A couple of years ago, during a rooftop dinner in Chelsea celebrating Eric Ripert’s PBS show, Avec Eric, Martha Stewart was overheard complaining to her dinner companions, “I can’t get a date. You know anyone you can set me up with?”
It’s a familiar complaint uttered by single women all over New York. There are blogs, endless newspaper columns, and television shows devoted to the hapless single lady looking for love. But the ladies in the top financial tiers have an even bigger problem. Not only can they not pick up guys in bars for fear of appearing on Page Six, they can’t shop online without knowing that somehow their profile will mysteriously appear on sites like Gawker, which will mock them mercilessly. Or even worse-as in the case of Paula Zahn’s millionaire husband, Richard Cohen, who was caught using Match to date and dump women after telling them they were his “soul mate”-their dating peccadilloes and seemingly bad behavior also might be chronicled by the city’s tabloids.
And if the women go out too much, it could hurt their reputation, says Amy Andersen of Linx Dating. “A really powerful, high-caliber woman, when it comes to her personal life, she should make it as private as possible,” she says. “A lot of these types are going to charity events to try and meet men. They shouldn’t hyperexpose themselves and become a depreciating asset, so when they are introduced to the right guy, he hasn’t read about her everywhere.”
Some, like Katie Couric, have magical friends who just happen to know nice, wealthy, single financiers, and get set up that way. But more often than not, those men, the elusive unicorns of the dating scene, are dating younger, not-so-powerful women. Even supermodels find it tough. Bar Refaeli recently complained to Conan O’Brien, “Let’s put it out there. No one hits on me.”
Increasingly, high-powered women are turning to matchmakers-some of whom charge up to $200,000 a year-to help them find love (Note: we have no idea if any of the single ladies mentioned above have ever worked with a matchmaker good site.) And we’re not talking someone like Bravo’s cantankerous Millionaire Matchmaker star Patti Stanger, who holds cattle calls with random people to set her wealthy clients up with. The new breed of high-end matchmakers is highly selective, running background checks not just on clients but potential dates, and they say they accept, at the most, 25 percent of potential clients, the majority of whom are women.
Margaret Griffith, who heads the New York office of Premier Matchmaking, says, “We get a lot more inquiries from women than men” in New York. That sentiment is echoed by Amber Kelleher, head of Kelleher International, who adds: “What’s hard for women is you don’t know if the guy you just met is married or has a stable job. Attractive women have a harder time. There’s no screening process. They like the security of us meeting them first. Granted, we can’t guarantee if the guys are as good as they sound, but if these men are going to submit to a background check and a litany of questions, they must be at least interested and sincere about getting into a relationship.”
Griffith adds that wealthier, high-profile clients have a harder time meeting prospective mates, as “there are challenges. It’s not the best of ideas to date within your work circle. And as these women spend so much time at work, there is a lack of exposure. Where does a typical person go? They go to the gym in the morning-not a great idea to date someone at the gym. If it doesn’t work out, then you have to change schedules or gyms. After work, they have clients and socialize. They can’t date their clients!”