Nancy Slotnick, Founder of Matchmaker Café

Nancy Slotnick has been featured on Oprah, the Today Show and numerous others as a relationship expert. She has a B.A. from Harvard in Psychological Anthropology, and she is a renowned Life Coach, specializing in dating, love and marriage issues.

In the late 90’s, Nancy founded the original dating-cafe, Drip, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and her most recent venture is a matchmaking site on Facebook called Matchmaker Café. We got the opportunity to talk with her on her background and this new venture.

When would you say social media starting gaining prominence in the dating world, and in what capacity?

Unfortunately, social media still hasn’t gained prominence in the dating world. The reason that it’s so difficult, and the reason that I say unfortunately, is that people continue to keep their social life and their dating life separate. On the other hand, on social media, where there are so many mutual friends that are dying to meet, they are embarrassed to reach out and admit it. The “poke” is considered creepy and even the status of “single” is way underutilized. I call this putting your “cablight” on. (i.e. turning the light on to show you’re available).

What is the best way to leverage social media to meet a match?

3 excellent ways:

  1. 1. Go through the friends of your friends and ask your mutual friend about the ones that look cute;
  2. 2. When you meet someone at a bar/party/event and you haven’t exchanged numbers, just ask if they’re on Facebook and start off by friending.
  3. 3. Look on social media at the events that your friends go to in order to find good events for yourself.

What are the pitfalls of using social media to meet a match?

The transparency of social media is both a pro and a con. In contrast to online dating, which is very anonymous and segregated from friends and ex’s, social media is everybody’s business. If you have a girlfriend and things are rocky, you can’t easily use social media to try to replace her. Chances are that one of her friends will find out.

Is there still a stigma to meeting a match online?

Yes, the stigma is part of the reason that people don’t put their cablight on and why they try to remain relatively anonymous about their online dating endeavors. It’s still embarrassing to “resort” to paying for help getting a date. Yet it’s something that almost everyone needs help with. There’s even a stigma about being single. Ironically, if you hide behind the embarrassment by being passive in your dating life, you often miss the boat.

Social media has been blamed for the ruin of many relationships and marriages– What are your thoughts on this?

Social media is a tool, not a player, in the game of love. People are the ones who take various actions that are either private or public, and people are the ones who decide to post various actions in either a private or public way. It’s annoying when people don’t take responsibility for their actions and try to blame the media. We’re not victims of technology, and technology is an amazing tool to make our lives more efficient and to make connections possible that might not be otherwise.

Are there any ways that social media would enhance relationships and marriages?

I don’t know. I’d have to say not really. Social media tends to be a way that people avoid intimacy. They have the illusion of connecting with others but it is not real. I would say that marriages and relationships should be about less social media, and more about vulnerability in the connection. Social media is sharing in a more public way. Relationships are meant to be private, and not for show.

Should couples share social media accounts and/or passwords?

No. We are all individuals, and couples that are “joined at the hip” are not that likely to be in a healthy relationship. It’s not a very stable relationship model. I believe in respecting the differences in each other’s world.

Please tell me about Matchmaker Café, and why you chose Facebook as your platform.

We [at Matchmaker Café] aren’t looking to re-invent the wheel. Facebook’s social graph already exists; we are just trying to leverage it to help our members solve a problem in their dating life. We want to help our members utilize Facebook’s social graph to get themselves the dates they want. It’s simple but surprisingly it hasn’t been done.

Why use social media instead of traditional methods for meeting a match?

Because it’s there and it works better. 90% of people that we interviewed tell us that their first choice of how to meet someone is “Through friends.” So why not?

Lisa Chau has been involved with Web 2.0 since graduate school at Dartmouth College, where she completed an independent study on blogging. She was subsequently highlighted as a woman blogger in Wellesley Magazine, published by her alma mater. Since 2009, Lisa has worked as an Assistant Director at the Tuck School of Business. In 2012, she launched GothamGreen212 to pursue social media strategy projects. You can follow her on Twitter.