Institute, a school in Manhattan.
“You could be successful online, but it’s random,” Ms. Clampitt said,
describing situations in which daters send e-mail messages to 20 potential mates at a time or profess to be 5-foot-7
when 5-foot-2 is more like it.
Matchmakers prescreen potential matches, focusing on long-term compatibility
rather than “short-term chemistry,” Ms. Clampitt said.
While online sites allow unlimited fantasizing,
matchmakers encourage clients to take their heads out of the clouds. “Sometimes we will get a guy who is a
good-looking man, but no Brad Pitt, and he wants a thin model,” said Shoshanna Rikon, the owner of Shoshanna’s Matches,
a Yenta-style matchmaking service in Manhattan that includes an in-person interview and a Web presence, and charges
about $1,500 for eight dates. “We try to be more realistic with who we set him up with."
Another sign of the
rise of the go-between: 80 matchmakers gathered on Friday in Weehawken, N.J., for a two-day conference that the
Matchmaking Institute, which organized it, bills as the first of its kind here. Its keynote speaker, Mark Brooks
of Online Personals Watch, told participants that matchmakers offer “a chance to connect” and “a chance to
authenticate” prospects in ways the Web sites can’t. He pointed out that the problem for matchmakers has always been
casting a wide enough net; for online sites the problem has been narrowing the pool. He advised both to find common
Among the other presenters was Julie Ferman, who owns Julie Ferman in Los Angeles. In an interview
before the conference she said that when Internet dating took off a decade ago, it seemed like “personal matchmaking
would be a dinosaur.” Instead, she said, the “big chasm” between their businesses has narrowed as matchmakers have
begun using a more hybrid approach.
Julie Ferman teams up with Internet dating sites to give parties. When
the singles show up, Ms. Ferman meets them, takes their photographs, gets their contact information and adds them to
her database of 12,000 names. Clients typically sign up through her Web site or send her an e-mail message; she
follows up with an interview.
“I will only refer them once I have met them personally,” Ms. Ferman said.
A 2006 survey undertaken by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that while 52 percent of the 16 million
people who have used online dating sites had mostly positive experiences, 29 percent report mostly negative experiences. Mo