This article first appeared in Texas Lifestyle Magazine on February 13, 2020.
Valentine’s Day has historically focused on love between a man and woman, so how does a straight, married matchmaker create a successful business pairing up professional LGBTQ singles?
The answer is simple—with objectivity, compassion, optimism and the fundamental belief that everyone deserves love.
As a former client herself, Tammy Shaklee trusts the matchmaking process. It only took her two years of countless firsts—impressions, dates, conversations and eventual goodbyes–to finally meet her second husband.
Knowing firsthand the challenges singles face when looking for a companion, the one time broadcast journalist decided to use her skills, along with experience in offline matchmaking, to carve out her niche in the LGBTQ community.
Shaklee started H4M Matchmaking in 2012 with a focus on traditional introductions and dating for LGBTQ singles interested in seeking a long-term, committed relationship. Although based in Austin, H4M helps LGBTQ singles anywhere.
When not actively finding matches for her clients, she’s a regular relationship advice contributor to several LGBTQ media outlets and mainstream publications and is currently working on the completion of yet another first— her book.
What’s the biggest mistake most people make when dating?
Whether gay or straight, eligible singles often chase the one that seems too good to be true, and, in the end, they usually are. If you could consider yourself an eight instead of a ten, then search for a compatible eight. Be realistic. The hot gal, or bad boy, can really provide a dopamine rush in the beginning. But is that person also seeking your parameters.
Do you have advice for singles in the dating scene?
Take time to truly assess what qualities and values you are seeking in a compatible partner. What are key factors that could lead to a sustainable relationship? What types of people do you prefer to surround yourself with and who brings out the best in you, in life in general? Now apply that to dating.
What criteria do you use to match people?
Good question. Depending on the particular single, a long list of variables come into play when we consider compatibility for a long-term relationship. Whether wanting kids, allergies to pets, willingness to relocate, relationships with extended families, career trajectory, personality types, and lifestyle choices and vibrancy.
How did you get into matchmaking?
After a successful matchmaker introduced me to my husband, I was an immediate enthusiast for offline, personal and vetted, quality introductions. When I learned an eligible gay friend could not hire a certified matchmaker in Texas, I drew on my background of broadcast news, Texas politics, and community foundation work to begin research for a match for him.
Why do you focus on matchmaking for the LGBTQ community?
Even as a child, I guess you could have labeled me a straight ally before it was a term. I believe everyone deserves love, whatever that looks like to them. Just as LGBTQ professionals have been my personal service providers for years, it is fulfilling for me to provide professional, exclusive services to a population of singles who had been underserved in the matchmaking industry.