Frankie Bashan got her start in match making as a young girl. When she was only 12 years old, she set her father up with her eye doctor. “I really admired my eye doctor, she was beautiful, she’s Jewish Moroccan, totally professional, sophisticated, speaks five languages, just really impressive. And I knew my father would find her attractive, and intelligent, and Jewish. So I set it up.” From the moment they met, “That was it,” she says.
Even in elementary school and junior high, she was trying to introduce friends to each other. “I feel it’s really gratifying to bring people together that are great and have a connection.”
Why Use a Matchmaker instead of Online Dating?For people who want a confidential service, matchmaking is a good option. None of the profiles are available for people to browse. So, someone who is in a high profile career might choose a matchmaker over online dating. “Mine’s like a boutique…small. You’ve got that one-on-one individualized attention; it’s just a process that I think is much more thoughtful.”
As part of being a matchmaker, Dr. Frankie makes sure her clients are ready to date. Some people may need coaching and not realize it. “I also offer the educational piece and help them be more effective when choosing a partner and not repeating patterns. So some clients just hire me for matchmaking and some also hire me for coaching,” she says.
How Does Matchmaking Work?Lesbians find their way to Dr. Frankie by referral, from former clients, through her column in Curve magazine or via a Google search. First Dr. Frankie meets each new client for a 90 minute consultation. She asks questions about their relationship history, family history, about the type of woman they’re attracted to, where they are emotionally, how prepared they are for a relationship.
Clients are generally in their 30s or older. She says she won’t take a client on that she doesn’t think she can match. For example, if a 65 stone butch contacts her looking for a high femme in the Bay Area, she knows there are just not enough potential mates for that person. A younger client she wouldn’t have as hard a time placing. “So the perfect client is the one that…there’s some flexibility, they’re not super rigid about the type, and they’re open to the experience. That’s fun. Because then I don’t have to exclude all these people. And to be honest with you I think a lot of times people are surprised by who they’re attracted to. We’re so used to excluding and limiting and doing the online dating thing.”
In her matchmaking process, Dr. Frankie doesn’t show photos when she’s made a potential match. She says some people don’t photograph well and photos are so one-dimensional. “I want them to have the full experience of the person, rather than just looking at the picture and going, ‘Oh my god, she’s wearing pearls!’” Online dating can lead to really dismissive behavior. Matchmaking instead, is very personal and thoughtful.
Where Does she Find Women to Match With?Dr. Frankie starts with her own clients, other women who have also signed up for the match making service. She also has a database that anyone can sign up for. Dr. Frankie also attends lesbian social events in search of potential dates for her clients.
“I’m always working on finding new people to introduce to my clients, except if they put me on hold and they freeze me because they want to monogamously date one person,” she says. “Other than that I’m working.”
How Does She Pick Matches?Dr. Frankie starts off with what physical aspects people are interested in. For example, someone might say they want someone with a feminine face, so that’s the first thing she’ll be looking for. Next she tries to match other areas of compatibility, like if they’re into sports or politics.
She says, “The biochemical part that makes chemistry, that I can’t predict, but I can try to put as many variables out there and try to match as many variables as I can and then I just leave the rest up to the universe. The nice thing too is that they almost always just have a great time.”
What Happens When a Match Is Made?When Dr. Frankie finds two people who she thinks might be a match, she emails them each a bio about the other person, maintaining their anonymity. She works with famous people, whose identities she tries to protect, as well as the small nature of the lesbian community. To date, no one has ever said no to a date she’s set them up on. “I think they trust me,” she says.
She tries to set clients up on two to three dates a month. She introduces them one at a time. They decide where and when to meet, but Frankie can offer suggestions if they need it.
After the date, the client fills out a feedback form and indicates what they liked and didn’t like about date and if they want to see them again. She encourages women to follow up themselves with their date, it’s all part of the process of learning how to date—telling the other person they want to see them again or if they didn’t feel like there was chemistry.
What is her Success Rate?“Well it depends how you measure success,” Dr. Frankie says. “There are clients that I have worked with that have had a positive experience working with me and meeting really quality people, fueling their self-esteem and feeling effective on dates, feeling like they’re going on quality dates and feeling good about themselves…they met somebody themselves. And I think that, for me, that’s success. Even though I didn’t necessarily introduce them to their partner.” She won’t say how many, but she has made some successful matches and she enjoys it when she sees them out in public. “There’s a pediatrician and a nurse practitioner that I set up three years ago that just had their baby, their first child. It makes me really happy. I feel like it’s really gratifying to bring people together that are great and that I think will have a connection.”
Dr. Frankie works with match making clients in New York, the Bay Area and Los Angeles, but she can offer dating coaching to anyone via Skype or the phone. You can find her at LittleGayBook.com