SmileMoon Meets a Matchmaker

About 2 months ago, one of my close girlfriends was telling me and several other girlfriends about a matchmaker she had met who she thought was “really amazing” and was encouraging us to get in touch with. I smiled, nodded & said “oh yeah, that sounds great,” took her business card only to, of course, never look at it again. I stumbled upon that business card a few weeks later & thought “SmileMoon, if not for yourself, you should at least look into this for research purposes.” I then reached out to the matchmaker, Bela Gandhi, and within a few days we met for the first time at NetIP Chitown’s Recruitment Night.

To say that Bela was not what I expected would be an understatement. First off (& she doesn’t know this), when I initially met Bela I couldn’t hear her name properly when we were introduced, so I thought she was “one of us” (you know… the mostly singles who go to these events to “network” and definitely not married for 10+ years with 2 kids… side note: NetIP, I am not poking fun at the organization or its efforts at all, but I think we’d all agree that if it weren’t for all the single people out there, membership & participation would be limited). Within a few minutes, I realized that “ohhhh, that’s BELA!” and soon after, several friends (including a pair of my engaged friends who thought she was fabulous!) & I had at-length conversations with her throughout the night. I was so impressed with Bela that I asked her if we could please meet up some time soon to talk some more.

She happily agreed and a few days later we met up at Starbucks for what I originally thought would be a one-hour or so-ish conversation but turned into a 3-hour conversation that could have gone on had we both not had other commitments. We talked about a lot but below are some of the key questions & answers that will help all of you get an understanding of what matchmaking – Bela Gandhi style – is all about.

1) We are all familiar with online dating, networking (often aka meet-people-to-date) events, etc., but what exactly do you do as “Matchmaker” & why did you get into it?

I have always loved connecting people, personally and professionally. I have been a matchmaker as long as I can remember – back to my college roommate Audrey. I felt that unquestionable “sixth sense” kick in – and knew that she should be with my friend Simon. Finally, just before my wedding a few years later, they were both single, and I gave them my own dose of tough love. I told them they could either go out on a date, or I would “force” them into an awkward date by seating them next to each other at my wedding. I told them, “If you go out on one date – you will marry each other.” Simon capitulated, and called her one-week before the wedding. They are now married with 3 kids – living in Glenview.

So…. the reason I’ve decided to do this professionally now is ironically due to the online dating revolution. Online dating has become so prevalent, that even 2003 statistics show that 1 out of 2 single people in America had tried online dating. Online dating services and social networking sites have dramatically increased people’s access to one another. The downside to increased access is that people are now far more apt to screen out good candidates because they feel that a better person is just a mouse click away–and worse, they find themselves screened out for the same reasons. What we’ve found is people more than ever want and need the human touch in helping them find their significant other…enter…..The Matchmaker…..

As a matchmaker, I develop personalized strategies to help people find their mates. This starts out with an in-depth questionnaire, which helps me to get to know the client deeply….general profile (background, education, etc), relationship history/what works/what hasn’t. Then, we have a phone / in person session, where we co-author a “find someone wonderful” plan. Depending on the person, this plan can include “dating coaching” (have you seen the movie “Hitch”?), image consulting, online profile consulting, and of course, matchmaking in its traditional definition (I hand pick several candidates to introduce my clients to).

2) You’ve worked with a significant amount of clients/friends – if there was one thing that you would say is the most common “hang-up”/personal issue that individuals have with their approach to dating?

Dating has become about screening out, not screening in. People have so many choices, that they are looking to not waste time, and to rule people out quickly. I see people getting screened out by one questionable text, one questionable comment on a phone conversation, etc. In line with this, people are unaware of how behaviors can be hurting them on dates. Ironically, it’s very often small things that we say/do or how we say them that cause people to form negative/incorrect stereotypes about our personality. I employ many interesting methods (including calling the dates themselves) to get to the real information, and it can be transformational to the client.

3) What advice would you give a single person?

Love is usually not what happens in Hollywood or Bollywood. Keep an open mind and think critically about what will matter to you long term.

You should take the search for a mate as seriously as you would take a job search and approach it with the same level of strategy and planning. At minimum, you need to get out of your house, and out of your rut to meet more of the kinds of people you want to meet. However, if what you’re doing to meet people isn’t working, get feedback from people who will be honest with you, re-evaluate, and make the necessary changes.

4) How can interested people contact you?

They can email me at bela@smartdatingacademy.com

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We talked about a lot more including my dating experiences, current potential “situations” (if they can even be called that) and within that short time, I had so much insight into yours truly as well as the dating process, that I asked her to explain the “how to get involved” process. Basically, every client of Bela’s – no matter to what extent they utilize her services – goes through an initial “personal strategy” consultation.

For the sake of research for this blog (of course, you know how committed I am :-P), I am going to go through this “personal strategy” process with Bela, and I see it as one of the most enlightening parts of her service. Most people go to more networking events, different dating websites (“didn’t meet anyone on Indiandating? let’s hit up Shaadi. Shaadi a no go? Match here I come”), and even a matchmaker thinking all they need is to be introduced to better people. What they don’t realize is that some (or a lot or ALL) of the issue may be in themselves and how they’ve been viewing/ approaching dating. The personal strategy helps you understand if you are approaching dating in the best possible way: Are you looking in the right places for the right kind of mate? Does your on-line profile stand out? How do you behave on dates? Do you know what kinds of things are turn-ons (and turn-offs) to the opposite sex? Are you dressing and carrying yourself in the most attractive way? Through in-depth interviews and feedback with friends and family, Bela’s process helps people zero in on the few things people need to tweak to become successful daters. I’m truly looking forward to insights about what I’ve been doing, and concrete tips on improving myself, the process, hopefully paving the road to find the right person J

If you are one of those people who – when it comes to dating & finding your “one” – has been doing essentially the same thing for the last 5-20 years (the latter # is not exaggerated considering we all know late 30/early 40-something individuals & most of us have been on this search since our early 20′s) expecting different results, I highly recommend considering reaching out to Bela (she has clients all over the country). She is kind, honest & so on point, and I strongly encourage everyone make that small investment in themselves because if you are willing to hear the feedback & make the necessary changes, you WILL get different results and make progress towards finding your right person.

That’s all from me today & I’ll keep you posted on my results as I go through the initial consultation process.

Write soon,

p.s. – Bela is one of only 4 Matchmakers nationwide trained by Rachel Greenwald, who in the world of dating is a pretty big deal!

*Original Smilemoon Article