Love for sale

Some go to expensive lengths for ‘the one’

Jane Carstens is a pro at finding love.

Jane Carstens is a pro at finding love.

Some go to expensive lengths for ‘the one’

How far would you go to find the love of your life?

Would you pay $10,000 for an advertising campaign that would see your profile light up in papers around the country in hopes of that magical someone seeing it? One person did. Or how about a grandmother, mother and daughter trio all looking for a different man from the same woman? One family did.

These are only a few of the cases Jane Carstens has seen in the 10 years she’s worked as a professional matchmaker, but Carstens doesn’t consider these acts of desperation — she says these are people serious about finding their matches and it’s a job she (and most definitely her clientele) takes seriously.

“A lot of the times, [dating] is like buying a house,” says Carstens, who runs her own business, Matchmaker For Hire. “You don’t want to see every option out there, you want to see the ones that might fit, and you trust an agent to take you there. I’m kind of like a real-life Cupid.”

In an age where internet dating sites have done away with the need for traditional matchmakers, how can someone still make a living setting people up? The international agency titled The Matchmaking Institute has even recently established the first Professional Matchmakers Association, which acts as a major resource for people interested in getting into the industry today. Carstens says the answer is simple: people are still looking for love in all the wrong places.

“I have so many clients who have tried the dating sites, the bar scene, and they’re coming back empty-handed because they don’t want to date someone who hits the clubs every weekend, or stays at home prowling the internet every night,” she says.

Instead, Carstens says she does the groundwork for people — work that can’t be done just with clicking a few buttons, but by taking a genuine interest in personalities. But her work comes with a hefty price tag: a one-year general membership is $750, while the elite “Private Partner Search” can range from $3,000 to $10,000 — though there are plenty of options in between. “I never help my friends because I’m too invested in what I want for them,” she says. “But from an outside perspective, you can see what might work for two people.”

One story Carstens loves to tell is of a 62-year-old client who decided to marry the second person Carstens sent her on a date with. Of course, it didn’t start out that way. “They had a great time on their first date, and she said she hadn’t felt so good in ages, but he had a bit of a beer belly, he was kind of awkward and she really wasn’t sure,” Carstens says. “I said, ‘Why don’t you just try seeing him one more time?’”

The next Halloween — nearly a year from their first meeting — he trick-or-treated at her door with a ring in his hand. They married soon after. “I can still remember her calling to tell me the news,” says Carstens. “She was crying, and said, ‘If you hadn’t pressed me to see him again, I would have blown him right off. Now I’m getting married!’”

The love stories sound like infomercial fantasies, but what about when the match doesn’t work? Carstens admits that a win only comes from the two people involved.

“It can be heartbreaking to see one person have the best time and the other person say, ‘I still want to look around,’ but that’s life,” she says. “Sometimes it’s the people you think will work the best that don’t. It’s all chemistry.”

Carstens vets all her clients ahead of time with interviews in their own home and detailed background checks including divorce, children and crime. She has run into people she wouldn’t represent, though not often. “A lot of the questions it takes six months to ask as you get to know someone I’ve already taken care of,” she says.

When it comes to time, Carstens says one of the most interesting cases she’s worked with is a three-generational set of women. The daughter, age 29, is looking for a man she may marry and have kids with. The mother, age 52, is looking for a companion who shares her interests that she can have fun with. The grandmother, age 72, is widowed and looking for someone to have, well, a really good time with. “Your checklist changes a lot as you get older, and those standards you were so committed to at age 20 is out the window by 50, and again by 70.”

Carstens herself has been married 12 years now, to her second husband. She does have two dating tips she’ll offer for free. One: “men are easy” — they just want to know what makes you happy, she says. Two: pay attention to when you’re having fun. If you’re feeling great when you’re with someone, this is the body’s take-a-chance indicator.

“Your Mr. or Mrs. Right is out there,” she says. “It’s just not the person you expect.” M

Match made:

For less expensive matchmaking, hit up Carstens’ Vancouver Island Church & State Winery Singles Event. Thursday, Oct. 20, 7:30-10:30pm in Brentwood Bay. Tickets $95.