Matchmaker, matchmaker . . . singles fall for love’s old ways
Not all singles looking for a life partner want to put their profile on the internet. Touting discretion and careful research, matchmaking agencies have found a new business niche
Rena Maycock and Feargal Harrington who run Intro Matchmaking
Jennifer Haskins and Bill Phelan who run Two’s Company
Many single people in their 30s and older find bars and clubs hostile environments in which to meet somebody, and can find themselves increasingly isolated and lonely as the rest of their friends pair off, settle down and have children.
Thomas (35) was single for over a year when he heard about a matchmaking agency, Intro, and signed up.
“A few of my friends had been on dating websites, but I didn’t like the idea of being in a shop window where everybody could look at your photo. I had heard some bad experiences of internet dating, but I liked the idea of the introductions agency because it was very discreet.”
Having been in two serious long-term relationships, Thomas found himself single while most of his friends had settled down with partners and young families. His job in computer software meant he worked long shifts and he had no “wingmen” to join him on the regular dating scene.
He’s been on five dates with five women through Intro, and even though “they were all lovely”, things “fizzled out”.
“I was very apprehensive doing it but I’m really glad I did. It was an amazing experience overall and the kick up the arse I needed to get back dating again,” he says.
Old-fashioned matchmaking agencies such as Intro, Two’s Company, TopMatch, Singlelista and the Cork-based Two Hearts Meet have all spotted the opportunity to provide introduction services to people who are either fed up or too busy to keep trying.
Rena Maycock (33) and her partner Feargal Harrington (29) from Kinsealy, Co Dublin, who were introduced by Feargal’s brother, set up Intro Matchmaking (intro.ie) in 2011 and have more than 1,000 members on their books.
The idea came to Maycock on a Saturday night out in her local bar, Gibneys of Malahide, when she noticed a well-dressed, attractive guy aged around 40 clutching a pint near the bar.
She assumed he was waiting for friends or a partner but noticed over the course of the night that he was still standing there alone and realised he was trying to meet somebody.
Having been single herself for many years, Maycock says the singles scene can be grim for men at times, especially when they’ve lost their “wingman” to marriage.
Aware that men tend to be shy of joining online dating sites, the couple decided to build their agency and brand around men. Today Intro has members on its books ranging in age from 22 to 79.
Rena even had a call from a 90-year-old man last week interested in signing up and, she points out, there may be interested women in their 70s and 80s .
“Intro is not an internet dating site – in fact it’s the opposite,” she says. “We meet all of our clients face-to-face, we complete a detailed profile for them and, on that basis, we arrange suitable matches, going so far as to actually arrange the dates rather than passing along personal information such as phone numbers.”
The main difference between matchmaking agencies and online dating sites, according to Maycock, is that the agencies accept only those who are actually available and looking for a relationship.
“Many of the guys who come to us are sick of being rejected in bars after building up the nerve to chat to a girl. Girls can be cruel. And women want somebody with pure motives, not to discover six months down the line that the man of their dreams is actually married with three kids or is not interested in settling down,” she says.