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Feb. 7, 2023

Thinking About Season 2: Call the Matchmaker

Thinking About Season 2: Call the Matchmaker

Tell us about the dates you have been going on and let us set you up on your next one. And as we start to think about the next season of first dates, we turn to professional matchmaker Kara Laricks for some tips.

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Tell us about the dates you have been going on and let us set you up on your next one. And as we start to think about the next season of first dates, we turn to professional matchmaker Kara Laricks for some tips.


Hiwote: I'm Hiwote, This is Dating, and I know, where the hell have we been? 

Jesse: We came in all hot and heavy. We asked you to make space for us... 

Hiwote: And then Jesse, we just vanished. 

Jesse: We didn't vanish. We've been here all along. We've been working, but we've been working on us. We took some of the things we learned from the first season and we have been rethinking how we might do it a little differently in a second season.

Hiwote: So does that mean we're definitely making a season two? 

Jesse: I don't have any dates, but it means we have 2000 people who applied to be set up on dates and we're reading in, we're calling them. We're having conversations about what to do with a second season, so stay tuned. But until then, we're gonna let you in on some of the work that we are doing.

For instance, Eleanor had a really interesting conversation with a matchmaker who does this professionally, and we thought there might be something in listening in on this conversation that would apply to you the next time you go out on a date.

Eleanor: This is dating, I'm Eleanor Kagan. And Hiwote, what is new in your dating life? It has been a minute since we've talked about it, at least on the air, at least on the air. 

Hiwote: Actually, this is hilarious and embarrassing. I can't believe I'm saying this on air, but I saw a tarot reader and she was like, your perfect match is not on any of the dating apps and I was like, okay, so where do I wait for this person?

Eleanor: On the street corner. 

Hiwote: Yeah, yeah. She was like, it will happen as all of life happens. And I was like, that actually takes a lot of pressure off, only because dating apps, had started to feel really, ugh. It liberated me from Hinge hell.

Eleanor: Okay. I don't know that we have time to like really dig into this idea of the perfect match, but did she say anything about matchmaking? 

Hiwote: She did not. But I have a feeling you are gonna tell me about matchmaking. 

Eleanor: Yes, yes. This is not planned at all. No, so I know that, last season as we were finding daters for the show and people for them to go out on dates with, we all kind of had to act as amateur matchmakers. But none of us have really done this a lot in our lives... 

Hiwote: Or ever... 

Eleanor: Let alone professionally. 

Hiwote: Yeah. 

Eleanor: And we were just like going off vibes. 

Hiwote: And like trying to assess what people would find attractive to one another. 

Eleanor: Yeah, totally. So going into production on a new season of the show, I've been thinking a lot about what role we play as matchmakers and producers, and so I thought it might be good for all of us if I actually talk to a professional matchmaker and just like got a read, are we on the right track? What does she do in her professional matchmaking? Are we way off base? And I found somebody really awesome.

Hiwote: Oh my God. Okay. 

Kara: My name is Kara Laricks. I am a matchmaker and day coach. I love matching my LGBTQ community, and so over the years I've always matched people with people, people with jobs, people with apartments, you name it. And also really connecting wonderful non LGBTQ folks with matchmakers who could serve them best.

Hiwote: So she gets chemistry. That's like what she's looking for and what she knows best. 

Eleanor: Yeah. I love that you said that because the first thing I asked her was just like, , when did you know you were good at this? And she told me a really great story. 

Kara: My very first zing of, oh, maybe I have a little bit of a gift for this happened years and years and years ago, long before I was ever professionally matchmaking when I paired a couple of friends and it was actually based on a snort, an actual snort. I was out to... 

Eleanor: What? 

Kara: Yes. I was out to dinner with one friend, Julie, and we're having conversation and she's laughing at her own story and she started snorting and I was just like, this is hilarious, but wait a second, Julie snorts, laura snorts. I think these two could actually really like each other. Laura was another friend of mine at the time. 

Anyway, ended up pairing them based on their quirky sense of humor and the way that they both tell stories. I felt like they would get just like a kick out of each other. And then we all went out one evening and within probably the first half hour they ditched me and the rest is history.

Still married, living in the Pacific Northwest. Very happy with fur babies, It was from that moment that I just thought, okay. There's a little something to this 

Hiwote: That is amazing.

Eleanor: I know. It's so sweet. 

Hiwote: What that tells me about Kara is that she is both very observant and she's looking for unique traits that two people have that could potentially either not annoy each other or compliment one another, right? Like I can imagine a lot of people would find a partner that snorts when they laugh, either really annoying or like something they would make fun of, but finding two people who do kind of the same thing, that makes sense.

Eleanor: Yeah. And I was like, what does that feel like? Like what does it feel like in your body when you get that little like glimmer of, I think these two people will like each other because they snort, because I'm interested in us being able to, find that feeling throughout the season. I really loved her answer 

for that question. 

Kara: It's almost like I float above the situation and see two people really cozy and happy and engaged by each other on the corner of a cozy table. And I say that all the time when I'm meeting with people. Like, what do you feel like would really light you up on the corner of a cozy table?

And I really listen to. Those those descriptions. And then my mind really works a little bit like a Vegas slot machine. So as I have someone in front of me really explaining the whole scenario, then it's like, da da ding, oh yes la I have to remember, this person pops into my mind of, they've described that kind of situation in a very similar way.

Hiwote: I am a little intimidated Eleanor because Uhhuh , I don't know how to get my mind to do the Vegas slot machine thing but I get what she's saying in broad terms about, you think about the ways that people move through the world or the ways that they describe their experiences, and you can tell a lot about what kinds of relationships might compliment that, but I am a little intimidated, like I'd like to hear how this actually plays out in real life. 

Eleanor: .I'm so glad you said that because I asked her the same thing and she told me this story. 

Kara: So Liz is my client identifies as bi, wide open to dating all kinds of folks. And so the world was my oyster in terms of matching, which was a total treat, and to be able to really select who I felt like would set her soul at ease. To describe Liz a little bit: vibrant, amazing. Ran her own tutoring business where she worked with kids K through 12. She was animated and fun, colorful in every sense of the word. Even her earrings, how she dressed. Just an incredible human wide open. So when I was meeting with folks for her, I was really looking for someone who could be the rock to her star. Her star was so bright and I felt like she would feel so comfy with a really strong, grounded rock who could just root her a little bit. So little bit of behind the scenes matchmaking have a database that I use and I go through, and as I was going through my database, I go by Joe, and my initial thought was there were two things.

So Liz loved kickboxing and I remembered her telling me, it'd be so great to be able to do this with someone else, or have someone teach me something like this. And so I'm passing by and I see Joe and Joe's doing this amazing karate kick in this profile picture. And so initially I just thought Hmm, common interests, and I thought, I'm not sure if he's her physical type, but she's so open that, I can't be sure of that.

So it doesn't really matter, I can't wait to meet with him. If you're excited about something, respond quickly. Joe responded to me really quickly when I reached out about Liz and behind the profile. There was so much when I actually met with Joe face-to-face. I get choked up thinking about this, the way he spoke about his family was very similar to the way that Liz spoke about her family.

The way he spoke about his exes was so kind and so respectful. He was the rock. He was just absolutely the rock that I was looking for. And as we were having our conversation he slipped in, he said, Kara, I don't know if this is important or not, but I sort of have a pattern of dating bi women and I'm like, ding, ding, ding.

Amazing. Yes. Like I hadn't even said anything about Liz's identity, I'm like, this is amazing. I paired the two, and I happened to be out at a WNBA game with my wife the night that they went out and I got this text from Liz, and it was in all caps:


And so I was like, Oh no!? Is he a serial killer? Like, oh my gosh, what happened? Like I go running to the bathroom and shut myself in a stall, and I'm like, Liz, are you okay? And she was like, yes, Kara. He's amazing. He's so perfect. He's so wonderful. Long story, already long. But to give you the amazing punchline, I got to marry them last March.

Hiwote: Wow. That is so sweet. I love that story. 

Eleanor: I know, I do too. 

Hiwote: I find this idea of rock and star. I have a reaction to it, Eleanor. Like, don't think it's bad. I don't think it's good. I just, I don't, I think a lot of people wanna be stars. No? Like they wanna be the star in their relationship to each other.

Eleanor: I don't know. She brought that up for the first time in that story and. , it reminded me of two philosophies that I've always thought about with relationships. I've always said that there's, in every, partnership, there's always a star of the relationship. And like, you know what I mean when I say that, right?

Hiwote: Yeah. 

Eleanor: But I also think about relationship dynamics and my, relationship dynamics have been like this where I, in my mind, I've always called it the rock and the balloon, like the balloon kind of floats off and the rock kind of holds the string of the balloon to the ground. So when she said rock and star in this story, I was like, oh, I know exactly what you mean. But I was really interested in that idea and she unpacked it a little bit more. 

Kara: The idea of the rock and the star comes from the founder of my company, Talia. I remember that being one of the first things that we ever talked about is that concept of someone being really grounding and then somebody who is a little bit more shiny, social, extroverted, you can put all kinds of different groupings into either one. But for me, that has been something that I've mentioned on every call that I've had and asked, do you relate? And really the stories that I've heard from just, do you relate to that analogy? Really give me such insight to just humans at large and, let people get dreamy about who they are and who they think would be a good fit.

Some people want another star. Some people want a rock star. Some people want the rock. It just, it's engraved in my wife's wedding band. For my rock, love your star.

Hiwote: So is she saying that she asks people whether they relate to being a rock or a star? 

Eleanor: Yeah, exactly. Like I was asking Kara how do you, what are all the questions that you ask people to root out who they are and what they want and like all that stuff. And yeah, this is one of the questions that she asks them.

And so it's so funny that your reaction to that was like doesn't everybody just want another star? Because I think that says more about you than you know about the analogy itself. 

Hiwote: Yeah, that's true. I think I also, you're reading me, but it's cause I bought, I wanna be both a rock and a star. Do you know what I mean?

Eleanor: That's so interesting. No, I don't know what you mean. I am a star and I want a rock. But tell me about both. Tell me about being both . 

Hiwote: Every time I've been in any sort of relationship, I've taken pride in being a grounding force for a partner. Like I really, I love that about myself. There aren't that many things that I would say. I love this about me, but that's something I really take pride in. I also know that I rely on my relationships, whether it's romantic or otherwise. I rely on my relationships to help me feel like I can reach for things that are bigger than wherever I'm at. And so the moments where I do wanna shine, I never feel like I do it on my own. It feels like I'm doing it because I have the support of these people around me. And a relationship is one of those like super grounding things that makes me feel like, okay, I can go for that thing, 

Eleanor: that's beautiful. and I think that we all can be rocks and stars in different relationships. But what I love about this philosophy, and I'm totally gonna start using this credit to Kara and Talia, is that it really does tell you so much about who you are. And because I feel like I just got to know you a little bit better. 

Hiwote: Yeah. I feel like I got to know me a little bit better too. . 

Eleanor: So do you wanna know what some of those other questions are that she asked people though? 

Hiwote: Yeah, please.

Eleanor: Okay. Let me play 'em for you. , 

Kara: I ask about texting behavior, communication. I ask about what feels comfortable after you've just met someone, do you get excited? Do you stare at your phone? Do you put your phone away? Do you, go do something else. Like what kind of, what does it look like when you've just met someone who you really like?

And then what happens with the communication? Describe that to me so I can kind of get a feel for what, what somebody needs in that sense. And then talk to me about your parents? You know, talk to me about your family. Do, do your parents have a relationship that you'd emulate or, not so much and why? Talk to me about that, and then I'll even connect it and say, do you think it's played out in your dating life? What? What patterns do you see about yourself? 

Hiwote: What I love about what she's asking is that she is going into the nitty gritty of what it would be like to have a life with someone or to like share a day with someone. And I don't think that's a thing I've ever asked. Like we've asked things about, their parents' relationship and whether that's something they aspire to. We've asked who their role models and relationships are, but I've never thought to ask about, whether they prefer to text or call or how they, like how they spend their day. That's brilliant. 

Eleanor: Yeah, I mean, I felt really heartened talking to Kara because I came to her and I was like, look, we're amateurs. Like you're, you've been doing this professionally for five years. She really made me feel like we are on the right track with the show. I mean, in fact, she told me she had binged the entire season over the weekend and had a lot of like really great things to say about it. But also I feel like what you're pointing out is , she kind of takes everything one step further, in terms of connecting the dots. And I think we can really, we can really learn from that. 

Hiwote: Yeah, totally. But I'm sure she doesn't have a hundred percent success rate, right? So like what does she do when a date doesn't go well?

Eleanor: Yeah. I mean, neither do we. So this was something I was also really curious about. 

Kara: It's interesting in matchmaking world, I, I know it's, it's a business too, but we work in packages of three matches, or packages of six matches, and it's not just to sell more matches. It's really because it, it's a process. The, the very first person I match someone with sometimes, I hit it outta the park and great, that's awesome when that happens. But really that first match tends to be a really lovely calibration and a lovely impetus for a, a good, nuanced conversation around this felt really good, more of this, please.

I didn't even think to tell you that this didn't feel good, and I am constantly reading between the lines of what people tell me and really delving into how they felt with someone and how they speak about the experience and how they speak about another human to help me then guide what I feel like would be more of a good fit as I'm selecting matches going forward.

 You can't put everything on a quick timeline as much as we'd like to. It, it sometimes it just really does take some time to figure out who someone is and then really to find somebody who you feel like would be a great fit, intuition wise.

Eleanor: There's one thing I wanna dig into a teeny bit more, which is like, The person who says, I only wanna date tall people. And I also want them to love going out dancing. And they have to be a vegetarian and they have to love dogs. And then you find a person, based on all those deeper things that you're like, I think you guys have similar values and sim and you're compatible. One of you was a rock, one of you was a star, but they're allergic to dogs and short, but I really think you guys will hit it off. Like how do you navigate those? And I don't, I don't wanna like put any like, judgment on like what qualities of a person or what qualities of what we want are like, superficial or not superficial. So I'm not gonna do that. But yeah. How do you navigate that?

Kara: Two things, and this is such a good question. Usually I'm very I'm gentle, I'm patient, I'm open, I listen. But sometimes I have to take the hard line with folks who are so tied to their list, and I will just say, at the end of the day, do you wanna go to bed with your list or a loving human? And it's just that kind of like, just stop for a minute, just stop for a minute. You can hold tight to that list, for the rest of your life if you want to, and keep searching and keep searching. But the chances of you getting that list and everything on it are so slim. But the chances of you getting an incredible human to go to bed at night with are so much greater.

If you can just, and here's my second piece of advice, allow yourself to be surprised and delighted. I always approach everything: allow yourself to be surprised and delighted. It's like if you go in already thinking this is not gonna work for this reason, you are leaving no room for the surprise, you're leaving no room to be delighted by something you didn't know or you didn't realize.

And I think, I get it. People are exhausted. They're tired of going out on dates, they're tired of swiping, they're tired of ghosting, they're tired of messaging, they're sick of it. But if you walk in thinking, all right, tonight, I'm gonna walk away from this date was something that I was surprised by and something I was delighted by.

The whole shift in energy changes and it goes for height, religion, age marital status in the past. Kids are not kids. I mean, it just fits for everything and it makes you walk in with a just much more open demeanor, open mind, open heart that then allows the right kind of fit to come. 

Hiwote: That is beautiful and it actually reminds me. Eleanor, I don't think we've ever talked about this, but one of the questions we ask people all the time is, who is your, who's the couple that you look up to that you aspire to have a relationship like? And that couple for me is my aunt and uncle. I'm staying with them right now as I'm traveling. And it's so interesting because you can tell that they have made compromises without holding onto any sort of resentment for having made those compromises. You know what I mean? 

Eleanor: We don't have to spend a ton of time here. But do you have like a quick example? 

Hiwote: My aunt is very I don't know what the word is, like frenetic maybe. Like, she's like easily flustered by things and my uncle is like very stable and you can tell sometimes he's are we gonna make a thing out of this? But he's also like, I've lived with this for 30 something years, so , I'm just gonna make it work. So I love that Kara's talking about making compromises on that list in a way that actually allows people to have the real thing that they want as opposed to this imaginary thing that they want. I also just love this idea of like looking for what surprises and delights you. I feel like that's exactly what my aunt and uncle do every single day. 

Eleanor: That is so sweet. And it was really heartening to hear her talk about this because I feel like the thing we were really trying to do last season on the show was to get all of our daters in a similar mindset, right? We were just like, go on this date, it's one date, it's over zoom. The stakes are low. If you're not feeling it, that's fine. But like the open mind feels so crucial and it was really nice to hear Kara support that. And to say that that is something that she really encourages her daters to do as well.

Hiwote: Totally.

Eleanor: So this other question came up in our conversation, which is like, so in that case, what does success look like? I don't know how you see it, but I think for our show, success is going on the date and having an open mind. 

Hiwote: The only thing I'd add to that is whether date one led to date two. Whether this date ended in a second date. 

Eleanor: For sure. And so I was curious, like that's for us and our show is purely focused on first dates, right? But I was curious for people who are paying a matchmaker to go on all these dates, like are they only looking for marriage? Are they looking for something else? Like when you're paying somebody to do this, what does success look like?

Kara: I just really think in terms of dating, how we define a success story I wish we could change our framing around that. Matchmaking has sort of an old fashioned connotation in that, it's marriage of two people for life, putting them together.

But what I really love about what I do and specifically working in the queer community is that relationships are defined in so many different ways, and I will work with someone who perhaps is coming out of a 30 year relationship and just wanting to get back into dating and wanting a wing woman, wanting some support along the way as they figure out how to do it, they may not be ready to meet their next person that's going to be long term, but they just really want some support along the way of dating.

And then I meet a lot of people who, especially in the gay male community, they're looking for something monogamous and that's something hard to find and yet it's something that they want for their lives. So it, it's always funny when we're having this conversation and the question, what do you see for yourself, marriage, monogamy, kiddos? I kind of throw out different options and inevitably gay men are like, I am looking for monogamy. They say it hesitantly as if I know it's not a popular opinion.

And it's just like, it's okay, it's okay. Everyone you know, is looking for something different. So redefining success when dating as going on the date, , like going on the date and allowing yourself to be surprised and delighted by what you find out about yourself. I just, I wish we could reset what is success?

Not everything has to lead to a long-term relationship or a long-term dating or marriage or kiddos or whatever. And I will always say that in full transparency, working with both coaching clients or matchmaking clients, that success looks very different, but the success I can guarantee is that through this process, you're gonna learn a lot more about you, a lot more about who's gonna be a good fit for you, and those are tools that you take for the rest of your life.

Eleanor: I really want us to take this idea into our next season. I hope people apply to be on this show who are at any stage in their dating life, and the thing that we ask is to just go on a first date. Maybe go on two first dates, really. 

Hiwote: Yeah. And I mean, speaking of a second season, I hear that Jesse's been doing some screening calls for potential daters.

Eleanor: Ooh. 

Caller 1: Technically I think we've been divorced like two and a half years, but like the relationship's been over for about five years. I got some really good advice from my friend cuz I was sort of in turmoil over having to date again. And she said, why don't you think about it as you get to date again? 

Caller 2: The dating coach suggested to do an activity, and for me that can be a bit hard for a first date cause I wanna be able to concentrate on them. I have adhd, so maybe that's part of it. Like, but usually, yeah, a walk or coffee or a drink at a bar.

Caller 3: There is one other thing. I mean, it's not like, I don't think this is really a big thing, but you could call it an interest of mine, is that I am actually like a bit of a pot head.

Jesse: So while you are waiting on new episodes, if you are going on dates and you have a story from that date that you wanna share with us, we are here for you. Record a voice memo and send it to us at So whether you're walking on the moon after a really great date, or you can't believe that that was actually how you spent your Thursday night, we wanna hear about it, and we might even use it in the show. So again, send us your stories at

This is Dating is produced by Jesse Baker and Eric Nuzum at Magnificent Noise. Our production staff includes Eleanor Kagan, Hiwote Getaneh and Julia Natt. Original music production and sound design by Paul Schneider. And the executive producer of This is Dating is Jesse Baker.