Caroline Brealey: Cupid’s Award-Winning Helper

Emma Bailey Photography

Caroline Brealey is the founder of one of London’s award winning matchmaking service – Mutual Attraction. Mutual Attraction is a leading Matchmaking and Introduction Agency for Professionals. Mutual Attraction was voted the 4th Best MatchMaker in the WORLD ! Being a matchmaker is no easy feat and we learnt a lot when we got the opportunity to not only interview Caroline but have her as our cover girl for the Fierce and Fearless issue.

Please tell us a bit about yourself, background and how you got into matchmaking business?

I’m originally from Nottingham and moved to London after completing my degree in child psychology, this was 6 years ago but it feels like I’ve been in London a lifetime!  I began working for a children’s charity coordinating services for children with complex needs before moving into management of Children Centres. I really enjoyed the line of work but had always had an interest in the world of dating and relationships and was looking for ways to move into the industry in a professional manner. I owned a couple of online dating sites but my interest lay in working one on one with people. I did my research and found there was a huge gap in the market. There were lots of matchmakers and dating agencies but they all catered to the older generation and only the very wealthy. There was nothing for young, engaging and dynamic professionals and so Mutual Attraction was born.

Can you tell us what are the most important components of your matchmaking process?

Firstly, I have to have a good connection with my client. I am fortunate that I’m in a position where I can select whom I work with and I only work with people who are genuine, who will actively get involved in the matchmaking process and who an all round great person. It’s important we connect so they can be honest and open with me and vice versa, sometimes as matchmaker you have to have difficult conversations with people, for example if their match doesn’t want to see them again or they have unrealistic expectations. A great relationship goes a long way in those circumstances!

The initial consultation is critical, this is when I meet with a potential client for the first time and it’s here when I really get to know the client, what they’re looking for in a partner and in a relationship, what their deals breakers are and where they’re willing to compromise. If I can help then I will invite them to join Mutual Attraction and everything they’ve told me will be taken into consideration when matchmaking.

What are some of the most memorable moments from your career in matchmaking?

So many but there are two really memorable moments. The first being our first engaged couple, when they told me it was such an incredible feeling, to know that you introduced someone to the love of their life is amazing! The second moment was our first Mutual Attraction baby. I will admit to shedding a few tears when I received the picture, such an adorable baby as well and I’m not being biased 😉 When you have a moment like this it keeps you on a high for days and can keep you going on the tough days.

After gambling and porn, online dating is the biggest revenue generator industry on the internet. How has online dating changed the way we have relationships?

The beauty of online dating is that it has greatly increases our opportunity to meet others. Before online dating people had much smaller networks and only met people through friends, work or blind dates. Of course classifieds were also used and they were the online dating of their time but we didn’t have access to all these great single people in one place. In some ways that’s great, we can pay a small fee or nothing at all and have all these profiles at the touch of a button. However the knock on effort of online dating is that we have a false perception that there is an endless source of single people out there who we want to date and who want to date us! Now more than ever we are striving for perfection, our date has to be ‘perfect’, they have to be the right height, have specific interests, be very masculine yet also incredible romantic and gentle….yep I hear these criteria all the time! We cast aside people very quickly nowadays, if they don’t meet our growing checklists we move onto the next, and the next and the next. We don’t give people the chance and are always looking for ‘better’. This means we miss out on meeting someone incredible for silly reasons that actually don’t matter because research has shown that if we meet someone who we have a connection with and who we have that butterfly feeling in our stomach over, we actually compromise far more on what we’re looking for. The interesting thing is if I tell a client they have been turned down for a date because they are too short for example, they are usually shocked and say ‘well I wouldn’t want to meet someone who was that judgemental and was that focused on physical appearance’ yet this is the same guy who will have turned down a woman the week before for not being a size 10. We don’t see it in ourselves but if we actually stopped and thought about what we were doing we would realise we’re being far too picky about irrelevant things. By all means have a few deal breakers, we all have them but try to let go of those must haves that should actually be ‘desirables’.

How do you then sell matchmaking services to those who would rather say ‘I’ll just go onto Match.com or any other sites out there?’

Online dating and Matchmaking are at such different ends of the scale when it comes to dating services. They key thing here is to help people understand the difference between the two. Online dating is significantly cheaper than matchmaking but like most things if life, you get what you pay for! When online dating you have to be very proactive spending hours each night sifting and sorting through profiles, writing witty emails and trying to show how ‘fun loving you are’ through a perfectly written profile. You can forget all about that when you’re using a matchmaker because they do everything for you; hence it’s a popular service for professionals. Before a matchmaker introduces a potential match to a client they will have met and profiled them in person (so no fibbing about height guys!), spent time getting to know them and will understand exactly what they’re looking for in a partner and relationship. By the time the client meets their date they know they are on the same page, looking for the same things in a relationship and share similar aspirations.

Our clients tell us they opt to use a matchmaker over online dating because they prefer the privacy (we never share clients photo/info outside of our network), they like the security that we profile each person meaning we’ve spent time with them one on one and have also seen their photo id and proof of address….online you can be anyone you want to be! Ultimately though, our clients know they are meeting people who are at the same point in life as they are – they are ready to settle down, they want to find love and are not looking for a quick hook up, unfortunately the same can’t be said for everyone using an online dating site. Matchmaking is hassle free, you sit back and let the matchmaker do the work!

What was the strangest thing anyone ever told you they wanted in a mate?

I once met a really lovely woman, she was very bubbly and I instantly warmed to her. She was fast approaching 40, was single and really wanted the whole package – marriage, children and a house in the country. She told me she hadn’t dated for nearly 10 years because she was too busy at work. Now, nobody is ever too busy for dating for 10 years! I knew there was more to this story and she soon admitted that she would only consider meeting a guy who was under 30, Caucasian (she was black) and wealthy. Unfortunately not many guys under 30 are attracted to 39 year old women, of course there’s always the exception but generally speaking that’s a tall order! I asked her if she had tried online dating, she had and she had been approaching these young guys and had not got any response. I very politely tried to say that that should be giving her a sign that what she’s looking for is unrealistic but she was adamant that’s what she wanted. Best of luck to her but I couldn’t help!

Have you ever turned away a client – if so why?

I was once given a map of where a woman’s potential match would have to live and there was no compromise! It was a map of Chelsea with areas and streets highlighted and he had to live around there. The funny thing was she didn’t even live in Chelsea! Needless to say I didn’t take her on as a client, she was looking for a very specific type of guy and would be a great contestant for millionaire matchmaker!

Dating itself can be quite daunting and off-putting. What advice do you give your clients?

A few tips to pick from:

  •        When you’re dating you are investing in your future so make an effort, you never know where you might meet a potential date and you will feel more confident and great about yourself if you’ve taken that bit of time and effort to look fabulous.
  •         As women we tend to over analyse, it’s in our genes! Relax, and take a date as it is – a chance to meet someone new and decide whether you would like to know them better. Take it from there and don’t analyse his texts, emails, phone calls etc it will drive you insane for no reason!
  •          If a guy doesn’t pick up the phone and call don’t hold it against him. Guys are notoriously bad on the phone and until they get to know you better don’t always feel comfortable calling you. We hear this a lot from guys so cut them a bit of slack.
  •        Be approachable and talk to everyone who catches your eye, chat to those who you may not think are ‘your type’ and you might be pleasantly surprised.
  •         We might not all admit to it but most of us do it. The first thing we do when we find out our dates name is hit the web to run a quick search on your own name to see what your date may find out about you, it may be time to have a web cleanse.
  •          Before you fall head over heels with your date wait until date 3 is under your belt, this is when the ‘Third Date Bombshell’ hits. Your date tells you he has to be home by 10 as he’s tagged, he still lives with his parents at 35 or he’s a porn film director and wants you to star in his next movie.  It may not be a deal breaker but it may not be your dream match either!
  • People forget that dating is meant to be fun, smile, enjoy yourself and if something goes wrong on a date laugh it off as much as you can and if it’s really terrible know you’ll have a funny story for your friends. Don’t let a bad date get you down, pick yourself up and continue your dating journey.

What are the most common or egregious relationship myths?

When it’s ‘the one’ you will know instantly. Some people have that heart shattering moment instantly, but the majority of people don’t. I’m a true believer that love is created and not found. In my job as a matchmaker I can find people who are a great match for my clients but it’s down to them to create the love, that has to come from the two people and it can often take time. The heart flutters, the excitement of seeing someone, the build-up are all signs that it could lead to love down the line.

Using a dating service like a matchmaker, online dating sites and dating events are for weird people who can’t get a date. When I hear this I would just love to whip out some profiles of my clients!  Contrary to this myth people who use a matchmaker are usually educated, hold down highly successful careers whilst maintaining an active social life and are financially sound. That doesn’t sound like a loser to me!

What is the biggest obstacle people face in finding love?

Managing their own expectations and actually doing something about it. All too often I hear ‘I want to meet Mr Right, why hasn’t he come along?’ This often comes from women who are smart, successful, pretty and lovely people but they’re not really doing much about finding what they’re looking for. They’re waiting for it to happen like it does in the movies but unfortunately like most things in life you have to put effort in to finding and holding onto what you want. You need to take yourself out of your comfort zone, try singles event, join groups and clubs that interest you, commit to online dating, work with a matchmaker and socialise not just with friends but with people outside your close network. The chances of this perfect guy knocking on your door are slim to none so make the effort, get out there and go find him!

It’s a bit like job hunting, it’s unlikely your dream job will fall in your lap without some serious effort on your part and the same goes in dating and love.

What makes for a long lasting match?

When matching a couple there are a few facts that are backed up extensively by research. A relationship has a higher chance of longevity if the couple are from similar socio economic backgrounds, are educated to a similar level and are a similar age. Of course there’s a lot more to it than that and this is where shared values, visions for the future, trust, commitment and effort from both parties comes in. Some of the questions we ask at Mutual Attraction might seem quite trivial but are really helpful in building up a picture of what someone future might look like e.g. are you an early bird or night owl and what type of holidays do you enjoy perhaps it’s climbing a mountain or relaxing on a beach with a cocktail. Love is something that needs to be worked on constantly to grow and it’s not just a case of how long you’ve been together.

What qualities should women/men be looking for in the opposite sex that lots of your clients come in having overlooked?

Many people come armed with a checklist but haven’t actually realistically visualised what this amazing person will be like. E.g. a woman might be looking for a guy who is very career driven and successful but the down side of that is that he is most likely going to work late, perhaps travel a lot and work is going to be a hugely dominant factor in his life. If she’s the type of woman who likes to have quite a lot of independence then great but is she’s a real home person who wants to spend most nights with her partner then how is that going to work? You have to think through ‘why’ you want something. Often we have developed this list based on what we think we should be looking for, the whole tall, dark handsome package. But actually when we stop and think about it living that reality we might realise that actually it’s not as sparkly as the dream.

What would be your top 3 tips/ recommendations be for women looking for ‘The One’?

  • ·         Have just a small number of deal breakers but be prepared to compromise on the rest
  • ·         Do everything you can to increase your opportunities of meeting new single people. Network, join groups, go out with friends. Enrich your life with things you enjoy and that make you happy.
  • ·         Remember ‘the one’ may be packaged differently to what you visualise. Give people a chance in the same way you hope they will with you. Be open minded, treat each date as a great opportunity, stay positive and have fun.

What are the challenges have you faced in such ‘client-success’ based field?

One of the hardest things is that we want to scream from the rooftops when we have a couple get together, or a wedding or a baby but everything has to very confidential. We want to put pictures in the press and everywhere! We also reply on a lot of word of mouth but in the dating industry that can be hard to achieve because there is still a slight stigma where people are reluctant to say they met through a dating service. We should take a leaf out of the Americans book, matchmaking is such a bigger field over there and far more people access it as just another way to date.

The other main difficulty is that you either introduce you client to their dream person and they skip off happily into the sunset or you don’t. There’s no in between because whilst your client may have gone on lots of dates, had second and third dates and et great people if they haven’t met the love of their life they won’t see it as a successful service. Unfortunately though we can’t control the actions of our clients and members and how they behave and interact on a d ate, that’s down to them, we wish we could though!

With the success of shows like Patti Stanger’s Millionaire Matchmaker – will we be seeing you on our television screens any time soon?

I have something in the pipeline so watch this space! The Millionaire Matchmaker has definitely brought matchmaking to the forefront of dating. Whilst London (and the UK) has always had matchmakers, online dating has been dominating the market for the last decade. Getting word out that we’re here, we exist (!) has been a challenge but shows like MM bring it onto people’s radar.

What advice would you give to fellow female entrepreneurs who want to achieve some level of success like you?

To stop thinking and start doing! Now more than ever there are so many opportunities for women in business and some great free networks and resources to support you.

Enjoy what you do and follow your passions. There’s no point setting up a great money maker if you dread going to work every day.

Be ambitious, determined, organised and be prepared to put in the hard work. It’s tough but the rewards can be incredible and are so worth the hard slog!

Find out more about Caroline and her company Mutual Attraction here: mutualattraction.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Matchmaker

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