Many Metro readers have written me asking if I know anyone to set them up with, or if I can help get them in touch with a matchmaking service. The people out there looking for love run the gamut from college-age to senior citizens, from unaffiliated to Orthodox, and from never married to divorced or widowed. Basically, Jews from all demographics are having a hard time finding their beshert and are not ashamed to ask for help. The matchmaker, or shadchan (as in someone who makes a shidduch. This is not to be confused with a Yenta, or meddler, although the two are often mistakenly used interchangeably), is a service seeped in Jewish tradition. Long before television shows such as ABC’s The Bachelor or Channel 10’s Haravak, there were actual matchmakers who approached parents when their children were of marrying age. That matchmaker would measure the family’s background and reputation and the daughter’s devotion to Torah, as well as her physical looks, and would find appropriately suited men from appropriately suited families. Once the parents approved the union, only then would the couple meet, get to know each other and decide if they wanted to spend any further time together. These shadchans were paid upon creating a successful union, and sometimes even paid double if the families were overly-satisfied (conversely, a shadchan who failed time after time was often banned from matchmaking). PATTI STANGER, from Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker, is a third generation Jewish matchmaker, and although her techniques are not traditional, the conversations she has with her clients as she prepares them for meeting their match is half the battle. It’s comparable to someone filling out the form on J*Date: Who are you, what are you looking for, what is your relationship history, what have you learned from said history and what is your idea of the perfect first date? Answering these questions, whether in e-mail form with J*Date or in-person with a shadchan, gets you mentally prepared and measures your maturity and readiness to take the next step. They are questions you can ask yourself before signing up for J*Date, calling a shadchan or asking a friend to set you up. Simply put: Don’t waste anyone’s time, especially not your own, if you’re not ready. Patti is also great at calling people out who have their priorities screwed up or don’t know the meaning of the word “chivalrous.” I’ve helped a few friends with their J*Date accounts, making sure they’re putting their best self forward and communicating their personality in their profile because it’s difficult to write a cohesive and coherent article about yourself when you’re not a writer. I suppose that would make me a Yenta, or a modernized, internet-savvy version of a shadchan using J*Date instead of the synagogue’s directory. I’ve composed a lengthy questionnaire and spend a lot of time on the phone with my “clients,” learning about them, helping them write their essays, choosing their photos and either narrowing down or broadening their preferences. I make sure the essays sound like them, not me, and counsel my “clients” to prepare them for their first dates, too. Although we have internet dating now, the shadchan has made a comeback. An official shadchan may cover similar ground as I do as an unofficial consultant, hoping to find you the best match and not just someone who looks good on paper, or rather, on screen. Dating is tough, outsourcing it is in your best interest and the bottom line is it can’t hurt. If you would pay J*Date to use their services, why not pay someone to expedite the process?Ask your rabbi or a community leader to recommend a reputable shadchan and allow that person to interview you and be honest with you about their assessment of your dating quotient. If you want some help with your J*Date account, ask a friend to look over your essays and photos, or even hire someone by searching the internet for an official internet dating consultant. The best advice would be to take people’s comments about your datingapproach as creative criticism and benefit from it. Most people, paidor unpaid, will not tell you the truth – that your hair needs to be cutor what you think is your best photo is actually your worst or thatyour essay is not as funny as you think it is. If someone does give youfeedback, take it into consideration and don’t be offended, they’rejust trying to help.That said, also keep in mind from whom those remarks are coming.Sometimes, Patti Stanger on Millionaire Matchmaker tells women to actmore feminine or dress less sexy when she needs to take her own advice.Sometimes, friends who married their high school sweethearts try togive advice but have no dating experience to speak from. Just remember that everyone has the best intentions and has your bestinterests in mind. They are just trying to help, so think about whatthey’ve suggested and maybe even try it their way for a while to seewhat happens. You have nothing to lose!