CHICAGO (WLS) — Tired of swiping left and right? You’re not alone. Many singles may still be using dating apps, but some looking for a deeper connection are turning to professional matchmakers.
Matchmakers have been around for decades, but the industry is reporting an uptick in clients.
Relationship experts say more matchmaking services are hitting the market as more people desire in-person connections. Some may also be suffering from app fatigue.
But how does matchmaking work, and is the price tag worth it?
Natalia La Cava of Batavia hired a matchmaker after experiencing heartbreak in her previous relationship.
“I had fallen madly in love with a gentleman and found out, unfortunately, that he was still married,” she said. “I said sweetheart I love you, but I’m moving on.”
La Cava said at that moment she knew she had to try something different in her dating life. She hired Matchmake Chicago to try an old school approach that seems to be getting new life among singles.
“I made a deal with myself,” she said. “I’m going to go on a date with every person she matches me with, and I did.”
Dana Davenport of Naperville also turned to matchmaking after she grew tired of dating apps.
“It’s like being in Costco or Sam’s Club where there’s rows and rows and rows of pictures and pictures of people. That gets old after a while,” she said.
Davenport worked with matchmaker Trenia Norford at Connectricity.
Both La Cava and Davenport have found love. Davenport met Paul, and La Cava met John Schmidt.
Schmidt had been married for 29 years but lost his wife to breast cancer. After taking time heal he was ready to find love again, and also turned to Matchmake Chicago.
“She told me what she does, what kind of services she provides and I’m like, why not take a shot. Why not try it,” he said.
Matchmake Chicago is owned by Annie Antonsen and her mother Lisa. They said their company does one-on-one coach and vets each client through background checks.
“We do our own professional photos. Everyone’s current. They look exactly what they look like, so there’s none of that catfishing,” Antonsen said.
But matchmaking isn’t cheap. It can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $25,000 depending on the company and services needed.
La Cava said she paid about $3,000. Schmidt declined to say exactly how much he paid, but said he felt the number was “fair.”
If you’re looking for an affordable option, dating apps are still extremely popular. According to Pew Research Center, nearly 3 in 10 U.S. adults say they have used a dating site or app. However, 88% of adults reported being disappointed by what they’ve seen on the dating apps, and 52% of dating app users said they have come across someone who they thought was trying to scam them.
Rachael Miller, a therapist and relationship expert, met her husband of 16 years online. She said before doing any sort of dating, you need to be clear about what you’re looking for.
“Dating apps, they’re pretty quick and dirty. You can get on there and there’s over 76 million people on there. That’s its blessing and its curse. A lot of people find that to be overwhelming,” she said. “With matchmaking, there tends to be more vetting; the downside being it’s obviously more expensive.”
Miller said as we head into the colder months organic, in-person connection is still an option, but it could be more challenging.
The couples we spoke to said meeting in real life was worth it, and matchmaking paid off big time.
“It has been the best relationship that I’ve had,” said Davenport. She and Paul have been dating for more than a year.
“It’s made all the difference in my life,” said La Cava. She and Schmidt are now engaged. “I had no idea that love could be like this.”
If the price tag of matchmaking is not in your budget, some companies will allow you to be on their roster for free. This way, their paying client could still see your profile and match with you if they’re interested.
But if you’re looking for a happy medium, experts say finding common interest groups and meetups online could be a good balance.