Dating is hard.
Whether you're overwhelmed by the options in a major city, or you've exhausted most options in a small town, I think most people can agree that romantic comedies have lied to us.
But this is the day and age of powerful and addictive little smartphones. Some argue that the Tinder revolution has only made matters worse for singles looking to date — more options mean more indecision: Could there be a better person just one swipe away?
That's why the art of matchmaking is still around. Matchmakers do most of the work for you.
Matchmaking as a service has been around since ancient China (remember in Disney's maybe-not-that-accurate "Mulan") and Greece. But fast-forward to modern times, and there is a burgeoning group of millennials who believe in setting people up based on their wants and needs, and not a Tinder bio — and an even bigger group of millennials who want to be set up this way. They do the vetting for you and send you along on pre-approved, personalized dates.
It's been successful as the dating services industry in the U.S. doubled its profits since 2013 to about $2 billion, ELLE reported. These matchmakers even attend their clients' weddings.
The single people dishing out the dough for love come from all demographics, but they are "generally successful, looking for long-term, committed relationships," Callie Harris, a bubbly Washington, D.C.-based matchmaker for Three Day Rule, said in a phone interview. Nationally, Three Day Rule has about 80,000 clients in their database.
So, why are these great people having such trouble finding relationships?
People run in their own circles, and their network of dating options are limited, or their noses are buried in their phones. Speaking of phones, there are just too many options on dating apps.
"They don't want to swipe through 500 profiles with very little information and trying to make the connection," Harris said.
Toronto-based matchmaker Sofi Papamarko, who works for Friend of a Friend Matchmaking, agrees with that sentiment.
"I think dating was probably hard for every generation, but the world is so much bigger now," she said over email. "We can literally date someone across the world who liked our Instagram photo. We have so much choice. And choice can be paralyzing."
With these services, it's transparent that someone wants a long-term relationship.
But these matchmakers don't condemn technology. It's actually how they get new potential dates for their clients, via their databases. For Three Day Rule, anyone can apply to enter their database. (Paying for the service guarantees dates.) A similar process goes for Friend of a Friend Matchmaking, which has had over 1,000 clients.
After they've applied, the matchmaker sits down and really gets to know the person, especially the paying clients, past just what they think they want in a partner.
"You want the meeting to feel like two friends kind of chatting and catching up," Harris said.
Sometimes she attends family birthday parties or even meets their children to get a better sense of who they are.
Far too often, people think they know what they want but really don't.
"Someone's going to tell you, 'tall, dark, and handsome, successful, and a good job,'" Harris said. "We hear those things a lot."
While most success stories are defined by a wedding ring or a relationship status, sometimes they involve just the client. Harris recalled one client, a 36-year-old woman with children who had just gotten divorced from a bad marriage. She had no confidence in herself when it came to dating.
"She came to me and said, 'Look, I know my position,'" Harris said.
Harris found her six or seven dates, and the woman ended up dating one person for about six months. Although that didn't work out romantically, she returned to Harris saying her newfound confidence was worth every penny.
Still, Harris can boast that she has a few marriages and dozens of long-term relationships under her belt. Papamarko's Friend of a Friend service has a 10 percent chance of ending in a relationship or marriage.
"As long as humans seeking companionship continue to exist on planet Earth, we will always need matchmakers," Papamarko said.