We recently caught up with Haley Hill, award-winning author of #1 Amazon best seller, “It’s Got to Be Perfect: the memoirs of a modern-day matchmaker”. Her debut novel was inspired by her six years as a matchmaker. Haley founded (and recently sold) the UK’s biggest matchmaking agency. She also writes for The Huffington Post, various newspapers and is a relationship expert for a weekly magazine.
SSC: Can you tell us how you became a matchmaker? Was this the inspiration for this book?
HH: At 27 years of age, I thought I had it all: a successful career as a pharmacist, a gorgeous man who adored me and a wedding I was excitedly planning. When my fiancé called the wedding off at the final hour, my whole world was turned upside down. Straight away I began to question the assumptions I had made about love and relationships. A year later, after enduring months of terrible internet dates, I decided to set up the kind of dating service I would have liked. Looking back, I realise I was searching for answers.
SSC: You’ve mentioned that 85% of relationships fail. Why is this so? Who is to blame?
HH: It’s a depressing figure, isn’t it? I don’t think anyone is to blame. Most single people dream of finding a soulmate to grow old with. Yet our real-life experiences of love often aren’t as easy and effortless as we would have hoped. We’ve been conditioned (by the media, rom-coms and fairy tales) to expect another person to fulfil us, which is unfair and unrealistic when most of the time we don’t even know how to fulfil ourselves.
SSC: You also mention that 28 is the most eligible age for marriage. Why have you come to this conclusion?
HH: From the twelve-thousand singles we personally interviewed, 28 was the age, we noticed, that women were most in demand. With respect to marriage that was. Whereas men seemed to become more eligible with age. 35 years is the age men are most in demand. Obviously there are huge variations across the UK. Most of the data was collated from major cities.
SSC: In your view, is there any hope for the +35’s?
HH: Yes, yes! And yes! As most of us know, it’s not as easy as it is for women in their twenties. The conventionally eligible men (i.e. tall, good-looking and wealthy) in that age bracket tend to prefer to date younger girls. I am generalising, of course, and there are always exceptions to the rule. In my time as a matchmaker, I successfully matched hundreds of women over the age of 35. In my experience, it’s less about age and more about attitude. If women 35+ take the pressure off themselves to marry and have children and just relax and enjoy dating for the fun of it, then the men will pick up on that. Plus, many men are deeply attracted to the self-assurance and sophistication that women in their thirties seem to have in abundance.
SSC: Is matchmaking a difficult profession? What are your biggest hurdles and your biggest successes?
HH: When I told people I was a matchmaker, most would squeal with delight, clap their hands and then say, ‘Oh that must be so much fun!’ It was fun but at the same time, it was stressful. Promising to help someone, and taking money to do so, leaves you with a huge burden of responsibility. When you’ve been through heartbreak and loneliness yourself, it’s horrible to watch someone else suffer in the same way. That being said, the upside is amazing. Receiving a jpeg image of a newborn, or a text from a newly engaged couple made it all worthwhile.
SSC: Despite the Internet and the many social networking websites why is it difficult for people to find partners to marry? Are expectations too high? Do most people need a matchmaker?
HH: I don’t think any of us ‘need’ a matchmaker. However, the society we live in is much more fragmented than it used to be. A few generations ago we would have married the boy up the street. Now there is so much choice. I think, perhaps, too much choice. This not only affects the selection process but it also affects our motivation to stay with someone through hard times.
SSC: Do you still match folks? Where are the good places to find great guys!!
HH: Sadly my professional matchmaking days are over, although I still dabble whenever I get the chance. The best advice I could give would be to think about where the kind of guy you’re looking for might spend his time, or what type of dating service he might select. If you’re looking for a testosterone fuelled alpha male, then perhaps a chocolate-tasting singles’ event is not the place to look for him… And on a final note, keep an open mind and trust your natural instincts. You might just find yourself attracted to someone you may never have otherwise considered.
SSC: For us smart chicks, our approach to life is a little bit different. We tend to know what we want to do and who we want to end up with, but life isn’t a group of financial formulae. What advice would you give to us smart chicks?
HH: Many of us think we know what we want, when in fact we are just products of social conditioning. We’re bombarded by imagery depicting how we should be living our lives, how our partner should look and even the type of house we should be living in. My advice would be to write down your list of wants in a man (and in life) and question each one.
SSC: Can you tell us a bit about how you went about writing this book? How much is fact and how much is fiction? Did you enjoy writing it? How did you juggle your time to get the book done?
HH: The first draft was non-fiction. However, by the time I’d re-written the book from scratch four times, it had become fictional. My style of writing, I found, over time was more fitting for the chick-lit genre than memoir. However, that being said, my experiences as a matchmaker gave me a deep insight into the minds of men and women. That along with my personal journey, meant the emotions described are about as real as it gets.
After the four re-writes, there were ten major edits. Then at the last minute, I re-wrote the first two chapters. I think the title, “It’s Got to Be Perfect” was a self-fulfilling prophecy. It was tough to juggle writing with looking after twin toddlers, and doing the rounds with agents and publishers was emotionally exhausting. There were many times I felt like abandoning it or just publishing the book as it was, but when it came to it, I knew I had no other option but to do the story justice. Now, when I read reviews which describe the book as ‘something much greater than chick-lit, it makes all those late nights worthwhile!
SSC: Thanks for spending time with us Haley
HH: It’s been a pleasure.