Crescent City Cupid Parnes A ‘Match Made In NOLA’
Justin, SWM, 41, lives in Mid-City and is looking for “an intriguing and exciting woman.”
A local SWF, 38, who prefers to remain anonymous (Ms. A), is passionate about getting married and having kids. “I’m looking for a good guy, a gentleman, a career driven, family oriented, kind, loyal, preferably athletic man with good morals and values,” she said. “Isn’t that what every woman wants?”
Both singletons, who’ve become disenchanted with the New Orleans and online dating scenes, decided to stop swiping and start dating, with the help of Match Made in NOLA matchmaker Ann Parnes.
“Some people don’t have the time to find meaningful matches with long-term potential, some don’t trust their instincts and some simply have bad luck,” said Parnes. “I hope to bring romance back to dating.”
Parnes is hosting her next Singles Mixer Happy Hour event on Friday, August 10, at the House of Blues’ Foundation Room, 225 Decatur St., from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Competing with the nearly $2 billion a year online dating industry can be disheartening, but successful matchmakers affectionately command tens of thousands of dollars from clients and can make millions a year. If you’re looking for love in New York City, you can seek the elite services of Janis Spindel. In L.A.? “Millionaire Matchmaker” Patti Stanger matriculates mates for her jet set clientele. If you’re open to searching the globe for l’amour, Kelleher International has your ticket. In New Orleans, Parnes’ Match Made in NOLA promises professional matchmaking services and date coaching guidance to find connection, compatibility and chemistry in the Crescent City.
According to datingadvice.com, 49 million people have tried online dating and spend an average of $243 a year on more than 7,500 dating sites that exist worldwide including Bumble, eHarmony, Elite Singles, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, Tinder and Zoosk. Match.com holds the title for most popular site with 23.5 million users and an annual revenue that tops $1.28 billion.
Match Made in NOLA charges young professionals under 35-years-old $3,600 for a six-month membership and $6,500 for an annual membership. Those aged 35 and older pay $4,500 and $7,500 respectively. Personal relationship coaching costs $125 an hour, but it’s included in a membership package.
Lovelorn locals of all adult ages can also register for Parnes’ free and confidential online database, that doubles as her personal rolodex from where she draws potential matches for clients. Database members also get invitations to attend Parnes’ singles mixers.
Parnes said her discreet, exclusive matchmaking and date coaching services for commitment-minded singles offer a lot more love and attention than what customers can buy online.
“I don’t start charging for memberships until I arrange a first date,” said certified relationship coach Parnes. “I try to arrange a date every four to six weeks for clients, and I guarantee my best efforts.”
“I have a natural tendency to bring people together,” said Parnes. “Finding that romantic connection in people is the gold standard for me. I use my matchmaking intuition ardently to search for genuine people. I find out what my clients’ likes and dislikes are, their deal-breakers, and learn about their lifestyles and values so I can figure out exactly who will be an optimal match. I am not just a dating service.”
“Online dating is very black and white, but humans are complicated and there is a lot of gray in what people are looking for,” said client Justin. “With Match Made in NOLA you’re dealing with a person who can pick up on your likes and quirks. You can present a spectrum of traits or things you are looking for, and you’re not locked into categories. Working with Ann feels a lot more flexible and fluid compared to typing in stuff on a website.”
“She’s understanding and intuitive, and she’s looking out for your best interests,” said Ms. A. “I never used a matchmaker before, but you can tell Ann sets the bar pretty high.”
Parnes, a local New Orleanian who graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School and Tulane University, earned an International Law degree from American University in Washington, D.C. and met her husband of 15+ years backpacking through Prague. A prosecutor in the Juvenile Division of the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office for seven years, Parnes co-founded Pivotal Perspectives Coaching, a professional life coaching business. There, Parnes found an additional niche. Most of her clients were single, complained about the perils of dating in New Orleans, and were giving up on finding loving and healthy relationships.
“Online dating is a useful tool,” said Parnes, “and some sites are better than others, but it’s like going to TJ Maxx and trying to find a bargain.”
Parnes said through her extensive personal contacts and professional databases she was equipped to become a love broker and recruit and network on behalf of clients to find ideal matches. Parnes’ optional à la carte services include style consultants, hair and make-up stylists and photographers.
Those who enlist Parnes to find their soulmate first fill out a short form with some basic information, and then complete a more emotional, in-depth questionnaire that explains what type of love match they’re looking for. Parnes schedules in-person meetings to discuss personalized membership options, and after learning more about a client, she delights in handpicking potential matches. Once both parties agree to an introduction, a date is set. Parnes follows up with both parties after each date and provides coaching advice.
“I tried online dating, and frankly it sucked,” said Justin, who has been living in New Orleans for 17 years, is a law school graduate and works in the court system. “I got some dates, but never made any connections. Making conversation was like pulling teeth. Most of my friends are married or in relationships, so it’s not easy to find anyone to go out with. The dating scene in New Orleans seems largely bar-based. It’s hard to really get to know someone at a bar, and it’s harder to get people to get out and have fun somewhere else. I’d like to think my personality is a bit more complex than a test or computer can measure.”
“Dating is worse for men than women,” said Parnes. “Men are generally more shy. They are expected to pick up women and make the first move, and they have difficulty with that. It takes a lot of courage to introduce yourself to a women who’s with a group of other women.”
“Men want that companionship,” said Parnes, “and they can find love on their own, but it’s about taking the time and being open. I advise them to stop texting, pick up a phone to call a woman instead and follow-up.
“I found guys weren’t looking for long-lasting relationships,” said Ms. A, who works in corporate sales. “They were more interested in casual dating. I hear it’s tough to date in any city, but New Orleans is a small town. We all know the same people. I haven’t met anyone on my own that worked out, but Ann sees potential in matches that I may not have given a chance to before. It’s nice not to have to look and have someone else find potential suitors and introduce them to you.”
“I make values-based matches,” said Parnes. “It’s time consuming, because I meet every single client and potential match in person before I set them up. It’s successful because I’ve matched up dozens of people who have stayed together for a long time.”
Parnes said she’s devoted to a limited number of clients to maximize the level of individual attention she gives each member. She said her courtroom experience helped develop her intuition and sharpen her ability to assess people’s sincerity and credibility. She cherishes coaching clients by telling them what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. And when it’s time for her to get feedback, she said it can keep her up all night.
“I feel so responsible since I screen and vet all of them,” she said. “I can hardly sleep the nights my clients go out on their dates, and I can’t wait to hear how I did and listen to their perspectives on the matches and the dates I set up.”
“Ann helps you understand that this can be a process,” said Justin. “If dating was simple, easy and fast I wouldn’t be single. It helps to know there is an actual person out there scouting for me. A website isn’t going to bump into someone at a coffee shop and think ‘that person is perfect for him.’ I think a matchmaker can help save a lot of time and misery. Ann helps you talk through what you think you want, and really nail down what you are actually looking for. She allows you to be honest about what you’re after. Ann is very determined and truly wants to help you find someone. I can’t say that for a computer program.”
“I had a date through an online dating service with a guy from Mississippi,” said Ms. A. “He played guitar. We met at Blue Crab on the Lake, and it turned out he uses his own fingernails as guitar picks. His nails were longer than mine. That’s something you should really tell someone before you meet them. They were horrific. It was the fastest dinner I ever had. After he wanted to take me for an ice cream, and I told him I didn’t eat sugar.”
Motivated Ms. A met Parnes socially playing tennis and found her to be warm, inviting and trusting. “I liked her, and I figured I had nothing to lose and I should give it a chance,” said Ms. A. “Her values-based approach is really smart because she brings matches to you with the same foundation you have. It’s worth the money because it’s an investment in your future.”
“It actually went very well,” said Justin about a recent Match Made in NOLA date. “Although it was a first date, it was the least awkward one I’ve had in a while. I really think that’s due to Ann having known both our personalities ahead of time. Like most things, if you really want good results, you have to make an investment.”
“I went out on five dates with five guys,” said Ms. A. “Every Match Made in NOLA date gets better and better as Ann’s gets to know me and what I’m looking for.”
“What I’m learning from Ann is to take your time to get to really know someone first by dating,” she said. “It’s a lost art. I come from an old-school, conservative background. People move too fast nowadays without taking the time to date.”