The advent of online dating has made courtship effortless, hyper-casual and (almost) lazy. Though there are successful relationships that occur from the newfound culture of swiping right, these stories are more often the exception than the rule. It's a great place for a bit of "no-strings-attached" fun but not if you're looking for something long-term because let's be honest, that hottie with the great hair is most likely looking to just watch "Netflix and chill".
Ultimately, it is through these disposable relationships that have people going back towards more old-school ways in achieving solid and meaningful connections. And that's where the archetypal matchmaker steps in. So just how different is a matchmaking agency to online dating? We speak personally to Violet Lim, CEO and Founder of the Lunch Actually Group to find out why you should consider giving matchmaking services a go.
Being set up via a dating agency is a scary thought. What are your personal views on this and words of wisdom you would bestow on someone who is wary of the idea?
When I first started my dating company in 2004, there was this stigma attached to dating agencies where only those who are 'desperate' would join such services. However, there's been an improvement as the years pass. More people are open to joining a dating company, especially as they move on from online dating to wanting a dating service that had a higher chance of success. I would say to most singles to adopt an open mind about using dating companies, and to think about the end goal.
What are the key differences between a matchmaker / matchmaking service and online dating sites? Does paying for the service garner more genuine match-ups?
The key difference is the human element, and the level of attention paid to a single's love journey. At Lunch Actually, we have actual dating consultants who will meet potential clients at an initial consultation. This meeting helps the dating consultant to understand the client's romantic past, preferences, and aspirations-something a general online dating site cannot do. A matchmaking service will definitely garner more genuine match-ups, starting with the fact that we do not have fake profiles or non-serious singles in our database, as we have a stringent verification process.
Are there any extra steps that you take in the matchmaking process?
In Singapore where our headquarters is based, we work with the government's Social Development Network to verify if a client is genuinely single or a legal divorcee. In other countries, we require legal documents such as identification card, education certification, pay slips, divorce papers and the like before we sign up a potential client.
Could you describe your client profile? Are there people within a certain age bracket who are likely to seek your guidance and services?
Generally, our usual client profile for Lunch Actually is in their early 30s to 40s. Most of them are professionals from various industries who are too busy to find love, such as business owners, accountants, doctors, IT professionals, lawyers, and so on. We find that people in their 30s who are stable in their jobs, and thus ready to take the next step to find commitment, will be more likely to seek our services. Although, with more positive word of mouth, we also get younger clients in their 20s joining us as well.
What are the most common reasons for wanting to try matchmaking services?
Clients who come to Lunch Actually have the same common goal - to meet The Right One, and hopefully get into a long-lasting relationship. It's just that they are not sure how to meet the right one, or they don't have time to go on dates with non-genuine singles, or waste their time by meeting non-compatible people, or worse, get scammed. With the popularity of dating apps, people are more used to the idea of 'outsourcing' their love life to a professional third party.
Do you have a favourite success story you can share with Buro24/7 Malaysia?
One of the most memorable matches for me is our first couple who got engaged. Chris is a lawyer. When we first matched her up with Ben, she was furious. She didn't understand why we would have matched her up with Ben who is an entertainer (juggling, unicycling, etc). As we have met up with both of them, we realised that they are very compatible, have many similar values as well as share a similar sense of humour. Furthermore, Ben is actually very well-educated, having a Masters from Oxford.
After much persuasion from our dating consultants, Chris reluctantly went on the date. In their own words, they got on like a house on fire, and they got engaged within 3 months, and married within 1 year. They now are proud parents to two beautiful daughters. We are very proud of this match as both of them would probably not have crossed path if they had not met at Lunch Actually. And to cynics out there who might say that dating services take the romance out of dating... Ben said, "Love is love, no matter if you have met at a bus stop, a bar or a dating service!"
What is one valuable lesson you learnt from your journey as a matchmaker so far?
I've learned that it is important not to be judgmental. Suspending judgment is one of the most important skills that a matchmaker must have. And just because the person is not interesting or attractive to you, it does not mean that he or she is not interesting or attractive to someone else. There's always a match for each and everyone out there. As matchmaker, it is important for us to delve deep and get to know our client better, so that we can discover their strengths, their positive traits, and help them look for someone else who would appreciate them. Also, it is our responsibility to help them to be the best version of themselves so that they can shine, when they go on their dates.
Is there a difference between being too picky and having in mind what your most compatible match will be?
I think it depends on the "single". We all have in mind what our most compatible match will be, and to be honest, most singles have the same superficial criteria. Men are visual creatures, and most would like to meet pretty women, while women often want to meet someone tall. Having in mind what a compatible match is would be like having three must-haves, and three deal breakers because we need to start somewhere.
Sticking to superficial criteria does not guarantee anything. I always tell ladies, whether the guy is 1.75m and above, it does not mean that he is going to be a good husband or a good father. If you are too picky, it means that you are unwilling to date outside of the range you consider your compatible range. However, if you know who you like, but you're also open to meeting and dating other singles who don't fall within your preference, then it is more likely that you will find love.
One last thing you would like the readers to know about Lunch Actually.
Lunch Actually is not just a business for helping people find love. It's a culture, a way of life. Associates who join Lunch Actually as dating consultants (or better known as cupids) are believers of the institution of marriage, they are people who want to help others find love, to find happiness. Our BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) is to create 1 million happy marriages. We are far from our target to date, but this is our constant anchor, our mission—something that wakes us up every day, and something that keeps us excited when we come to work.
Has Violet piqued your interest? Head on over to Lunch Actually for a relationship jumpstart today!