Matchmaker vs. Dating Service vs. Dating Coach: What's the Difference, How to Choose

Just like you might hire a resume writer to give a jolt to your job search or a personal trainer to help you get more out of your workout, there may come a time when you decide to get a little help with your love life. There's no shame in this - many people out there use these services for a variety of reasons. They may be too busy to meet people on their own, they may be curious about such services because of movies and TV shows, or they may simply be challenging themselves to be the best they can be.

But what's the difference between the many options out there? If you've decided it's time to hire a dating professional, your first step is to think about what you want to get out of the experience and what you're looking for. These factors will influence the type of service you choose.

Matchmakers
A matchmaker works on behalf of a client to set that person up on dates and get them into a relationship. These services, especially those designed to be "boutique" or "elite," don't necessarily take every paying client who is interested in working with them - they have to feel that they will be able to match you and that you will meet the high standards of the people they associate with. Some services only accept men as clients, and only work with the women who may be likely matches for those men. These services are pricey, and for good reason. The focus is on intensive, personalized attention, quality dates, and confidentiality.

The process starts with an interview that can last as long as several hours, and then the matchmaker will gather even more information through background checks and sometimes even psychological testing. Some services may offer coaching or an image consultation to make sure the client is at his or her best. Then the matching begins. The matchmaker will present the client with potential matches and recommend dates.

Who should use this service? Due to their cost and the focus on quality relationships, matchmakers are meant for those who are ready to settle down with someone. Those pressed for time will find the personalized service and quality results that matchmakers bring appealing. If you tend to choose the wrong person or have high expectations, matchmakers can also help. They know how to keep your long-term best interests in mind, and can let you know when you're being unrealistic.

What is the price range? $1,000 to $500,000 or more.

Dating Services
Before Match.com and eHarmony, many singles used dating services to meet people. Despite the boom in online dating companies, many offline services are still flourishing today. They offer what the online dating scene lacks: a chance to meet people in person, the old fashioned way. Some pair individuals in a way similar to a matchmaking service. Some have you create a profile and then allow you to browse through the profiles of others. This is similar to online dating, except you may be viewing videos of potential dates or flipping through a binder. Other dating services gather groups of singles together for an activity or social event, and give people a chance to mingle and make their own connections (speed dating would fall into this category, for example).

Who should use this service? Those who are frustrated with online dating due to misrepresentation or concerns about safety, but who can't afford an expensive matchmaker, should consider this a strong option. Those who like the appeal of mingling with a bunch of singles in a group, without the pressure of having to spend time with just one person, will also find dating services appealing. Dating services can be useful for those who are interested in dating but who aren't yet sure they're ready for a serious commitment as well.

What is the price range? $30 monthly fee to $2,000 or more.

Dating Coaches
A dating coach will push you to achieve a more successful love life. Rather than focus on pairing you off, their goal is to develop you as a person and make you more attractive. Dating coaches will address a wide range of issues: flirting, fashion and appearance, communication, self-esteem, psychology, and social activities. The result is greater awareness of how you are coming across to others, sharper social skills, and an idea of how to use your strengths to best advantage and minimize weaknesses.

Your work with a dating coach will start with an assessment, and then the coach will come up with a personalized plan for improvement. Some coaches may meet with you periodically to talk through the challenges you're facing (much like a therapist) while others will take a more active approach and come along with you to meet singles. Meetings may be in person or over the phone. Some coaches run workshops for groups that cost less than individual coaching.

Who should use this service? If there's some dating-related skill that you think you could improve upon, then a dating coach is for you. You should be willing to invest significant time and effort, as even the best coach can only do so much without your active participation. You should also be willing to change, to let go of bad habits and thought patterns, and to face up to how you could be doing better.

What is the price range? $95 per hour to $10,000 for an immersion weekend where the coach tags along with you on the singles scene.

 

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