We’ve heard so many stories about online dating and the explosion of sites ready to help you find your soul mate…or whatever your heart desires. Most of us are beyond that sugar daddy phase, thank you very much. But as much as we don’t want to admit it, we know it’s a highly competitive space. Everyone wants, and deserves, a good companion in life whether it’s long term or not, right? So, how do we find a decent date these days…and maybe even more importantly, how do we stay in a relationship these days? We’ve turned to Carmelia Ray for some advice.

Does Carmelia may look familiar to you? She was the matchmaker on the inaugural season of The Real Housewives of Toronto. Greco introduced her to the lovely Jana, yes, the one who trains with sports celebrities across the US and Canada. She also owns the Joga Studio in Toronto. She’s super nice …but more about her joga another time, you really should try it.

Carmelia works with a lot of high net-worth clients and is currently the host of the show Mom vs. Matchmaker on MyxTV.

So, we wanted to find out from Carmelia how to stay on top of our dating game but first, let’s find out more about her….

In this day and age of Tinder, match.com and other online datng sites why should we turn to a matchmaker like you? What’s your role and, in a nutshell, how does this all work?

Hiring a professional matchmaker has many benefits for a busy single professional. My role as a matchmaker is to create new opportunities and a customized “dating strategy” to help a single person attract, find and meet a compatible partner. I’m a matchmaker who believes in diversifying your search portfolio. I actually help clients to create and manage their online dating profiles to take the majority of the “work” out of the searching process. When it comes to online dating, most singles find doing the work frustrating. As a matchmaker, I meet with all clients in order to screen and qualify them for all areas of stability. Matchmaking clients are single, employed, emotionally, mentally and financially stable which is a major reason single professionals choose to work with a matchmaker. Your information is always 100% private and confidential so being discreet with your search is also considered a plus. Working with a matchmaker saves, time, money and effort with my assistance. There’s no more guess work in knowing if you’re meeting someone who truly is, who they say they are. Matchmaking clients are typically long-term relationship minded, sincere and serious about meeting someone special. They are willing to make the investment into themselves and their love life in order to achieve their relationship goals.

How did you decide to become a matchmaker? 

An ex-boyfriend told me I should apply at this dating service company where he was working at, and thought I would be a good match for the job. I then applied for the job in 1992 and it turned out I had the gift of gab and easily had people feel comfortable talking about their love life. I had never worked with singles in the past and this opportunity opened the door to what is now my full-time career and passion.

You were actually the matchmaker for Jana on The Real Housewives of Toronto. How did that come about? 

That’s a very interesting story actually. I had one of my colleagues and collaborating Matchmakers, Rebecca Trainor of MatchMeCanada contact me about this opportunity. She was nine months pregnant and didn’t want to risk participating in the TV show when she was so close to her delivery date. She extended the opportunity to me and I spoke with the producer of the show. I was in the middle of filming Season two of my TV show Mom vs Matchmaker. To be honest, I was postpartum with my little girl who was about two months old. I gladly accepted the role and was happy to have met both Jana and Greggo on set. I was challenged with finding real matches for Jana based on the fact most of the matchmaking clients I approached to match her with did NOT want to appear on TV. Rob Pagetto, a single friend of mine, radio host and also someone comfortable behind the camera (he has TV experience) gladly stepped in to go on a date with her. It was a fun episode. Although it was not a forever match for Jana, it was an opportunity for her to step outside of her comfort zone, go out for drinks and have some time out from her busy schedule!

We feel like we’re competing against the younger women who are also looking. What advice do you have for us?

It’s easy for older women to get caught up in the competition for eligible men from younger, seemingly more attractive women. This kind of thinking only breeds contempt and causes unnecessary anxiety. The idea of competition is merely a matter of perspective. Did you know that according to Match.com’s Single in America survey, men find successful entrepreneurs as the sexiest, most attractive quality? Most older women have established careers and are independent women. This is highly desirable for men. There are thousands of younger men who would LOVE to date an older woman. The best advice I can give is for you to focus on your value and know your worth both in reality and online. The combination of experience, beauty and wisdom is irresistible to a man. There is no competition when you’re searching for Mr. Right. I firmly believe there’s someone for everyone. With 7 billion people in the world, stay focused on attracting your man, and not your fear of competition.

Should we be really looking for Mr. Right?

I believe until you know who your “Mr. Right” is, how would you know who to attract? I say YES. You definitely need to keep your eyes open for Mr. Right and don’t say no to Mr. Possible. Mr.Right is defined by you and sometimes your definition may change over time and through experience. Dating and mating is a learning process. We evolve and needs may change. I’ve discovered that for many women, their inevitable Mr. Right was never someone they would have imagined. This can be the challenging part of dating and knowing who is right for you. Working with a matchmaker and dating coach can help to fine tune and narrow your pool of quality men.

We’re often told not to “settle” but frankly, it’s not easy out there. What do you tell people to keep them from getting discouraged? 

There are many simple rules in life and one of them is to never give up. Happiness is a choice. We choose all of our emotions. Anger, sadness, joy, hope, love and even frustration. Dating for many can be full of emotional highs and lows, and only if you allow yourself to get caught up or stuck in disappointment. You get anxious, you set high expectations or you stop taking action. When you truly want something bad enough, you have a whatever it takes attitude and you learn to deal and cope with failures. Get support. Work with a coach and surround yourself with positive people and positive thoughts. This is the single most important advice I can give to someone who’s feeling discouraged.

We hear a lot of about um, “other expectations” on the dating scene and many women are feeling the pressure. Sometimes we get the impression that if we’re not willing to have sex immediately then the date isn’t interested anymore. Any advice? 

When it comes to sex, there’s truly no right or wrong way of doing things. There is a way that works, and a way that doesn’t work. What works for you? What are you comfortable with? Have you asked yourself these questions? Are you firm on your beliefs when it comes to your values? Do you have sex out of FOMO or because you truly want to share an intimate experience? If someone isn’t interested in you because you DON’T feel comfortable having sex, isn’t that just a part of your screening process? Let men leave or stay and do it on your terms not theirs. When in doubt, have an open conversation. You’re adults after all, this is a matter of getting on the same page.

What are your top 3 dating tips for women?

My top three dating tips are pretty simple:

  1. Take (positive) action. You can’t get ahead in your dating life by thinking about what to do, or what you should do. You need to go out and do it.
  2. Know yourself and know who you’re looking for. A lot of women start the dating process without having done the work to know who they are or who they are looking for. You don’t leave for a destination without an end goal. There’s a lot of personal work and self-assessment that happens when you work with a matchmaker. As a matchmaker I go through a full love history and assessment to reveal any bad dating habits or patterns.
  3. Have fun! What’s the point of dating when you’re not having fun? Try new things. Go to new places and make new friends along the way. When a date doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. Use each opportunity as a way to learn about yourself and learn about the dating process as a whole. Practice can be fun!

When a woman meets someone for their first date and things look promising… your advice for next steps? 

It’s so easy to bring your past dating experiences and assumptions on your date. When you set expectations, there can also be massive disappointment when things don’t go exactly as planned after the date. Treat each experience as a new one and don’t attach to the outcome. Keep your cool and don’t allow your negative inner voice to take over and affect your mood. The right man will stay and wrong ones will weed themselves out.

What if the first impression is a dud…how do you get out of that date politely? 

Although first impressions are important and often pave the way for how you view someone, consider how YOU can make things better on this date and what you can do to cause a breakthrough in communication. If he’s a dud, it’s very possible he could be nervous! You can ask more questions and be as engaging as possible. When it comes to a first date, you should have typically planned for a shorter date around 30-45 minutes. When all else fails, you can be honest and simply be kind in your expression. His time is as valuable as yours and unless he completely lied about something or he’s very different than how he described himself, smile and practice your first date conversation skills. If the date is a pure mismatch, simply share how much you truly value and appreciate their time and rather than waste each other’s time, you wish them well with their search and let them know you don’t see a match or feel any chemistry. Practicing kindness and showing your consideration for their time is the most important and most effective way to politely excuse yourself.

Want to reach out to Carmelia? Find her at www.carmeliaray.com