Artisans: Debra L'Heureux, Matchmaker
The professional shares what it takes to help others find love.
Years in the field: 12
Years in Southwest Florida: Five
At age 49, Debra L’Heureux was hit by one of Cupid’s arrows, and hard. After meeting and marrying her soul mate, she was so love-obsessed that all she wanted to do was help others find love, too. She quit her job in academia and trained to become a professional matchmaker.
Twelve years later, she’s matched all kinds of couples—from retirees to mid-30s career types striking out in the bar scene. Last year she had two engagements, and she currently has several other couples that appear to be headed in the altar’s general direction. Being a matchmaker isn’t for the faint of heart. L’Heureux’s clients have high expectations, which she encourages. In her office there’s a strict no “settling” allowed policy.
She’ll often search the entire state for the right person. “If you’re in love, you know you’d go practically anywhere to meet the love of your life,” she says.
Listen, then feel
“To be a good matchmaker, you have to be passionate about people and about helping people. You have to be empathetic and a good listener. You have to be able to listen to what that person wants and is looking for. But it also takes a fair amount of intuition. You either have that or you don’t.”
“You have a personal trainer, a personal finance consultant, a personal attorney, a physician; you have professionals to help you with every aspect of your life, so why wouldn’t you have someone to help you with this most important aspect of your life? I think people leave meeting their soul mate up to chance, but is that really the kind of thing you want to leave up to chance?”
“I personally believe that everyone has a soul mate, that there is one person who you were meant to be with. But I don’t think that means that if you’ve been widowed you can’t love again. You can love again, but it will be different, and that’s OK.”
“Most people who hire matchmakers are people who don’t want to do online dating or are finding that they’re not meeting the quality of person they want to meet. I actually don’t take every client that applies; I only take clients that I can tell are really committed to either finding a spouse or being in a serious, monogamous relationship.”
“The first date is always dinner at a nice restaurant, and it’s first names only. Last names and phone numbers aren’t exchanged until after the second date. We have some high-profile clients, so that keeps things private.”
“The biggest thing to matching people is matching interests and personalities. If someone wants someone athletic, you can match them with someone who looks amazing, but if that person doesn’t actually want to go out and do athletic things together, it’s not going to work.”
More than just a pretty face
“Attraction is emotional, physical and intellectual. Sure, you have to have that physical attraction, but you also really need an emotional and intellectual connection.”