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Love as an industry

In the matchmaking industry, love is Big Business.

Elite matchmakers are selective, only working with clients who meet their qualification process. Many elite services work primarily with men, but there are a few, like Selective Search, that cater to both men and women.

If you’ve ever wondered how matchmakers can boast a “95% success rate,” the answer may lie in the clients they choose and their referral process.

Given that elite matchmakers are a selective group who only work with people earning above a certain income level, each company’s intake process seems to follow a similar pattern.

After a client’s initial application is approved, there is a follow-up consultation that can take between 60 and 90 minutes. A 40-minute “love consultation” with California matchmaker Gina Hendrix will cost $250.00. This could almost be called a mutual audition: Hendrix will only work with a maximum of seven or eight people at a time.

At Linx Dating, based in Silicon Valley, the matchmakers charge an up-front fee for the first consultation in the hopes that casual clients will be weeded out from the serious ones. During this interview, the matchmakers ask the client in-depth questions about the type of relationship they’re looking for, which helps with the next step, screening potential matches.

At the same time, the matchmakers discuss the various levels of membership they offer. Then, it’s up to the client to decide on the type of relationship TLC they’d like to pay for.

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Money talks

Make no mistake: In order to get a bespoke dating experience of this caliber, it’ll cost you.

Many matchmaking services don’t advertise the prices of their membership tiers on their website, but describe what each level brings the client.

In general, most elite matchmaking services offer similar tiers of membership. First, there is the basic level, which gives you the minimum amount of matches in your geographical area, typically for either one or two years.

The next level of membership will give you more matches for the same time period.

If you don’t mind traveling or being in a long-distance relationship, you can buy a membership that will pair you up with suitable matches on a national or international level.

If you’d like even more specialized attention, many elite matchmakers also offer relationship coaching or concierge services (like wardrobe styling, travel arrangements and gift shopping) to make sure your dating game is in tip-top shape.

The modern matchmaking service VIDA Select has three tiers of annual membership: the basic package costs $14,340, premium costs $21,540, and elite costs $31,140.

In a 2017 article in Women’s Health, an elite matchmaking client named Donna claimed that basic packages with Selective Search started at $25,000, but that she chose a wider search area and more potential matches. She ended up spending more than $50,000 to find her boyfriend, and considered that money well spent.

It’s not you, it’s me

Qualifying to work with one of these elite matchmaking services can feel like you’ve paid money to go for a job interview.

In an interview with The New York Times, Jill Kelleher, founder of Kelleher International, admits they don’t take a lot of older women, because it’s too hard to match them.

In general, since the “end goal” is a long term relationship, or ideally marriage, the men who become clients are often in their 30s or early 40s and looking for women who take care of their health, are financially independent, and who can still have children.

Women’s magazine Evie reports that men consistently ask for three attributes in the women they hope to be matched with: Someone who’s tall, has a successful career of their own, and someone who practices yoga.

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The future is coming up digital

While the resurgence of matchmaking can be explained in part by app-fatigue, there is an experience that is almost 50/50: The luxe dating app, where the pools of prospective partners are just as refined, but the audiences are younger.

Raya is an app for L.A.’s “seen and be seen” crowd; according to PopSugar, “it’s known as the dating app for influencers, actors, and contestants on the Bachelor.”

In order to become a Raya member, you need to submit a successful application, which is allegedly vetted by a team of up to 500 employees.

However, reviews of the app are lackluster. One common complaint was the waitlist, which didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason to it — certain members were approved fairly quickly, while others lingered in limbo for months. Another criticism was that there was no real place to put a bio, so people were just swiping right based on pictures.

Perhaps in response to the criticism, in recent years Raya has branched out from being “just” an elite dating app to including professional networking opportunities as well.

Not your average love story

While it’s fascinating to peek behind the velvet curtain of matchmaking for the ultra-rich, single people of all economic backgrounds seem to be pivoting to a more personalized approach to dating.

A lot of dating trends, such as “intentional dating”, a term coined by the founder of French dating app Once, emphasize this more conscious way of wading through the dating pool.

With intentional dating, there is a lot of initial self-reflection that happens before you send the first winky-face emoji. Through the process, you get to know what your long-term goals are and what your deal-breakers would be. And while you may not date as often, you’ll date better.

If you’re looking for more of a serious commitment, whether you have the money for a matchmaker or not, meticulously curated matches could be the best way to find your next love. However, it’s also possible that you’ll bump into someone randomly in a café or at the dog park. After all, love does work in mysterious ways.

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Bronwyn Petry Email Specialist

Bronwyn is currently part of the email content team for Moneywise. Before starting here, they freelanced for several years, focusing on B2B content and technical copy. Pre-pandemic, you could find them planning their next trip, but lately, if they're not at work, you can find them hanging out with their cat and dog.

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