Matchmakers on the Challenges Women Have in the Dating Scene Today

It is not a secret that the changing times and the changes in gender role have been affecting the dynamics of the romantic relationships between a man and a woman. To help singles understand the new courtship reality and challenges, I have asked matchmakers from different countries to share their insights on the subject.  In December I published here Matchmakers on the Challenges Men Have in the Dating Scene. In this post the matchmakers discuss the feminine point of view on dating. I hope you will be inspired.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Julie Ferman - Julie Ferman Associates, Los Angeles, USA

The biggest challenge today’s modern day woman has in dating is to accept the reality that every “real” man out there whom she might be considering as a potential candidate – he’s in direct competition with the “ideal man” who’s lodged in her mind’s eye as the perfect man for her. The mistake that women make continually in our complex, order-it-up culture is to compare a REAL LIVE man with the imaginary, fictitious guy who she’s hoping is out there, available for life-long love. In other words, get a grip on reality by really getting that the perfect guy is a fantasy. Real men are flawed, each one of them, just as we are…. Think of each man as perfect, with his foibles and his imperfections, just as you are…

A better way to date is to consider the REAL LIVE men who are out there in your community, accessible to you via your personal and online networks. And in particular, give a shot to those guys who are stepping up to the plate to connect with you, to meet you, and to court you. The most important inner work you can do is to identify for yourself your Top Five Critical Criteria – the qualities and characteristics that you really need and want in your future partner. And yes, do the tough work of identifying the Top Five – those five elements, without which you’d rather do life solo forever.  If the guy who’s pursuing you DOES appear to have those Top Five Critical Criteria, be open to him, connect with him, and say Yes to his invitation. Have one, two, yes THREE dates with this real man who’s hot for you. You’ll need to be with him a few times before that bonding thing begins to happen for the two of you. Attraction can develop for women FAR more commonly than it can for men – this may not be “fair” but it’s just a reality – men very rarely develop romantic attraction over time, so just accept this difference between men and women and work with it. The truth is that a girl only has a shot with the guy who thinks she’s hot…. So be careful not to chase after men or pine away for the ones who aren’t available, accessible or hot for YOU. 

Harella Ishai - Doo-Lev, Israel

One of the biggest problems women encounter today in the dating scene is what I call identity confusion. Up until a few decades ago our gender roles were very clear; each person knew what it meant to be “masculine” or “feminine”. A woman who is warm, motherly, domestic, and a good cook was considered to be feminine. A man who is a gentleman, macho, and a good provider was considered to be masculine.

Today there is a lot of confusion when it comes to gender roles. There are no rules or clear guidelines of what it means to be feminine or masculine. We have freedom - but this freedom is confusing. For people with self-confidence this situation might not pose a problem, but for people who are shy and hesitant it can be challenging. Take for example the dilemmas women have when dating: should she offer to pay half of the bill or should she wait for the man to suggest it? Should she call the man after the date or should she wait for him to call?

In my opinion, before dating anyone, each woman must be honest and clear with herself about what kind of a woman she is, regardless of what she might think men want. Many times women work hard to act and project a certain persona that is very remote from their true nature. They do so thinking that it will help them to attract men. This approach is futile, since each man has his own preferences when it comes to women.

I would like to use this platform to give men my advice: Don’t disqualify a certain woman just because of her lifestyle or because she doesn’t fit your “check list”. For example, if you were always sure that an “old fashion” woman is the perfect match for you, don’t dismiss a woman just because she has a career. Keep an open mind and give women a real chance. You will never find out who is the perfect woman for you if you don’t try.

Veronica Alcanda - Alcanda Matchmaking, Spain

Based on my European female clients’ experiences (almost 50% of my total clientele), and my own, I dare to say that the most common challenge women face today worldwide when looking for a life partner is that men are totally driven, on first sight basics, by looks over anything else.

This, of course, supposes a great challenge to any female because there is always going to be someone younger or more beautiful than us out there. Thus, my day to day fight with male candidates, when looking for potential matches for my female clients, is trying to make them realize that looks fade away with time while personality, intelligence, kindness, so far and so on, characteristics a person need to have to ensure the relationship is going to last, don’t.

Having said that, I am very glad to say that NOT ALL MEN are looking for just looks but a combination of things. True that they need to be sexually attracted by her partner-to-be but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the lady has to have the body/face of a top model. On the contrary, many men, specially high caliber ones, prefer an elegant, intelligent, educated and well mannered lady, with whom they will be able to maintain a good conversation and proudly introduce her to their friends, over just looks.

When looking for a life partner, intelligent men know that getting a much younger girl will not satisfy their real needs in time and thus, they ask me for someone alike, with the same interests, social level and life’s objective and, in many occasions, even age.

Many of my male clients have already experienced dating younger women and in little time realized that, although they did have a good time for a while, eventually, they saw they were not gonna be able to converge on the most important things in life such as; having a family (or not if they are divorce with children); enjoy their free time traveling and having long week- ends all over the world because the career objective has been already been achieved on both cases.

So ladies, do not give up because there are MEN who know what they want as a life-partner and it’s not only looks.

Yvonne Allen - Yvonne Allen & Associates, Australia

Once upon a time - only decades ago - most women assumed they'd marry...and did. These days, in the western world, a gal can achieve in most areas of life that were once the preserve of the male. Given the appropriate education and experience she can fly to the moon, head large corporations or lead her country. However, for many millions of women who want to attract and keep their Mr Right, the chances of doing so are increasingly bleak.

As a woman who founded my consultancy in Australia in 1976 for discerning singles seeking a partner, I have been in an unusual position to both witness and experience many of the ever increasing challenges women with careers can have finding - and keeping - love. It seems that the more a woman focuses on achieving, the harder it can be for her to attract her 'Mr Right'. All too often the stress of a demanding work role, often combined with a long list of expectations re the man she seeks - including that he be at least as successful as she is - can leave her on a crowded shelf.  

It would seem that most guys do not have nearly as many items on their wish list re a potential partner. For many it is important that she is intelligent, he finds her attractive and that she makes him feel like her man. Unfortunately, in order to achieve, many a woman today does not readily reveal her more vulnerable, softer self - the femininity that for millennia has attracted the 'protector' and 'provider' in a man. 

Alas, all too often, the Mr Right a woman seeks is not looking for her!

Jane Carstens - Matchmaker for Hire, Vancouver, Canada

Contrary to popular belief, women in the dating scene today find there are lots of opportunities to meet wonderful just takes longer!

Sure it can be pretty tough - well not just tough, but confusing.  Confusing in ways that most of us girls probably don’t understand. So having watched clients make more than a few mistakes, here are a couple points, as plain as we know how to say it, to help in essence see the situational truth in dating:

Giving up to Soon?  No matter the age, the most beautiful, most accomplished - if you’r dating there will come a time when you get rejected.  Most often today, it comes in the form of never getting another call...and that means rejection can be good for you as you don’t want to waste time on that guy anyways.  Keep your self-esteem intact; great communication is the beginning of a meaningful relationship. 

Are you saying NO to the Good Guys?  We all have lists of what we want and those lists to judge the men we meet.  Have you thought about whether there is anything there that might be making you say “NO” to the Good Guys? Time to rethink your list!

Playing Hard-to-Get?  Some men love the chase, pursuing romance and saying all the right things.  And when you play hard-to-get, you’re likely to attract these men.  But men who chase are often men who leave.  Grown-up confident men of depth don’t participate in relentless pursuit.  

Belinda Leung and Beth Harvey - Muse&Co., Seattle, USA

I love Dr.Ali Binazir’s quote: “To put it plainly, you are programmed to reproduce. Now quit thinking you're smarter than the 3 billion base pairs in your genome and 4 billion years of evolution. Actually, just stop thinking altogether. Let the program do its work.”

If we go back to basics, the key to finding a mate is instinctual, but somehow we’ve managed to disrupt it with phones and “deal breakers.” As women, we can often take our work demeanor on a date, and cues that scream equality at work, are likely negating natural mating cues. I do a short but powerful table showing some common dating activity women do, and how it compares to the basics men instinctually seek.  You can then make your own conclusions about why dating is so difficult for women (and men) today. I’ve over simplified this because our lives are overly complicated already!

·      60-90% of our communication is non-verbal
·      Research says flirty body language is more effective than looking good
·      Men instinctually think about: availability, interest & procreation

A woman’s common dating actions
Does this communicate…?
Suggestions to help communicate flirty behavior
Texting, and having difficulty coordinating a date

Once he’s asked, commit to going on a date.
I’m really busy [working, exercising, etc.] so I can’t see you until….
There’s a difference between “being available” and being “in demand.”  Try to get the right balance.
Join me while my friends and I are at…
Don’t invite potential mates to hang out with your friends. Go on a date, JUST the two of you.
Giving your resume
Ach! It’s a date, not an interview! How about, “Can you guess what I do for a living?” Think open ended…
Coming across too dominant, aggressive or competitive can be seen as unfeminine, not nurturing. Women may view this as confident and forthright, but too much gives off the wrong signals on a date.
Arguably, this doesn’t negate our basics, but it still comes across negatively. Men do want a smart, equal partner; they don’t necessarily want to have to compete for it. Think about partnership, compassion, flirting! Even a woman CEO can communicate that she’s nurturing and feminine without downplaying her intelligence.
Dress with femininity.
Please don’t go on a date after work. Go home, put on a red (or some derivative thereof) dress and relax. Think “physical attraction” vs power suit.

This easy litmus test will help while you prepare for a date: Am I giving the right cues to communicate, availability, interest, procreation? Men are obviously much more complicated, however flirting techniques and showing your femininity are areas I continue to coach women to drastically improve their dating success. I never want a woman to pretend she’s something she’s not. Making a great first date impression gets you to the 2nd date, and that’s the first step! 

Mairead Molly - Berkeley International, Global

At this point in history we as women are really getting comfortable with the idea that we’re fully in control of our lives and our futures.  We celebrate no longer needing to seek permission or validation from men in order to believe that we’re beautiful or smart.  Whilst this is an amazing achievement, it also presents particular challenges that perhaps weren’t so much of an issue a few generations ago.

The challenge is that whilst this amazing cultural shift is happening, we still have our feminine instincts that hark back to hunter-gatherer times. Whether we like to admit it or not, we innately expect certain things from men and this is where it gets confusing, for everyone.

We’re eager to prove we can look after and provide for ourselves and yet we still get offended if a man asks us to pay half the check. We workout, do yoga, build our core physical strength, but get upset if we don’t receive help with our (not very heavy) bags. The fact is that there are certain gender roles which are definitely not dead to us, but we like to pretend they’re bonus material rather than essential to the package.

There is this unique dance currently happening between women’s fearless independence and our beautiful vulnerability. Frankly, we sometimes confuse ourselves and can feel guilty of letting the sisterhood down by admitting we still crave the feeling of certainty and safety that masculine energy can provide.

I’m a big believer in starting with yourself first and then communicating clearly to others what you want.  Get this right and regardless of what’s happening in your dating world, you stand a much better chance of overcoming any challenges.  It’s helpful also to limit referring to it as a dating scene, this is your life not a social movement.  Women are more successful at this type of thing what they learn to stand tall and strong in their individuality, which will always include some element of vulnerability.  It doesn’t make us weak, it makes us human.

Shannon Davidoff - Perfect Partners, South Africa

Our response as the leading matchmakers in South Africa, and according to all our ladies who have given their careful thought and response to the questions of “What Challenges do Women find when Dating?” has been very interesting!  It seems that the South African ladies are very forgiving over all but have some over-riding challenges and would like to see men in general spruce up a bit!

·         Bachelors who are out to impress should work on their game and be more friendly and appealing (dress style, smell nice, relaxed and friendly).
·         Bachelors should find time to work on a friendship/relationship. The ladies find one date is not enough to know if it can work.
·         Good manners are a must – keep promises to call, turn up on time and remember their social manners, even with waiters, etc.
·         Bachelorettes find men are not very approachable although they say they are, and women feel very judged before given a chance.
·         Our ‘Continental’ ladies wish SA men would be more flirtatious like French and Italian men.
·        Our SA ladies think this is bordering on lecherous, so what does a man think and how can he respond then, without getting a slap or a harassment accusation! They wish men were less anal!
·         Generally SA men are lazy to date with charm, or there are players with no conscience! (We know those that join us are serious, and we help guide both parties on how the different sexes react to clear the path).
·         SA bachelorettes find men under-informed in general, not very good listeners and often complain too much about their woes of the past.
·         Our ladies would like to see men give them more of a chance and not be so visually influenced!
·         Everyone agrees that there are more single women than men and it is very competitive as men have way more choices. Ladies, STEP UP!
·         As matchmakers we see that the ladies value EQ and sensitive selection, while men do in fact go more for looks (our advice is: Ladies, use your assets to attract better and guide the object of your attention to the sensitive parts of interaction).

We wish you all happy matchmaking and wonderful dates!


  1. As a single woman who struggle to date but not sure why since I’m told I’m a good catch – driven, professional, well-traveled, friendly, give back to the community, active, independent, and little to no drama. First, I can relate to every matchmaker and their view on the challenges women face. What I discovered from reading this blog is that I’m lacking the feminine side of me. So this weekend when I was out shopping, instead of going for the solid black, gray, white, brown shirts, I went for a floral shirt, something I normally shy from. My mission for the year 2016 is to feminine pieces into my wardrobe and since a lot of the matchmakers mentioned that guys are into look, I’m going to incorporate lipstick to my daily routine of just chap stock. Thanks for the great article. It made me think and reevaluate what I’m doing wrong, in a good way.


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