Palm Beach is known for its lively social scene, but it might not always be conducive for finding long-term relationships.
That’s why some Palm Beachers use Selective Search, a boutique matchmaking firm, based in Chicago, that allows clients to hire experts to find them a compatible partner. Founder Barbie Adler launched the company in 2000 after leaving a career as an executive recruiter, hoping to put those principles to use in the dating world.
She said Selective Search has since made matches for more than 500 clients in the Palm Beach area, one of its top-tier markets. Almost 10,000 Palm Beach County “affiliates,” as the company calls potential mates, are registered in the firm’s database.
“My experience with online dating and the frustration, disappointment and risks that went along with it truly prompted my starting Selective Search,” said Adler, who visits Palm Beach often and whose family lives on the island. “I felt there were people with false intentions on each platform and wanted to go back to the traditional sense of what it means to fall in love.”
The firm differs from matchmaking sites such as Match.com and eHarmony, she said, because it’s custom, confidential and offline.
“Unlike other companies, Selective Search believes in face-to-face communication as opposed to online communications,” she said. “Clients and affiliates work directly with experienced matchmakers, and matches are not automated or generated by a computer.”
Clients pay an average of $33,333 a contract to get paired with a matchmaker who does the research and leads the process. Clients complete intake assessments with more than 100 questions and then go through personal interviews with the matchmaker.
The matchmaker then searches the firm’s offline network of single men and women, interviews potential matches and creates a “dossier presentation” for the client. These “affiliates” in the database are heavily screened, Adler said, to confirm their personal information, lifestyle, history and other details before meeting the client.
Palm Beach’s affluent demographic is perfect for this type of matchmaking service, she said. The age of residents also presents high numbers of divorcees and widowers, she said.
“Palm Beach clients have a high level of sophistication, are used to the very best of everything, use the best services and products in the world, are stylish, and tend to be extremely well-traveled,” Adler said. “They seek the same level of standards and expertise when it comes to the most important aspect of their life — love.”
Richard, 61, who did not want his last name used for privacy reasons, has had a home on the island for 25 years and recently used the service. He’s been in a relationship for six months.
“Dating itself can be stressful, particularly later in life,” he said via email. “Throughout my life, I’ve collaborated with several industry professionals that have helped me personally and professionally, such as a CPA, personal chef or a travel agent. So, I asked myself, ‘Why wouldn’t I have someone guide me in my dating life, too?’ ”
Richard said he wasn’t having any luck meeting the right person at restaurants, social clubs or galas. And he said he wasn’t interested in the risk involved with online dating or the time involved in vetting and setting up his own dates.
“I was tired of going on bad dates, knowing in the first five minutes that we clearly were not a fit,” he said. “I found that working one-on-one with a personal matchmaker brings the warmth, personal touch and accuracy back to dating.”
Richard said he appreciated Selective Search for its professionalism and discrete handling of personal information.
“Everything is private, and my friends would never know how (we) met,” he said of his match. “It was a little fun, to come up with a cute story of how we met. It’s our little secret, and it’s ours to keep.”