Dispatches from NYC
Lessons From "The Millionaire Matchmaker"
By Pauline Millard
Feb 21, 2008

Patti Stanger, the matchmaker on Bravo’s new show The Millionaire Matchmaker, has taken a lot of hits since the show premiered. She’s rough on her clients, both male and female. She insists women not smoke and that they dress to show off their figures. In her world, cleavage is always a good thing. She called perfectly attractive women “Sevens” and told one client that he needed to buy a new condo if he really wanted to meet a potential wife. After all, millionaires don’t live with roommates.

Among all the static, you hear Stanger say over and over that her business is based on the idea of old-fashioned dating. That is, the men pursue the women and the women make sure that they present themselves as attractive and intelligent wife material. That’s why they signed up with her agency in the first place.

No one likes to be criticized, but the truth is that most of the time Stanger is right on the money. In the game of love, it has to be the men pursuing the women, otherwise you’ll screw up the delicate balance of the cosmos.

For some reason women don’t want to hear this, and thus the criticism of Stanger ensues. They’ve been raised to be assertive and rightfully believe they can have or be anything that they want, as well they should. The problem arises when these successful women try to apply the same skills they mastered in business and apply them to romance, which is operated by no rules at all. Love is ruled by nature -- a chemical process, if you will -- and we all know how wacky nature can be. Hearing Stanger’s advice, as raw and retro-sounding as it is, goes against every feminist principle they may have. Sure, the women can flirt and drop hints about what they want, but if the men don’t take the bait egos are bruised and they suddenly feel a lack of control.

This isn’t the first time we’re hearing this advice. Back in 2005 Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo wrote a book called He’s Just Not That Into You, a phrase that came directly from an episode of Sex and the City. While painfully funny at times, the book lays out scenarios in which women may think they’re in control, but are really just being strung along by men who don’t have the guts to tell them directly that they’re not interested.

If you think about Sex and the City, most of Carrie’s problems with Mr. Big were rooted in her constant, fruitless pursuit of him. It wasn’t until she ditched him for The Russian did he chase her all the way to Paris and win her back. There’s a lesson in there: stop chasing the guy who constantly wrongs you and move on. Sting said it well also: “If you love something, set it free.”

Let’s get back to Stanger. It’s amusing to watch her wrangle these clueless millionaires into datable men, but I think the larger lessons from the show are for the women. Stop stressing yourself out over dating and meeting men. Successful dating hinges on three things: the number of potential partners you meet, chemistry and luck. The more often you’re out and about and meeting people you really connect with, the more likely it is that you’ll find a successful relationship. The only thing Stanger tells these women is to be the best versions of themselves as possible. The men will come and eventually nature and fate will take over. That’s the best love advice anyone can get.

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