For singles who search for a partner, online or in more traditional ways, the process might be confusing, overwhelming, and even discouraging at times. To help you organize your thoughts and strategies in this search, I spoke with matchmaker Dr. Tova Weinberg and asked her to share her insights on the subject. My hope is that this interview will provide you with useful tools and guidance to follow while looking for your perfect match.
Dr. Tova Weinberg is the founding matchmaker of SawYouAtSinai, the world’s largest Jewish Matchmaker Network. Tova is a dentist by trade who gave up that career for her full-time calling - her love for matchmaking. By her records there are hundreds of worldwide-matches she has helped make. Tova and her husband live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have five children, and many grandchildren.
When people are ready to look for a serious partner, what would you say are the most important considerations that they should focus on?
For me the most important consideration is choosing the right religion. It’s an easy screening. Whether you are a Catholic who wants someone to go to church and celebrate Christmas with, a Jew who wants someone to go to synagogue and celebrate Passover with, or an atheist – you want someone who shares your beliefs, and desires the same religious practice. It gives the couple a certain sense of camaraderie.
The second aspect to consider is intellect. Look for someone who is intellectually compatible with you. I’m not talking about degrees; both Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Apple founder Steve Jobs were university drop outs – but yet very intelligent people. Find out if you share the same interests like movies, books, or hobbies.
The third thing to consider is looking for someone who is age-appropriate. A gap up to 10 years is age-appropriate, whether the man or woman is older. I had a 31-year-old MIT graduate woman who was super intellectual. She wanted to date only IV league graduates. I set her up with a 23-year-old Harvard graduate man. At the beginning she refused to meet him. She said he was too young. I had to convince her to ignore the age and look at all the other qualities that he had, which where exactly what she wanted. They got married. On the other hand, there are older men who have never been married and hope to marry a young woman to have children with – I would say that this is not realistic. It might work if you are very rich and handsome. But if you insist on finding a woman who is 20 years younger you might stay single forever.
What is the biggest mistake people do when looking for a partner?
Making a decision based on the other’s physical appearance. In the western civilization we are focusing on superficiality. People are not looking deeper into the person who is in front of them. A lot of men fall for a beautiful woman, get married, and have a family just to realize two or three years down the road that they don’t like this person, that this person is not interesting. At this stage to break up a family is hard, because there are children involved.
Whenever I see an unattractive woman who is married I know that she met her husband in the workforce. This woman has no chance meeting a husband on a date, because men judge her on her looks. But when you work with someone, overtime you get to know them and appreciate who they are as a person – if you like the person you will be more likely to overlook the appearance.
I had a young man with whom I worked with who turned down every woman I had introduced him to. In each he found a problem with their appearance. A year later he called to tell me that he had gotten engaged. “Had you introduced me to this woman I would have killed you,” he said. She was 100lb heavier than him. They studied together at Harvard Law School and he got to know the person.
What are the steps singles should take on their way to finding a life partner?
Define what you are looking for and search accordingly. If you are looking for an intellectual partner – the bar is not the right place to look for them, an event at the university would be a better place to find this kind of a person.
Be cognizant of your emotional needs. A person can look good on paper but at the same time be the wrong person for you. I have a friend who was attracted to a man who looked great on paper. Little did she know that he was asexual. She couldn’t deal with that. A woman was engaged to this handsome, educated, and successful man. He was a workaholic and had no interest in her; he didn’t make time for their relationship. She realized that she couldn’t marry a man who is married to his job and cancelled the engagement. Another woman who grew up with parents who expressed their mutual affection by body language and flowers, realized that she couldn’t marry her fiancé who did not know how to show love.
Take advantage of technology. Today people don’t have time to go on a blind date just to see that they don’t like the person when they open the door. You can gather so much information about a person before the meeting. Teach yourself to read online profiles efficiently. I can look at someone’s profile and tell if they are intellectual in 5 seconds. There are nuances that you can see in these profiles, like the grammar, the style of writing, and the details that they share about themselves. SawYouAtSainai, Coffee Meets Bagel, and eHarmony have very detailed profiles. eHarmony is wonderful because it really gets into the questions about interest.
Search for a partner as you search for a job. If you desire a position that is not available in your area you telecommunicate, you travel, even relocate. I made a shiduch (matchmaking) between a woman from New York and a man from Australia. They used Skype to communicate between them. They got married three months after they had met in person and the man moved to NY. Another couple, where the girl was from New Jersey and the boy from London, also communicated via Skype until they met in person and decided to marry. I encourage people to use Skype to get to know the other person better, if they cannot meet in person because of their geographical distance.
Meet the family before you get engaged. It’s very important to know where the person comes from, what are the values they grew up with, what kind of relationships they have with their parents and siblings, and what family issues have they been dealing with. All these details may affect you in the future.
What would you advise a person who doesn’t seem to be able to find “The One”?
A person who has dated a lot but is still single, I would say, has a psychological issue and should see a therapist and not a matchmaker. If you are healthy in your mind, know who you are, aware of your emotional needs, understand what you are looking for, realistic about your expectations, and open to meet people and give them a chance – there is no reason why you shouldn’t find a good partner. I have five children; each of them married the first person they wanted to marry. They didn’t over think. On the other hand I know a 34-year-old guy who is so handsome and loaded to the gills. He wants such perfection in a woman in her early 20s. He traveled all over the world to look for her and still hasn’t found her.
As a professional matchmaker with years of experience, what would you advise people who want to be active in their community and help others find their right match?
There are 5 P's of being a good shadchan (matchmaker). Be: Patient, Positive, Persistent, Persuasive, Pragmatic.
Here are 8 easy ways of becoming a matchmaker:
1. Every time you meet someone, who is not married and you are impressed with, think of whom you can set them up with, write their name down and contact info.
2. Keep a list of everyone you know that is single. Add to it as you meet new people. Make two lists: one for men and one for women and write down what you liked about them.
3. Be proactive on behalf of your single friends
4. Be Persistent - always follow through with an idea.
5. Put some thought into your match ideas.
6. Be respectful of the decisions that singles make, and do not second guess them or give unsolicited advice. Do not push them into dating someone that they do not want to go out with and don’t ever make them feel that if they don’t go out with this person they will never marry. Value their judgments.
7. Be discrete. Guard the privacy of the singles that you are helping and do not repeat details of their dates to others.
8. Don’t think you have to be a proven matchmaker in order to set people up. Anyone can set up a match, as long as you persevere and use common sense and compassion.
To read more about Dr. Tova Weinberg and SawYouAtSinai, see articles on The New York Times and TIME magazine websites.