A Matchmaker Talks About What's Really Important
Recession presses people to prioritize relationships, this pro says
Lisa Clampitt married her husband within two months of meeting him. Six years ago, she spotted the City University of New York professor while getting coffee. She introduced herself, and after chatting for 20 minutes, he asked her to marry him. Two dates later, they sent out Evites for the wedding.
If finding love were that easy for everybody, Clampitt would be out of work.
Clampitt, 44, is a professional matchmaker. She’s president of the high-end New York City matchmaking service VIP Life, and co-founder of a school to train matchmakers, the Matchmaking Institute.
Petite, and dressed in dark shades of maroon and black, she exudes the compassion of the former social worker she is, but also the efficiency of a woman who manages the social calendars of 30 high-earning lawyers, doctors, financial analysts and entrepreneurs at any given time.
Clampitt once worked for Patti Stanger, who tears bachelors apart to make them more lovable on Bravo’s “The Millionaire Matchmaker”. But she thinks she’s much more nurturing. Her clients will often drop by her office on Fifth Avenue, with its distinctive animal-print furniture, plush couches, tribal masks on red walls, and fully- stocked bar.
She’ll mix an investment banker a drink, and dissect his most recent date, listening to complaints—“she had bad breath”—and offering relationship advice.
The Super-Fun Side of Social Work
Clampitt’s male clients pay $10,000 to $20,000 for relationship coaching, and the hope of a long-term relationship or marriage with one of the more than 1,000 single women in her roster. The women don’t pay.
A modeling agency that rents space in Clampitt’s office is a convenient source of attractive women; other women submit membership applications online.
We caught up with her recently for a chat.
Q: How did you get into matchmaking?
A: I’ve always been one of those romantics setting up my friends. If I see someone who’s single who doesn’t want to be single, I feel compelled to help find them someone. It’s a passion of mine. I had been a social worker for 12 years and I loved it, but it was a really depressing side of life. There were a lot of problems, and a lot of bereavement. I was ready to try something else, and I saw a newspaper ad for a matchmaker. Before that, I had never even thought about it as a profession.
Q: How did being a social worker prepare you to be a relationship expert?
A: You’re really getting to know someone and getting to know what the obstacles have been in their lives to achieve the goals that they want, whether it’s a lack of exposure, or making poor choices in partners. I help them make better decisions, and screen people for them. It is the super-fun side of social work.
Q: Who are your typical clients?
A: Often heavy travelers. Usually with an income of $150,000 to $200,000 plus. They’re really good catches: heavy hitters who want a social secretary for their love life.
Q: You’ve been in the business since 1999. How has the proliferation of websites devoted to meeting people online impacted professional matchmaking?
They’ve made us more popular, because people are more aware of this way of meeting people: utilizing a third party—in that case a computer—to find love. So it’s actually made matchmaking more mainstream. The only issue online is misinformation about height, weight, age, old photos, marital status, etc. So people come to us because they want that screening, as well as someone to help them make better decisions and give feedback. And it’s fun to talk to someone about your personal life. It’s almost like a hired wingman or girlfriend.
Q: What effect has the economic recession had on the industry?
With my business, I’ve been lucky. The people who come to me have a decent disposable income, so even if they’ve been hit, they still have a good nest egg. Actually, I’ve found a really interesting trend of people reevaluating their priorities. Folks that were working, working, working, are now taking a step back and looking at the world as kind of vulnerable, saying, “What do I want in my life? I want someone who can weather the storms with me. Maybe I am not traveling the world, but I have someone to go home with.” So I’ve seen a resurgence, almost like September 11th, where people start re-prioritizing and deciding to invest in their love lives.