Sex & Relationships

Real Talk From a Certified Matchmaker

"They never look the way we want them to," says Natacha Noël. Read on for more refreshingly frank dating advice


Natacha Noël via Absolute Bachelor Club

If you’re serious about finding a partner, it’s time to stop daydreaming about meeting Ryan Gosling IRL, and start getting real about what’s important to you in a mate. Write down three things you can’t live without in a partner now—and one of them absolutely cannot be ‘full head of hair.’ That’s the straight talk on love from Natacha Noël, certified matchmaker, relationship therapist and founder of Absolute Bachelor Club, a matchmaking service with offices in Montreal and Toronto. She gave us the dirt on the art of making a match, why men won’t abandon the trophy-wife dream and why coffee dates absolutely don’t count.

You attended the Matchmaking Institute in NYC. What’s the curriculum? At the Matchmaking Institute, you’re going to learn the business of becoming a matchmaker, so that includes [a rundown on] sales and marketing, insurance, and laws. But it also covers things like ethics, human behaviour and role-playing—the human aspect.

So what did you learn about the human aspect of being a matchmaker? I learned how to screen people, how to interview people. For example, you do a needs assessment and talk about family history [with a potential client]. You look how to break patterns and how to find a person’s pattern in relationships. How can we help our clients find someone and get away from the mistakes they’ve been making? We covered all of those things.

What exactly do you do as a matchmaker? What’s the process? It starts with a 15-minute conversation to see if someone is even eligible to become a client. Then they come and apply and they have to go through a two-hour interview where we will discuss all of their past long-term relationships… that’s usually when they’ll have their a-ha moment and they’ll realize “Oh my god, I’ve been doing this again and again and again.” Then we make a list of the character traits of the person they’d like to meet. And sometimes they come up with really really long lists and we will see how realistic it would be to find a person like that. What I will do then is give them a highlighter and say you need to highlight your three non-negotiables. There are people who struggle and want their list of 12 things. They want “never married,” “no kids,” “professional or entrepreneur,” “over six feet tall,” and it just becomes unrealistic. What I tell them is that they’re looking for someone that is like three per cent of the population. Prince Charming exists but not in the form [you imagine].

What are the most common mistakes people make when they’re on the prowl? I tried to make a match this week and the girl said, “I’m sorry, he has no hair, I can’t go out on a date with this guy.” In her email, she did say she was “going to work on being more open-minded.”

But she’s still not going to go on the date? Right.

That must be frustrating—the whole preoccupation with finding someone perfect-looking even when we’re not perfect-looking ourselves. It is. But that’s the reason why there are different types and models of matchmaking companies. I have an executive search where I match paying clients—mostly men, but sometimes women—with non-paying clients and it’s the only way to get that person that they’re physically looking for who also has all the character attributes they’re looking for…it’s so important for them, the physical look. Unfortunately, it’s very important.

What you’re saying is there’s a whole market for wealthy men who are looking for good-looking women exclusively? At the end of the day, though, they’ll tell you that she can’t be dumb.

What’s the formula for the perfect first date? You want to move around a few times. An evening is nice because you want to dress up. You don’t want to be stuck in front of the person for too long. So the dinner on the first date, you want to be able to do drinks, then you move on to dessert somewhere else. Then you want to go by the water and walk. If you move two or three times, that’s a really great date because you’re showing that you’re an exciting person. Stay away from the coffee dates. A lot of people say, ‘can we just do coffee?’ No, you can’t. Coffee has this low-energy, interview-type feeling. I don’t like them at all. It’s on my website: coffee doesn’t count as a date.

What do men want when they come to you? Men want femininity. The second thing they want is youth. The third thing they want is a certain level of independence—independence of thought, some financial stability. They enjoy a woman who is exciting, who’s got things to do and that they can be proud of.

What do women want? If they want to get married, they’ll have “must want to get married,” “must want to have kids,” and then loyalty and financial stability.

Your best advice to singles? Your energy and self-confidence is what’s going to attract people at the end of the day, so if you don’t have the self-confidence you want to act as you do. Be open about meeting the person because they never quite look the way we want them to. If you listen to your mother or your aunt they’re married to someone they never thought they would marry.

The best place to meet men? If you’re travelling, the airport is a huge one. Make sure you look good. Don’t sit where there’s no one around. Go where there are people. Be open to meeting them. That means keep your head high and smile. You can’t be on your iPhone. You can’t [assume] that the guy will just speak to you on the plane, you have to break the ice before then. The second spot is a hotel bar…nod your head, maintain an uncomfortable stare or glance and then look away. You initiate that so he’ll come to you. Another place is a steakhouse. Men go to steakhouses.

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