Why I Am Not The Millionaire Matchmaker

For the past few months, everywhere I go, people ask me what I think of “The Millionaire Matchmaker” – both the show and the woman starring in it, Patti Stanger.

So, for the record, I have only seen one episode – the first one – because a friend of mine was one of the millionaires showcased on it. Like most reality shows, it did not make him look great. But the other millionaire on the show looked even worse. From what I recall, he was a man in his mid-40’s from Malibu who wanted to settle down with a woman in her 30’s – but couldn’t help the fact that he was attracted to one of the brainless 24-year-old hotties. Hilarity ensues, as he ignores Patti’s sage advice (“Don’t go for the bimbo I set you up with!”) and goes on an awkward horseback ride with the young model, who, predictably, has nothing to say.

Without seeing any of Season 2, I’m pretty sure that this is the plot of at least half of the episodes. Which makes me wonder aloud: what’s the appeal of this show?

Do you view it as pure entertainment, like watching Desperate Housewives?

Do you view it as therapy, where you learn something about the universal problems of dating  from an experienced matchmaker?

Or is it, as I suspect, pure schadenfreude?

Do we just like watching rich men and beautiful women look bad to make us feel better about ourselves?

It’s impossible for me to say why Patti Stanger is a phenomenon right now. My guess is that it’s the same reason that Donald Trump is a bigger “star” than other real estate moguls. While not uniquely qualified – and believe me, I’m not “uniquely qualified” either –  her ego – and business model – is strangely magnetic.

We’re fascinated with the rich. We’re consumed by celebrity.

We pay attention to those who speak the loudest (Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, Jim Rome), and anoint them royalty.

What results is a world in which insight takes a back seat to volume and self-promotion.

And while we’re better off on an entertainment level, I’m pretty sure we’re losing on a deeper level.

Last month, the Dr. Phil show called me to ask me to “debate” Patti Stanger on their show. It never came to pass, but when I was gearing up, I asked a producer for an example of the kind of advice Patti gives. Here is what I was told she offered to one woman who stated her desire to meet a wealthy man:

“You want to meet a lawyer? Go stand outside a courthouse!”

Ahem.

Let’s just say I’m glad I’m a http://www.evanmarckatz.com/coaching/ instead of a matchmaker to the rich and clueless.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Cilla

    I personally like Patti’s no BS approach with the male millionaires. For the record, she only sets up the men with bimbos if they insist on dating young airheads, and only to prove that if they want a real relationship, they need to look at older, smarter women. In the audition scenes shown on the show, she makes a concerted effort to choose women who have advanced degrees or who own their own businesses.

    Are there some bird brains mixed in? Yes, and it does provide entertainment value for the show. Does she emphasize appearance? Yes, for both men and women, because as most people would agree here, it’s a major factor in the early stages of dating, especially in LA. Is there some drama on the show? Of course–it’s a reality show, which means even clips of Mother Theresa would be edited and shown out of context to make her look like a shrill, divisive harpy.

    I guess I like the schadenfreude, the fact that many of the men on the show come off looking like idiots. Maybe it’s not in the best interest of matchmaking (although I think there is no hope for some of these guys), but there is definitely a lesson to be learned. Patti Stanger provides a much needed balance to the it’s-all-about-the-guy, me-me-me attitudes perpetrated by many men, including so-called dating gurus.

    I enjoyed Patti Stanger’s book, as much as I like her show, and found the “Dating Detox” section to be most effective. It’s my recollection that the quote you used above regarding finding a lawyer at the courthouse was an analogy suggesting women who want to meet men live need to actually go to where the men are: golf courses; auto shows; sports bars; etc. Basic dating advice, indeed, but apparently still needed by many women.

    Sorry, I tuned in to Season 1 purely for entertainment; by the end of Season 2, I was a fan. I find so much of the dating advice out there to be in the service of making men’s lives easier, at the expense of women and their self-esteem. (“You’re a goddess. Now, go wait in the corner for a man to approach you, and then feel lucky when he does, regardless of whether you’re attracted to him.”)

    While I don’t think Patti Stanger has all the answers, I do appreciate her point of view. One person she DID debate was Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. While I haven’t seen the entire debate, I’m intensely curious about it, because I always thought Stanger was much closer in philosophy to Rabbi Shmuley than he thinks. And if you really want to hear a discourse on how off kilter the dating world has become, check out Shmuley’s dialogue from earlier this year with Deepak Chopra, “Integrating the Masculine And Feminine.” It made we want to go live in a cave until we all become a little more enlightened.

  2. 2
    Curly Girl

    I think there should be a reality show called “How To Marry The Biggest Loser and Survive.” It would be hosted by Donald Trump and Paris Hilton and all participants would have to sing Burt Bacharach songs and we’d all phone in to say who should be together based on their performances and their off-stage interviews. Then they’d go live in a big house built especially for them and get makeovers and cameras would follow them around for a year while they eat bugs and go bungie jumping and stuff. Then because they’re fighting in front of the camera and the kids, they’d go see Dr. Phil, who would set up marriage counseling for them in their home town. Then they’d stay together/break up, and write a book about what they learned there in reality, and be in the Oprah book club. But then it would turn out that they made up a bunch of stuff that wasn’t reality, and Oprah would take them to task right on TV. And then they’d fade into obscurity, whence they came, and cease to exist. Again. Because, as we know, nothing really exists unless it’s on TV.

    Good call, EMK. Of all the stupid reality shows (apologies to the followers) that has got to be the stupidest.

    And who wants to marry the likes of Donald Trump, anyway? Ick. Or Paris Hilton, for that matter.

  3. 3
    Curly Girl

    Good points, Cilla. Didn’t know some of that stuff. I agree with you that most dating advice seems to be in service to the guy as “buyer” and the woman as “seller.” Even in the language around dating/mating: men “pick” a bride, and women “catch” a man. When do you ever hear of a woman “picking” her husband?

    But about that: A friend of mine is an editor at a popular entertainment magazine. About the reality TV dating shows she said, “Did you ever notice that when the woman picks the man they stay together and when the man picks the woman they’re usually broken up about six months later?”

    Curious.

  4. 4
    bdsista

    And let me be the spoiler, as an African American woman, I have yet to see a show that matchmakes the men and women I know. All I see on reality TV are the minstrel shows featuring Flava Flav and New York, none of which represent the majority of intelligent, educated Black people. Unfortunately, the percentage of educated, professional women marrying is dropping more and more. If dating/matchmaking professionals want a real challenge, then, help some Black women get married. EMK you got it right, but I would like to know what Patty and you do when faced with Black women looking for love.

  5. 5
    starthrower68

    Money increases your options but it doesn’t make you any happier. There are an awful lot of messed up rich people out there.

  6. 6
    $Francisco

    @ bdsista

    Didn’t she help the singer Farrah Franklin. She’s Black.

  7. 7
    sjz

    So what do you think of the reality show “Tough Love” on VH1? Now there was some real drama on there!

  8. 8
    GlAm

    Patti is in demand because there is a niche that requires her services. How many millionaires have the time to comb through bar scenes? Not everyone is capable of finding love on their own, which is precisely why matchmakers are in business in the first place.

    Also, I don’t think that by watching her show that we’re sinking to a new low. Entertainment is entertainment. Shows like millionaire matchmaker will skew reality. It’s just up to us to mentally filter the content of everything we watch.

  9. 9
    zann

    This is precisely why I don’t watch tv. The term “reality tv” is an oxymoron. If you want reality, turn off the frickin’ tube and go out and find people, volunteer to help someone in a more desperate situation than yours and get in touch with “real” reality. Or join a discussion group, or read more, and you may just have a brain storm about how your own behavior impacts others you’d like to be intimate with. Or don’t. But just don’t expect to find any kind of wisdom on television or from rich people or celebrities unless you’re one of them. Personally, I don’t give a rat’s ass what rich people do to find happiness. That’s their problem to figure out, not mine. I’m more interested in finding out why Joe the carpenter down the block thinks being a mate means more than last-minute weekend booty call with home-cooked dinner provided. I’m not one to get a thrill living vicariously through Stories of the Stars. And as others have already pointed out, they don’t seem all that much happier than us common folk. But make no mistake: unless it’s public television, tv’s goal is, and always has been, to sell advertising, not to educate.

  10. 10
    zann

    Correction: I meant to say “why Joe the caprenter down the block thinks being a mate means nothing MORE than last-minute booty call. . .”

  11. 11
    A-L

    bdsista,

    What advice has EMK given that is not applicable to a black woman, or a woman of any ethnicity? What kind of race-specific advice do you expect to receive from anyone?

  12. 14
    Steve

    I saw one episode of that show while over at a friends house. If you take out the “reality show”/voyeuristic aspects I would say Patti & EMK are on the same page with dating advice. They both have a “lets cut the bull shit and work with reality because here is where you are” approach.

  13. 15
    Steve

    From the one episode I saw I was amazed with both how ordinary the rich men seemed and how totally inept some of them were in managing their happiness.

    The episode I caught followed the youngish looking 40 something poorer fitness buff millionaire who had a mental block with “settling” for any woman close to 30.

    Patti found a truly incredible woman who was a perfect match for him in every way. Once he found out she was over 30 he dumped her. The number “30” in this case was just that, just a number. It didn’t reflect anything about the palpable reality of what this man could have had with her.

    Despite my envy for his opportunities the episode ended with me feeling pity for him.

    In a way it reminded me of many of the stories here of people depriving themselves of happiness over some foolish consistency with has nothing to do with the actual people they could be happy with.

  14. 16
    starthrower68

    Evidently being rich doesn’t make one smarter either.

  15. 17
    Curly Girl

    I don’t watch TV either, just for the record, though I’ve seen some of these shows. I like what Zann has to say–my sentiments exactly.

    And I do get what bdsista is saying, which relates to what Zann is saying. If you are dark, or curly, or overweight, or speak with a regional accent or a dialect, or have a certain kind of job, or a certain kind of religion/spiritual practice, a lot of the mainstream dating advice just isn’t going to work. Dating is like TV–same values apply. Look good (acc. to mainstream aesthetics), fit in (no Ren Faires), don’t have values outside the norm (like keeping your virginity till marriage, etc.). If you are a woman all you have to do to find dates, I am convinced, is get very thin, do whatever you have to do to get straight, blonde, hair, wear fashionable, sexy clothes, and say yes to everything the guy says. If you’re a guy, just get a good job and pay for everything. (Not saying any of this leads to good relationships, but it does lead to dates in the TV-driven world.)

    What does any of this have to do with love? Isn’t that supposed to be the cornerstone of the LTR and not the guy’s resume or the woman’s headshot (metaphorically speaking)? Resumes and headshots are what you might consult for a fling. See, it’s all backwards, in my view.

  16. 19
    Thomas

    The reason why I am not a matchmaker myself is as simple as this. It doesn’t matter if you bring two people who are unbelievably perfect together, it doesn’t matter. If neither have the right dating skills – or personable skills, at that – then the relationship will not amount to anything.

    I like the idea of matchmaking, because of the database of people and constant screening that is taken place. But there also needs to be an element of coaching that’s involved.

    Patti does give honest and blunt advice but it’s not really good coaching. Some of those rich guys desperately need someone to tell them what they are doing wrong and what’s keeping them from finding the love they are looking for. They are so rich and used to being told yes because of their money that they would be more difficult to manage but still…

    Coaching is needed here, not matchmaking.

    Thomas´s last blog post…Some Weekend Words of Encouragement

  17. 20
    Honey

    I LOVE the Millionaire Matchmaker and think that actually EMK and Patti Stanger are almost exactly, precisely the same both in the advice that they give and in their brutal honesty towards people who only think about looks.

    Actually, if the Dr. Phil thing had gone down, I think it wouldn’t have ended up a “debate” but actually a giant love fest where the two of you agreed with everything each other said.

    Absolutely the only differences that I see between the two of you is that 1) Patti isn’t quite as articulate, and 2) she has chosen a slightly different client base (though as others have pointed out, they are not as different as you think – most of the millionaires come off precisely the same as the letters you answer on this blog). This different client base probably offers her the opportunity to make twice as much money with half as many clients, which is a pretty smart business model.

    Honey´s last blog post…Vegas Memorial Weekend Sextacular: Preview

  18. 21
    A-L

    Curly Girl and bdsista,

    Let’s look at some of Evan’s advice.

    -If you don’t have a ton of dating options then you need to be more flexible. If you have tons of dating options, then you can be more choosy.
    -If you’re a guy the key is being nice and confident.
    -You can tell how much a guy likes you by how quickly he makes arrangements to see you again.
    -To be more successful in online dating look for the people who are interested in dating you rather than those whose criteria you don’t meet.
    -If you’re a strong, assertive, opinionated female then you may want to tone down those qualities if you’re seeking an alpha male.
    -If you have to ask a guy out, he’s generally not that interested in you.
    -Don’t be afraid to initiate contact on a dating website.
    -Do the mirroring technique. If he calls you, then call him back. If he doesn’t call you, don’t call.
    -Focus less on external qualities and more on the internal ones that largely determine the long-term success of a relationship.

    Which of these things are not applicable to a dark, curly, overweight, religious, foreign, or other special type of woman? What type of advice do these special women need that is not relevant for the rest of the population?

  19. 22
    Curly Girl

    Hi, A-L: First off, I’m not looking, I’m all set, so I’m merely observing.

    Re: bdsista–people from different cultures have different concerns about dating/mating that mainstream advice does not address. I can appreciate that if you are an African American woman who wants to date an African American man you will come up against certain cultural things that white people don’t and maybe can’t understand. Black women have to deal with different circumstances from white women: For example, black women are usually the head of the household, so the “tone it down” advice isn’t going to work and nobody is going to believe it anyway. Also, a larger percentage of black v. white men are incarcerated, underemployed, undereducated, etc., and flexibility and “settling” will not work in these instances. I am not slamming black men here; this is a disturbing social reality that affects all of us and (in my view) needs to be addessed. The black family system was destroyed by slavery, and this is a trauma that has not yet healed. This legacy of course affects that way that black men and black women relate to each other, and there is a lot of discussion about this in the black community and about what is the best way to heal. The people who are most directly affected by it hold many different points of view (assimilate? champion black identity? fight back?).

    But if a black woman wants to date across races, the situation isn’t necessarily any better, especially in a country that fetishizes blondes and youth and skinny hips. You can focus on internal qualities all you want, but if the guys (including available black guys) are all looking for younger, compliant, what is considered “hot,” as EMK seems to suggest they are, it’s not the same dating scene for those who aren’t mainstream.

    The point that bdsista was making was that you don’t see Millionaire Matchmakers using black people on their shows. Her point is well taken, and it’s useful to us because maybe we’re being mindless in our consumption of these media presentations of “reality.”

  20. 23
    Steve

    @A-L post #21

    + 1

  21. 24
    Passion Flower

    First thank you Evan for your wonderful blog and fantatsic insight. You are appreciated more than you know!~

    Regarding Black women and dating… currently I (Black female) am in a monogamous relationship with a (white) man who contacted me after I posted F to M on Craigslist.

    I had used numerous paid dating sites with no success or rather, if I wished to have fun-time flings, dating sites were perfect for that…

    Then I said, why NOT try Craigslist so I used many tips from Evan (my subject line rocked!), and was swamped with responses…from men of all ages and races!

    After dating a fair number of men from CL I chose “Mr.” whom,
    I at first rejected since was a bit younger than I preferred. But he won me over with his confidence charisma and sweet nature.

    Curlygirl wrote:” But if a black woman wants to date across races, the situation isn’t necessarily any better, especially in a country that fetishizes blondes and youth and skinny hips. You can focus on internal qualities all you want, but if the guys (including available black guys) are all looking for younger, compliant, what is considered hot, as EMK seems to suggest they are, it’s not the same dating scene for those who aren’t mainstream.”

    Ha. Girl, hush your mouth! ;) Not only am a I bit older than my (white) BF, my hair isn’t straight and blonde and furthermore Black men were chasing me, too. Granted, I am slim and beautiful (or so “they” say), still, I am Black have never lacked men to date!

    My advice to any woman is don’t believe the hype! project confidence, have a “life” reject men who don’t fit your desires and keep going till you find someone to fit with you… women have the power. More power than we know and nothing is more of a turn-off than a defeated attitude.

    PS
    Mr. is large, Tony Soprano large, and stated that most white women rejected him due to his size.

  22. 25
    Curly Girl

    Hi, Passion Flower! I’m happy that you and your guy are happy and that EMK has been a good resource for you. But I still hold that a large number of relationship-seekers face cultural realities that defy mainstream dating advice and that add to the challenge of pairing off. A lot depends on where you live, your profession, what your dealbreakers are, etc.

    And there’s something s*xy about James Gandalfino, despite his extra poundage. Hope your guy is the same. :)

  23. 26
    Curly Girl

    Also, slim and beautiful always gets a guy, no matter what the ethnicity. But maybe a “just regular” person would feel the sting.

  24. 27
    Cilla

    The issues Passion Flower, Curly Girl, et. al., have been discussing about interracial or cross cultural dating are the same ones I have been facing about dating in general: you can’t take hard and fast rules and apply them to *every* situation. As much as we want to make dating a science and talk about pheromones, oxytocin, male/female roles, etc., there is still an element of mystery to it. Call it God, fate, serendipity, whatever–it’s not an entirely quantifiable, objective discipline. You can call yourself a 5 or a 10–somewhere in the world there are probably people who would call you both, and every number in between. Some people will have problems dating outside their race, due to geography, upbringing, you name it. Other people find it a breeze.

    Do “slim and beautiful” girls have an advantage? Definitely, at least in many Western cultures. Do they always get a guy? No way. I (a white woman) dated a black man from a much bigger city near mine. I was stressing a little because I am what I suspect the dating sites were originally thinking about when they created the “curvy” category for body type. I’m not using it as a euphemism for fat–I just feel it describes me better than “athletic and toned,” which I think is reserved for the uber buff, or “average,” which implies a less defined body type. Anyway, this guy confessed over dinner that he almost didn’t go out with me. Why? Because in my pictures I looked too skinny for him. Was he overweight himself? Lord, no! He was a calendar model for his city’s fire department!!!

  25. 28
    Passion Flower

    Slim and beautiful to some are average size and plain faced to others, beauty is subjective. Some people may think I look like a monkey’s butt, Mr. says I am beautiful and I feel good inside…

    Also I am over 40- in a youth obcesssed culture. Stand me next to a 25 year old woman… of any race…

    A fair percentage of men don’t care for my cocoa skin tone nor appreciate my natural hair (no hair weave/perm). Many others do! Those are the people I spend time with.

    Personally, size doesn’t matter (unless, I think, someone is tragically underweight or morbily obese), it is the attitude projected, personality. Mr. is overweight no doubt about it. He experiances size discrimation all of the time (mainly by whites [he says]) and yet he put himself out there on the dating scene and of the scores of men I’ve dated in the last 3 years of being single, including hunky handsome types with six-packs, he’s the most confident and sensitive.

    More importantly we share similar hopes dreams desires.

    Think it’s ridiculous to say that Black women in general have a harder time finding a man.

  26. 29
    A-L

    I’m a biracial (black/white) female of average to slightly above average weight who abstains from premarital sex (and sometimes wear my hair curly/wavy). And using Curly Girl’s reasoning, I should be in need of tons more advice than the general population because of these factors.

    But Curly Girl mentions nothing that Evan’s advice doesn’t address:

    CG wrote, For example, black women are usually the head of the household, so the tone it down advice isn’t going to work and nobody is going to believe it anyway.

    I would imagine that many of the smart, strong, successful women don’t like the idea of toning it down and feel they shouldn’t have to. And nobody has to. It will just make getting (and keeping) a guy easier. But to suggest that all black women have to have loud, domineering personalities/attitudes? Umm, not so much. Most of the kids I teach are poor minority students with long disciplinary histories and poor academic achievement. I keep excellent control of my class and I rarely yell at them (no more than twice/school year).

    CG wrote, Also, a larger percentage of black v. white men are incarcerated, underemployed, undereducated, etc., and flexibility and settling will not work in these instances.

    If you don’t like your options, reconsider your dealbreakers to be more inclusive. Go for the blue-collar guy who’s sweet and treats you like gold. Date the financially successful college grad who is not as physically attractive. Date someone who’s younger or older than your originally wanted. Or, novel idea, date someone of a different race! And if you’re not willing to do any of these things, then don’t complain that there aren’t any men available.

    Though I’ve never seen Millionaire Matchmaker I will say that I agree with you that there should be more minorities included in such shows, but that’s still a major issue with the media in general, not just this show.

    Curly Girl
    In response to your #22, I was not trying to say that you were necessarily looking for a guy in my #21. When I used “You” it was the general you and not you specifically. Feel free to replace with the impersonal “one.”

    And though I don’t want to get on a tangent I will also say that I don’t agree with your assessment of “how the black family system was destroyed.” But that’s a discussion for a different board.

  27. 30
    moose

    The show’s success, I think, arises from simultaneously catering to each sex’s classic fantasy. For women, finding that prince charming who will sweep her off her feet and turn her into a lovestruck lottery winner; and for men, acting like a sultan who can choose from a menu of beauties each of whom is eager for his attention and ready to satisfy his every desire. But Patti gets to have it both ways, glorifying this shallow calculus of dating while calling everyone out for it. She lambasts the men for looking to fulfill the very fantasy they hired her to give them. Indeed, her “speaking truth to power” style is what really resonates with the female audience. And then she rips into the women for chasing the millionaire prince charmings her show bases itself upon. Patti hypocritcally turns the dating game into its most noxious extreme, crassly capitalizes upon it and then chastises everyone for exhibiting the very behavior she herself has encouraged. From a commercial stand point, kudos to her for pulling it off and pulling in audiences. But most obvious to me is the sad character at the center of it all: Patti Stanger. She’s still waiting for her Prince Charming even though she’s smart enough to know he’s just a fantasy but emotionally she can’t accept it so she channels her bitterness about it towards the very men she says she wants to help.

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