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Interview: Patti Novak, ‘America’s Toughest Matchmaker,’ on Love, Relationships, and Matchmaking

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Creating relationships is a multi-billion dollar industry, and we’ve been seeing a lot of new takes on this business, from speed dating and niche online dating services such as Beautiful People – which, you guessed it, only allows beautiful people to join – to more one-sided business models such as coaching services, and pheromones that promise love in a bottle. One of the oldest methods of finding love that people still turn to is matchmaking. With the advance and acceptance of dating systems, matchmakers are making a resurgence, and Patti Novak, also known as “America’s Toughest Matchmaker,” is leading the charge.

Get Over Yourself Patti NovakBorn and raised in Buffalo, New York, Patti Novak began her career in matchmaking at the age of 10 when she was voted “The Next Ann Landers” by her eighth grade class. Patti Novak went on to star in the critically acclaimed A&E series Confessions of a Matchmaker, and has matched thousands of couples throughout her career. Patti has been appeared on CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The Today Show, and has been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. We talked to Patti Novak about her career, experience, and tips for dating in the modern world. Read on for Patti’s refreshing take on relationship facts and fiction.

What makes you “America’s toughest matchmaker?”

I believe in the tough love approach, and the fact that I’m not afraid to be blunt with my clients about how to improve themselves is one of the many things that makes me successful in helping people find love.

What are some of the most memorable moments from your career in matchmaking?

The “firsts,” such as the first marriage announcement, the first baby announcement, my national TV show, writing my book, and having the opportunity to sit with Oprah for 45 minutes are just a few of many memorable moments throughout my 13-year career as a professional matchmaker.

You write that “guys should make the initial call and suggest where to have the date.” Can you speak to gender equality and expectations in modern dating?

In a complicated modern dating world, I feel that it gives men the strength of decisiveness which is an attractive quality for men to possess. It also takes the awkwardness out of that “first date.”

You have a very honest and blunt personality – how do the people you work with react to that?

I use humor and love as part of my approach while being blunt and honest with people. It seems to me that the American single people are ready for it and crave it.

What is the biggest obstacle people face in finding love?

There are many obstacles for single people. Among them are a lack of self-love, self-worth, and self-respect. In addition, people often are in a pattern of poor picking when it comes to relationships.

What was your favorite moment from Confessions of a Matchmaker

My most rewarding experience on that show was with Paul S. He had poor manners, acted narcissistic at times, and he was an underachiever in his career based on his love for music. Since the show, he is not only exclusively dating a wonderful woman, but he has become more successful in his professional life.

Do you have fun scolding your clients?

No. I take my job very seriously and the “scolding,” in my opinion, is more akin to constructive criticism and coaching them to success.

You have a very strict screening process for your matchmaking services. What percentage of applicants do you turn away and what are the most common reasons?

I turn about 20% of prospective clients away for various reasons. Some people just aren’t ready emotionally, physically, or mentally for dating.

You have said that many of the women you have worked with are attracted to “malignant narcissists.” Why do you think that is?

Often times, a narcissist will initially come across as very charming, attractive, doting, confident, and full of passion. Unfortunately, the undesirable traits of a narcissist don’t fully rear their heads until they’ve gotten underneath your skin like a parasite.

Can you tell us what are the most important components of your matchmaking process?

My screening process is key. This is where I really find out who I’m dealing with.

You have advised people who have trouble having conversations because they are shy to memorize a list of topics before the date and practice asking questions. Do you have any more advice for shy daters?

[In addition] to going to the date with some interesting conversation to offer, listening to understand will help them to respond accordingly and keep the conversation flowing smoothly.

How has online dating changed the way we have relationships?

I think online dating is a good way for people to practice and sharpen their dating skills, but the safety risks often outweigh the benefits.

What are the most common or egregious relationship myths?

Although young opposites can attract, I don’t believe that this mantra hold true for more mature individuals. I think we are better off with our mirror as a partner.

Another myth, in my opinion, is love at first sight. I believe in chemistry and lust at first, but definitely not true love. Sex can happen in a day, but it can take months to truly get to know someone to the point of being capable of intimacy and love.

What was the proudest moment of your career?

When my daughter Jessica decided to follow in my footsteps.

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