Matchmaker’s business flourishes amid ‘dating app fatigue’

Michal Naisteter approached a city planner at Reading Terminal Market and bantered with a pediatrician at the Bok Bar rooftop. At a Franklin Institute Science After Hours event, she was intrigued by a young entrepreneur, and she chatted up a Delaware politician at a local coffee shop.

No matter where she meets people, her introduction remains the same.

“Hey, I’m Michal. I’m a married matchmaker,” she says. “Are you by any chance single, ’cause I think you’re really cute.”

All those people ended up saying yes to Naisteter, 35, who for two years has worked as a matchmaker for the national company Three Day Rule.

They are soon added to her company’s pool of more than 4,500 Philadelphia singles, most of whom are not paying members but are open to being set up. After a meeting where they have a “heart to heart” with Naisteter, she considers matching them with a client.

While many people may start humming along to the song from Fiddler on the Roof when they hear the word matchmaker, Naisteter’s company emphasizes a modern approach to what may seem like a quaint method for finding love.

There has been demand for matchmaking services as the proliferation of apps has chipped away at the stigma associated with seeking outside help for dating, an IBISWorld report on the growing $3 billion industry shows. Even with free options like Tinder at the fingertips of singles, some people turn to matchmakers for a more personalized, albeit pricey, experience.

People in Philly seem particularly disgruntled with the city’s dating pool, Naisteter said. Though loyal to the city, they say living here is like a small town where they already know everyone. That’s simply not true in the sixth largest city in the United States, she says.

For those who want to work with Naisteter, there is a $5,500 premium membership fee for three months, with higher priced options for six and 12 months. With this payment comes an in-depth meeting about anything from family history and past relationships to the attributes of a potential partner, as well as a professional photo shoot.

Then, Naisteter will search LinkedIn, Instagram, and networking events, or while living her daily life, like grocery shopping, to find people to match with her clients, with a goal of at least one match a month.

Other matchmakers range from national companies like the paid-service It’s Just Lunch to Danielle Selber, who is called the “in-house matchmaker” at the Philadelphia nonprofit Tribe 12, which encourages people to make a $36 donation if they are satisfied with the experience.

The way Naisteter views it, a matchmaker saves her clients time by searching on their behalf and then screening people before a first date to make sure they are representing themselves accurately and are a good fit. Her objective, she says, is getting people on fewer but better dates.

Three Day Rule launched in Philadelphia in May 2016, three years after its founding in Los Angeles. In that time, the company says, it has matched about 550 people in Philly and sat down with more than 1,500 singles. Naisteter has worked with more than 50 paying clients and of her current clients, the youngest is 26 and oldest is 67.

While Naisteter said there is not one metric for success, since not everyone is looking to be married right away if at all, the company said that in the last couple years, 70 percent of its clients overall were still dating one of their matches when their contract ended.

Even if the people Naisteter meets don’t fit well with a paying client, she helps them improve their dating profiles or offers general advice.

“I’m like a cheerleader and a sex therapist and your girlfriend all rolled up into one,” she said.

Modern matchmaking

Three Day Rule CEO Talia Goldstein started listing her colleagues’ recent successes on one of their recent weekly conference calls with matchmakers in 10 cities, including Los Angeles and New York.

“For matching shoutouts, Melissa has two second dates and a third date. Samantha has a third date. Julia has a second date, and a client who went on hold to date her match….”

But when it was Naisteter’s turn, she didn’t highlight a traditional success like a wedding. She told a story about rejection.

He is in his 30s with a healthy career, but no relationship. Any time she sent him a match, he would ask: “What do I say to her?” ”What do I text her?” ”Where should we go?”

Naisteter has worked on empowering him to make his own decisions. “If you want to meet someone amazing, you have to be amazing yourself,” she would tell him.

So he gave it a try. He took a date to a ping pong bar in Philly and thought it was fantastic. But when Naisteter debriefed the woman after, she said he didn’t talk about things he did outside of work, and she didn’t feel as if he would be interested in what she does for fun, like salsa dancing. Naisteter relayed this to him and told him the woman wasn’t interested in a second date.

“So the next day, he wrote to me, ‘You know what, I think I’m still going to write to her, like I would be down to go as friends. I want to go salsa dancing, or I would come to one of the events that you organized,'” Naisteter told colleagues.

Naisteter considers her job more than just getting people dates. Along the way, she wants them to learn more about themselves and how that reflects what they are looking for in a partner.

In a way, she’d been readying herself to be a matchmaker long before she even knew a job like this existed.

After taking a human sexuality course as an undergrad at Pennsylvania State University, she went on to earn a master’s in that topic at Widener University.

She lived in Tel Aviv for a year, teaching English to children of migrant workers. She also worked in Boston and did HIV counseling on needle exchange vans. After working in public health, she decided she wanted to do more on the education side and learn Spanish.

So she went to South America with a backpack and suitcase and ended up in Medellin, Colombia, for four years. Back in Philly, she wanted a career change that blended her education, experience, personality and life history, and found this job while searching online with a friend one night.

While in Medellin, a friend set her up with her now-husband. The two have an 8-month-old daughter, Hanna Rodriguez.

With clients, Naisteter will tell them about her husband, Manuel Rodriguez. At 31, he is younger than her and from a different religion. “If we were on an app, I could’ve potentially swiped the wrong way.”

But instead of focusing on physical attributes or what was written down, the friend simply said: “You’re a good person, and he’s a good person.”

They call that friend “our cupid, or our matchmaker.”

‘Dating app fatigue’

It isn’t likely that matchmaking services like Three Day Rule will overtake the online and mobile dating market, said John Madigan, an industry research analyst at IBIS.

Tinder, PlentyOfFish, and OkCupid are all brands from Match Group Inc., which IBISWorld reports has about 42.3 percent of the industry’s market share. Match Group’s stock has more than quadrupled to about $61 Monday from $15.20 in November 2015.

Dating sites like Match.com, eHarmony, and Chemistry.com comprise half of the market. Mobile dating, which can be found free with apps like Hinge and Bumble, is 31 percent. Matchmaking is just 12 percent. Match Group was an early investor in Three Day Rule in 2014.

But Madigan has noticed that “dating app fatigue” is driving demand for matchmakers.

“People are getting tired of swiping right, swiping left, ‘Do I find this person attractive?’ It’s a very superficial-based connection,” he said. While other matchmaking firms do this work, Madigan singled out Three Day Rule in his report because it has been “growing quite quickly,” doubling in revenue in 2018.

After spending years swiping through five different dating apps, Ed Cahan, 37, an engineer who works in real estate, was losing hope. His friends were married and having their second children, and he felt his time was ticking away.

He got coffee with Naisteter and asked how the premium membership worked.

“I thought about it for a couple days, and then I was like, ‘You know what, I tried all the apps, I tried all these things, Why not? I’ll say yes and I’ll see what happens.'”

So they met up again. Naisteter optimized his dating profile by helping him get new photos and linking his Instagram account to show off his woodworking hobby. She told him his usual date suggestion of coffee around 6 p.m. was just plain bad. Since he doesn’t drink, she suggested going to a nice restaurant at 8 p.m. for dessert and a better ambiance.

Cahan, who lives in Northern Liberties, told her how he was looking for someone who was Jewish like him, adventurous, entrepreneurial, and outdoorsy.

When she sent over his first match, he told her the next day that she nailed it. “You listened to me and you found exactly what I was looking for,” he recalled.

The two went on a dessert date last month at Parc. Even though he said it was a good date, the two haven’t gone on a second.

Now he is waiting for more matches.

 

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California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Chapter 15 – Madam Wong’s West – The Yamamato Sisters

“Frank, this is Jill and Vickie. They’re sisters. They’re going to hang with us.”

Frank and I decide to go check out Madam Wong’s West over on Wilshire Blvd. It’s a famous rock and roll place that originated in Chinatown, (See: Tales of Rock – Esther Wong) But the place we’re going is her other location in Santa Monica. It’s within walking distance from our shitty apartment. The goal is to check out the local rock scene and try to talk to some girls.

We are drinking 102 beer at the apartment getting our pre-game on. (it was called 102 because it took them 102 times to get it right. They didn’t, because it was $2.99 for a 6 pack of 16 oz beers!) We didn’t have a name for it back then we just drank before we went out so we wouldn’t spend so much money when we went out. All this accomplished was getting us thoroughly plowed before we walked out the door and then we would just drink more. So it’s a bad idea that we did over and over again. I’m sure we did it for years after that but, youth… live and learn.

I remember that night very clearly. I was drinking a beer in the shower while I was getting ready. I had my boom box on. We had a red light bulb in our bathroom and it was cool. I was listening to “I don’t need no doctor” by Humble Pie. It was amazing.

We get all dressed up and head out, buzzed and ready to see the night in L.A.

We get to Madam Wong’s and realize that although I’m legal to drink in New Jersey at age 18, the drinking age is 21 in California. So I’m fucked.

I get an underage stamp but Frank gets a 21 stamp. Well this sucks. Fucking state laws. I’m pissed but we’ll make it work. We’re a crafty lot.

We go in and head upstairs. It’s got bands downstairs and upstairs.  I love that it’s two floors of rock. We don’t have anything like this back in Jersey. It’s like a giant house of rock. I loved it instantly and wanted to play there.

We find a cool round booth upstairs and take a seat. Some band is playing onstage and they suck. On the table there is a card that says “Two Drink Minimum” and I tell Frank to drop out jackets and go get some beers and I secure that table.

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to go downstairs and procure us a couple of women to join us at our table. So go get four beers. ”

“No fuckin’ way.”

“Way.”

“Okay. Well then have at it Chaz.”

Frank doesn’t know my mad game from picking up babes in Wildwood,NJ for years.

We’ve got our booth and Frank is getting our beers and I head downstairs to hunt. I have no idea what I’m doing and I have very little knowledge of women in L.A are like but at this point I’ve had a few beers and my courage is alive and well in me due to the alcohol.

I’m wandering downstairs and I come across a pair of pretty Asian girls. I’ve never met an Asian girl before. I literally walk up to them and ask them the following:

“My friend and I have a table upstairs. Would you like to join us?”

They say an immediate yes and I take the older girl’s hand and head upstairs. I lead them to the table and Frank’s eyes are like saucers. I can tell my comrade is pleased with my kill. He’s more than pleased. He’s amazed at my prowess.

I was really cute back then and I’ve always been charming.

“Frank, this is Jill and Vickie. They’re sisters. They’re going to hang with us.”

Frank is speechless. I see the joy in his eyes. He can’t believe I pulled this off. He has no idea that this is just the beginning of our California odyssey.

We enjoyed the night with these pretty sisters and got their numbers. We wanted to see them again and go on dates with them. That’s what people did back then. We went on dates with girls. Took them to the movies and record stores and lunch and dinner spots.

Frank and I had no money but if we had a couple of little girlfriends we were going to treat them right. It’s all we knew. I’m from Philly and everybody hates me and I have little history of dating. Frank was in the junior wing of the IRA in Belfast and also has little experience with girls. We just met a really cute pair of Asian sisters. They have our full attention!

We kissed them goodnight and even took some pictures.

We want to see these girls again!

… And we will.

Oh yes… We will.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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