Like many comedians and writers, L. Jean Schwartz often mines stories from her own life when she performs on stage, especially ones about what it is like being a single woman in Los Angeles.
“I started doing a bit about how I have terrible taste in men,” Schwartz tells us. “I enjoyed doing it, but I don’t like it when people complain about their lives and don’t do anything it.”
The 20-something Schwartz had dabbled in online dating on and off for years and began thinking of potential experiments she could do while searching for a potential match. A few months later her blog “The PostModern Matchmaker” was born. On it, Schwartz puts a uniquely 21st century twist on generations of matchmaking traditions - by asking her mother, brother and closest friends to take over her OkCupid account for a week and talking to her about the kinds of men they think she’d like.
“We’ve done a different matchmaker every week,” she explains. “At the start of the week we rewrite the profile together and they sort of monitor the account during the week.”
Schwartz’s very first matchmaker for the experiment was her mother and she says they both learned a lot from the experience. “I generally didn’t talk to my mom about dating in college,” she says. “But I was super excited [about the experiment.] My parents have been married for 30-plus years, so there was a whole learning curve when it came to online dating.”
We asked Schwartz about what she’s learned so far about the experiment.
You’ll get to know your family in a different way:Schwartz says that one funny thing that happened during her mother’s matchmaking week was that she picked people that would fit in to the family well. “My dad’s a lawyer and my brother was an Eagle Scout and I’m a vegetarian writer,” she says. “And my mom picked three people and they were a lawyer, an Eagle Scout and a vegetarian writer.” Schwartz noted that her mom hadn’t realized the connection until she heard her joke about it in a set.
Moms are pretty genuine: Working with her mother on her online dating profile was an interesting experience because “everything my mom wanted to write was very genuinely sincere.” She recalls when they discussed how to fill out “I spend a lot of time thinking about…” section of her profile. “She wanted to put down ‘climate change,’” Schwartz says. “And then I said ‘Yeah, I think about climate change, but I am not putting that first.’” After discussing it further, climate change did make the list, albeit further down.
Your family notices unique things about you: “I volunteer at the community garden near my house and I had never thought to put that in my profile,” says Schwartz. Her mother suggested including it because she thought it revealed something new about her.
Dating in some ways was easier in the 70s: Schwartz’s parents approach to dating was very different than that of their children. “Now I have regular conversations with both my parents about dates,” Schwartz says, recalling that she once mentioned that she had never really asked men out on dates herself. “They were in the dating scene in the 70s, when girls would ask guys out, She was surprised I felt that way,” she recalled.
The experiment also got Schwartz to question expectations about dating. “It really made me think about those rules,” she says. “Why don’t I ask guys out?”
Sometimes things will get uncomfortable: Schwartz describes her brother as a romantic at heart, which made things interesting when it was his turn to write her profile. “He did a first draft of it and he said something like ‘If you are interested in participating in an experiment where I’m really hoping to fall in love,’” she recalls. “And I said, ‘Whoa.’”
That line didn’t make the final draft.