Going on a date with Tampa matchmaker Dr. Nancy Wall

In the last five minutes I've switched tables in Panera three times, upgrading to a better spot based on size, light, and noise level. I flip through my notes and remind myself to sit up straight, display a confident yet relaxed body posture, smile, maintain eye contact, and nod no matter what she says. In many ways interviews are like first dates. Either I contact her saying I'd like to get to know her better, or she contacts me claiming she might have something I'd be interested in, or a third party sets us up. Then there's always the suspicion that she's just saying what I want to hear. Some interviewees chat with me candidly like an old drinking buddy, letting it all hang out. Others come into the interview with polished responses formulated to fit whatever questions I throw at them. Dr. Nancy Wall is the latter type. Even her outfit — slimming business-wear accented with a fluffy vest — feels perfectly calibrated to convey a serious persona with a fun side. As the president and founder of Tampa Bay MatchMakers, Wall intimately understands the concept of controlling the image you present to the world, along with a whole arsenal of life coaching tactics that are essential for singles looking to entice a potential love interest.

SA: Do a lot of your clients fall in love with you or your other matchmakers?

NW: Obviously we’re all very cautious and aware of that. I’m not a single person out looking. I know there are other matchmakers and their staff who are single, so it’s kind of like they’re looking first for them, but that’s not what we do. We don’t date clients... We tell people that we have clients just like us who we would love to introduce them to.

SA: What is the hardest part about your job?

NW: I compare it to having all these puzzle pieces and multiple puzzles to fit them into. The way that we match is really based on the non-negotiables — those things you absolutely can’t compromise on. Then we look at preferences. Four or five criteria could all match, but then this person is allergic to animals and this person works at SPCA. The uniqueness of each person makes it more difficult and challenging, but at the same time more exciting.

SA: What is the number one deal breaker people list as a non-negotiable?

NW: Smoking.

SA: What’s the number one deal breaker people list but often go back on?

NW: Recently it’s been politics. A couple weeks ago a client told me about a woman he just met. He said, ‘Besides the fact that she’s a smoker and a staunch Republican, she’s awesome.’ And I said to him, ‘I thought those were two of your non-negotiables. He said, ‘Well, she really likes me.’ That’s where the coaching comes in and why what we do is so unique.

SA: You stopped him from going into that relationship?

NW: I don’t stop anyone, but I can make recommendations, and coach them, and hopefully get them to see that for the short term this relationship might be wonderful, but for the long term it’s not going to work.

SA: What's the most common turn-off clients list for why they weren't interested in a potential match?

NW: A lot of times there just isn’t chemistry. They’re going to be friends. They exchange numbers. They have a lot of similarities, but they say, ‘I can’t imagine myself kissing that guy.’

SA: Is saying that you don’t have chemistry just a nice way of saying you weren’t physically attracted to that person?

NW: Yes. They want to be attracted. That’s probably the most frequent thing we get, because we are matching based on their criteria not looks. But sometimes even people’s body language, or someone looking away at the door could be interpreted as, ‘He’s not into me.’

SA: What do you think about the advice to “just be yourself” when a client's normal self is having difficulty finding a partner?

NW: I do want them to be genuine and authentic. I think that’s important. I liken it to a job interview. Hopefully when you go out on a date, just like when you go for a job interview, you’re going to put your best self forward. So you’re going to be more polite, more attentive, smiling more. But over time you can’t keep up so many facades, so I want you to go in being as real as you can be, and the person really has to love you for who you are.

SA: Do you run into the problem often where people are getting out of a divorce or their spouse died and they’re stuck believing that the partner they lost was their one and only soulmate?

NW: What we tend to do after a loss is focus on the good things. That’s why a lot of people break up and get back together, and break up and get back together. What I suggest is for them to sit down and understand what were the really good things from that relationship that they want to find in the next relationship... Then start thinking about why you did break up. Ask, what were the negative things in that relationship that you want to overcome in your next one?

SA: Do you ever have clients who want to be matched up with a millionaire?

NW: They do. They do tell me what their financial requirements are. But, the first thing I want to do is to find out why that’s so important. If you tell me that’s the only criteria, then I won’t take you on as a client. I really want people who are looking for a healthy relationship. A true partnership. If all you’re interested in is money, that is not going to make a healthy relationship. There is nothing wrong with money. Everyone we deal with is financially independent, but at very different levels.

SA: How do you tell a client what issues they need to work on?

NW: A lot of times people say ‘I’ve heard that before,’ or ‘Why would people be perceiving me that way?’ So it’s not something that's new to them... I want my clients to hear these things from potential partners as opposed to a matchmaker. It's more impactful... What we say is, one person’s feedback is their opinion, but if three people come back with similar feedback, then it’s something we might want to explore further.

SA: For me I think the worst feedback would be a physical attribute like height, something I can’t easily change. Have you ever informed a client that plastic surgery might be a valuable option?

NW: Some of them certainly could afford multiple things, and do, and some of them don’t. The physical features are more difficult. If someone is heavy-set, typically they know they’re heavy-set and a lot of people are working on that. I say it’s like ice cream flavors. Chocolate isn’t any worse than vanilla. It’s just different.

SA: How do you deal with a client whose expectations are unrealistic?

NW: I’ll ask, ‘Why does he have to be 6 foot? Why does she have to be a size 2 or 4? And more importantly I flip the question around. I ask, 'What are you bringing to the relationship? You’re 65 years old and you want a 20-year-old Barbie?'

Check out more about Dr. Nancy Wall and her team of matchmakers at tampabaymatchmakers.com

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