Sometimes, falling in love comes with a price to pay.
Are dating apps like Tinder the best catalysts for us to bid farewell to singlehood?
We thought so, until we met Wendy Tse, the warm and friendly founder of Society W, who turned our perceptions of the matchmaking industry around.
Who: Wendy Tse, 33
What: Founder and head matchmaker at Society W
Studied: Bachelor of business degree at Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
Tell us more about yourself.
I grew up in a typical Singaporean fashion. My parents expected me to be a lawyer, doctor or accountant. Initially, they were quite sceptical about me throwing away my career in finance after investing in it for years.
It was tough facing them on a daily basis, knowing that they are not behind what I do, though they tried not to be too discouraging. My parents’ comfort level increased after people started to recognise matchmaking as a respectable profession.
How and why did you become a matchmaker?
I am an emotionally driven person, and I know how to advise and counsel people quite naturally since I was 16. My friends always came to me for relationship advice and I set them up on dates, which led to some successful marriages.
However, I feel what gives me the most credibility is the fact that I had struggled through my own dating issues over many, many years. I dated for about 13 years before I found my husband!
Since my banking career was not feeding my soul, I thought: “You know what, let’s try and see what happens.”
Describe a typical day at work.
I spend about 50 per cent of my time responding emails, client requests, scheduling meetings, making preparations and date coaching.
There’s a lot of work to be done behind the scenes, before the client steps in the office for coaching. If not, I’ll be online, scouting for potentials that I think my clients will like.
What are some of the challenges you face as a matchmaker?
Matchmaking is a very tough job. I have to look through about 1,500 profiles a day. When you ask people what they are looking for, they will usually provide a very standard list of answers: “He must be kind, smart, responsible…”.
In reality, everybody goes for different things based on their backgrounds, parents’ marriage, previous relationships and more. That’s where I come in to study these 1,500 profiles to understand what they really want.
Also, people are always looking for someone so specific. Imagine clients requesting to be matched with someone over 1.8m tall and earns more than $1 million per year. It is so difficult to find [their desired profiles], I don’t even know if that person exists!
What are some unexpected cases you have encountered?
Most people fall in love with someone they don’t expect to fall in love with.
There were two separate cases of demanding clients with a lot of requirements. After months of coaxing, persuading and encouraging, one of them is married and the other is engaged – both with matches that didn’t suit their initial requirements.
On the other hand, there are people asking for specific nail shapes or skinny ankles. There are even women looking for middle-aged virgin men!
Do dating apps like Tinder draw clients away from the matchmaking scene?
No, not at all! Actually, I encourage my clients to go on them. All of us matchmakers are on these apps too, scouting for matches that suit our clients’ descriptions.
It’s effective because it’s almost too good to be true for a matchmaker to walk up to people on these apps and set them up with someone for free. They just have to be open to falling in love.
What motivates you in your work?
You can only be a good matchmaker if you truly care. I’m motivated by how matchmaking is partially social work. It’s really rewarding when you see two people falling in love because of what you did.
What advice would you give to youths considering a career as a matchmaker?
Go for it! You will meet a lot of interesting people. Besides, you get to go out on a Wednesday night at a club or lounge as part of your job.
|Educational requirements: A diploma or higher.
Qualities needed: Empathy, patience, extremely high EQ, and a deep interest in relationships.
Salary range: The starting pay is around $2,500, but the pay increases with each promotion. There are performance-based bonuses too.
Working hours: The usual working hours are 10am to 7pm. Expect to work on occasional Saturdays.
Career prospects: Date coach, relationship counsellor, or image consultant.
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