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Lanie's Articles  |   Essays From M.H Borden

The Life of a Matchmaker

She was one of those friends who made you think you had climbed Mount Everest, no matter how small a step you had taken. Whatever courage you mustered, Nancy applauded the bravery; whatever course you chose, she enthusiastically affirmed your grounds.

When she died a few years ago, many of us lost a "mother," a coach, and the best cheerleader we would ever have. Who can blame me then, whenever personal news seems stunning, for needing to cry out to her spirit in the universe?

"Nancy, I’m a matchmaker, I say as loud as I dare," awaiting the long-cherished response to most any behavior, "But of course, Lanie, but of course. Bravo! Good for you."

She knew full well what a romantic I was, after all, having comforted me from her sick bed as I pined over both a brief unrequited love and the end of a 30-year marriage. When the turmoil was over, Nancy basked in my happiness, thrilled with the man I had met through a national dating service. She lived long enough, thankfully, to see me with someone she agreed was, for me, the ideal husband.

It often feels as though you have never thanked someone enough for all they have given you. But now that my husband and I have started our own local matchmaking service, I finally have a way to at least pay tribute to this beloved friend.

For like Nancy, I am entrusted, as a matchmaker, with the vulnerabilities and open hearts of those who come to me for help. I, too, have the rare opportunity to hear stories that confirm for me daily our need for connection as well as the resilience and hopefulness of the human spirit. And I have the challenge, with her inspiration, to make the appropriate response.

What can you feel but awe, though, when listening to "Anne," who survived an abusive marriage for 32 years? "Anne’s" husband rarely talked to her except to put her down, she told me matter-of-factly. He wouldn’t let her drive and programmed their few activities. She’d never known what it was like to have someone tell her she was special, to have a man she could talk to and even argue with in a non-threatening way, to have her husband fix things without punching his hand through the walls. Finally she is free, free to play golf, to learn to ride a bike. Every day is a new adventure, she says, and rather than being bitter, she yearns for the company of a kind man, her face lighting up at the prospect of how the most normal of activities can be fun when shared.

How can you not be moved, in fact, by the stories of each and every client? There’s "Joanie," who, though only 35, said she hadn’t been this happy in a long time, thanks to her new-found love. "Kristen," the same age, thought she was ugly and unlovable but has now met a darling fellow with whom to share her life. "Helen," at 40, says she feels like a kid; she didn’t think she’d ever feel this way again about someone. And "John," a gentle 59-year-old who has lost two loving wives, is putting himself out there, trusting that somehow he will find another friend to love.

From young and old widowers and widows, who are bravely giving it another try, to young and old divorcees, who are willing to cast aside cynicism for a fresh start, to those just beginning the quest for intimacy, Nancy’s words seem to me the truest response: "Bravo!"

To them all, to the client whose long-term boyfriend broke up with her on New Year’s Eve, to the man who wants desperately to have his own child, to the bachelors who regret the choices they made, to the very young wanting to make the right choice, to the man at mid-life who tells me he is hopeful for the first time in a long time, to the woman who left her husband to be with another woman, indeed to all of our clients, I want to say over and over those words that meant so much to me, "Good for you. Good for you."

And as I cheer them on their journeys, with Nancy’s guidance, I can do some mothering, as well -- coach and encourage, glorying as folks spread their wings and perhaps even discover that their own ideal partner may not come in quite the package they expected.

I am often asked what it is like to be a matchmaker. I suppose it can be compared to having the privilege of being the kind of friend that Nancy was. For from an overarching perspective, I can see, as she did, what most people can’t see themselves: just how very brave are the lives they lead.

Eudora Welty once wrote that life is the continuation of love. Are you listening, Nancy? I only pray that you understand how much you did and do to nourish that life-affirming cycle in the universe. "Wish us all well," I plead.

And the voice that keeps me grounded and on track comes from away in the distance, farther than Mt. Everest, and finds its way, mysteriously, into the depths of my heart.

"But of course, Lanie, but of course."

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I met someone wonderful through your fine service. Lanie's moral support and encouragement helped me during the dating process. I have been having a wonderful time since I've met him. Thank you, Lanie!
Cindy, Springfield Ma
Dear Lanie, Mass Match has definitely exceeded my expectations. It was a great way to connect with someone special. I couldn't be happier at this moment.
Sam, Holyoke Ma
I have used several different internet dating sites like match.com. Mass Match is by far the best I have used. I like that it connects me with local women. Women that live within an hours drive of me. That is important. I prefer to connect with a woman that I can visit easily. I don't want to start a relationship with someone that lives in Ohio or Virginia. I like the personal touch that I get with Mass Match. The matches that I am being sent are not coming from a computer, from a machine. They are coming from Lanie -- a human being that happens to be dedicated matchmaker. I love getting an email from Lanie: "Jack, Mary is a sweet lady. You have a few things in common. I think you will like each other. Why don't you give her a call". You don't get the personal touch like that from the other dating sites. Lanie advises us. Teaches us to enjoy the process. I learned not to go into a first meeting with a woman as if I was interviewing her for the job of being my Soul-mate. I have met some wonderful women thru MM. I am having a good time. What Lanie is doing is very special. I am grateful to Mass Match.
John, Lee Ma
I moved to the Berkshires two years ago from a large city when my marriage ended. I'm in my 40's and now a single mom. I was attracted to the country lifestyle and thought it would be a great place to raise children. What I didn't realize is how hard it would be to connect with single men! The Berkshires are filled with talented, beautiful women, who far outnumber eligible single men. And because people are fairly isolated here, its difficult to meet other singles. A friend introduced me to Mass Match and really, it changed my life! They take a personal approach and only match people when they really think it would be appropriate for them to meet. Lanie is very wise about the dating scene, and able to coach her clients well. I've met so many great guys through Mass Match. I can't recommend it enough and have sent many of my friends to them for help. The cost of their services is so reasonable. Mass Match really cares, and many of the men I have met have become friends if we decided not to date further. I feel like I have a family here now. The best part about Mass Match is that you can always all or email her, if you want to talk about the dating process or ask for advice! It's a lot better than doing it yourself on the internet dating circuit!
Marie, Stockbridge Ma