Updated: Feb. 13, 2001

Looking for love in all the right places

Julie White, Kingston This Week

While happy couples wine and dine each other this Valentine’s Day, some area singles are anonymously looking for love in once unthinkable places.

With the hustle and bustle of today’s world, singles are often too tired by day’s end to think about combing social settings in search of that someone special. Instead, today’s singles are turning to matchmaking services — personal ads, voice messages and Internet dating —putting their hearts in someone else’s hands. No matter how you look at it, matchmaking Is big business, one that caters to every single, regardless of age, class, or sexual preference. It seems the stigma surrounding dating services is disappearing.

Kingston This Week (KTW) Publisher Cam Inglis, provides readers with Sincerely Yours, a telephone-based service that aims to match women and men.

Demographics have shifted

Since Sincerely Yours began nine years ago, IngIls says the demographic has shifted.

Today, people aged 30-plus are using the service more. “It’s amazing the number of seniors using it. My favourite ad was an older gentleman who said, ‘Call me Mr. Lonely,” says Inglis. Using the same Philadelphia-based company that provides the telephone service, KTW also offers Web Friends via its Web site.

Linda Miller, owner of Misty River Introductions, a Carleton Place-based matchmaking servIce, says more and more young people are turning to her to help find their perfect match.

“When people first started coming to the matchmaking service, they were more In the 40 and up category and they weren’t the people still going to the clubs, [like) the 25 to 35 year olds. We’ve still got a lot of 35-plus, but in the last two years, it’s shifted. People have turned away from meeting in bars and health clubs,” Miller says.

“Once they are out of school, people are coming to us. I think part of It Is they are so busy trying to establish a career and are working long hours,” she says. “They’re looking for somebody to expedite [the process] for them, to find someone to contact"

Miller admits using a matchmaker isn’t a lot different than meeting someone through traditional methods. “It’s still personality-driven, you still have to sell yourself,” she notes.

When you meet someone through a service, however, you already know what they are looking for, whether they have been married and other items which may be difficult to discuss on a first date, she says.

Both Miller and Inglis stress the anonymity provided through their services.

Miller meets with every potential client and interviews them personally. Once she has found a potential match, the woman is given the man’s phone number. It’s up to her to take the first step and call.

Through Sincerely Yours, Inglis says, phone numbers don’t have to be exchanged until clients are comfortable with one another. “You can have detailed conversations without even knowing each other’s names.”

Romance still alive

Despite using a matchmaker as In intermediary, these services don’t kill romance, Miller says. “That’s a myth people have. It’s just ridiculous. It’s no different than meeting someone In any other circumstance. There’s either a romantic spark there or not.”

So what are singles looking for in a potential mate? “Men and women look for different things. Women look for height, It’s a big factor. They also tend to want someone with at least the same level of education they have,” Miller says.

“I’ve rarely had a man select for education. They tend of look for a [body type] and Intelligence.”

“A big thing these days is smoking,” she adds. “It’s much harder to match a smoker.”

When it comes to selecting a mate, many people fall into patterns.

“People who come to me say they’ve made the same mistake again and again. You have to get that mental picture of what you like and a lot think they’re stuck in the pattern forever.”

When Miller introduces singles to another type of person, their whole world may change. She says she has becomes the best friend of mothers whose daughters make bad choices.

With the introduction of the information superhighway, “all of a sudden, we’ve done an about face.”

Kingston is “a very big market for singles. It’s such a melting pot. We have such a diversity of people,” Miller notes. From medical professionals and high tech workers to truck drivers and single parents, many are looking for someone special.

“There are also a lot of diverse ages, from 18 to 90,” she says. Not everyone is seeking a long-term relationship, says Inglis. Many people use Sincerely Yours “to make contacts for social things like dinner and dances.”

 Although all clients are screened, Inglis advises people who are meeting for the first time to do so In a public place during the day.

Services work

The service works, Inglis says. One client, a health-care professional in her 30s, left an ad and received about 50 responses. She then went on successful dates with six gentlemen.

“There was one fellow who stood out above the rest,” Inglis reports. “They started to date, ended up getting married, bought a house and have two children.”

What kind of advice does Inglis have for singles looking for a date? “Try to be relaxed and be personable. When you leave your voice mail message, be specific about what you want. Be yourself,” he says.

“If a person uses this the way it’s Intended, I can’t think of a safer way to do things.”