By Beth Mellow
On the rocky road to love, many of us are guilty of getting emotionally attached too quickly, drunk texting at 2 a.m. or letting an undeserving ex back into our lives. In the hopes of becoming smarter daters and finding “the one,” we turn to relationship experts to advise us and matchmakers to help us find someone with whom we’ll click.
But would you choose a matchmaker who is guilty of the same dating faux pas as you, who is single and still on the hunt for true love?
Apparently many would, as Amy Laurent’s booming matchmaking business indicates. The thirtysomething singleton who calls the Upper East Side home has been in business for seven years and currently operates offices in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and London. Additionally, since Laurent appeared on Bravo TV’s Miss Advised, a docu-series that ended its season on Aug. 6 focused on the personal lives of three single relationship “experts,” she claims that her services are in more demand than ever. “I’ve seen an uptick in business. Applications for men and women have increased since the start of the show,” she said.
Laurent speculates that the expansion of her client roster has to do with the fact that viewers relate to her.
“What’s interesting is that while I’m out having a drink or at the gym running on the treadmill, women approach me and ask, ‘Are you that girl?’ They tell me that they totally get what I’m going through,” she said. “I think they identify with me in the sense that, like a lot of other women, I am a workaholic and I’ve gone for long periods of time when I don’t even have a date.”
In addition to the series spotlighting the day-to-day at Laurent’s office, it opened a window on her personal life. Viewers were along for the ride when her notorious ex-boyfriend, AB (pronounced “Abie”), who had left her for a job in Saudi Arabia, returns and Laurent, without hesitating, accepts an invitation to see him. On her blog, she admits that she would advise her clients against doing exactly what she did, then ponders, “So what the hell happened to me?”
Laurent continues to open up about her relationship foibles in her new book, 8 Weeks to Everlasting: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting (and Keeping) the Guy You Want (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2012). In the book, she provides practical advice on how to manage the early, precarious part of a relationship, providing examples from the love lives of clients and friends as well as her own experiences. At one point, she discusses her brief relationship with a television writer named “Quinten” for whom she made herself too available, saying yes to any date, even if it was last minute or inconvenient.
“I’m just like you when it comes to my own heart, but when it comes to guiding you, I’m going to be clearheaded. I’m devoted to it,” she continued coyly. “I think I focus on getting people across their obstacles so I don’t have to deal with my own.”
Laurent realizes it might be risky to her business reputation, but felt it was important to honestly portray herself in her book and on the show. “I’m a very real person and I really thought, I’m so tired of all the experts out there creating this myth that we’re perfect,” she said.
Not only has Laurent used her romantic life as a source to draw from when advising clients, it was her dating experiences that attracted her to matchmaking in the first place. The East Coast native was in her twenties, living in Los Angeles and eager to meet guys. After scoping out a few ads for matchmaking services, she applied to a couple and was disappointed in the men she was paired with.
“Women didn’t pay for the service, so, because of that, I felt that I wasn’t really listened to. I thought more consideration was given to the guys because they were paying clients. I knew that there were things I would do differently if I had my own matchmaking service,” said.
Dissatisfied with her sales job at a custom brokerage, Laurent started her matchmaking company with the goal of making happy matches for both the men and women who enlist her help.
“The women don’t pay for my services, but I listen to them as much as my male clients and consider their thoughts and feelings as just as important,” she said.
Her approach, according to her company’s statistics, has been working. To date, Laurent’s matchmaking has resulted in 27 marriages, with an 80 to 85 percent success rate in finding relationships for her clients. Also, though men pay to be part of the service, Laurent and her team don’t accept poor behavior. In her book she admits to jettisoning one client for making lewd comments to dates and saying sayonara to a guy who would “grill the girls in a passive-aggressive way.”
While Laurent’s reputation for being a fair-minded matchmaker has been great for business, she admits it’s not always great for her already imperfect dating life. She explains that discussing her profession with a potential beau at a cocktail party can be awkward. “I think it’s very intimidating for a lot of men,” she said. “A lot of guys think I will be analyzing them and that it will be weird.”
Nevertheless, Laurent continues her own pursuit of love and sees the television show and book as learning experiences.
“You don’t have to be perfect to be ready to date, but you have to be open and honest. It’s been scary and I felt vulnerable, but I had to be honest with myself,” She said.
For further information about Laurent, visit amylaurent.com. Her book, 8 Weeks to Everlasting, is in bookstores and available at Amazon.com.
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