Matchmaker Mimi Lee

Image: Evan Sigmund

A former protégé of Patti Stanger, the “millionaire matchmaker” made famous by Bravo TV, Mimi Lee, 53, has been in the business of bringing together Sarasota’s singles for nearly a quarter century. We asked her about how she connects dozens of couples each week, how to act on a first date and whether Sarasota is a good place to fall in love.

Who uses your services?

Mainly people 45 and up. It can be all the way up to 90, 95. A lot of them have already been married and they haven’t dated in 20 years or are widowed after being married 50 years or more. I help them get started and feel comfortable about going out.

Do you get more men or women?

People think, “Oh, it’s all women,” but it’s just not true. Women think there are no men around, but that’s because women go out together, and men are not as likely to go out with friends and have a couple drinks or go to the theater or a musical performance.

Have your clients tried using online dating sites?

Online dating is not a safe space, especially for my generation and older, because we don’t navigate the computer as well. People have come up with so many different ways to scam you. People who come to me like the idea that it’s confidential. Their picture and information aren’t out there.

How do you find a strong match?

I do a criminal background check. I do a drug test. I sit and talk with all my people for at least two and a half hours. And my intuition, because I’ve been doing this for so long, helps me match people up.

What’s the biggest mistake people make on a first date?

The easy answer is the most glaring, and that tends to be when someone dwells on discussing his or her ex. Reliving any of that on a first date takes away from discussing the positive attributes you bring to the table. The other mistake is to judge too quickly based on one date. Regrettably, much of today’s online dating creates a drive-thru dating mentality. I prefer that ladies and gentlemen spend time getting to know each other. Sparks are what we hope for, but all flames need a little kindling.

What should people wear on a first date?

Dress to impress. For guys: a pressed white or blue shirt with the top couple of buttons undone. Pressed slacks. Shined shoes. For blue slacks, brown shoes. For black slacks, black shoes. Carry a sports coat or wear it. Either way, the business casual look is a classic that nearly 85 percent of women prefer. For women: a solid-color dress. A black dress is the simplest and easiest go-to solution, but any solid color like red, white or your preference, with heels, will suffice. Accessorize, but keep it minimal.

What makes someone a good matchmaker?

I’ve always been social and I’m good with people. I’m able to help them feel comfortable when they first come in. But it’s on-the-job training. There’s no way you can get a college education for this.

Is Sarasota a romantic city?

Absolutely. Sarasota is growing like crazy. There are so many things you can do, and it’s much better to have a partner than to go by yourself. With all the activities and the arts and beautiful things that Sarasota has, it’s very easy to fall in love. 

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