Hong Kong Matchmaker JJ Wu Chang Talks Finding Love In The City
To many, matchmaking is an archaic profession, deep-rooted in outdated and sexist traditions. However, in the modern-day, where working long hours, five days a week is the norm, finding the time to go out in search for ‘the one’ is a luxury many cannot afford.
The Making of a Hong Kong Matchmaker
After a short career in advertisement, working the hours of a lawyer while only making a third of the salary, JJ decided it wasn’t the right fit, and packed up and left. He studied at the Matchmaking Institute in New York and eventually returned to Hong Kong to start his own matchmaking business.
“I follow the code of ethics from the Matchmaking Institute, you know, things like don’t hit on your clients, it sounds very basic, but you would be surprised about how many times I’ve heard stories of the sort” he says.
Starting from scratch, he joined multiple dating apps to understand what the dating scene in the city was like while working on developing his own prices. “A lot of the apps are complete garbage. It’s a hot mess! It’s like trying to put out a fire using kerosene.”
Matchmaking Services Vs. Dating Online
“People always ask me––if there are all these dating apps and online dating platforms what’s the point of finding a matchmaker? And it’s very different, business-wise” JJ explains.
“They have a giant database, and in order for you to join, you need to sign up or pay, and they will only match you with everyone inside that database and they don’t look outside of that. I consider everyone I meet passive clients. If I find someone who fits the requirements of an actual client, I’ll ask if they are single, suss them out a bit more. I go out and find that person, it’s a lot like headhunting.”
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JJ’s clients’ range between 25-55 years old and work in different fields and industries. But one thing that they do share in common is that they’ve all exhausted their social network.
“When people get older, they just don’t want to do it anymore. If you’re from a certain friendship group, you’ve locked yourself in that dynamic and you’ve dated everyone you know. You’re either working on your own business or you’re busy trying to push your family’s business to the next level. On top of all that, you need to balance your friends, family, secondary group of friends, and have time for yourself and your hobbies.” says JJ.
Contrary to his famed title for catering to the love-lives of the crazy rich Asians, his main clientele are actually Asian working professionals. On the whole, they are college educated and have spent an extended period of time outside of Hong Kong, whether it’s for college, work or living. The key being that, they have experienced another culture. A trait that JJ shares, having gone to international school in the city and college in the United States.
“It’s a strange position to be in. I understand coming back that it’s tough, there’s a gage, where you look for westernised dating values but also people who are traditional enough to fit with you and your family dynamics” he explains.
See also: 3 Reasons Dating In Hong Kong Is A Challenge
To put it simply, for JJ it’s all about statistics. The narrower the preference and criteria, the higher the costs. The larger the market and demographic, the lower the costs. It’s subjective to each and every individual, accounting for things like age, personality, wants, needs and emotional intelligence. In the end it depends on how easy or difficult it is to find their match.
With JJ’s income and reputation dependent on how successful his matches are, it’s understandable to reject clients whose expectations are at times too high or unreasonable.
“I had a client who was recommended to me by another matchmaker. And the first thing I notice is their looks. If they’re a hot mess, I know a number of image consultants, but so far, I haven’t had to use her yet… but there is always that possibility of having that hard conversation of… [laughs] you need to pay extra. So, I met this person, who seemed like she was in her mid-forties. I was like okay, cool, and said if you don’t mind me asking, what’s your age? And it was 10 years younger than I expected.”
“Once I knew her age, I said to her if you don’t mind me saying, you’ve over 35. You should try and find someone in the age bracket of 35-45, because unfortunately it is a number’s game. And, I can’t go up to a client and say I can find you a fairytale that floats down on a carpet from the skies, along with a Disney song. This woman was adamant about finding someone her age (which was 38) who was single, not married and not divorced. And that’s kind of hard to do this in the market. You need to be realistic, if you want this, you need to be flexible.”
For those living the corporate life, it isn’t too far of a stretch to explore the service. The hassle-free approach without the numerous apps, the unending cringe-inducing dating profiles and friends’ horrible dating recommendations, is a time-efficient method for the modern dating world.
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