Professional matchmaker and dating coach Judith Gottesman is celebrating her seventh year in business, though she began making matches long before then. Gottesman says it was a match made in Israel nearly 20 years ago that was her first, and she was hooked. She realized that she had an intuitive sense and was able to recognize a true “soul mate” very soon afterward, and went on to set up several more couples, all of whom are still happily married. Today, she is focused more than ever on making Jewish matches through her company, Soul Mates Unlimited, and though headquartered in San Diego, she works with people seeking love from all over.
LCHAIM Magazine: What brought you to matchmaking?
Judith Gottesman: I am a true romantic who believes in the power of love. I grew up watching my father, Rabbi Aaron Gottesman, do beautiful wedding ceremonies and learned about the Jewish views on love and marriage. I like to help people. I have advanced psychology degrees which help me observe details about people and that makes for better matches. So many people asked me for assistance in finding love that I started my business so I could help more people in a full-time, formal manner.
LCHAIM: What are some of the principles you like to follow when it comes to finding someone’s b’shert?
JG: I think the Jewish idea of soul mates holds true no matter what the religion; the couple must have physical attraction, share values, lifestyle, and long term goals. Essentially, your b’shert is someone who is your best friend, trusted confidant and lover. You need all three for the relationship to work long term. Without trust, you don’t have anything. You also need attraction and to enjoy each other’s company.
I have lots of divorced clients who were married to someone with whom they had just physical attraction or just friendship. Neither is sufficient for a happy marriage; you need both friendship and physical chemistry.
LCHAIM: Do you make matches outside of Judaism? Why or why not?
JG: In the past, I’ve matched couples where both people weren’t Jewish, but my business focuses on the Jewish community. We are a tiny minority and it’s really hard for Jews outside of Israel to find each other. I feel very strongly that religious values and religious observance (or lack thereof) are something very important and personal, and need to be shared for a couple to be harmonious. While there are always exceptions, in general, you want to marry someone who’s similar to you in important areas such as religion. This way, you can share your practice, rather than having conflict or having to worship without your spouse.
LCHAIM: What is the process that you ask people to go through so that you can get to know them, what they want in a partner, etc; and how long does this process usually take?
JG: I conduct an initial hour-long in-depth interview with new clients to get a sense of who they are and what they’re looking for in a match. I then ask them to update me on factors which may affect a match change over time, such as their life goals, locale, deal-breakers, job or retirement status.
LCHAIM: About how many people do you have in your database who are currently looking for matches?
JG: I am the main matchmaker for the entire West Coast Jewish community. Any Jewish adult who is looking for love can come to me for assistance. My database is always in flux as new clients come aboard and current clients find love and either put their files on hold or are successfully matched and close their files permanently. I have clients of all ages, from 20 somethings to people in their early 90s. They live all over the West Coast and beyond. I always tell people “it’s not about the numbers,” and even have a video about that on my website.
There are thousands of people on dating sites who are still single because love isn’t about quantity. My clients don’t want a lot of different dates, they want to find “the one.”
LCHAIM: What is the average time it takes for you to make a match?
JG: I can never predict or control if I’ll have someone’s match or how long it will take. I’m very good at recognizing who goes well together and my clients appreciate that I don’t waste their time sending them out on random dates to meet quotas. I only send them out when I have someone I think they’ll like who meets their criteria. Of course, chemistry in person when they meet is the final determining factor, but they know the match makes sense on paper. The rest is up to them.
Everyone is unique and looking for something different so everyone will have a different experience. I studied statistics as part of my psychology background and one of the main rules of statistics is that they don’t apply to individuals. Some people get matched right away since I already have their match. Most of the time, it’s a waiting game until their match comes along and I never know who’ll be the lucky one to find their soul mate right away. In matters of love and the heart, it’s really about fate and God bringing two people together, and I just assist in making that happen.
LCHAIM: At what point should someone try matchmaking, over the traditional ways to meet a partner, or internet dating?
JG: I believe anyone who is serious about finding genuine love should try every avenue out there. I’m one avenue to help them in their search. People have to be proactive and not just expect love to find them.
Matchmaking is also a traditional Jewish way of meeting a partner. I do traditional matchmaking with a modern twist.
LCHAIM: What advice can you give to people who are dating, but can’t seem to find their special someone?
JG: The most important thing is to stay hopeful and have a positive attitude. Again, be proactive. Along with matchmaking, I provide date coaching. Together, I can strategize with my clients on other methods in a search for love and also ways to make them more appealing. I look for blocks they’re putting up in their search for love. For those who want practice, we also go over possible dating scenarios and things to say or not say with a date. Sometimes self-improvement work or date coaching makes a big difference. Having faith, patience, and being proactive are paramount.
LCHAIM: What makes your company unique?
JG: I’m a boutique company and I provide a highly personalized service. My clients always talk with me directly, not an employee, and I do all matching and date coaching myself. I charge only 1/3 of the cost up front and the remaining 2/3 is due only after they are successfully matched. I only match clients with clients and personally interview every client. I also offer complete confidentiality and never share my client base with other companies. My high profile clients especially value their privacy. Also, I deal exclusively with Jewish clientele and work with clients of all ages.