A Professional Matchmaker Reveals What Really Makes A Couple Compatible
Online dating in the modern world is less like falling madly in love, more like chucking mud at a wall and seeing what sticks. If only there was someone else to do the hard work for you, eh? Away from the cattle market of Tinder, a few dating apps are now promising to personally match clients rather than let you exhaust yourselves. Sites like eHarmony have fancy algorithms for matching personalities, whilst Once actually employs human matchmakers to trawl through profiles to offer you a new ‘match’ every single day.
I had a spin as a professional Once matchmaker. As a former dating columnist I was reasonably confident in my match game, but throwing a couple together every 45 seconds on average is a brain-melting task. What if I hooked an awesome girl up with someone who went on to wreck their life, or ticked the wrong option for a guy when his Miss Perfect was the other choice? After my panic subsided, I got into the groove and – from my feedback – I got a rate of 68% ‘likes’ across couples.
It’s not a perfect science, so excuse the generalisations. But these are the details of online dating profiles that can suss out the difference between a match that lasts, and a waste of your phone storage space.
The Background Details
Any sensible dater should be leaving a breadcrumb trail of clues about who they are and who they want to date around their profile. As matchmaker, I’d snaffle up each one and build a basic profile. i.e. Is that a guitar in his background? Is that a Led Zeppelin poster on her wall? That’s a decent enough start for a match. Even crazy stuff tells a story – one girl had a stainless steel, bronze effect jelly mould hung in her kitchen. Clearly she cares about her food and isn’t going to match too well with a ready meal kind of guy. She fit fine with my trainee chef who loved design.
Head For Heights
As a shortish guy myself I know what a defining stat height is in a relationship. Some people go for the Jamie Cullum/Sophie Dahl deal, but typically tall dates tall, especially when it comes to women. I pictured all those tall women arriving and finding their guy’s feet didn’t reach down from the bar stool and just thought that was a horror start for everyone. Whilst height is listed on the Once profiles, I always cross-referenced with their pictures – making sure someone who claimed to be 6’5 actually had the limbs and fingers of such a person – before I stuck him with a slender type.
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“I love travelling,” you say? Apart from agoraphobics, who doesn’t like a tour or a week on the beach? But who just goes for a fortnight in Marbella once a year and who really likes to push the boat out – especially if they’re in it? Lots of people have a holiday pic with their mates but real travel bugs are happy going away on their own or are doing something other than just posing with a cocktail. I gave myself extra Poirot points for matching one guy who’s fridge was plastered with really unique foreign postcards with a girl who was snapped zip-lining in the jungle. People who might belong off-the-beaten-track together, right?
Ducks Attract Ducks
The moment I saw a duck face picture – from men as much as women – I was thinking they might match. We all have the occasional pout photo, but people who wracked up a string of carefully selected selfies across their profiles stick together. After all, who better to share a dinner date with than someone else who is staring at their phone as much as you are?
Meet The Parents
With some people you had so few clues as to their personality, you then rely on all those psychology notes you took in college. For example Freud’s assertion that a lot of people end up marrying a version of their parents. When truly desperate, I’d stare at, say, a girl and think, “What does their Dad look like?” He’d be tall, dark hair, possibly quite Alpha…perhaps she’d like this guy? Another chap still looked like his Mum did his washing, so I matched him with the most homemaker-looking girl I could find.
The Grooming Game
In an age when we all have at least some sort of grooming routine, the benchmark for a real details freak is their brows and nails. Any guy who looks like he knows his way around a mani-pedi or an eyebrow threading salon is going to definitely select a woman of a similar type. Equally any girl with a more bohemian outlook – hair worn loose, slouchy sweater, easy make-up – might not appreciate a TOWIE guy type…
Spot The Accessories
It’s unbelievable how many people are just posed in a plain black outfit (girls) or crisp white shirts (boys.) It looks good, but give me something to work with here! Accessories then become key. Someone with an expensive, saddle-sized watch is possibly into a high maintenance girl, whereas a guy with no watch at all might be less materialistic. Girls’ jewellery is a nightmare – how can you tell in a photo if it’s Pandora or Primark? I found earrings were quite useful – big brassy hoops might be more of a party girl than someone with simple studs. Tell me I’m wrong, I dare you!
Grey Goose Or Vodka Redbull
Literally every mo-fo on Once had some sort of posed alcohol picture. But you can tell a lot from each one. Is this person sat behind a bottle of Grey Goose with a sparkler in it at some dark club or are they quietly sipping a glass of red in a country pub? Does this person look like they mainline syrupy shots with their mates to get trashed or are they more calm and collected? Weirdly, you can tell a lot even from the glassware – spot someone drinking cocktails out of a pint glass and you can bet they’re pretty relaxed about life…
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Sculpted Or Soft Baked
The moment I spotted any gym wear my Spidey-senses were twitching. I was always looking to match these people together. Not just because they have something in common, but typically-speaking someone who sculpts themselves silly is going to expect similar dedication in a partner. No girl hits the gym all Saturday just to come home to a guy who sofa-baked all day, right?
Rows about tidiness are the number one buzz killer in any relationship. Essentially, the moment I saw the background of a profile photo look a mess – an unmade bed, a pile of washing on the floor – I was immediately deducing this person had a relaxed care-free attitude to life. There’s no way I was going to match them up with anyone who had the words, “super organised” or “OCD” in their profiles, or rows of carefully folded shirts on show.