Valentine’s Day may not be the most Jewish holiday (well, actually, it’s not a Jewish holiday), but it makes for a busy season for Jewish matchmaker Lori Salkin.
“People really never give up on love,” said Salkin, of the online dating service SawYouatSinai.com and its new app, JBolt, “and you see those numbers come up on Valentine’s Day, any time when there’s holidays — Rosh Hashanah, Passover.”
Being in the business for seven years, she has some tips to share with those looking for love this season.
For one thing: Don’t forget Valentine’s Day.
“Do not forget!” she said. “Do acknowledge Valentine’s Day. Even if you’re working, even if you have a deadline — if you’re anywhere past a first or a second date with somebody and in you’re in an established relationship, do something special.”
It can be difficult to make the time, she said, as people are working or on deadlines or don’t have time for a big, elaborate date.
“Sending flowers or stopping by on a lunch break with a single rose, or even stopping by with their favorite Starbucks drink — something that says, ‘I thought of you and I took time out of my life to do something for you and acknowledge you on what is “the love day” ’ is so huge,” she said.
Don’t forget that Valentine’s Day is for all couples.
“Valentine’s Day is not just for dating couples, it’s not just for engaged couples, it’s for married couples, too,” she said.
However, if this is your first date with someone, making it on a holiday where you will be surrounded by couples already dating and comfortable eating spaghetti in front of each other might not be the best idea.
“If it’s a first date, don’t make it on the 14th,” she advised. “Do not have a first date in a restaurant where everyone around you is coming in with huge bouquets and boxes of chocolate and look like they’ve been in love for months and you’re sitting across the table with someone who’s essentially a stranger.”
Don’t plan a surprise that could backfire.
This is from her own experience.
Her husband, on one of their first Valentine’s Day dates, had surprised her with a ride on the Spirit of Boston, a dinner-and-dance cruise. But, as he didn’t want to spoil the surprise and tell her anything beforehand that could give it away, he bought her a dress — that was seven sizes too big.
Luckily, she had already been wearing something appropriate, but there was a valuable lesson to be learned.
Overall, no matter how your holiday goes, taking the time to show appreciation for someone you love is important, she said.
But David Yarus, founder of the popular dating app JSwipe, said Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be such a big deal.
JSwipe is hosting parties in New York, Philadelphia and Washington to celebrate Valentine’s Day, with an estimated 1,000 attendees in New York and hundreds in the other cities. The app will be bringing people together from their phones into real life.
“We want to be able to bring people together off as well as online,” Yarus said.
But for JSwipe users, he advised not stressing too much about the holiday.
“Don’t feel like you need to take it so seriously,” he said. “It’s a good way to meet new people and connect.”
If you do have a valentine this year, Yarus said, just have fun and try a nontraditional activity, like finding an Airbnb and taking a trip somewhere new.
“On the flip side, if you don’t, it’s totally cool,” he added. “We’re in this era of an empowered single life. It’s going to be a good day for swiping.”
But for sites like JMom, matchmaking takes a more familial approach.
Imagine your mother trying to set you up with so-and-so’s son, a nice, young dental hygienist — except now she’s doing it virtually — and without your knowledge.
JMom has been allowing Jewish parents — usually persistent mothers — to create profiles for their children and browse the website for potential sons- and daughters-in-law for about six years. The site is active across the United States, Canada and Israel.
Steve Dinelli, CEO of JMom, has been in this matchmaking business for about a year, and he said thousands of pairings and three marriages have been made since its existence.
Notably, Dinelli said, parents’ surprising their children with potential mates has been fairly well-received — at least after mothers took the time to find the right partner.
“When it’s brought up before, like, ‘Hey can I put you on this site?’ it doesn’t go over well. But when the parents just do it and find someone for their kid, it goes over really, really well,” he explained.
However, Dinelli noted that parents should keep their children’s wants in mind when browsing for a match that is beshert.
“They don’t want to introduce their child or children to somebody who they don’t think is going to be perfect, so they aren’t afraid to look at every profile,” he said. “If they’re going to be a matchmaker, they really need to look out for what the child wants, not what they want.”
Dinelli is in a relationship, but he’s sure his mother would know where to go if he wasn’t.