Dear Rabbi Shmuley,
I'm 32 years old, and I'm really ready to have a serious relationship and move forward in my life. I'm doing online dating, but I'm also considering trying a professional matchmaker. I know that there are Jewish matchmakers, and secular ones like I see on TV, but I'm Catholic--do you think this is a viable option for someone like me? Is it worth the time and money, or should I just be pumping up my social life on my own?
--Make Me a Match

Dear Make Me,
A matchmaker is a great idea, and not just for religious people. If you're Catholic, yes, you might want to go to a Catholic matchmaker, especially since I believe strongly that being on the same page religiously and value-wise is critical to the success of a long-term union. But first you have to overcome your reluctance to go to a matchmaker, which most people see as being for those who are desperate. That's simply not true.

I often encourage men and women to use their contacts to alleviate the loneliness of single life and, ultimately, get hitched. A matchmaker is a great idea for the following reasons:

1. Because modern life is so competitive, and human worth today is largely dictated by what we do rather than what we are, people are shyer and more insecure than ever. The endless models of perfection that enter our homes through television have undermined the self-confidence of most women. Hence, without matchmakers, only people with overt virtues, like beauty, wealth, or charisma, get noticed. A skilled matchmaker restores a sense of balance to the dating scene by allowing people with more subtle virtues to be noticed as well.

2. Matchmaking lessens the pain of rejection. When a guy and a girl go out after having met at Starbucks, it can be very awkward if either doesn't want to continue on to a second date. It can break a guy or girl's heart to hear that the person in whom they are interested does not reciprocate their affections. A good matchmaker uses his or her kindness and tact to soften the blow when a match isn't magic.

3. A matchmaker does your advertising for you. So often on a date, a man and a woman feel awkward. They want to convey how special they are but without sounding arrogant or full of themselves. Because a matchmaker gets all that "advertising" out of the way beforehand, you have the freedom to just be yourself on the date.

4. A matchmaker is out looking on your behalf when you don't have all the time in the world to do so, and they're also looking in the right places rather than at some stupid bar or nightclub.

5. A matchmaker remains an objective adviser throughout the courting and dating process. So often these days we just don't have a wise person to help us navigate the vicissitudes of relationships, especially as we become more emotionally entangled and our judgment becomes more subjective. A wise and insightful matchmaker – as opposed to those who are just out to make a buck – does just that.

At the very least, if a professional matchmaker isn't for you, go and tell all of your friends that you want a relationship, and ask them if there is anyone to whom they can introduce you. We're all a bit shy. But while we don't have to have the kind of confidence that allows us to go up to any man or woman on the street and introduce ourselves, we do have to have at least enough confidence to tell our friends that we are looking. Don't be afraid to lean on friends. Don’t even be too shy to tell your parents that you want to get married. They can be of great assistance. And yes, I know you think I'm crazy, but I did say your parents.

Seriously, I can understand your reluctance to turn to a matchmaker. But do not let your shyness keep you from dating. It doesn't need to. Your friends recognize the special and wonderful characteristics in you. Trust that they will know other people who will recognize this as well, and trust enough to then risk vulnerability with them. After all, that is the only way to open your heart–through trust.

G-d bless you.
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