Michelle Jacoby, a matchmaker in the Washington area, favors a cautious approach to revealing too many personal details on a date. “People take in information differently at different stages of knowing you. If you share something a little more controversial later, you’re sharing it in the context of them knowing you,” Jacoby notes. Whereas if you share something early on, Jacoby cautions, “you might be judged by that information.”
Accordingly, Jacoby tells her clients not to talk about previous relationships or mental health struggles in the first few dates. For example, she had a client recently whose date spoke freely about his therapist and the medication he was taking.
“It was nobody’s business yet,” Jacoby said.
Brent Giannotta, a 36-year-old single man in Los Angeles, says that he forms opinions of his dates based on whom they’ve dated in the past — and worries that his dates might make certain conclusions about him based on his dating history. “I haven’t had a relationship go beyond a full year. That’s something I sometimes hesitate to tell people,” he says.
He doesn’t divulge how many dates he’s going on in a single week. “I really don’t want to come off as a serial dater, or as someone who’s doing this for recreation or seeing women as playthings. … I want people to think that I’m serious about it,” he says, adding that, yes, he is serious.
He’s also cautious about what he sends someone digitally. “I just don’t ever sext,” he says, acknowledging that everything that is transmitted digitally is subject to being forwarded. “Even if I trust the person I’m sending it to, I don’t trust the medium,” he says. Besides, “things can always go south — they can be malicious and try to hurt you.”
It’s a caution that Jacoby and other matchmakers take as well, often being careful to describe clients over the phone rather than send pictures around to their dates. “If you’re going to send a nude, it better be from the neck down. Nothing that identifies you,” Jacoby warns. Today “you might be a lawyer downtown, but you might want to be a council member tomorrow. You don’t know what your future plans are.”
Of course, what’s potentially compromising to one person could be no big deal to another. “These days I’m so for putting everything on the table,” says Amy Van Doran, a matchmaker in New York City. “I went on a date a year ago and the guy said: ‘I have herpes.’ He opened with that,” Van Doran recalls. “It was very refreshing. He didn’t make a big deal about it, so I didn’t.”
Van Doran describes herself as being “very into” disclosure. “Whenever a person is carrying something around, it keeps them from being present in the relationship.”
She helps her clients with disclosure, too, acting as a disclosure middleman. For example, she might preface a setup by saying something like: Just so you know, this person I’m setting you up with has frozen her eggs. Such conversations give people time to process the information, Van Doran notes, without being put on the spot.
Or, rather than reveal a client’s situation, Van Doran might ask potential matches about their dealbreakers: What would you think if the love of your life couldn’t have children? Or was HIV-positive? Would you date someone who’s transgender or gender nonconforming?
Aside from pedophilia or other crimes, there’s not much that Van Doran sees as truly compromising. “You should work with whatever you have,” she says, “and work it.”