First published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel under the pen name, Elizabeth Rose.
It’s for research. It was at first, anyway.
My friend and I are trading stories of a guy we both had gone out with (seriously) and after a few laughs, she turns the subject to Santa Barbara Matchmaking, a local dating concierge service owned by Lisa Darsonval-Amador.
She speaks with enthusiasm about her experience and applauds Lisa and the business. I’m intrigued.
As she continues, I decide this is a great subject for my column, but mid-conversation a light went on in my head: I could interview Lisa for the column, or I could participate in the process first-hand.
As a single woman, “just having fun” and as a writer with a deadline, I choose both.
I fill out the “Free Membership” questionnaire and within 30 minutes, Lisa calls.
Our exchange was polite.
She remains calm as I ramble on about my intentions for contacting her (which are unclear even at the moment).
On recent dates, I’ve been asked a lot of what I want out of a relationship.
“And I never know how to answer,” I admit. “I don’t know what I want.”
Lisa pauses just long enough to comprehend my vague statement but not long enough to make me feel uncomfortable.
“I can tell a lot by your answer,” she responds.
(My experience with matchmaking goes as far as a particular show on a particular reality channel, where interview processes resemble a cattle call and throwing quick-fire questions as if you are on trial, leaving many hopefuls in torment.)
We make an appointment for an hour consultation the next week. In my mind, she already has me figured out and I’m a little intimidated.
Behind the Matchmaker
I arrive at the door of Santa Barbara Matchmaking on a damp Tuesday morning in black ankle boots, black jeans, black T-shirt, and a black leather jacket – a Matrix uniform of sorts, ready for action.
Lisa greets me with a warm smile.
Her petite frame and hazel eyes let me know our meeting will not be as probing as I thought. She guides me to a conference room.
The glass window wall facing the lobby is curtained for privacy, acting as a confidential and safe zone.
After a few pleasantries, I dive in.
Lisa has three kids out of high-school had been married to their father for 18 years.
During her marriage, her best friend and college roommate Michelle Jacoby started Washington, D.C.
Matchmaking service and, as her business grew, would call upon Lisa (then living in Oregon) as a sounding board.
A few years later, the roles reversed.
Lisa’s marriage came to an end, and she found herself consulting with her friend for dating guidance.
Lisa had now played both sides of the field and with this newfound knowledge and experience, interest in matchmaking piqued and her friend encouraged Lisa to start a matchmaking business of her own.
She spent a week in D.C. with Michelle, interacted with clients, and thus realized her calling.
After training with Michelle and two years of certifications, Lisa became a matchmaker through the Matchmaking Institute, NYC.
Her titles now include matchmaker, dating coach, image/style consultant and International best-selling contributing author of Sexy Secrets to a Juicy Love Life. February 2015 marked her fourth year in business.
Put Me in, Coach!
“My clients are serious about finding love in a committed monogamous relationship, and we are a full concierge to provide that service.”
Date coaching is a large part of the business.
Once a client is cleared (hello, background check!), and a hefty questionnaire has been filled out, date coaching is available.
Coaching covers various topics as what to wear on a date, how to flirt, proper etiquette, and how to gain confidence.
It extends to online dating, as well as in reviewing dating profiles to make sure you’re conveying the right message, how to safely navigate dating sites, how to take a great profile picture, you name it.
And I was surprised to learn Lisa was a fan of online dating, thinking it is the competition of sorts for her business.
(It turns out she connected with her partner on Match.com – they married in January 2015.)
She encourages a number of clients to try for themselves.
The fun part is, of course, finding a match.
“I set up the entire date, so one even knows what the other looks like until they meet at the location.”
Does she require men to pay for the date? Yes.
“And I encourage women to be gracious in return.”
She inspires women to be “softer feminine” and not lead careers ambitions (note to self).
So what about physical intimacy?
“Enjoy the dance! No rush!” she proclaims. “Save it when you are in a committed relationship, but express that you are sexual,” Lisa coaches.
“Show your value, but if you feel it, there’s no problem kissing on a first date.”
You may explore SB Matchmaking through a Client Membership, the Social Club, or through Free Membership options.
Client memberships are for serious seekers of love and run $3,500 for three months of service.
Free membership is available to parties interested in meeting her “black book” of clients, but not without a personal screening by Lisa to ensure you are a right fit.
June 1 launched the Social Club Membership where each month, three local businesses give members exclusive offers unavailable to the public.
Lisa calls it a “Look good, feel good, and have a great date experience.”
You don’t have to be a couple to participate – singles are welcome.
“A lot of single people find their match at our hosted events.”
Fees are listed per month from $9.95, $19.95, or $39.95.
Think of it as a social calendar geared toward unique dating ideas and places to explore.
Single and Ready to Mingle
The timer goes off and my hour is up.
After thanking Lisa for her time, she guides me through the lobby and out the front door.
I stumble for words as I cross the threshold, and before I can muster a sound, she saves me from a stutter.
“I’ll keep you in mind,” she says with a smile.
With that, I wave goodbye.
I walk to my car with dating tips and advice swirling in my brain, feeling more confident and a little closer to what I’m searching for.
Santa Barbara Matchmaking, LLC & Coaching
Santa Barbara Matchmaking is Amador Matchmaking