The Dating Game



It’s for research. Or, it was at first anyway. My friend and I are trading stories of a guy we both had gone out with (seriously) and after a few laughs, she turns the subject to Santa Barbara Matchmaking, a local dating concierge service owned by Lisa Darsonval-Amador. She speaks enthusiastically about her experience and I decide right then that this is a great subject for I Heart. By mid-conversation, a light went on in my head: I could interview Lisa for the column, or I could participate in the process first-hand. As single woman, “just having fun” (and as a writer with a deadline), I choose both. I fill out the “Free Membership” questionnaire and within 30 minutes, Lisa calls.

Our exchange was polite. She listens as I ramble on about my intentions for contacting her. I explain that on recent dates, I’ve been asked what I want out of a relationship. “I never know how to answer,” I admit. “I don’t know what I want.” Lisa pauses just long enough to comprehend my vague statement but not long enough to make me feel uncomfortable. “I can tell a lot by your answer,” she responds. I gulp. My experience with matchmaking goes as far as a particular reality show where the interview process resembles a cattle call and the matchmaker throws quick-fire questions to contenders as if they are on trial, leaving many in tears. We make an appointment for an hour consultation the next week. In my mind, she already has me figured out. I’m a little intimidated, to say the least.  


I arrive at the door of Santa Barbara Matchmaking on a damp Tuesday morning wearing black ankle boots, black jeans, black T-shirt, and a black leather jacket – a Matrix uniform of sorts, readied for action. Lisa greets me with a warm smile. Her petit frame and hazel eyes let me know our meeting will not be as intense as I thought. She guides me to a conference room. The glass window wall facing the lobby is curtained for privacy, acting as a confidential and safe zone. After a few pleasantries, she dives in.


My clients are serious about finding love in a committed monogamous relationship, and we are a full concierge to provide that service.” Date coaching is a large part of the business. Once a client is cleared (hello, background check!), and a hefty questionnaire has been filled out, date coaching is available. Coaching covers various topics as in what to wear on a date, how to flirt, proper etiquette, and how to gain confidence. It extends to online dating, as well as in reviewing dating profiles to make sure you’re conveying the right message, how to safely navigate dating sites, how to take a great profile picture, you name it. And I was surprised to learn Lisa was a fan of online dating, thinking it is competition of sorts for her business. It turns out she connected with her partner on and they married in January 2015. She encourages a number of clients to try for themselves.

The fun part is, of course, finding a match. “I set up the entire date, so one even knows what the other looks like until they meet at the location.” Does she require men to pay for the date? Yes. “And I encourage women to be gracious in return.” She inspires women to be “softer feminine” and not lead careers ambitions (note to self). So what about physical intimacy? “Enjoy the dance! No rush!,” she proclaims. “Save it when you are in committed relationship, but express that you are sexual,” Lisa coaches. “Show your value, but if you feel it, there’s no problem kissing on a first date.”
The timer goes off and my hour is up. After thanking Lisa for her time, she guides me  through the lobby and out the front door. I stumble for words as I cross the threshold, and before I can muster a sound, she saves me from a stutter. “I’ll keep you in mind,” she says with a smile. With that, I wave goodbye. I walk to my car with dating tips and advice swirling in my brain, feeling more confident and a little closer to what I’m searching for.





Santa Barbara Matchmaking, LLC & Coaching

(805) 699-5650



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