Life | Personal Stories | Relationships & Family | Article
I Paid RM700 for a Matchmaker and Found Love
by Ooi May Sim | 1 Dec 2022 | 6 mins read
In movies, love comes easy for the characters. A glance or simply singing a catchy duet together leads to them sharing the “kiss of true love”, after which, the characters walk hand in hand and live happily ever after.
Once the movie is over and the lights come on, we realise that reality is often not quite as romantic, or simple.
In reality, an increasing number of people are finding it difficult to find life partners. We can see this reflected in the marriage statistics reported by the Department of Statistics in Malaysia; the number of marriages has dropped by 9.4% from 203,661 in 2019 to 184,589 in 2020.
Less people are getting married each year. But it isn’t for the lack of trying.
In their quest to find ‘the one’, many singles turn to online dating apps and networking sites such as Tinder, Bumble, Badoo, Malaysian Cupid and Muslima. A growing number also use matchmaking agencies such as Date Works and Lunch Actually to help them find a match.
Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match
Charmaine Goh Suet Yen from Date Works shares that people who engage in their services are looking for serious relationships and life partners.
Many of our clients, who are between ages 21 to 78, have been on dating apps before and told us that they have encountered dates who are just looking for hook-ups, says the operations manager.
“They find us because they are looking for serious, long-term relationships. They can avoid scam and hanky panky here,” adds Charmaine.
Violet Lim, co-founder and CEO of Lunch Actually adds, “People going on dating apps tend to find it fun and exciting at the beginning, but after a while, it starts becoming a chore. They get swiping fatigue.
“There are also those who do not want to be seen on dating apps, especially successful (career people) who wish to avoid awkwardly bumping into their employees (on these apps). So, they come to us.”
Charmaine also attributes the problem to job constrains and other commitments. “Many people have very busy work schedules. So, we need to connect them with someone that can manage this kind of lifestyle,” says the 29-year-old.
Beyond just the pairing
“It’s not just about choosing the right person, but (also) about being the right person for someone,” says Violet.
“They need to have the right mindset and skillset (too),” adds the 42-year-old.
For example, if someone just came out of a failed relationship where their ex cheated on them, they may have a mental block that makes it difficult for them to trust another partner, which makes it hard to move forward, Violet says. That’s where coaching comes in (at a fee, of course)!
These days, matchmaking services provide a plethora of additional services, from confidence, communication, relationship and image coaching.
Services at Lunch Actually start from RM2,500, while packages at Date Works are on a case-to-case basis.
“It is very important for them (the clients) and for us to understand what their barriers and challenges are, their relationship goals, and find out what they strongly don’t want in a partner. It’s a discovery journey,” says Charmaine.
Violet agrees that it is a process. After every date, we get feedback from each side regarding the date. If the date didn’t work out, we ask them why and fine tune their next match more, she says.
On the quest for love
Chuah Siong Leong had been looking for love his whole life but never managed to meet the right person.
“It was hard to find (someone to) date because my circle of friends was very small,” says Siong Leong.
And according to him, being in the information technology (IT) industry didn’t help his prospects.
Most of the people in IT are male and because of my background, the things I talk about are a bit boring for the ladies, he says.
This affected his confidence, and he was very shy and scared to approach women because he feared he would get rejected.
But when he hit 30, he stumbled upon a matchmaking site online called esynchrony, which is created by the same team behind Lunch Actually, and decided to put himself out there.
“I thought of just giving (the service) a try and giving myself a chance, so I signed up for a one-year plan for RM700*,” says the 38-year-old.
Upon signing up, the matchmaker asked him multiple questions about his preferences in a life partner and he told them he was looking for a non-smoker who had a career, and who was child-free, as he wasn’t ready to be a father at that point in time.
Wong Fui Sia had a similar story. The self-professed homebody seldom went out, so she hardly met anyone new. To find someone outside her small social circle, the 37-year-old accountant engaged the matchmaking agency looking for a non-smoker who doesn’t drink excessively and who held at least a diploma or a degree.
The agency set her up with Siong Leong.
It’s a match!
Prior to their date, Fui Sia had been on one unsuccessful date, while Siong Leong had been on six.
On why all his other dates didn’t work out, Seong Leong believes it’s because he didn’t gel well with them, personality-wise.
“They (the women he went on dates with) were very straightforward. They would ask me about my hobbies, family, then straightaway ask me serious questions like whether I plan on getting married, do I want children, and at what age do I want to get my first child.
“All this during the first date,” he says.
But ‘seventh’ time’s the charm for Siong Leong as his date with Fui Sia went exceptionally well and lasted for six hours – “time passed very fast!” he recalls.
After one year of dating, Siong Leong popped the question to Fui Sia, and she said, “Yes!” The couple now have three children.
Looking back on their experience in using a matchmaking agency, Siong Leong shares, “Back then, they didn’t have the sort of services they have now such as grooming, and coaching.
“They (the agency) would find someone who was suitable (based on your requirements). (After finding a match), they would schedule a meeting and link you together. The rest is up to you,” he says.
Siong Leong adds that the good thing about using an agency is that they would verify your information and the legitimacy of your claims.
“If you say you work in a certain industry, you have to show proof, so people cannot simply write fake things,” he says.
Pleased with her experience, Fui Sia says, “No harm to give it a try. If (the date) doesn’t work out, you (at least) have a new friend”.
As Violet puts it: “If you are single and want to be in a relationship, you need to do something about it and take action. There would be setbacks, but don’t give up.”
* This was eight years ago. Prices have changed since then.