welcomes as our guest today, Barbara Summers, co- author of Next! A Matchmaker’s Guide to Finding Mr. Right, Ditching Mr. Wrong, and Everything In Between, written with Carey Blakely.

Since launching her professional matchmaking business Healthy Professional Singles in 1986, Barbara Summers has matched hundreds of couples into marriage. She also works as a relationship coach and has led seminars and workshops on topics such as how to keep a relationship hot, handling a divorce, and identifying what you’re looking for in a partner.

Barbara has appeared as a guest on national and local television and will be appearing on The Romance, a nationally syndicated reality TV series about dating that will air on San Diego Channel 4 in February. She was featured in an Emmy Award–nominated documentary about the wives of professional athletes and has been a guest on Good Morning San Diego, Fox 5 Morning News, and Channels 7 (NBC) and 10 (ABC) San Diego evening news. She was the host of the Bab Summers Show on WJBK radio broadcasting out of Detroit and Singles Talk on San Diego’s KCEO, which was a popular listener call-in radio program about relationships.

Norm: Good day, Barbara, and thanks for participating in our interview.

What is a matchmaker and why did you become interested in becoming one? Are there any particular qualificationsone needs to become a matchmaker?

Barbara: Good day, Norm, and thanks for having me! A matchmaker is someone who puts people together into what will hopefully be a meaningful romantic relationship. Ever since I was in junior high, I had an interest in matching people and a knack for it. As for qualifications, I think it’s part skill and part intuition. You need to have an underlying feeling that two people would be good together and a solid understanding of what makes relationships work in order to be a successful matchmaker.

Norm: How many matches have you made throughout your career and what percentage of these matches have been successful?

Barbara: I’d estimate that of all the people I’ve interviewed and worked with over the course of my matchmaking career, about one third of them ended up in long-term relationships as a direct result of my services. I’ve matched over 300 couples who married.

Norm: What do you think of the Internet dating sites that have cropped up over the past several years?

Barbara: I definitely think it’s better to try to meet someone in the real (as opposed to virtual) world. It’s safer, and there’s more honesty involved. People on online dating sites can claim anything, and you have no way of knowing what’s true. I suggest that people use their networks (family, friends, colleagues, volunteer groups, etc.) to try to meet someone who comes recommended. However, I know that Internet dating sites can have their place; it’s okay to make them one tool in your toolbox, but never give up looking in the real world.

Norm: How do you go about putting two people together?

Barbara: I interview a client in his home or office so that I get a feel for his lifestyle. We talk about what he’s looking for and what didn’t work for him in the past. Then I set out to find a woman who matches what he’s looking for. I try to find commonalities as well as a little zest—something new one person can bring into the other’s life. Once I’ve put them together, I ask them to call me to let me know how their first date went. It’s a very personal approach.

Norm: How did you decide you were ready to write Next! A Matchmaker’s Guide to Finding Mr. Right, Ditching Mr. Wrong, and Everything In Between and whom do you believe will benefit from your book and why?

Barbara: I knew there was a need to reach out to women to let them know that they have a lot of power over their romantic lives. There are too many women suffering from a low self-worth who blame themselves for relationships that didn’t work out or who stay in relationships that they should leave.

I wanted to give women the courage to take action toward creating a meaningful relationship and to never feel as though they are stuck or have to settle. There’s always the next step or the next person, and the key is moving forward. Women in all stages of relationships can benefit from Next! because it covers the whole relationship cycle—from dating to divorce and back again.

Norm: Could you tell our audience a little about the book?

Barbara: Next! takes women through all of the stages of a relationship, helping them if they want to get in one, stay in one and make it better, or get out of one. This prepares readers for what lies ahead as well as helping them understand what they’ve left behind.

Furthermore, there is an overlapping of skills and attitudes that carry on from one step to the next. For example, it’s a good idea to keep the “dating” in marriage by making fun, romantic plans so that the playful part of the relationship thrives.

Norm: What was the most difficult part of writing your book and what are your hopes for this book?

Barbara: I am a person who expresses myself vocally, but I don’t know how to parlay those thoughts into writing. I was very fortunate to work with author/writer Carey Blakely who turned the ideas I expressed aloud into a cohesive, well-written book. Carey also helped me stay focused and organized, which are other areas I find challenging! My hope is that copies of Next! end up in many women’s hands because I believe the dating and relationship advice will benefit any female reader.

Norm: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Barbara: I learned that Next’s empowering message was definitely needed. The more I talked to women who were feeling helpless in their relationships or having trouble dating, the more I realized how important it was to get the message out there that it’s never too late to start taking control of your romantic life and bringing positive change to it.

Norm: What will you be doing for promotion of your book and how much of it is your doing?

Barbara: The publisher, SelectBooks, and publicist, Karen Ammond of KBC Media, will be helping with the promotional efforts. With Karen at the helm, I am hoping that Next! will get good print and broadcast media coverage as well as online buzz. I’ll also be doing book signings and talks.

Norm: How can readers find out more about you and your endeavors?

Barbara: Certainly the book itself is the best source, but I also recommend that people check out my WEBSITE. If readers have direct questions for me, they can contact me via email or Facebook. (That contact info is found on my website.)

Norm: What are your upcoming projects?

Barbara: I’ll be focusing on book promotions in the next few months. In February, I’ll also appear on “The Romance,” a reality TV show about dating that will air on San Diego Channel 4 and be nationally syndicated. I’m contemplating working on another relationship book with Carey. We’ll see!

Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.

Barbara: Hmmm . . . How about this: What is the best general relationship advice you can offer anyone? My answer: In order to have a healthy and happy relationship, you have to love yourself first and foremost. If you aren’t good to yourself, you won’t be good to anyone else either. You’ll stay in relationships when you should go. You won’t strike up a new relationship because you’re feeling bad about yourself. Love yourself, and you will find that more love comes into your life as a result! 

Norm: Thanks once again, and good luck with all of your future endeavors.

Follow Here To Purchase Next!: A Matchmaker's Guide to Finding Mr. Right, Ditching Mr. Wrong, and Everything In Between