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DIRIGO STORIES: Traditional matchmaker creates dating success in digital age

PORTLAND (WGME) – Love is in the air less than a week until Valentine’s Day, but it’s always in the air when you’re a professional matchmaker.

“I've always wanted to interfere in people's lives and make them better, and I've always felt that if you're in love, everything's better,” said Noreen Rochester, owner of Cara Matchmaking in Portland.

Rochester turned her love of setting up friends and family into a 30-year matchmaking career.

“I just posted my cards all over York County, and people started calling me the next day,” Rochester said.

Rochester matches clients based on a personality test and common interests, but often she uses her gut feeling.

“It’s a lot of instinct,” she said. “I really get a feel for the person.”

Rochester matched Kathy Akopov, a 33-year-old marketing professional, and 31-year-old Chris Guillory, an attorney, in February 2015. By November, they were engaged.

“I think we had a deposit down on the venue before we had even got the ring,” Guilory said. “That's how sure and locked in we were to this.”

The couple says they chose a matchmaker for different reasons. Guillory, admittedly shy, didn’t have much time or interest in dating. Akopov was sick of dating online.

“You spend a couple weeks talking to someone online, and you go on a couple of dates. It doesn't work out,” Akopov said. “It was really all that leg work – getting to know somebody, schedule some things, spending time with them and go right back to step one with somebody brand new.”

According to data from the Pew Research Center, 15 percent of adults have used online or mobile dating apps. Rochester says online dating sites and mobile apps hurt her business for a while, but now she’s seeing an uptick in young professionals tired of online dating, coming to her for help.

“It's as busy now as it was when I started,” said Rochester.

Rochester says she has more women than men in her client database, and says her busiest days are Fridays – date night. She claims an 85 percent success rate.

“Sometimes I'm right. Sometimes I'm not, but I've had a ton of successful matches and I’m going do this until I die.”

Rochester says whatever way you’re searching for love, her advice this Valentine’s Day is to go into with an open mind.

She’s hosting a singles event at Ri Ra in Portland Thursday, February 9 from 5-8 p.m.

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