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The Short Version: Maureen Tara Nelson, Founder of Long Island and Manhattan’s MTN Matchmaking, has a wealth of experience bringing compatible partners together. She can often spot negative character traits that other matchmakers may miss during her thorough, three-part singles screening process. Maureen carefully considers each client she includes in her dating pool to keep out those who exhibit controlling behavior, and she isn’t finished after she screens daters. Instead, she continues to offer tips for struggling singles — whether they use her services or not — through her customized dating blog and social media.
On the surface, the pharmaceutical industry and matchmaking may not appear to have much in common, but Maureen Tara Nelson, Founder of MTN Matchmaking in Long Island and Manhattan, sees similarities between the fields.
“I was a pharmaceutical rep, and, in that job, I learned a great deal about controlling behavior and narcissism,” she said. “If someone comes into my office displaying narcissism or controlling behavior, I’m not going to let them in the dating pool. I have 2,000 of the best clients on Long Island and Manhattan, and not one of them is controlling or narcissistic.”
While Maureen is trained in a variety of fields, she said her experience in the pharmaceutical industry is just as valuable in her current career as a matchmaker.
“I’m an executive-level certified matchmaker from the Matchmaking Institute, but I use more of my pharmaceutical experience when I’m matching,” she said.
Despite what some may call a radical career shift, Maureen’s love of bringing people together inspired her to join a matchmaking service on Long Island 17 years ago. She wanted to help create healthy relationships because of her own experience with a husband who exhibited the same narcissistic and controlling behaviors that she now identifies in others. She has owned her own matchmaking service for the past 12 years.
That’s why Maureen is passionate about screening out singles who would not make healthy matches, and her former career has helped her learn how to quickly spot those negative behaviors and characteristics.
“I knew right away that matchmaking was the right thing for me, kind of like my calling,” she said. “So no one would have to go through what I went through.”
Matchmaking comes naturally to Maureen, and she uses a three-step approach to make sure her dating pool includes only the best singles — all of whom have positive personalities and an interest in developing long-term relationships.
The first step in MTN Matchmaking’s screening process is a criminal background check. Then comes a one-on-one meeting with Maureen.
“Before I meet with potential clients, I give them homework to think about their five best qualities,” she said. “As long as they’re self-aware, this step is very effective.”
Next comes Maureen’s assessment of the client.
“I want to make sure the person is right for us, that they have a positive personality,” she said. “They have to be a decent, successful, positive person. They should be emotionally stable, meaning they know what they want. They should also be financially stable and be looking for a committed relationship.”
These steps certainly weed out some singles interested in Maureen’s service, but there is yet another hurdle to leap. The final step is a personality test, the stage at which she parts ways with the greatest number of potential clients.
“There are a lot of singles walking around with huge walls up,” she said. “I can’t accept that person because he or she is going to be very hard to match. Very few people are going to want to get into a committed relationship with someone who has walls up.”
If Maureen approves someone to be included in her dating pool, other clients can rest assured that the person has a baseline of positive, relationship-oriented qualities.
Once clients enter Maureen’s dating pool, she begins pairing them with singles she thinks are compatible. To do this, she matches one client’s five must-have qualities with another’s self-reported five best qualities.
“In addition to being compatible in three ways, I make sure daters have their potential partners’ five must-haves,” she said.
“Sometimes people go on a date, but, subconsciously, they’ll look to find everything wrong with the other person. I make everyone accountable, and have them tell me what the five best qualities were about the other person. That reporting alleviates the negative behavior.” — Maureen Tara Nelson, Founder of MTN Matchmaking
Although daters understand that they’re paired through a rigorous screening process, that doesn’t stop them from what Maureen describes as self-sabotaging behavior. The first date with expertly-paired couples can be a minefield.
“Sometimes people go on a date, but, subconsciously, they’ll look to find everything wrong with the other person,” she said. “I make everyone accountable, and have them tell me what the five best qualities were about the other person. That reporting alleviates the negative behavior.”
Many people head into first dates with negative attitudes, searching for the worst in the other person. While self-sabotage is common among struggling daters, not all of them have a Maureen to whom they must report.
Because not all daters have access to her services, she offers this advice on rewiring a negative focus for everyone to use.
“On a first date, force yourself to find five great things about that person. It will get you away from the negatives,” she said.
Maureen has created more than 1,000 matches — and counting. Perhaps some of the success of her business is because she keeps everything in the family.
“My sister has retired twice, and she’s back again,” she said, laughing. “I need her helping me with the business because she’s so great at running the office.”
She’s also had her nieces and her son’s girlfriend work at her firm. The family atmosphere also encourages acceptance of Maureen’s straightforward advice.
“The men are fantastic — I can say anything to one of my guys,” she said. “I can tell them, ‘Get back to the gym, I noticed you haven’t been to the gym in a while.’”
Though, of course, she is sensitive to different personality types.
“With women, I have to be very careful. I still tell them the facts, I just say them more gently,” she said.
Ultimately, her tough love works, and many of her clients go on to have fulfilling relationships. Recently, she was reminded of just how effective her style can be — when she was asked to officiate the wedding of two singles she had matched.
“I have a young couple who was special to us,” she said. “One of their fathers asked if I would become a wedding officiant to marry them. Every day, we have some sort of success story.”
Maureen is thrilled with the success of her matches, but she wants to help couples from different locations and backgrounds make healthy choices about love. With that goal in mind, she’s very active on social media.
“We do a lot of social media to help people. Blogs, YouTube, Free dating advice — I wish I could help everyone, but I can’t. Through social media, I help people who don’t have access to our services,” she said.
MTN Matchmaking is also planning on opening a new location far from New York — Florida.
“We are opening up an office in Florida in October. I want to hire the best-of-the-best people,” Maureen said. “It’s kind of hard because I’ve always had the family before, but now we’re expanding to Florida, so I have to go outside of my family.”
As the business expands and Maureen continues to win matchmaking awards, she still appreciates the heart of her work: helping couples find love.
“For some people, there’s a lot of stress in this business,” she said. “But I feel great when I help make people successful, and that overrides everything. I focus on the positive, and any stress I feel goes away.”