There’s an ad running on TV lately for an online dating service; the young man asks: If your service is so good at matching people, why should I have to join for a whole year?

I smile and sigh every time I see this commercial. I want to tell this guy: Trust me, you’ll need that year!

I’ve been a tutor and educator my entire life, but there was also a ten-year stretch where I was a professional relationship coach and matchmaker.

Matchmaking operates at the intersection of Love in its most idealized form, and Reality at its most stark. Matchmakers and most online dating sites specialize in the Romantic Dream: “finding that special someone” and then “living happily ever after.”

Have you ever filled out an enrollment questionnaire for any of these services? You tell them all about “who you are” and “what you are looking for” in a partner. From there it should be a simple matter of matching you with singles who meet your criteria and vice versa. You’ll meet a few eligible people and soon, with one of them, mutual chemistry will click in, and viola! The relationship you’ve always dreamed of!

Never say never. During my matchmaking decade I saw it happen just like this plenty of times. But, truth be told, most people need that year, and most likely they’ll need more than just a year.

Here’s what you’ll need that year for:

  • To meet a variety of people. Dating services and personal ads make this easier than ever. Try to relax and enjoy the process of dating. Make some friends along the way. Try not to be too single-minded and intense about your search; view it, instead, as an adventure.
  • To learn about yourself and others. Reflect on your dating experiences. Keep a journal. Think hard about your feelings during this process. Also try to notice how others react to you.
  • To put the past to rest. So many people don’t take the time to recover from bad break-ups or assess and learn from past experiences, and instead they bring this baggage with them as they begin dating again.
  • To take the pressure off. Allowing yourself to be single for a while can be a freeing, growth-filled experience. Dating in a relaxed manner can make you feel socially active without being committed to the responsibilities of a relationship.

I’ve given this same advice countless times, but it’s much easier for me to say than for people to follow.

Why is finding the right relationship so difficult?

Why do people often rush to find new partners?

What are your thoughts, questions, advice?