spindel, what do you think of online dating?
SPINDELWell, it's funny you should ask that because I was going to add to Eli's comment, what it also does, Eli, what I find is that people that are not necessarily comfortable within their own skin on a first date, they might be shy, quiet or reserved it allows them to possibly be in their pajamas, in their home or in their apartment...
SPINDEL...at whatever hour possible they can go on the computer and it's almost like they feel comfortable because they're emailing so they're not actually having a physical conversation with someone. And they build up a rapport before they actually get to meet that person and it works wonderfully.
SPINDELAnd in answer to your question, Diane, what do I think about online? It's funny you should be asking that today on Valentine's Day because I just launched 2LOVEtoday, which is where personal matchmaking meets online dating...
SPINDEL...so when I'm done with this radio show, my team and I will be covering the streets of New York to hand out Valentine's Day lollipops as well as 2LOVEtoday postcards announcing the launch of my online dating site.
REHMAnd that's Janis Spindel, a professional matchmaker. Amanda McGrath, how does what Janis has said sort of line up with your approach to matchmaking?
MCGRATHWell, I feel like Date Lab is kind of the nexus between online dating and the sort of personalized matchmaking that Janis seems to do. You know, a lot of online dating is based on these questionnaires that people fill out...
MCGRATH...so you still have that same element of having single people tell us about themselves and tell us what they want or at least what they think they want. And then, you know, in our case, instead of actually knowing the person, interacting with them, sort of breaking things down...
REHMYou're trying to match them up, yeah.
REHMBut Janis said something very interesting about the shyness, the backwardness that people can experience during that first date. How does that jive with what you're doing?
MCGRATHI think that's a really good point. First dates are hard and Date Lab is sort of becoming more and more unique over time because actual blind dates don't exist so much anymore. With online dating, you know a little bit about people before you get together. You've sort of picked and chosen and, you know, made your decisions based on a little bit of information about the person.
MCGRATHWhen we send people out for Date Lab, they know nothing about their match except for that person's first name and where they're supposed to meet them. So you're starting completely from scratch and interacting with someone who is a virtual stranger, which in some ways has a benefit because they're sort of a clean slate, some place to start. You know, you're in this sort of common, strange environment that most people aren't in anymore. It gives you a place to kick things off.
REHMBut at the same time, as Janis has said, she's working in a different way to really, really match people up. How often does Date Lab turn into a true and long-lasting romance?
MCGRATHWell, it can be a little tricky to tell because we don't necessarily keep up with all of our couples in the long term. But we did survey everyone for our five-year anniversary last summer and at this point, up until now, we've sent out about 280 couples and when we talked to them, we found that about 28 percent had gone on at least one more date if not multiple dates and we found that about 30 percent said that they had felt a spark, some chemistry with the person that they'd gone out with, which to us is a big success, especially when you're starting with that completely blank slate of two strangers meeting up.
REHMSo how often, Eli Finkel, do you think that happens in online dating generally that that spark ignites?
FINKELI suspect online dating is just like any other form of dating, right? Eventually, people are going to meet face to face and there will or there won't be a spark. I have to say that the scientific evidence on how likely it is that a given pair of people will experience that spark isn't anywhere near what we wish it were. I will say that 28 to 30 percent is impressive.
FINKELMy guess is that, you know, it's not the case that 30 percent of first dates end up on a second date and, of course, you know, not every second date ends up in a relationship. But, you know, I think it's hard. If it were easy to meet a potential romantic partner and find love, then online dating wouldn't be a billion-dollar industry and we wouldn't have matchmakers going back to biblical times. And so these things are a big challenge and I'm impressed if The Washington Post is able to get at that level. That's impressive.
REHMNow one follow-up question, Eli, you mentioned biblical. Are the religious dating sites any more successful than others?
FINKELSo we didn't tackle that exact question. In fact, what we would have liked, in principle, to have done in this report is analyze, you know, the 100 studies that randomly assign people a date through JDate or Christian Singles or eHarmony or whatever and there is no such study. So we did a little bit less on online dating, per se, and specific sites and a little bit more on the, in general, what are the things that online dating sites do?
REHMShort break, right back.
REHMAnd of course for this Valentine's Day we're talking about the various ways that people find mates in this very complicated world, one aspect of which is online dating. Eli Finkel has done a study of online dating. He's associate professor of social psychology at Northwestern University. He's lead author on that study published in the February issue of the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest. Janis Spindel joins us from the NPR studio in New York City. She's a professional matchmaker and she's launching a new site today to help couples find each other.
REHMAmanda McGrath is the innovations editor for lifestyle and entertainment. She edits the paper's "Date Lab" column at the Washington Post magazine. Of course the lines are already filled but first I want to come back to you, Janis. Your service costs a fair amount of money, isn't that right?
SPINDELWell, it depends. I've been told 992 times it's a small price to pay to be happy for the rest of your life because what I do is priceless.
SPINDELIt's not for everybody, though, Diane. I am a very boutique-y high end extremely hands-on one-on-one matchmaker who believes in immediate success, to say the very least. And success for me is either marriage or a committed monogamous relationship.
REHMSo do you actually put people through a mock dating process? What do you do?
SPINDELWell, my clients are all men. They range from 27 to 78. They're well educated, well groomed, upscale professional, preferably athletically inclined, nonsmoking, most important commitment-minded men from all over the world who are looking for the perfect woman. And so, yes, there is a screening process on the phone first that happens with one of my executive staff members.
MCGRATHThen I go out on what's called a mock or simulated date with the man to basically get a feel for who he is, what he's looking for. If he's realistic with his expectations of what he's looking for, if I feel he's emotionally available and I am paying attention to everything from how much he took charge to plan this date to the restaurant he picks, how he treats me, how he treats the waiter, his manners. Is he on his phone, is he drinking, is he leaving to go have a cigarette? I'm on a date with him so I'm saving women a lot of hassle, if this guy is rude or rambunctious or poor manners or delusional with his expectations of what he's looking for.
REHMTell me about those expectations. I'm fascinated.
SPINDELWell, I'm just the messenger. I need everybody to remember that, but men are very visual. They fall in love through their eyes, whereas women fall in love through their ears. So the men have one interest only and I call it the four Bs. It's beauty, brains, body and balance. Then I just leave the rest up to chemistry and the universe. Men want the entire package. They want a beautiful woman inside and out. They want a woman that's intellectually stimulating. They want a woman that leads a healthy lifestyle and takes care of her body.
MCGRATHAnd they want a woman who has a balanced life meaning not a drama queen, not somebody who's needy, not high maintenance. They want the entire package, an independent woman that has time for a relationship as well as has time for her friends. She has an independent life. She's not needy. There are a lot of needy women out there to say the least.
REHMInteresting, interesting. Amanda, how does that jive with what you found are successes in the "Date Lab?"
MCGRATHWell, with "Date Lab" I think over the years we've accumulated more than 4,000 applications into our database. We've got a pretty enormous pool of people to choose from at this point. But what's really great about "Date Lab" is that these are all real people and they're not necessarily perfect. They have their flaws and they're not all great beauties, but many of them are. And, you know, we have people that run the full gamut.
MCGRATHBut what we're doing is sort of trying to get people together who might not necessarily meet each other and who aren't necessarily the first person who might catch your eye in a bar. One of our most successful couples who got married last summer, you know, when they filled out their applications one of them had said she was looking for a guy who was adorkable (sic) , which...
MCGRATH...adorkable, which I think is a great word and a term, I think, that's sort of uniquely Washington in what you're looking for in a man. But, you know, we found a guy who fit that description and they hit it off and today they're happily married.
REHMWell, that's great. Eli Finkel, when you hear about this mock date that Janis Spindel goes out on with men that she is considering as clients, what's your reaction as a young man yourself?
FINKELI'm excited about the prospect that she gets so many free meals. That seems like the way to go. You know, I really don't know. Our research was really focused on online dating and we didn't directly tackle the issue of, you know, one-to-one matchmakers. That said, I'm pessimistic about online dating's ability to teach people useful things from profiles, right. People have an assumption that you can learn about somebody from a profile and if you browse long enough you'll find an optimal match.
FINKELAnd it looks like Janis has a system that at least doesn't make people depend upon those profiles. Whether it's successful or not, the science doesn't exist, but there's certainly some things to say in favor of that approach.
REHMOkay. And two very different approaches, Janis, I want to ask you once again, this is a very high end service you offer. What do you think is sort of your medium price for setting a couple up together if they marry?
SPINDELWell, my fees are upfront fees and then in addition to that there are finder's fees on the backend. Once I have a client involved in a relationship for 12 months I have to assume that if he's with somebody for their year anniversary, she's a keeper because again I deal with very commitment-minded men and women. So I'm the Rolls Royce and my fees start at 50,000 upfront and 50,000 as a finder's fee on the backend. And they go up to 500,000 because I do deal with a lot of very high end celebrities and politicians and very public Wall Street figures.
SPINDELHaving said that my company's fees, I do have junior matchmakers that start at a lowball of 15,000 up front, not less than half on the backend. Then I have junior people that start at 25,000 upfront with 10,000 on the backend. So, you know, again I'm not a dating service. I'm a matchmaker.
SPINDELAnd the most important thing, Diane, my matches work. I'm a result-oriented person, as my staff and my clients know.
REHMAnd, Janis, you said that your clients are men. So you don't take women who may have lots of money looking for a male?
SPINDELNo, thank you.
REHMTell me why.
SPINDELBeen there, done that.
REHMWell, tell me why.
SPINDELTo be honest with you, when I first started in business I had lots and lots and lots of fabulous women clients, really great women. And they seem to be needy and very high maintenance and you can never satisfy them.
SPINDELWe would introduce them to amazing men. They're not available, which is one of the biggest problems that I hear about women. See, I own the minds of men. I know what they want and I know what women do wrong. I could literally do this in my sleep. Men are very simple. You deliver exactly what they're asking for and you leave the rest up to chemistry and the universe. See, the difference between one-on-one matchmaking is I meet all the people that I match.
SPINDELWhen you're talking about the online and online profiles, you don't know if obviously what people are writing unfortunately is the honest truth. Most people, as we know, women lie about their age and their weight and men lie about their age and their height. And unfortunately my statistics and research have shown is that people put up pictures that are not realistic recent photographs.
SPINDELSee, with my online site 2LOVEtoday, under no circumstances will they be able to pull that off. It will have to be reality because it's where personal matchmaking meets online dating.
REHMAnd you yourself have been married for 29 years, is that correct?
SPINDELYes, with him 30.
REHMWith him 30. How did you meet?
SPINDELI picked him up, how else? That's what I do.
REHMWhat does that mean? What does that mean?
SPINDELI was at New York Health and Racquet Club. I was actually working for them. I opened up one of their flagship clubs as membership director. And my husband is a very hot, handsome, good looking man. And I saw him and I started a conversation with him, which is, again, the gift of gab of how I got started in this business...
SPINDEL...on average picking up about 200 to 250 people a day.
REHMWow. All right. We've got lots of callers. I'm going to open the phones, 800-433-8850. First to Sharmina. She's in Richardson, Texas. Good morning, you're on the air.
SHARMINAHi everybody. Thanks for taking my call, Diane. I just thought the topic was kind of funny. I'm growing up in a family that's from Pakistan. We still do the matchmaking. My mother's actually a matchmaker here in Dallas. And, you know, it's very different in our culture because this is a common thing. You know, dating isn't something people do so you usually do look to your family and friends to find people. And I wanted to know if the study looked at that kind of cultural difference.
SHARMINAAnd even my husband and I were set up together and I thought that's funny how she mentioned that men look from their eyes and women want to hear things. And my husband actually -- we met the first time when we walked out the door. Apparently, he said to his brother that, you know, I want to marry her right now. And I said, oh, my god, he didn't say a word, you know, so...
REHMEli, do you want to comment?
FINKELSure. Yeah, in this particular paper, we didn't do an international comparison but there's been a little bit of work comparing arranged marriages to love marriages. It's not at the level that we would like it to be, the research itself. But there seems to be something to be said for arranged marriages too, that people can actually learn to love each other and develop a very healthy relationship over time. And online dating, by the way, and speed dating itself can be altered in a way that accommodates people's cultural differences.
FINKELFor example, there are religious Muslim speed-dating events where people are going on their speed dates with a chaperone.
REHMWith a chaperone, and enjoying it.
FINKELYeah, I think so. I mean, it's a way to marry, a traditional way of dating with a very modern way of dating. And it seems to work for people.
REHMAll right, Eli Finkel. And he's done a study of online dating published in the February issue of the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's go back to the phones to Coleman, Washington. Good morning, Chase, you're on the air.
CHASEGood morning, Diane and the panel. I just want to say I really enjoy your show and I love hearing your voice every morning.
REHMThank you so much.
CHASEI'd like to ask the panel, I was wondering -- I have reservations about online dating and I also am a bit nervous about real dating. And I was wondering, you know, is there any kind of gray areas, is there any other form of getting myself out there into the dating world without putting my picture online or going to a matchmaker? I mean, is there any other advice the panel has for someone who might be struggling to really get out there?
MCGRATHWell, I think we hear time and again that hobbies, hobbies, hobbies are the way to go. Join a team, join a club, go to a class, that sort of thing. Anything where...
REHMGo to church.
MCGRATHGo to church, yeah. Anywhere where you're part of a community, large or small, you're bound to interact with other people. And I would say, you know, with "Date Lab," one of the beauties of "Date Lab" is you're meeting someone you might not have met otherwise. And even if you don't hit it off with that person, it's opening doors to a different social circle.
REHMHow many people do you have working with you going through all these resumes?
MCGRATHIt's a pretty small group. It's myself and my fellow editor. I'm actually single and my fellow editor, Christina, is married for many years now. And so we sort of make a good team balancing that out.
REHMGood. Eli, what advice do you have for Chase?
FINKELI think that was a terrific suggestion. I mean, if the idea of going on a date or initiating a romantic contact in some way brings upon cold sweats then the best way to do it is indirectly. And I like the idea of meeting people, of developing a social network and then slowly but surely meeting people through friends of friends and that much more old fashioned way of going about it.
REHMAnd what about you, Janise? Say it's a person who really doesn't have lots of money to spend?
SPINDELChase, let me ask you a question. How old are you?
CHASEWell, I am on the younger side. I'm 22 so...
SPINDELOkay. I knew you were in your 20s, but I wasn't sure at what end. So for you...
CHASEOh, man, you are good, huh?
SPINDELWell, that was definitely a no-brainer. What I would say for you, first of all, you're too young so calm down with the whole dating thing. My suggestion is somewhat what Amanda said. Focus on what you're doing and not necessarily who you're meeting by getting involved in things that you enjoy because then you won't be so nervous. Whether you're playing tennis or whether you're going to a movie course or whatever it is that you're signing up for, church, the commonalities, you just will start talking to somebody and be friendly. But at your age, I mean, you live in Washington as in the state?
SPINDELSo, I mean, you're definitely not too young to be meeting lots and lots and lots of great people at possibly a bar or a lounge or some kind of a course. I don't know what they offer in Washington but you're a young guy. It's very easy to, you know, sort of build up your self esteem and just go out there and do things that you like. And hopefully what will follow -- I don't know if you're an exerciser, but maybe you want to join a running club or a biking club. Go outdoors, go to a park. Just start talking to somebody. Smile and just say hi, hey, how you doing. You're young.
REHMEli, anything to add to that?
FINKELNo. I mean, I think those are sensible ways to meet. I did have one additional thought with regard to the previous caller, and also the assertion that men and women differ in terms of how they find romance. It's certainly true that men and women think they differ in how much they care about features like physical attractiveness and a partner. And it doesn't take much to convince the public that in fact men want sexiness and women really care much less about that, and women might want earning prospects.
FINKELBut our work has shown that even though people think that they have this big sex difference, that then later, once you introduce those same people, those same men and women who a week earlier reported that they had these sex differences and what they were looking for in a partner are in fact equally inspired by physically attractive people or people with good earning prospects.
REHMInteresting. Eli Finkel. He's associate professor at Northwestern University. Short break, right back.
REHMAnd of course there are certainly some negative experiences out there. Here's one from Jewel, who says, "I am totally opposed to online dating. I had a friend who bought into it, swallowed the lies, prepared for a wedding that did not happen, sent money to him and ended up heartbroken and alienated from everyone because of her foolishness. Another friend lost her life meeting someone she met online. Beware," says Jewel. What do you think of that, Eli?
FINKELI think those are deeply alarming stories. And I do agree that people need to take precautions. I would like to call them common sense precautions, but, I mean, so I would never schedule a date with a stranger in a private location. I would make sure that it was scheduled in a public setting. I would, in fact, try to ideally leave not alone and things like that.
FINKELBut I really don't think it's fair to critique the online dating industry for this problem. Right, online dating does all sorts of things. It didn't invent the idea of scamming people out of money. And it certainly didn't invent the idea of romantic homicide. So yes there are going to be those sorts of deeply disturbing things that happen, but that doesn't mean that people, you know, can't take a risk, set up a short date in a public location and see if there's a romantic spark.
REHMAll right. And here's a question for you, Janis. "Please ask this matchmaker what the divorce rate has been for the 900 odd couples she's hooked up. The current U.S. divorce rate is about 50 percent. If she is so good then that rate should be much lower than the average. Is it?"
SPINDELWell, ironically out of the 992 couples I've gotten married, I heard one, from Washington, D.C. actually, that got divorced. And other than that, to my knowledge, there have been none. I do believe that I would be the first phone call to be alarmed that the person was divorced. If it wasn't from the man, it would surely be from the woman.
SPINDELI believe I really introduce people to their soul mates and they stay married. I mean, the divorce rate is rampant out there. It's basically one out of every two, but knock on wood...
REHMKnock on wood.
SPINDEL...my statistics are pretty good.
REHMAnd here's an email from John in Cleveland, who says, "I'd like to know if any of them have done studies on the gay community or if they do matchmaking for the gay community." Amanda?
MCGRATHWell, Date Lab is definitely open to both straight and gay couples, but one thing that we've had a real challenge with over the last five and a half years of doing this matchmaking is that sort of chicken-and-an-egg scenario. Where within our database of 4,000 plus people, a very, very small percentage of those people are same-sex oriented. And so when you have such a small pool it becomes much more difficult to make a good match.
MCGRATHAnd so if you can't make a good match you're not featuring gay couples. And we've heard time and again from, you know, gay readers, well I thought Date Lab was just for straight people. And emphatically it is not, but if you're not seeing yourself represented in the column it's harder to feel encouraged to participate. So...
REHMI see. Janis?
SPINDELWell, fortunately, I opened up a gay division that I launched in July after they passed the same-sex marriage law. And I deal with gay men only, looking for, obviously, same-sex partners for right now. Maybe down the road we will open it up to gay women, but right now, yes. I have a gay division. It is right on my website. And it is, knock on wood, doing extremely well. I've met some pretty awesome gay men.
SPINDELAgain, continuing the same target market of high-end, financially independent, upscale, professional gay men.
REHMSo, Janis, how does your husband feel about your being out to dinner so many nights of the year?
SPINDELYou know, it's funny. Men and people always ask me that question. I try and do mostly, mostly, mostly lunches...
SPINDEL...every day at 1:00. And I try and do breakfasts. If I have to do a dinner, which I actually have to do tomorrow night and I had to do last night, I mean, my husband's been -- we've been married 30 years and I've been doing this for 21. So he's sort of use to it. And it's really I have the best of both worlds. I get to go out on dates with good-looking, rich, smart, funny, cool, successful men all the time.
REHMAnd it's never...
SPINDELAnd it totally works.
REHMAnd it's never drawn you away from your husband?
SPINDELNo. They made my husband and they threw away the mold, in every way, shape or form.
REHMOh, good. I feel the same way. All right. Let's go to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Good morning, Adam.
ADAMHey, how's it going?
ADAMSo I'm driving in my car, I have an appointment coming up and...
ADAM… I figured that the topic was so interesting to me because everyone in my family has met online. And...
ADAMYeah, my -- well, currently my brother is dating a girl who -- they actually moved in with each other a few months ago and they've been dating for a couple years. And they met on Match.com. And my father and mother got divorced six, seven years ago. And my dad now is married to a woman who he met on JDate.com. And my mom met her current husband, my stepfather, while playing backgammon online. And now, just recently, within three weeks, I just met a girl on Match.com. And we really like each other.
REHMHow about that? Eli, what do you think of all that?
FINKELI'm delighted. That seems like a wonderful story for that family. And I do share the view that in a 1992 world rather than a 2012 world they probably would not have had the same level of success in meeting partners. And if I could chime in briefly about the previous caller, the online dating has done a particularly good job for same-sex relationships. And I think it's, in part, because it's harder to date if you're a same-sex person. You generally can't assume that other people you encounter are also gay or lesbian. And so they've done a particularly good job.
FINKELAnd one of the best things that the online dating industry has done, particularly for gay men, in this new world of mobile dating where you take out your smart phone and see who's in the immediate area who might wanna link up in five minutes for a beer or a cup of coffee, Grinder is one of the most successful sites. And it is targeted toward gay men.
REHMYou know, I am looking at an article from this morning's Wall Street Journal all about the online word game and how popular those have become. It's words with friends and you choose random opponents and you may come together with someone, you know, who's miles away or, in fact, may live just an hour away. That's sort of a new twist, isn't it, Eli?
FINKELYeah, that's a new twist, too. I mean, the internet has opened up just a whole new world of opportunities to meet other people. Some of those are romantic opportunities, some of those are non-romantic opportunities and some of them, perhaps the best of all, are non-romantic opportunities that grow into beautiful romances.
REHMAll right. A caller in Phoenix, Ariz. Good morning, Judy. You're on the air.
JUDYHi. I just wonder how you become one of the women that your guests sets her clients up with.
SPINDELAre you talking about me, Judy?
JUDYYes. I’m sorry. I couldn't remember your name.
ADAMJanis Spindel. It's nice to meet you, at least on the air. What you need to do if you are interested is you go to my website, JanisSpindelMatchmaker.com. And it's as easy as clicking on women. And an application will come up for you to fill out. And assuming that I approve you, I will send you an email what your next step would be, but when I'm in Arizona, depending on if you're in Phoenix or Tucson, you will come to a meet-and-greet. And then you and I can meet.
SPINDELAnd if you're fabulous for one of my clients, you can pack your bags and get ready to meet somebody.
JUDYOkay. Thank you.
REHMHow does that sound, Judy? Are you prepared to do that?
JUDYI'm not sure. It's -- I -- that sounds very high pressure. I mean, just -- I was mainly curious, but I am single. But...
SPINDELThe best thing for you to do -- how old are you?
SPINDELOkay. The best thing for you is if you go to my website, you can read all about the process. And if you feel comfortable, then you can fill out the application.
SPINDELAnd what I would strongly suggest is that you click on to love today, which is my new online site, which is free. And now go right ahead and sign on. That's a great way for you to start.
REHMJanis Spindel, professional matchmaker. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And let's go now to Lynchburg, Va. Good morning, Joann.
JOANNGood morning, Diane. Thank you for taking my call.
JOANNI also am one of your many fans who enjoy your program.
JOANNI'm new to Lynchburg, having moved here recently from Boston. I had been married 36 years today. Today is my wedding anniversary.
JOANNThank you. I have no experience with online dating. I do have some thoughts about the content of your program and your callers and your guests. Mainly I should say I met my husband in a nightclub in Boston in 1974 in what was then and probably could be considered now sort of an old-fashioned way that was the only way to socialize and meet people.
JOANNYoung men and young women went to nightclubs and met up with people and hopefully dated after that. He was in business school. I was working as a nurse. And we were attracted to each other at that time by first appearances. He was clean cut, tall, intellectual and gave quiet conversation. I was 20 years old. I was a laughing person, still am, long, blond hair. But I have some concerns about the absence of the concept of serendipity and magic that comes with meeting people sort of spontaneously.
JOANNWe were often out in public and meeting in public places when we were dating, when we were dating other people.
JOANNAnd public places might be today suspect and no longer safe places for people to meet. Does that mean that those places might be insincere? And how does online dating sites provide that magic that comes from meeting without plans or preparation?
MCGRATHWell, you know, I think you're right on that maybe we're not meeting people in public places the way that we used to. You know, you think about riding on the Metro. I have my iPhone. I'm on it all the time. You're walking down the street, you've got your headphones in. So I feel like a lot of that sort of casual interaction where you might spontaneously meet someone is, you know, a little muted these days.
MCGRATHBut in terms of creating that -- I mean, that magic is such an intangible, surprising, unexpected, unpredictable quality. When we send people out for a Date Lab we're always trying to make a good match, but it never fails to surprise us whether or not people will actually have that chemistry or not have that chemistry.
REHMAnd here's a comment from Julie in Provincetown, speaking of public places, she says, "One other way to meet people these days is to walk a dog, an interesting dog. It's guaranteed to attract people and create a way into conversation." What do you think about that, Janis?
SPINDELWell, it's funny you should say that because that's one of the 365 proven ways in my first book, "Get Serious About Getting Married". And if you don't have a dog, borrow a dog. And dog runs, Diane, are great places to meet people. Again, it goes back to focusing on what you're doing, not who you're meeting.
SPINDELSomething that Amanda said and something that we advised Chase, if you're at a dog run and you have dogs, whether you own them, borrow them or rent them, the commonalities, oh, what kind of dog is that? What's his name? How old is he?
SPINDELAnd people are talking so they don't realize, wow, I'm attracted to you. But they are talking to somebody because they are attracted. As this woman who's been married a long time said, she was an attractive blond and her husband was a tall, intellectual type. So women are looking for -- intelligence is always number one, sense of humor is always number two. Three usually is character. Not necessarily looking for a financial wallet, as Eli had said. That, to me, is almost an old wives' tale. Women are looking for intellect and sense of humor and personality. And men are looking for beauty, brains, body and balance. So people...
SPINDEL...do still meet in nightclubs.
REHMDo you agree with that, Amanda?
MCGRATHI mean, I think it's hard to say, you know. Like I said, we're always trying to make a good match on Date Lab, but I think what people think they want isn't always what's good for them or maybe what they really want.
MCGRATHI think people have this idea of what a perfect date would be and the person who's the right match for them doesn't necessarily fit into that mold.
REHMAll right. And one last quick question from Cheryl, "What do today's men consider high-maintenance to be? Please give some examples. And how is this related to being needy?" We have less than a minute. Janis, maybe you could outline that quickly.
SPINDELOh, that's a tough one in minute. And I'll give you a perfect example fresh in my mind from a 44-year-old needy woman last night who literally drove me out of my mind. Never been married, she had a 30-minute time slot that she was being interviewed at my meet-and-greet. She went 25 minutes over her 30 minutes when there were other women waiting. And a needy woman is somebody that, first of all, that needs a lot of attention.
SPINDELMen don't like women that want to be with them around the clock, that are texting them, that are asking them where are you, where were you, what were you doing. Somebody that's needy does not have an independent life of their own. They wanna be with somebody too much. It's not necessary.
SPINDELHigh maintenance is also when a man goes out on a date with somebody for the first time he is judging her and her style. So if by chance the woman is drenched in diamonds with a lot of makeup on and has an expensive pocketbook or expensive clothing, he's gonna look at her and figure, wow, I have to flip that bill. She's high maintenance.
REHMAll right. We've got to leave it at that. Janis Spindel, Eli Finkel, Amanda Mc Grath, thank you all so much and happy Valentine's Day.
REHMAnd thanks for listening all. I’m Diane Rehm.
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