COVER STORY: North Shore matchmaker

Divine Matchmaker’s Susan Semeniw (top) visited Margitta’s Flowers at Lonsdale Quay to pick out the perfect bouquet for Valentine’s Day. Iconic ocean views (below) make the North Shore a romantic hotspot. - Rob Newell photo/ File photo
Divine Matchmaker’s Susan Semeniw (top) visited Margitta’s Flowers at Lonsdale Quay to pick out the perfect bouquet for Valentine’s Day. Iconic ocean views (below) make the North Shore a romantic hotspot.
— image credit: Rob Newell photo/ File photo

Professional matchmaker Susan Semeniw knows North Shore residents definitely have a particular “type.”

Living in a “hotbed for singles,” they typically relish the outdoors and insist their partners do too.

They are successful professionals, “super active,” well put together and in shape, she says.

Many are recently divorced but young singles are also searching.

“One of the number one deal-breakers, especially on the North Shore, is not being active,” says Semeniw, head matchmaker and love coach at Vancouver-based Divine Matchmaking.

She says men in North and West Van, like everywhere else, keep a close eye on looks, while women want someone who is stable and confident — “code word: has their financial act together.”

Next, it comes down to similar lifestyles, which, on the North Shore, often includes a love of being outdoors. Activities like hiking to Rice Lake and strolling on the Seawall top the list.

Blessed with an acute sense for a good match, Semeniw deals mostly with clients in their 30s to 60s, but also has a running list of 20-something singles.

“Boomers are a huge trend because a lot of people are divorcing. They still have homes and want to settle down again,” she says.

And there is no hiding the fact that money talks, including on the North Shore where many singles make it into a high wage bracket.

“Wealthy guys often like younger women, five to 10 years younger. People are ageist, both men and women.

“But it depends on where they are. If they want to have kids, they’ll often say no older than 35.”

She says Canadians are still living in the “caveman days.”

“We still want the guy to be the guy and the girl to be the girl.”

So guys — yes — you should pay for the date. And ladies, be sure to look your best.

It comes down to biology.

“Even though women have made inroads and become successful, guys still like their women to be feminine and women want men to be in charge, someone they can rely on.”

Divine Matchmaking discreetly helps “upscale, successful” singles find their perfect pairing in line with their wish list.

“Quality trumps quantity,” is Semeniw’s motto.

She interviews potential matches and organizes the first date, taking any awkward encounters out of the equation.

That’s perfect for North Shorites with hectic schedules who often don’t have enough time to devote to the dating scene.


Dare to wear red

The North Shore is praised as a romantic hotspot, and Semeniw isn’t surprised North Vancouver was recently ranked fifth most romantic city in Canada by

A quiet walk along the seawall, dimly-lit dinner overlooking the water, cross-country skiing on Cypress — all good ideas for a special Valentine’s Day.

As part of their service, Divine Matchmakers set up the first few dates and give tips on how to behave.

Eye contact is key.

Pupil dilation is a sign of attraction, so check carefully.

“Dimmed lights create this effect naturally, so this will subconsciously make you more attractive to the opposite sex – that’s why dinner by candlelight is so sexy,” explains Semeniw.

On Valentine’s Day, guys should still pay for the meal — even if they are in a long-term relationship and used to splitting the bill, she adds.

“Some guys don’t like it. But you know what? We’re still back in the jungle and caveman days. Women want a man who they can rely on, hunt for them and keep them safe.”

And dress to impress on this romantic evening (no scruffy shoes!), she emphasizes.

For a new love interest, “you want to always present your best self forward. Keep your deep dark secrets and exes in the background.

“When we don’t know someone, we judge and look for reasons to dismiss.”

Ladies should wear their best colour, paying particular attention if they’re in a new relationship.

“Remember that by suggesting vulnerability, peachy pink inspires the protector in men. Deep red, burgundy or plum will scare away any man not up to a strong woman.”

And red — the most sensual of colours — is perfect for Valentine’s Day because it denotes sex and power, she advises.

For men,it’s simple. Blue is a safe bet because it signals stability and loyalty — ideal signs for a longterm relationship.


Skip the pressure

Even couples in long-term relationships should put in extra effort for V-Day. It only comes once a year, after all.

The trend is to do something special rather than exchanging pricey gifts, says Semeniw. The day doesn’t have to be fancy — even cooking a new meal at home or grabbing takeout can make for an unforgettable night.

“Indulge in a bottle of wine or champagne that you normally wouldn’t get.

“Anything new and breaking out of a routine is key for long-term partners — we get bored.”

But, ladies don’t forget that your partner might not be as into Valentine’s Day as you are.

“Men typically dread Valentine’s Day — pressure to perform — the onus is on them to make the woman feel special,” says Semeniw.

“People will use it as a litmus test for their relationship.”

Newly coupled women often use the day as a barometer of their partner’s love, taking all the fun out of it.

“One day of the year does not a relationship make. It’s the little things that add up every day.

“The analogy I use, is your wedding day isn’t going to be an indicator  of how your relationship is going to be. A lot of people blow the wad on the wedding day then the relationship isn’t so great.”

Sentimental gifts can go a long way.

Make a card with 25 reasons why you are in love, bake heart-shaped cookies or frame a photo of the two of you together and add a poem beside it.

Of course, men can do these crafts too. Or buy a bouquet of pink-and-red flowers.

“Have them delivered to work — it’s the public acknowledgment some crave,” says the North Shore matchmaker.


Smile singles

“Valentine’s Day is not all champagne, chocolate and roses and is often overrated,” says Semeniw.

“I am an advocate for making Valentine’s Day not just about romantic love but love in general for those people who impact your life in a positive way.”

Hand out Valentine’s cards and chocolates, leave a special note of appreciation for someone, buy a round of coffee for your colleagues.

And don’t forget to indulge yourself.

Have a girls night out. Turn up the tunes and toast each other for being fabulous.

Guys can plan a boys night at a sports bar or stay in to watch the Winter Olympics live from Sochi.

“Spend the day volunteering at a homeless shelter or old folks home. Tell someone in your life how much you value them and why,” she advises.

Whatever your plans for Valentine’s Day, Semeniw says  to “harness the beauty” of the North Shore.

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