Matchmakers on their secrets and stories from work

By Phan Duong   December 2, 2022 | 01:19 am PT
Matchmakers on their secrets and stories from work
Matchmaker Thuy Chi (R) advises a client in October 2022. Photo courtesy of Rudicaf
Despite family objections, Duong Thi Tuyet Nhung decided to quit her accountant job to become a professional matchmaker earlier this year.

Only the 31-year-old’s husband has supported her decision. In six months since starting the mother-of-one has arranged over 60 meetings for middle-class and affluent clients.

One of them is Tien Truong, 33, a financial adviser who moved back to Vietnam from abroad to work.

His motive for returning was also a desire to marry a Vietnamese woman.

He contacted Nhung and paid around VND100 million (over $4,000) for the opportunity to meet nearly a dozen women, both attractive and from good families.

He was mesmerized when he met Ngan and liked her, but panicked and told her, "I think you are... average" when she asked him what he thought of her.

His lackluster response failed to make an impression on her.

Nhung had to step in and teach him how to start a conversation with a woman, from simple ice-breaker questions to how to ask them out on a date.

She was surprised to find many clients had outstanding profiles but also poor interpersonal skills. For instance, Truong is "not sophisticated, cannot carry a conversation, and has no idea how to flirt with women," she says.

She has had to advice him and several other male clients.

She says during matchmaking sessions, she listens to clients for more than three hours. There have been days when her husband had to wait past 11 p.m. to pick her up from work.

Many clients, when they return home after a date, are excited and want to confide in her right away.

Nhung has to get up in the middle of the night at times to listen to them.

"This job requires me to be there for customers 24/7. I think of myself as their soulmate."

She works for a Hanoi-based matchmaking company with two others including Vu Nguyet Anh, the CEO, who has 10 years’ experience in the profession.

Before they start, employees have to attend a course taught by Anh that lasts several months.

Thuy Chi is the other matchmaker in the company. When the 32-year-old came across Nguyet Anh's job posting for a matchmaker earlier this year, she decided to quit her lucrative job in a bank.

She says: "My last employment did not pique my interest. My husband supported my decision when I told my husband about it. He assured me that the family finances are taken care of and I can pursue my interests."

She herself had tried a number of online and offline dating services before meeting her husband on a dating app and marrying him.

She thinks it is important to put in time, effort and money to find the right person to spend the rest of one's life with.

Chi discovered that what she knew about love, dating and relationships from books and her own life helped her at training.

Since starting six months ago she has set up more than 100 dates and is the most popular in the company with clients.

"I earned VND60 million last month, which was more than from my previous banking job."

Besides the three matchmakers, Anh's staff also includes two client hunters who look for single people.

The two had to go through a three-month probation, and require testing and training to qualify as a matchmaker.

Nguyen Hong Hai Linh, one of them, says she helped many friends find good matches before coming to this job.

The 28-year-old says she enjoys talking to people and hearing stories about their relationships.

There was a couple who had planned their wedding but then broke up, and each called and spoke to her for six hours about how upset they were.

She listened to them and helped them figure out what had happened, what was good about the other person and the possibility of renewing their relationship.

The couple managed to work out their differences and the wedding went ahead as planned.

Linh is passionate about bringing people together, and so decided to do the apprenticeship to become a matchmaker though she had had a great job at a multinational corporation.

"Besides having the chance to meet a lot of people, this company also has professional development programs and a clear career advancement opportunity.

"I have seen many people willing to pay large amounts of money for the company's services. I believe this industry is promising."

The two years during the Covid-19 pandemic was the golden age of online dating since people could not meet in person and struggled to find love amid the lockdowns.

Market research company Decision Lab reported in February that 65% of Vietnamese use at least one dating app. The most popular is Tinder (21%) followed by messaging apps like Zalo, Telegram and others (19%), and finally Facebook Dating (17%).

Surprisingly, more people use dating apps to make new friends (48%) than to find a relationship (39%).

She set up MatchMaker Team, the first professional matchmaking service provider in Vietnam, in November last year.

She says: "Dating, like love, is a story between two people that only humans can truly understand and help with."

In fact, many relationship experts around the world think that the number of dating apps will go down in the next few years because they have flaws and could pose a threat to users.

Three matchmaking companies, Matrimony (India), Duo (South Korea) and IBJ (Japan), have said they are focusing on promoting in-person matchmaking instead of online dating.

Vu Nguyet Anh and members of her team. Photo courtesy Rudicaf

Vu Nguyet Anh and members of her team. Photo courtesy Rudicaf

In Vietnam, there are many companies that help people find partners, such as Henhotoinay, Wematch and Happydating.

There are also some individual matchmakers and small groups that help friends find partners.

Half a year after setting up a professional matchmaking agency, getting positive feedback and having successfully matched nearly 100 couples, Anh hopes to open a matchmaking training academy and connect matchmakers with singles to try and turn it into a recognized profession.

Nhung's family is glad to see that she is happier in her new job and Chi finds that the job dovetails with her interests.

Linh’s aspiration is to become a professional matchmaker.

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