A professional matchmaker has shared her advice for singletons finding love - including the one thing you shouldn't talk about on a first date. Laura Smyth, 34, claims she is the only matchmaker in Scotland and says demand for her services trebled during the pandemic.
She now has around 500 people on her books and even met her own fiance, Emmanuel Ofori Duah, 31, through her matchmaking service after he signed up for a consultation. The couple had been on a few dates at the same university and were Facebook friends for 10 years - however Laura thought she would never consider dating a client due to it being seen as unprofessional.
The dating expert wasn't looking for love at the time, having just left a seven-year relationship, but realised their life goals aligned when she did a two-hour consultation with him. Laura switched to matchmaking after a career in recruitment, utilising her headhunting skills to start Match Made in 2020.
Laura, from Armargh, N. Ireland who now lives in Edinburgh, believes in 'masculine and feminine energy' and said first dates should be kept light and bright - with no talk of exes.
Laura said: "It's about masculine energy and feminine energy - men feel loved when they feel needed, women feel loved when they feel cherished.
"The early 90s was a man's world, now women are having access to the same jobs, buying their own flats.
"Men want to feel needed while the woman is saying 'I don't need you to pay for me' - but we need you for support, for affection.
"Women need to realise that yes, be 100 per cent independent, but do you need to go on about it?
"When women say 'I'm independent' men hear 'I don't need you'.
"When you think of women who are at the top of their careers, these are women who are tenacious and ambitious which men perceive as masculine energy.
"It needs a really strong man to be with a successful woman, they are still soft and feminine, they still want what every woman wants.
"When men talk about money we may see that as showing off, but they are trying to show they can provide."
Successful women can face challenges when dating, Laura argues, which she hopes to combat with her service - aimed at professional people who don't want staff to see them on dating apps.
Image:Katielee Arrowsmith SWNS)
Image:Katielee Arrowsmith SWNS)
She suggested that when men talk about money, it often masks nerves and a desire to prove they are useful or 'providers' - while women could think about how they talk about their independence to avoid making men feel sidelined.
And she says most people don't relax enough to show who they really are until a third date - while suggesting that if there wasn't immediate chemistry that could grow in future and to give the person another chance.
Laura believes people's life goals need to match in order to have a shared future, and asks clients to list wants, needs and non-negotiables - such as smoking or having young children - as well as reflecting on why past relationships failed.
She said: "You need to have the same relationship goals - the apps commodify people and men outnumber women by 9/1.
"If you go with zero expectations you will always have a good first date.
"There are non-negotiables, like smoking or having young children, so in a consultation we would talk about those.
"People date blindly but they need to think about what went wrong in past relationships."
Laura says if men talk about past relationships and show their vulnerability on a first date, they risk asking women to 'mother' them - going from 'masculine' to 'feminine' energy, which can ruin the chance of connection and being friend-zoned, she thinks.
Image:Getty Images/Tetra images RF)
And the dating pro believes successful women who are proud of having bought a flat by themselves, for example, could think carefully about how they present their independence, including around paying for drinks - giving more thought to men's attempts to be 'chivalrous'.
Laura added: "When I met my fiance he said 'why don't you just match with me', and I had just come out of a seven-year relationship.
"I wasn't looking to date anyone, but what he was saying he wanted was what I wanted.
"Some people think a matchmaker is a magic wand, but the most important thing is having the same relationship goals.
"Whether or not people will have chemistry is not something I can foresee, chemistry is something different from sexual attraction.
"People meet at work and three years later start dating, when they've grown to get to know them and are attracted to each other.
"I think chemistry grows."
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