The Scoop: MTN Matchmaking Founder Maureen Tara Nelson has never seen singles as serious about finding love as they have been since 2020. Many of her matchmaking and dating coaching clients are no longer interested in playing games, putting off commitment, or dating casually. Instead, social distancing during the pandemic has made them more committed to building relationships than ever. Maureen’s business took off as well, with more singles in Florida and New York seeking her expertise to find lasting love.
Maureen Tara Nelson celebrated her 20th year as a matchmaker in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most surreal dating landscapes she has experienced. Even Maureen, who founded MTN Matchmaking, was surprised by how many clients she helped.
Singles called Maureen, a Dating Coach and Executive Level Certified Matchmaker, in droves needing help finding love.
“It was the most emotional time for singles that I’ve ever seen in my 20 years as a matchmaker,” she told us.
Maureen explained that singles tend to be procrastinators. Many put off finding love because they are building their careers or raising children. Some may have been ambivalent about needing a long-term partner.
Before the pandemic, Maureen even had singles call her requesting information about her service for later in their lives because they weren’t ready.
“In the past, there would still be people who’d call up and say, ‘I’m calling for information now, but I want to first get my roof done or add an extension on my house,’” she said with a laugh.
That attitude ended during the pandemic. When singles were alone without a partner or spouse, they began to adopt different priorities. They were committed to finding love — quickly.
Maureen was flooded with requests from young people who wanted to find marriage-minded partners. Older clients and divorcées were ready to get back on the market, as well.
“People were calling me up and saying, ‘I don’t want to be alone.’ No one wants to play games anymore, and everyone is ready for something serious — especially my clients at MTN Matchmaking,” Maureen said.
Adapting to the Pandemic to Continue to Meet Client Needs
Before the pandemic, singles who wanted to work with Maureen visited her offices in Long Island, Manhattan, or Boca Raton, Florida. They met with her face to face before she’d accept them as clients. She also sent compatible singles on in-person dates.
But Maureen said she needed to find new ways to connect clients during the pandemic as she couldn’t conduct her normal operations.
“I used to say, ‘You have to come to my office to show you’re serious.’ If I was in my office, I felt they had to make an effort if they wanted a serious relationship,” Maureen told us. “But during the pandemic, I decided to have virtual interviews, and people could go on virtual dates.”
Maureen said she realized she could carry on with business as usual for new clients and still have an in-depth interview over the phone or on a video call.
“We have a thorough screening process. If I take clients on, it’s because they pass the screening process, and I can help them. I match people on compatibility,” Maureen told us.
She connected many matches using virtual dating tools during the first months of the pandemic. In addition to supporting local singles with services, the MTN Matchmaking team started providing advice to singles around the country with daily Facebook Live sessions on topics relevant to dating during the pandemic.
“My team and I got dressed up every day from our home offices and did a Facebook Live session,” Maureen said. “Our goal was to spread love and happiness. We wanted to teach everyone how to make virtual dates romantic.”
Expert Tips for Virtual and Socially-Distanced Dates
Virtual dates were a major pivot for singles, and many singles never expected to try virtual dating. Now, they have become part of dating indefinitely, so the MTN Matchmaking team helps singles make the most of them.
Maureen offers some tips for a successful virtual date. She advises both men and women to groom themselves and put on nice clothes. Maureen also suggests setting ambient lighting and playing soft music to set the mood. She recommends anxious daters enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail.
She also encourages daters to remember the tips she gives to new clients. One of those is to avoid self-sabotaging.
“Singles self-sabotage all the time. I remind them not to look for things wrong with their new partner. Someone might say, ‘ I don’t like how he eats his French fries, so I don’t like him anymore.’ They just sabotaged that date,” Maureen said. “Instead, find five great things about the person you’re with. That will stop you from self-sabotaging.”
She also recommends singles go on three dates with the same match before determining if someone is right for them or not. Otherwise, nerves and first date jitters can get in the way of getting an accurate sense of the person.
Now that quarantine restrictions are easing, Maureen said she has been sending her clients on socially distanced dates, as well. She recommends outdoor meetings, including hiking, going to the beach, walking along the boardwalk, or having a playdate with dogs.
Maureen said that wearing a mask on in-person dates hasn’t been too much of a hindrance for singles. She recommends her clients get vaccinated as soon as possible so they can date in person again. Even though she likes virtual dating, Maureen said she still prefers having her clients meet the old-fashioned way.
MTN Matchmaking Thrives in This New Dating Landscape
Maureen herself had a COVID-19 scare that gave her perspective on her own life. After a Valentine’s Day event she hosted in February 2020, she came down with a mysterious illness that doctors couldn’t diagnose. Her doctor said that she was either overworking herself or she had COVID-19. It turned out it was the latter.
That diagnosis made Maureen recognize something else: She was putting off her own romantic journey. Maureen dedicated her life to her children and her business, but she decided she deserved a partner of her own, too.
“The pandemic taught me that I have enough love in my heart with my kids and matchmaking. Now, it’s my time to find love. I am ready to find love for myself,” she said.
Maureen is ready to prioritize a romantic relationship, just like the singles who have been calling her in droves since the pandemic began. Even after the pandemic ends, Maureen said she thinks that singles will continue searching for partners rather than putting it off. They may also stop casually dating and prioritize serious and long-term relationships.
Maureen said that singles may be less picky than they were before. Rather than expecting a partner to meet every possible need, singles will overlook superficial qualities in favor of loyalty and transparency.
That belief is evident in Maureen’s advice for singles who want to commit to finding love this year.
“Don’t self-sabotage; life is too short. Go out with someone three times. It used to be harder to get people to take my advice, but now they’re taking it more easily,” she said with a laugh.