Millionaire Matchmaker: Why Entrepreneurs Will Love It

BlogHer Original Post

Last Tuesday was the premiere of the third season of Bravo reality show Millionaire Matchmaker. I must admit, I was eagerly anticipating this program for many reasons. Where else can I have my stereotypes of the vapidness of Los Angeles singles confirmed? (Well, Million-Dollar Listing also fits that bill, but I digress). And where else can I witness the struggles of a successful female entrepreneur and her typically male entrepreneurial clientele? This show is a simulation of how entrepreneurs can simultaneously do well and screw up their lives. Fascinating television.

2009 Fox Reality Channel Really Awards

My husband rolls his eyes at Matchmaker--why watch a bunch of dysfunctionals attempt to score? But I find this a study of what happens to go-getters who discover that what has made them successful is often their downfall in love. It's a somewhat contrived form of proof of the inevitability of basic needs, even among the highest of fliers. It's a lesson in the yang that many entrepreneurs ignore, but that eventually ruins their yin if they don't address it.

It seems, from many accounts of entrepreneurs and even their spouses, that along with success comes strain on their personal relationships. Thought at some point in a successful entrepreneur's life there's a cathartic moment when he or she no longer asks questions like, "Will I make payroll?" and instead asks, "Why am I working so hard?" and "Will I die alone?"

The first episode of Matchmaker did not disappoint. Patti Stanger, founder and "Queen" of The Millionaire's Club, a professional matchmaking service for clients with high net worths, works with two co-founders of a junk collection company. Having managed to build a multi-million dollar business by age 27, it seems that the two proprietors would have no problem managing their love lives, but one of them fears that anyone he dates wants him for his money, and the other can't establish his authentic self with women.

The first client places high criteria on the women he meets in an attempt to prove whether they are legitimately interested in him. He eschews Patti's advice of impressing his date by picking her up in one of his business's junk-collection vehicles and makes her do a clean-up job with him before they could go to dinner. The obvious happens: the date plays along as best she can, but feels so tired and disrespected that any spark of romance has been squelched.

The other client is used to dating "Barbie dolls," attractive women who don't challenge him and who don't stick. He selects a woman who is off-type, even challenging to him, and they hit it off. He arranges his business travel to meet up with her where she's traveling on business.

Both clients remind me of typical "types" I see among successful entrepreneurs. The first client type I'll sum up as having the Impostor Syndrome. Often linked to women, the Impostor Syndrome is a condition that colors one's thoughts with insecurity. Those who have it tend to be high achievers, but they think they are frauds and that it will just be a matter of time before they are found out as undeserving of their accomplishments. Patti's client continually says that he wants to be sure that his woman will be there with him if he loses it all, as if that's a given.

The other client's Barbie Doll fixation is more a male phenomenon, but it relates to a tendency of some entrepreneurs to surround themselves with undemanding, "easy" relationships. We don't have time to deal with working through whose turn it is to make dinner, we just want people in our lives to get it done. He also tended to choose people who had less life experience, people with whom he could have the upper hand.  I was glad to see that the client, at such a tender and typically obnoxious age, was learning his lesson of being vulnerable early.

And then of course there's Patti Stanger herself, someone to be admired for building a successful business her way, though whom you have to question on her ability to take the passenger's seat in her own relationship. This big news this season is that Patti is engaged, though I'll be curious to see how her personal story develops, as she continues to take on others she understands all too well and who seems to regard her engagement ring as vindication from those who doubted she could ever truly understand commitment.

I'm reminded of an episode from the previous season, when she took on a rare female client--beautiful, successful, wealthy, and incapable of surrendering to a relationship. Patti urges her to give up the need to be in control in her personal life and "be the woman." It seemed she knew all too well the emotional potholes of the female entrepreneur.

Jory Des Jardins writes on business, entrepreneurism, and career topics at BlogHer, and on her personal blog From Here to Autonomy

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