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The modern, fast-paced life doesn’t afford the luxury of thinking about love. That is until we free ourselves from the trappings of our own ambition and other pursuits, and actually find ourselves lonelier than we think. Many, irrespective of age and cultural background, look for it on dating apps or social media feeds, keeping real conversations on the backseat. Like everything else, our emotional need for companionship is also being taken care of by matchmakers who understand what ‘vibing’ with a person truly entails. But what does it take to actually get into their shoes and bring two people together?
Christiana Maxion started out with a career in finance and transitioned to the education sector, where she had a successful run as a curriculum coordinator, teacher trainer, school leader and author. And then came the pandemic, a time that made us look inwards. Christiana began to document her dating experience in Dubai during and post-lockdown and found that it had gained such a popularity that many of her followers would request her for relationship advice. “I have always been a connector of friends, business collaborations and romantic relationships. I loved helping others and decided to invest in my education, certifications, programmes and mentoring to become a professional matchmaker and certified dating coach.”
Following a consultation with a legal team on the legalities of opening a professional matchmaking business in Dubai, Christiana started her own agency Christiana Maxion Solutions in October 2021. “Eight months into the launch, I was contacted by matchmaking giants Patti Stanger’s Millionaire’s Club and Cinque Matchmaking to join forces to expand globally and enter into a formal partnership. This new affiliation not only marked a significant new milestone, but also provided our clients with unlimited matchmaking opportunities across the globe, giving our clients an even greater chance of meeting ‘the one’.”
Today, Christiana works with six ‘expert matchmakers around the globe who interview, verify, vet, present potential matches; plan, book, confirm dates, manage communication and feedback for our clients in order to expedite the dating experience to find them success in their love life”. Which obviously begs the question what are the qualities a modern matchmaker must possess? According to Christiana, to be an ‘expert matchmaker’ you ought to have a deep understanding of human psychology and behaviour, which allows one to identify compatibility factors that predict a long-lasting and successful relationship. “They develop a keen eye for reading the individual personality traits which are used to craft personalised matches based on shared values, interests and goals.”
So if you think you can be a potential matchmaker, think again because Christiana emphasises that it cannot be seen as a hobby or a “cutesy job” because it involves people’s lives and happiness. “In fact, it is a challenging profession that requires one to deal with demanding clients and spend long hours. It also helps to have a strong network of high-profile singles,” she says. “Coordinating between ourselves also enables us to find matches beyond geographic boundaries and to connect people from different countries in meaningful ways.”
When Christiana says her personalised matchmaking efforts are becoming popular in the GCC, she attributes the reason to her clients being used to a lifestyle of outsourcing and the fact that “we take care of EVERYTHING”. Often, these are people who are successful, singles seeking a hard-to-find match, individuals seeking assistance post-divorce, introverts, people who want to date casually first to figure out what they are truly seeking in a match and professionals who are simply too busy to find someone themselves.
In a place like the UAE, where people come from different parts of the world, one would assume it is tad more challenging to find the right match. But our easy assumptions are put to rest by Christiana when she declares it a “major positive”. “The UAE is one of the few countries in the world where you can ‘date the map’.You have the opportunity to date people from different nationalities, cultures and religions, which allows you to gain more perspective on what you are actually attracted to versus maybe only being exposed to homogeneous partners if you were dating back in your home country or town.”
She adds that the GCC used to be thought of as a transient city but is now becoming more of a permanent destination, which only helps the business of matchmaking. “Trends in real estate show more people choosing to buy than rent. Plus, there is an influx of many entrepreneurs and businesses choosing to open outlets or headquarters here, which means more opportunity to date high-value partners.”
She is also observing an increase in the number of people wanting to find love late in life. In fact, she thinks men and women in their 40s and 50s “date the best”. “They have more intention and direction in what they will or will not accept, so their dating experience is gold.”
One of her favourite success stories is a man in his late 30s, “a very successful founder”, who came to her in early 2022 with the concern that he would never find love because of his autism diagnosis. “With lots of coaching, encouragement and confidence boosting, I was able to match him with a partner only on his sixth introduction,” she recalls fondly. “He is now planning their engagement.”
And is love taking a backseat among younger couples chasing professional success? Christiana doesn’t think so. “Instead, life gets in the way, but it is super important to prioritise your partner. One way to do this is to create a relationship contract. One needs to do this with an open mind, heart and listening ears. Sit down and be prepared to be open with each other.”
Christiana likes to use a traffic light analogy to make her point. “First start with the green light: discuss all of the things you appreciate about your partner and what you want to continue in your relationship. Yellow light: Things you would like your partner to start doing more of so you feel more loved, seen and appreciated. Red light: Write down two things that you no longer want a part of your relationship or things to be improved,” she says. “These contracts should have a timeline to review the progress of the terms — anywhere from three to six months. Each party signs and agrees. Posting it somewhere visible will have a greater impact and act as a reminder to the agreed upon terms.”
For Gen-Z, she has a simple advice — delete the dating apps and invest in hobbies you enjoy or take up a new interest that excites you. “When you’re investing in your elevation, you automatically become more attractive to potential suitors. When doing things you enjoy or have a passion for, you are bound to meet someone with similar interests and goals. Dating apps give us a false sense that there are never-ending options for partners when in actuality, are any of these profiles real, quality, or worth the time to meet? There is no vetting process when swiping which leads to a lot of wasted time and energy. Plus the emphasis on superficiality when swiping on a static photo can cause a blow to your self-esteem and confidence once you are ready to take a chance in the dating world.”
People are also initiating conversations by messaging, which also doesn’t give you the real essence of the person, apart from the fact that it takes away from the spirit of a real conversation.
Whether you are single or taken, you cannot deny the role technology plays in shaping relationships. Christiana has some observations that only cement that fact. For example, she says men over 35 have fewer friends than ever. “Statistically, 21 per cent of men aged 35-45 have no close friends. In a society that is so connected, how have we ended up with such crisis? Possibly thanks to Zoom dates, doomscrolling on social media, swiping left and right on dating apps and a general lack of communication,” she says.
Christiana’s answer to resolving this crisis ironically is to develop an app that prevents it. While she doesn’t reveal too much on the app that she is launching in the third quarter of the year, she says the goal will be to “change the way accomplished professionals form meaningful connections, find the perfect match based on compatibility, besides the app won’t just be for romantic connections but also friendships because connection goes beyond partnership, it extends to friendship. Your ideal partner or friend isn’t on dating apps. But you already knew this,” she laughs.
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