In an era where the next swipe could either reveal your future soulmate or another fake profile, Jacqueline Nichols encourages people to put their phone down and discover love the old-fashioned way.
"It's about getting past the bitterness about what dating has done to people and seeing that there's another way of doing it," Nichols says. "And they can actually have a lot of fun."
Through her Discover Love Matches matchmaking site, which blends the personal touch of consultation with the accessibility of online profiles, Nichols hosts events that provide the opportunity for singles to connect on a more personal level.
Recently, Nichols — a former Lake Oswego resident — started partnering with event organizers to co-host gatherings such as the Grand Winter Ball and the Champagne Ball. And you don't have to be one of her clients to attend the events.
At the Champagne Ball, she hosted a pre-function singles mixer so that singles could find a potential partner before the event began, eliminating what she says is one of the hardest things about dating.
"You go to an event with your friends who are a couple and you think, 'It would be cool if I could meet someone too.' But there's no way to identify who is single," she says.
Nichols also hosts happy hours (usually on the fourth Thursday of the month), mingle events held on Friday nights and socials, which are bigger and fancier quarterly events. She'll host a party celebrating the nine-year anniversary of the matchmaking service at Southland Whiskey Kitchen in Portland on Feb. 21. For more information, visit discoverlovematches.com.
Prior to events, Nichols often delivers a speech in which she talks about her service and the right way to date.
"When I speak in front of groups, I get a much bigger response," Nichols says. "It breaks that negativity about dating and meeting people. Once they hear me speak about another way of looking at dating, the old-fashioned way, getting connection, treating people with respect, they tend to date with more kindness."
She also organizes games to help potential suitors learn more about each other and discover commonalities.
"Sometimes you just need an excuse to say hi," Nichols says. "It's really about interaction, and it's a way to get people to ask questions."
Plus, Nichols says the events give people an excuse to get out of the house and experience something new and exciting.
"I've had people who come up to me at events and they say, 'Thank you for getting me out of the house, getting me to meet somebody new,'" she says.
Contrary to most online dating, which is often governed by pictures and algorithms, Nichols uses her own intuition and experience to match people and considers not only attraction and interests but also personality and lifestyle.
"You can only learn so much in a profile. Our thing is actually getting to know people," Nichols says. "I read people really well and I'm spiritually gifted. At a recent event, all these people were walking up and immediately in my mind I'm thinking of clients I want to introduce them to. I need to know more: trigger words, certain looks that they like, age, activity, interest and their energy."
To forge a healthier dating environment, Nichols will reject potential clients if they are disrespectful and will call a client if they haven't responded to a message.
"There's a respectful way to say, 'We're not a match but I wish you well,'" Nichols says.
Nichols also says that lifestyle and aspirations are more important than the average dater initially thinks.
"We're so visual and we know who we are attracted to, but it's important to know where you are in life and what you actually want next," Nichols says. "What's the next chapter?"
For someone who might need a little more help, Nichols hosts workshops where she helps people realize their best, most attractive selves. She also recently hosted a makeup and skin care workshop. There's a Ready for Dating Success Workshop too, where she teaches people the finer points of dating; the next one is scheduled for April 17 at Lela's Bistro in Portland.
"A lot of times, people think it just happens," she says. "But the reality is, you don't just walk in the gym and get a perfect body. You have to work out, do the steps."
Nichols believes in the power of love to make people happier, nicer and better human beings. And as a matchmaker, that's what gives her the most satisfaction.
"To watch the metamorposis ... it really means a lot," Nichols says.
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