20 Questions


Mary Ann Donnell

By Bonnie Blackburn
What’s February without a little love? It’s dark and cold and lonely, that’s what it is. Well, meet Mary Ann Donnell. She aims to make your February (and March and April and on into eternity) warm and bright with a special someone. As head of Matchmaker International’s Fort Wayne office, she brings people together in hopes of sparking true love. Find out how she does it as we play 20 Questions.


Do you believe in love at first sight?
For a man, I do. It takes a man three seconds to fall in love. They’re very visual. For a woman, she’s going for the heart, soul and mind. Maybe three months for the woman.

Describe the different kinds of love.
You’ve got a couple different kinds. Like, I love my daughter, but I’m in love with my husband.

Is there really only one true “soul mate” out there for everyone?
There’s probably more than one because it’s such a big world. No, there’s more than one. That’s how you grow. It’s how you fix the broken heart syndrome, with new love.

Do people sing the “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” song from “Fiddler on the Roof” to you when they meet you?
I sing it to them! And when you come here (to Matchmaker International) I sing you “The Love Boat” song!

What are the skills a good matchmaker needs?
You have to look for the good and the beauty in everyone. You’re wanting people to have love. You’re rejoicing in other people’s happiness. I feel so blessed to be doing this.

What can people do to insure a good first date?
Dress for success. Look your best. Presentation is key. And get your teeth fixed. You need a good smile. If they don’t have good teeth, I tell them to go get that worked on.

How important is chemistry?
Chemistry is important, but only two people can have chemistry. Compatibility is also important. If   they are compatible, the chemistry  will happen.

What’s the science behind matching people?
Compatibility. We match people on their habits, like smoking or drinking. We look at their characteristics — are they widows or widowers? They do well. People with similar life experiences and education.

How do people come to you?
(They’re) working all day, they have a house to take care of on the weekends. She has no time and she doesn’t want to sit on the Internet. We screen all our members. No criminal violations, no mental institutions. These are good quality, positive people. We’re doing all the work. (Our members are) tired of the games and the lies. People that work, they don’t want to sit in a bar all the time.

Do you do anything special for Valentine’s Day?
Oh yes! Candlelight dinner, great food and lots of conversation!

Do you watch matchmaking shows like ‘The Bachelor”?
No. I really don’t. I think they’re kind of silly.

What’s your favorite romantic movie?
The one with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton — “Something’s Gotta Give.” It’s so good.

What skills does a good matchmaker need?
You’ve really got to be someone who wants to see people be successful and in healthy relationships. A good matchmaker is looking for success in a man and a woman being in love. Marriage is so healthy.

What’s your success rate?
Our success is two to three marriages a month and three to four relationships a week. We have over 5,000 members.

What would persuade you to advise someone not to seek a romantic match as this point in his or her life?
If they’ve been in a long-term relationship that’s recently ended. I turn away people if they’re not ready. I had one lady who’d been married 30 years. I told her to wait a year and come back.

Were you always setting people up when you were in high school?
Yes! And my mother did, too! My mom was always matching people up. It just seems like I’m supposed to do this. People come in and think, ‘Nobody’s going to love me,’ and we fix that.

Do people come to you with unrealistic expectations?
Yes, they do [Laughs]. They want Tom Cruise, and we have to tone it down and get real. This is Fort Wayne, Indiana, and this is farm country. You know, we hire an accountant to do our taxes, we hire a Realtor to sell our homes, yet we’re reluctant to get help with our love lives.

What’s the more frequent problem for people seeking a romantic match: Making themselves sound better than they really are or not giving themselves enough credit?
Sometimes people that come here, they are kind of humble and I have   to build them up. I do have to be  their cheerleader.

What is it about modern life that makes us need help finding a romantic partner?
Everybody’s on their phone all the time. The technology has taken us away from people. They come to us to find a partner because they don’t have time.

What qualifies as “true romance” for the people who come to you?
It’s that first date, the first date never ends. It just goes on and on. It goes straight to the altar. If you help someone find love, that’s the greatest thing you can do. The more I help people, the more blessed my life is.

Posted: Tue, 02/12/2013 - 2:50 pm
Last updated: Tue, 03/12/2013 - 12:49 pm