Finding the right one: Q&A with Solana Beach matchmaker

Solana Beach resident Barbara Summers has been working as a matchmaker for more than 30 years.

Since introducing her brother to his wife more than 35 years ago, Solana Beach resident Barbara Summers says her matchmaking services have led to 465 marriages. Mostly through word of mouth, she said doctors, lawyers and other men throughout the county enlist her services. She also does relationship coaching with women.

Summers also released a book, “Next,” about “finding Mr. Right,” and hosts the “Love on the Line” podcast, where she shares more of her dating and relationship advice.

This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Q: Why did you want to become a matchmaker, and how did it turn into a business?

A: I have been a professional matchmaker since 1986, which seems like a long time ago. But actually, I had a passion for this, even in grade school, junior high, high school, I always had an interest in putting two people together. And my first match ever, this is now 35-plus years ago, was my brother with my sister-in-law. I worked with her back in the day, and my brother lived an hour away from her and I convinced the two of them to go out. It’s just a natural way of being that I am. I dabbled in it and then it became a major business, which has been very successful for me.

Q: What are some of the first steps you take with some of your new clients?

A: I go to my male clients’ homes, which is very different than any other matchmaking service. To me, I have to see how my client lives. Even if it’s a 34-year-old guy, or a 30-year-old, if he lives downtown in a loft ... I’m going down to their house and I’m seeing everything. I want to see what their bedroom looks like, I want to see their refrigerator, if they’ve got three dogs, if they’ve got kids. I got to see what their lifestyle looks like in order for me to put the right kind of woman in their life. Actually, I’m kind of indirectly dating them at the beginning. My youngest client, probably was 30, and I’ve had a client probably age 82.

Q: Where do you find the women who you match with your male clients?

A: I’m everywhere. I belong to three health clubs. I belong to two golf clubs. Whether its a hair salon, or a Chanel counter or anywhere I am, in my mind, I know the girl I’m looking for. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of girls, they contact me and say ‘Barbara, I know you represent men now, but could you possibly maybe add me to your database if there’s some man you get in your future that could possibly match with me?’ So I’ll have them send me a bio and some pictures, and if I’m really and truly thinking, ‘You know, she might be good for ABC guy I presently have,’ then I’ll meet her and have her come to my house. I have these girls come to my home, I do my relationship coaching sessions here. I do a lot of that actually too.

Q: What are some of the challenges you face in trying to find good matches for your clients?

A: I kind of have this idea, maybe it’s ego or whatever, but I don’t want to take a client that I don’t really think I’m going to find love for them. If I feel that they’re not being realistic. Let’s say a guy is 65 and he says, ‘I don’t want to date a girl who’s over 40, Barbara.’ I’ll say, ‘Well, why don’t you do that on your own. Go out and play the game. There’s a hundred different dating sites. When you get serious about a girl who’s going to be a lifetime partner. The thing is, when he was 25 years old, she was just being born. He lived 25 years of his life and she’s now this little baby in a cradle. If you look at age in that way, it’s like oh wow. That’s really a major lifespan. So I try to reel the guy in to reality and let him know if you’re hiring me, my
clients are fit, they’re athletic, they’re in good shape, they’ve got everything going for themselves. They just don’t have the time, nor do they want to go to the bars and play the games.

Q: What are some of the key pieces of advice you impart to clients who come to you for relationship coaching?

A: One of the reasons I started my relationship coaching business, for women who are actively wanting to do all these dating sites, they were struggling with what kind of men they’re drawing to them with their bios on dating sites and they’re saying, ‘Oh my god Barbara, the last four guys I got who contacted me, they live in El Cajon and one guy didn’t have a job and he was renting this little trailer in Santee. I’m listening to all these crazy stories and I’m saying, ‘So you’re in corporate America, you make $200,000 a year and you’re drawing a guy who lives in a trailer? Let me see what you’re saying on your bio.’ So the girl brings it to my house, we go over it and I say, ‘OK, we’re starting all over, let’s talk about what it takes to be in your life. What kind of man do you want. I really help them self-discover what it is that they need to say who they are, not just what they want.

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