LogoAnimation

 Hartford Courant

Published February 14th, 2013

"Matchmaker Makes Love Connections"

 

 

Rhode Island Monthly Magazine

Article Published October 2009 

Tough Love

Someone will date George Clooney, but it’s not going to be you.

We know, it’s harsh. The thing is, everyone loves to give single people advice (all together now: “It will happen when you least expect it”), but hardly anyone tells us what we really need to hear.  We asked Tri-State Dating owner John Holt, now in his eighteenth year of “realistic match-making” in Rhode Island, to get our heads out of the clouds and our hearts set on finding honest-to-goodness, real love.  What is “realistic” matchmaking? I preach patience and realism. If you know who you are and date within your zone, you are going to save yourself a lot of frustration.  What is someone’s zone?  If you expect someone else to have it, you should be able to meet the same criteria. Hollywood actors date Holly-wood actresses. Wealthy people date other wealthy people. A lawyer tends to seek out someone with the same level of education.   


     What do you tell people who are afraid of settling for too 
little? I hear that a lot from women: “I won’t settle, John.” You have to be careful of what I call “total package-ism.” Tall, dark, handsome, great career, great assets, great education — if any one of those pieces is missing, some women don’t consider a man date-able. I think less than 4 percent of all men in the United States meet those criteria.

     Do men have the same unfair expectations? There are a lot of average-looking men who feel anything less than a total knockout would be a disappointment.  Where does this thinking come from? The idea of instant gratification is embedded in this country. We want it right, and we want it yesterday.  The retail model doesn’t work for dating. This is not buying Firestone tires or suits off the rack. A lot of people have great qualities, but you have to give them a chance.  


     What do you consider a fair chance? I’ve had people who’ve been very successful with a “four date” rule. If someone has redeemable qualities, they give them four dates — just keep it light and have fun and don’t make any decisions until the fourth date. Those people succeed more than others do.  I also preach the 80 percent rule. If somebody has 80 percent of what you want, pay attention.  Should you keep dating someone if there’s no chemistry? When some-body says there’s no chemistry, they usually mean the visual appeal wasn’t there. Real chemistry is when a conversation connects really well and it’s just flowing. You can develop that.  I believe in personality. If someone has a magnificent personality, you will be able to have fun with them and build chemistry that way.

     Some couples have instant fireworks. What do you tell singles who say, “If it can happen for them, why shouldn’t it happen for me?”  It does happen. Some people see each other and know this is it.  But it happens for very few. Other people get to know each other slowly and think, “You know, he’s a little more than I thought he was.  ” I preach patience. I really want people to succeed.

 
     What kinds of dating mistakes do you see people making? Have fun.  Don’t interrogate each other. There are people on a phone call talking about their lifetime goals and how many children they want and they haven’t even gone on a date yet. You can scare someone away pretty quickly being too intense, going down a laundry list.

     What is good first-date conversation? 
Never talk about your exes. Do not bring negativity to the table. Keep it light. Smile. Show that you’re interested in the other person. It shouldn’t just be the guy alking about himself. Men think they have to spout off their credentials. Meanwhile, the woman is sitting there, waiting, “Is he going to ask about me?”  


     What other dating complaints do you hear? Men are always complaining to me that women aren’t dressing femininely enough.  They don’t mean provocative — they mean dresses, skirts, heels.  Men discriminate against weight. Women discriminate against height and bad teeth. Smokers have a harder time dating people.  Sometimes it’s just a simple change you could make, like trimming back a beard, but people want to be taken as they are, and I can understand that.  Do you think there’s any self-sabotage involved there? I see it all the time. It’s great if you can force someone to reject you so you can say it wasn’t your fault. If you want to be alone, you should stay alone. There’s nothing wrong with it.

     Is it really harder to date in Rhode Island? Rhode Island has a very strong blue-collar population and a lot of highly educated, professional women. I know a lot of great blue-collar guys, but it seems with the very educated, more upscale women, I’m forever matching them with men in Connecticut and Massachusetts. 

     Does your honesty get you into trouble? Sometimes I’m telling,people what they don’t want to hear, but what kind of service would I be providing if I set people up to be rejected?

 

For more about Tri-State Dating Services, visit

tri-statedatingservice.com.

 

 

WNRI Matchmaker Advises

"Realistic Expectations"

A not-so-stupid Cupid guides Woonsocket hearts.

 
 
 
 

     Here's some unwelcome news for any woman looking for a tall man: The average height of American males is just five feet, nine inches.  Fewer than five percent top six feet. The odds are equally dismal for gals who look for a gold card or an investment portfolio: Millionaires account for less than nine percent of country's population, and only two percent of those are single men. The sobering statistics come courtesy of John Holt, known to folks in Woonsocket as WNRI's radio matchmaker. He takes to the airwaves every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., exhorting singles to persevere in their quest for soul mates.

     His encouragement, however, comes with a caveat: You can find that special someone, just don't expect a perfect someone. "There are women who set a goal of only dating tall guys or rich guys, but they don't realize how few of them there are," the no-nonsense Cupid says. "And it seems all men want to date slender beauty queens." Only five percent do. "Look for someone who wants to be with you, not someone who's going to reject you because you have unrealistic expectations. If you're looking to date people who aren't into you and never will be, you're destined for failure." That's blunt talk, but Holt has the experience to back it up. The Pascoag resident has run a full-time matchmaking business, Tri-State Dating Service, for the past 19 years, and has helped hundreds of people find romance and relationships.  

      "I've branded myself 'the realistic matchmaker, and I did that because I've found many single people have expectations that are in the clouds," says Holt, age 52. "You could spend years looking for your ideal mate and never find him or her . . . Getting someone to change their.expectations is not always easy, and it's not the most pleasant side of,my business, but I'm doing it to help.  I can eliminate years of frustration from your life by helping you know who you are, who you can be and who you can be with."  There's no certification process for matchmakers, but Holt has a resume that boosts his credibility. He earned a bachelor's  degree in human services at Bridgewater State College, with a minor in psychology.  After college he worked for non-profits in the human services field, before deciding he needed a profession that could provide a healthier income. He also met the woman who is now his wife  through a dating service.  He got his start by advertising his introductions business in give-away magazines with names like "The Dating Page" and "Here's To You." In a short time, he had 50 clients. Today he has more than 1,100, and boasts his marriage rate tops 20 percent.  "An article I found in Entrepreneur Magazine shows a 94 percent rate for failure in the first year for dating service businesses," he says. "I've been around for almost two decades. I think that says something about my success." He describes his price list as "reasonable." For $275 -- the least expensive option --Holt will arrange three dinner parties involving three or four women  and three or four men, with all participants screened for compatibility.  And $390 buys eight one-to-one introductions. His most expensive service, costing $800 -- is a personal search for Mr. or Ms. Right.  

     Holt goes so far as to attend conferences and other events for professionals, where he chit chats with attendees and then presents a select few with his card. "I don't ask them to be a client," he says.  "I just tell them, I know someone you might want to meet." With Valentine's Day upon us, Holt offered some free tips for plotting a dating game plan. A few of his favorite strategies:  

  • The four-date rule. Go on four dates with someone, and then decide if they're right for you.  "Many smart women use this strategy," he says.  "And they usually end up with someone a lot faster than the woman who gives up on a man after meeting him for an hour. It gives the guy a chance." 

  •  90 days of fun. "This is one of my favorites," Holt says. "And my own invention. Spend three months with someone, and limit yourselves to fun dates.  Don't try to get serious until after the deadline. That way you're invested in someone before you start talking about all the serious stuff."

  • 50 dates in 100 days. "Just what it sounds like," he says. "Go on 50 dates with different people in that time period. With those numbers, you should be able to find someone with whom you can have a meaningful relationship.  

     " Matchmaking is a calling that's been around as long as love and romance.  At one time many in the field limited their clients to a single social class, religion, or ethnic background, but to day that's far less common."  Holt's business has never operated that way.  One area most in the profession still avoid is same-sex matchmaking.  That's because of logistics, not prejudice. To expand in that direction, a service with 1,000 clients would  have to enroll equal numbers of men seeking men and women seeking women, jumping to 3,000 clients, a daunting task indeed. 

     Holt describes his personal service as a sensible  alternative to the on-line dating trend that's currently in vogue.  "At one point in my career I looked into expanding my business to the Internet, but the more I looked into it, the more doubts I had," he says. "When you sign up with an on-line service,  you're really just renting a portal where you put up your picture and your information. There's no effort to match you with someone. And it's actually unsafe. You'll meet people you don't want to meet, people who lie and steal, married people looking to cheat. My business is safe.  I screen clients, and I look for someone who's right for you. A computer can't do that."  A quick survey involving a handful of Woonsocket residents found most saying they'd likely never seek a matchmaker‘s help.  "That would mean I'd failed, "said Megan Menard, a waitress at Paul's Family Restaurant. "It's a job I should be able to do myself." "I've already been married -- and divorced," groused a customer, a plumber who declined to give his name. "I don't need all that trouble again." Those remarks don't reflect Holt's success in the city. Since his first broadcast on WNRI three years ago, the number of Woonsocket residents on his client list has soared.  And he has good news for men who are considering a service, especially those with white-collar careers: Males are now in demand.  "Professional women are more likely to see a matchmaker than any other group, and that's because they're more selective," Hot says. "The more successful the woman, the fewer men there are at the same level of success. "And these days it may be harder for all women to find someone. In the past men were the pursuers, but with today's economy, many of them have lost confidence. And women have become pickier, so men have responded  by becoming more passive. That doesn't mean they've given up dating,  but they're waiting for women to send some obvious signals that they're  interested. That's why I advise women to call men. If they wait for guys to call, they may not get any dates."  

     He has some pointed advice for the guys as well. "Stop expecting sex after three or four dates", he says.  "Most women don't think that way. They want to feel some connection  before physical intimacy." The straight-forward talk doesn't stop there.  "I often coach clients on dating etiquette," he says. "Many men these days need a refresher course. One thing many seem to have forgotten is that women want attention. They'll get a referral from me, and they'll wait weeks to make the call. They don't realize that women expect that call within 48 hours."That's how the game goes.

     Some heed those words or wisdom; others may as well be deaf. In the mean time, Holt does his best, re-enforcing the message for northern Rhode Island singles with his weekly radio broadcasts.  Sitting before a WNRI microphone on a recent Thursday night, he once again indulges his penchant for studies and statistics. "A recent study conducted at James Madison University has confirmed that when it comes to dating, men are more likely to be in it for no-commitment fun," he says. "And ladies, I'm not going to leave you out.  Women tend to be in it for a committed relationship. So what does that mean? . . . How do we get these men to become committed?”  To drive home his point he pushes a button, and music begins to play. It's a hit from the '70s, the Golden Age of Saturday Nights, when a tidal wave of young baby boomers hit the dating scene. "So come on, Bill," croons a singer from that era long ago. "Come on and marry me, Bill ... I love you so, I always will... "

_____________________________________________________

 

Rhode Island Monthly Magazine

February 2008

Man vs. Machine

 

Those hoping to find a soulmate in cyperspace might be looking in the wrong place.

     The online dating boom, which gave rise to websites like Match.com and eHarmony.com, appears to be going bust.  According to JupiterResearch, an Internet marketing research firm, only 10 percent of online users visited a dating site in 2007, down from 21 percent in 2003.  And as the number logging on for love has decreased, lonely hearts have begun to turn to a more old-fashioned approach: real matchmakers.

     That's good news for John Holt, a personal matchmaker whose Tri-State Dating Services, a Rhode Island-based business that also serves Massachusetts and Connecticut, has seen an increase in clientele, particularly in Providence where the majority of his clients are from.  Holt attributes this to a lagging confidence in online dating.  "The fad is wearing off.  You're paying monthly fees without results", he says.  Not to mention a statistic that pools 30 percent of cyber daters as married; scary stuff when you don't know who's on the other side of the modem.

     Holt personally screens each client and gives it to them straight. "I do tell certain people that there's  not a place for them in my service", he says.  That weeds out anyone looking for the wrong reasons and pairs people that might actually have something in common.  As for results, while they're not guaranteed, they certainly speak much louder than those of online sites, where the number of more permanent matches are low.  Since Holt began his business in 1992, 22 percent of the people he has coupled up have not only dated but tied the knot. Tri-statedatingservice.com.    --COURTNEY ANDERSON