I'm A Matchmaker Who Matched Her Own Mother

Photo: Ruslan Huzau / Shutterstock
older couple watching sunset by water

It’s in my family’s nature to nurture.

My mother was a couple’s therapist, and I am a matchmaker who helps busy professionals find love.

Because of my mother’s profession, the complexities and joys of romantic relationships have always been an explicit topic of conversation in our home, and we have always sought to put our knowledge into practice. I was raised to believe that we are our best selves when we’re caring for others.

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This is why my father’s death was so devastating for our family and especially for my mother.

My mother is an active, curious, generous person who thrives as part of a couple.

She needs someone who is a partner in the deepest sense of the word–someone who can accompany her on outdoor adventures while also being able to converse intelligently about an array of subjects, someone who shares values in addition to experiences.

My father was all of those things and more.

After his death, we all went through an intense grieving process. The life my mother had lived and loved was turned completely upside down, and, while I was going through my own grieving process, it also devastated me to see her in such pain.

However, from very early on, it was clear to me what needed to be done. The best way to nourish her physical and mental health going forward would be to help her find a new partner. 

My mother agreed. With her blessing, we began our matchmaking adventure.

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Making a match

I knew that my extensive experience in matchmaking and my previous background in executive search would be an asset. I’d made thousands of successful matches throughout my life: what was one more?

However, matching my mother was unlike anything I had done before.

I always make a point of trying to get to know my clients on a personal level to ensure that they find partners who are deeply compatible. Not only did I already have a close relationship with my mother going into it, but I had been close with my father as well.

Still, I knew that he would always be supportive of anything that was done to improve Mom’s well-being and to keep her heart happy and healthy.

During the matchmaking process, though, I began to see sides of her that I had never known before.

I let go of my own assumptions about what would make her happy and listened first instead, giving her space to tell me in her own words what she wanted and needed. 

I also gained a newfound understanding and appreciation of her relationship with my father. This did not make finding a new match harder — in fact, it did the opposite. It helped us both realize that finding a new partner did not diminish the love she still held for my father but was an act of self-compassion on her part.

It was exactly what he would have wanted for her.

I encouraged her to date at her own pace. After a couple of dates without a spark, she was introduced to a gentleman with whom she formed an instant connection. She and I were overjoyed. There was a newfound spring in her step, that unmistakable radiance that only comes from a new love.

More than ten years on, she is still living radiantly.

During that time, she learned a number of unexpected, profound lessons about intimacy and navigating new relationships. I had the privilege of using my experience to guide her through the process of meeting her partner’s children and the rest of his family. It was as joyful as it was complex, and she learned a lot about herself in the process.

She did not remarry, but she gained a lifelong companion whose presence and support remain a consistent source of joy in her life. They support one another and keep each other vibrant through the quality time and experiences they share.

The change in my mother’s physical and mental health has been phenomenal, and I could not be happier for her. I know that my father would be too.

Lessons learned

This experience not only profoundly affected me as a business owner and a matchmaker but as a daughter, a wife, a mother, and a human being.

It helped me gain a new appreciation for the power of love and the expansiveness of the human heart, its ability to cherish old love while also diving into new relationships.

Whether you have been widowed, divorced, single, or simply ended a relationship, it’s important to remember that you can always find new love. Moreover, the lessons learned from past relationships can lead to healthier and more fulfilling partnerships in the future.

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If you are struggling to reenter the dating world but want to experience encore love, here are a few lessons to keep in mind:

1. Process the past

One of the keys to making a new relationship work is to ensure that you’ve taken time to process, learn from and heal from your previous relationship.

No matter how positive or negative your prior relationship was, there are always things we can do better.

Reflecting on and working through past insecurities or resentments can prevent you from bringing old, unresolved issues into your new partnership. It’s crucial to identify what worked and what didn’t work in previous relationships and to use this knowledge to define what you’re looking for in a partner going forward. 

2. Be explicit about your goals, wants, and needs

To ensure that your next relationship is successful, it’s important to be clear about what you want, both for yourself and your potential partner.

Being transparent about the qualities you’re looking for and your wants and needs in a relationship will help you ensure that you are choosing to be with someone whose values and goals align with your own. Knowing what you want out of a relationship is essential to getting what you want out of it.

3. Be selective, and have fun

Sometimes, in the aftermath of a relationship, it can be tempting to want to dive right into a new one as soon as you feel a spark. While it is important to put yourself out there, it’s equally crucial to protect yourself.

When you are looking for something long-term, make sure that you focus on the quality, rather than quantity, of your dates, and take time to really get to know your potential partner. Pay close attention to your gut and make sure that you are with this person for the right reasons.

After all, it’s not a race–being selective and finding someone who brings you joy is the best thing you can do in terms of self-care and self-love.

Getting back into the dating world can be intimidating, but it can also be an exciting, fulfilling adventure.

Other people never fail to surprise us, and we often surprise ourselves as well; this is what makes relationships so endlessly fascinating.

Matching my mother taught me never to lose hope in that capacity for surprise. The vibrancy and joy that finding love again brought her are living proof of the transformative power that encore love can have for anyone.

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Barbie Adler is the Founder and President of Selective Search, a leading national luxury matchmaking firm. A former executive search professional, Barbie's matchmaking service uses Fortune 500 executive recruitment techniques for personal matchmaking, guiding professionals toward lasting love. She has written and spoken extensively on a broad array of topics relating to dating and relationships.