Ipso Facto Q&A: The Modern Matchmaker's Susan Dunhoff

Written by  Drew Singer.

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Those in Pittsburgh’s legal community do far more than practice law. Few people know that better than Susan Dunhoff, a matchmaker for the town’s professional singles. Dunhoff has spent more than 20 years helping lawyers and other professionals find love out of her Squirrel Hill business, The Modern Matchmaker, which currently has about 500 clients. Ipso Facto spoke with Dunhoff about how lawyers fare in the dating world and how Pittsburgh compares to bigger cities for professionals looking for love. Here are the highlights from that conversation:

Ipso Facto: You get a new client and you find it he or she is a lawyer. How does that impact your strategy?

Susan Dunhoff: A lot of males in general are very concerned about meeting a female attorney. I explain to them that attorneys are a profession, what they do during the day may be quite different than how they act socially. Also, there are lots of different types of attorneys, not everyone’s a go-get-em divorce attorney. The mentality of an attorney is more of a stronger, more persuasive type. My male clients respect an intelligent, confident woman, they’re not intimidated. Female attorneys, their main concerns when they meet me is they just want a man with a brain who isn’t intimidated by them and isn’t worried that she’ll eat him for breakfast.

Q: What types of people make good matches for lawyers?

Dunhoff: Number one, they have to be secure with themselves. They have to be a good listener, they have to be a little more worldly, have to know what’s going on, have a clue in the world. But the main thing is self-confidence.

Q: What makes a bad match?

Dunhoff: Someone who’s emotionally insecure, clingy, needy. They have to be joined at the hip 24/7, more of a dependent-type of person. Lawyers I think, in general, they don’t want yes-people, “Yes honey, anything you say.” One of my clients who’s a lawyer, he wrote that he likes women who are a handful, but in a fun way. Conversations shouldn’t be one-sided, they want someone who won’t conflict them, but might question them. Someone who has an opinion, even if its different.

Q: What are the biggest mistakes you see lawyers making on dates?

Dunhoff: In some cases, they’re just too analytical. They try to read into something when it might just be a trivial thing and should be overlooked — a behavior or something that a date does. And they’re not always as open-minded. For instance, if I recommend a match and they decline the match, then I go back and say, “Well, I respect that, but I know it’s a great match for you, would you reconsider?” They’re a little tougher than other people to open their mind and accept that match.

Q: How do lawyers compare to your other clients when it comes to your success rate? Are they any more or less likely to stay with someone you’ve matched them with?

Dunhoff: I don’t see a big difference there. Once they’re in a relationship, it’s pretty stable. They don’t like to float. I don’t see them making quicker decisions about leaving, they seem to give someone a chance once the match is accepted. The point is, it’s a little harder sometimes to accept a match because they analyze things. They might look at a profile and analyze it more than the next person, because they’re used to doing that.

Q: How does Pittsburgh compare to other cities to run a business like yours?

Dunhoff: First of all, matchmaking is much better known in larger cities — although we do have a nice sense of presence here, I can’t complain. A lot of people think that Pittsburgh is the worst place to be, I think it was actually voted that at one point. It’s not the most cosmopolitan city, but I will tell you, there are a lot of cosmopolitan people with culture. It’s not as backwards as some people think when they move to town. It’s not only about where you live, because it only takes one person. In New York City, if anything it’s harder to date, because everyone is so faced-paced. Another difference between bigger cities and Pittsburgh is we have different levels. In one level, paid clients are matched with paid clients. In another level, we network with other matchmakers. In other cities, matchmakers start at $5,000 and $10,000 and up, they’re not credible in their areas unless they charge that much. I start at $2,500. In the premiere level, I start at $7,500, that’s where we go outside and actually scout for people. That’s done more in Los Angeles, New York, etc.

Q: Which level do lawyers most often choose?

Dunhoff: Lawyers are most often are on the signature level, that’s the basic level where clients are matched with other clients. It’s our most common one. But other clients like when we network with other matchmakers because they like to date out of the area, maybe they travel a lot or they’re just adventurous.

Q: How old is your youngest client?

Dunhoff: 24 years-old.

Q: And your oldest?

Dunhoff: My god, I have an 86-year-old.

Q: What else?

Dunhoff: We really know our clients well. We do background checks. Really, all of our clients can get a date on their own, but they’re here to get the right date and not waste their time and emotional energy.

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