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Q&A: Toronto matchmaker reveals why she doesn't use photos

Last Updated Feb 17, 2017 at 8:48 am EDT

Two people are seen in promotional material for It's Just Lunch, a matchmaking service. CITYNEWS

Sure, you could meet your aunt’s dentist’s son’s dogwalker (again), you could spend an evening swiping right or left (again), you could decide, once and for all, that you are your own best friend (again) … or you could try a matchmaker.

Jacquie Brownridge, the president of It’s Just Lunch Canada, said her business is not slowing down with the growth of online dating apps, and her clients aren’t always what you’d expect. She typically sees people in their 20s, up into their 70s, all of whom are looking for a longer-lasting commitment.

Brownridge sat down with CityNews to reveal a few tricks of her trade, and why she doesn’t rely on photos.

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Question: You are the queen matchmaker here.

Answer: You could call me that … the business of matchmaking is big business.

Q: Who are your clients?

A: We have a huge range. Our group spans people in their 20s to people in their 70s. It all starts with a face-to-face interview. Once somebody contacts us, we talk to them, and figure out their goal, and if it’s a fit, not only for them but for us.

Q: What kind of questions do you ask?

A: We ask them all about their background: where were you born, your family life, your education background, have you ever been married, relationship history, and what they’re looking for. What are the attributes that are really important to you?

Q: C’mon, what else?

A: We’re looking at similar lifestyles, similar values, similar goals in life, does one person like to travel? If so, what kind of travel – do you like camping? Do you want children? How do you spend your Sunday?

Q: What is the next step?

A: Then we develop a profile, and take it to the team. It would be nice to be able to just think of somebody right off the bat, but we have too many clients. So we take that profile and look at all the available people, sorted by age range, and then start paring it down by characteristics. After we have a short list, we fine-tune it a little bit. A lot of it is instinct.

We also talk to each other [other It’s Just Lunch matchmakers]. We have a team here … everybody has met all of our clients at one time or another.

Q: How do you know if what matches on paper translates into chemistry?

A: That’s the million-dollar question! If I had the answer to that I’d be rich. You can put people together based on criteria and it’s worth a shot, but we cannot guarantee chemistry.

Q: Does chemistry have to be instant?

A: I encourage a second shot. Maybe the person is nervous, maybe they haven’t dated in a while, maybe there’s something up at work, but still, you had a relatively pleasant date. If you thought the person was interesting and nice and attractive, it’s worth a second date.

Q: Why lunch?

A: It’s about an hour in length and it’s got a beginning, middle, and end. It’s enough time for people to scratch the surface and see if there’s interest in another date. If not, it’s only an hour.

Q: After lunch, what happens?

A: We connect with every single client after the date and we get feedback. Things like, ‘How did the conversation flow? Were you attracted to this person? How long did you spend on the date?’ Because if they spent four hours on a one-hour lunch, you know there’s some chemistry there. And then, of course, we ask, ‘Are you going to see this person again?’

Q: Why don’t you use photos?

A: Not everybody is photogenic. We want people to focus on the attributes of the person and  why they think they would be a good match. It’s Just Lunch Canada does have photos of every single client, and a photo membership option, but we would not want to have anybody discount a great potential match based on a bad photo.

Q: Why use this service in a world full of free apps?

A: I didn’t know what to think [about online dating] when it first came about. I didn’t find that it impacted us that much, in terms of the bottom line, but there was a buzz to it. Everybody is trying it. What we find now, is that people are calling us and they don’t know about the cost associated with membership, and they’ll try online dating [which is free] for about six months and they’ll call back when they’re serious. It takes time and for our clientele, which is typically a professional clientele, time is money. They don’t have time to sift through profiles and do their own background checks. They’d rather pay us.

Q: Why pay?

A: These are people who outsource all different aspects of their life. If they want to get in shape, they hire a personal trainer. They want to date, they hire us. With us, a lot of thought goes into every single match, it’s not just swipe, swipe, swipe. You’re invested in the process and the people you’re meeting are invested in the process.

They want to meet real, quality people of a similar ilk. Whether that’s a similar level of education or similar interests … it may not even be a romance. It may be a social network.

Q: Are men and women really so different?

A: Yes, especially when it comes time to seek out dating services.

Q: What questions should I ask on a date?

A: First of all, people have a tendency to get too involved too quick. Keep it simple on the first date. Scratch the surface! Leave the person wanting to know more! Don’t talk about past relationships, politics or religion on the first date. Keep it light, friendly, bubbly and flirty.

And take your time! Maybe you’re not feeling that big love connection on the first date, but you’re having a pleasant time, go on that second date.

Q: After that first date, who makes the next move?

A: Women expect men to send that text the day, or the email. Women are annoyed if they don’t receive an email, text or phone call the next day. Maybe the guy might be thinking, ‘oh I’m new to dating.’ Guys, send her something, please. And women, take it easy! If he hasn’t reached out, that doesn’t mean he’s not into you. Give it a day or two.

Q: Finally, who picks up the cheque?

Women – although they are self-assured, pro-active, career women – they still like the guy to make the first move. They still like the man to open the car door, to open all the doors, they like the man to pick up the cheque – it’s not that they don’t have the money and it’s not that they wouldn’t reciprocate next time, they just think it’s the gentlemanly thing to do.

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