Hayley Bystram: How to find your soul mate
How hard is it to find love nowadays? Thanks to Hayley maybe this heart journey can be made easier. In the interview below she recounts how she started her journey as a ‘matchmaker’ and how it all started after her own divorce and her successful career as a wedding planner. She also reveals how she connects couples, the qualities she sees in them, their differences and the chemistry that unites them. Her passion for this profession has helped her in her private life as well as turning her into a relationship expert.
How was your life before you were in this profession?
I’ve always worked in Customer Services, starting in the US at a very high-end resort dealing with high-profile clientele. I then began a career as a Wedding Planner in the UK working with luxury venues around Surrey and planning about 200 weddings per year. The romance industry has always featured in my career background long before I started my matchmaking agency!
When was the moment you realised you were a Matchmaker?
My wedding planning career meant I was very adept at meeting many different couples and understanding and interpreting their vision for their big day. I would meet their families during planning sessions and it was interesting to see the family backgrounds, where the couples came from, what was important to them and what their future aspirations were as a couple. I divorced in my late twenties and was looking for a career change away from weddings. Then a friend suggested that I should try ‘matchmaking’using the skills I’d learnt as a wedding planner. Being constantly surrounded by happy couples and seeing how they work together and interact with their families is a really transferable skill set for matchmaking. It didn’t feel like a big leap – just moving from one end of the romance industry spectrum (weddings) to the other (singles) !
Do you see it as a profession or as a passion?
Both.From a professional point of view, I won’t deny that it is hard work and it is a full-on role.It isn’t a 9 to 5 job. You are dealing with people’s emotions and feelings and it is a huge responsibility and commitment. The passion for what I do is essential to ensure I do it to the best of my ability and take the required care with all my matchmaking. I invest so much personally in the matches that I am always on tenterhooks awaiting the feedback from the dates. If you are in this industry purely from a money or business perspective, it won’t work.You have to be passionate about it and you have to truly care about the people that you are working for.
Can you share with us the secret of how you identify the right people to bring together as a couple?
The agency deliberately works with a niche clientele. All of my clients are intelligent, successful business professionals who are looking for a like-minded, equal partner for a long-term committed relationship. It means we have a pool of people who are inherently similar from the get-go. They often have similar upbringings, similar educational paths and similar career paths. They share similar hobbies and interests and they even holiday at the same resorts around the world. By starting with a pool of very compatible people with lots of common interests, all we are hoping to find is the chemistry and spark between two people. That is something I cannot bottle unfortunately.But the secret is to get all the other ingredients right first and then the elusive chemistry is the only thing we have to leave to chance.
What are the common factors you look for and how do you connect them in your mind?
I look for a person’s morals and values. This can come from their family background, their career responsibilities or their relationship history. If you can find out about those aspects of someone you can then get a better steer of their moral compass and who they really are.That makes it easier to find who they would be a good fit with. I look for the factors that will hopefully connect clients for the long-term –the aspects which will see them through their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond. Attraction is important but it is a short-term aspect that pales into insignificance later down the line. The aspects that will enable the longevity of a relationship is what I’m mostly looking to find.
How difficult has it been for you to “convince” your clients that you can find them a better partner than they could find themselves?
I don’t need to convince them, because they have already decided they want an outside opinion to help them meet the right partner. There are many reasons for this: for instance, it could be based on previous relationships that went wrong, so they want to ensure they are investing time and energy in getting it right next time. Or it could be that they find they are attracting the same ‘type’ of person over and over again and they want to break that pattern but doubt their ability to do so. It could be that they have hectic busy lives and just don’t cross paths with the type of people they envisage having a relationship with and they know we can widen that pool of potential for them. We’re not just a matchmaking agency putting couples together. We coach and guide our clients to identify the most compatible partner for them and that is just as important as connecting them as people.
When you look at typical couples today, what are the most common problems they have?
I think we all have a very fast-paced lifestyle these days and we don’t always consider things to the extent that we should when making a decision for the long-term. Online dating encourages a quick split-second decision based on looks and attraction.That’s great in the short-term, for a couple of dates, but what about after that? I believe many couples are in relationships where they have made the decision to be together based on short-term aspects rather than long-term considerations. You have to be on the same path and your future visions have to be in alignment for a relationship to last the distance. The problem today is that people will dismiss someone with a very compatible background, lifestyle and future as themselves if they are a couple of inches too short or if they’re light-haired and not dark-haired. You then have many mis-matched couples who only realise they are in the wrong relationship further down the line.
How much has your profession helped you in your own private life?
Hugely – I get to know my clients incredibly well. We talk about everything very openly and they offer me a lot of insights into their lives and their relationship history. I have widowed members in their 70’s that tell me their secrets for their long and happy marriages and I have members in their 40’s that share with me the reasons for their divorces. I honestly think my clients help me and offer me as much insight as I do for them! The one thing that they all say is that the secret to a long-lasting relationship – or what was lacking in their relationship – is communication.