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The classic sense of the term ‘matchmaker’ is obsolete as Inga Verbeeck puts into practice a new formula for finding love. Her consultancy and coaching service, Ivy International, is highly customized and firstly human, adding a touch of philosophy, psychology, and an old-fashioned sense of dignity to meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right.

In an era when time is short, communication is digital and a profile picture can make or break an illusion, Ivy International takes an entirely different route. It invests time to consider character, values, personal history, lifestyle and, most of all, one’s path towards love through a splash of self-knowledge. Collect meets with Belgian businesswoman Inga Verbeeck, a.k.a. cupid for the highly discerning, who structures her services around an annual fee that entails a tailored mix of consulting coaching and eight meetings in person (before which, not one photo is exchanged). Here, she talks us through the Ivy International philosophy.

What is your first approach?

We listen—to get to a real understanding of each client, we assess his or her situation, their needs and learn how they feel about themselves. It’s cliché, but it’s true, because you have to feel confident and love yourself before you can love somebody else. The coaching is an organic process in which we listen, guide and explain things along the way. That’s the basics. Then we also work with a selected group of consultants where necessary. It can start with a psychologist or a sexologist, because some people are blocked emotionally or physically because of past experiences. We also work with a date coach to give people confidence about being relaxed. If you haven’t dated for 20 years, it can be an issue.

Others are shy, whilst some need to learn how to listen to their dates, especially when they are caught up in their business life and are used to having people listen to them—they forget there are different aspects to a social interaction—so we help them blossom.

People are busy, so sometimes you have to take them out of their bubble so they can get in touch again with the basics and take their time. In general, it takes us three months do the preparation work, analysing, screening and to assess the client properly, build trust and know exactly what they need. But it is flexible depending on the clients

How do you select dates for your clients?

It’s quite simple: we make a shortlist of people, we pick one, present that profile in a description via email with no identifiable information, no picture, just a description of their personality, briefly what they do, i.e. entrepreneur or doctor, but as that’s not the focus—the focus is who is this person, what triggers them, what makes them smile, how they think about life, what their main values are. We then call to give more details, explain why we have picked this profile for them. We challenge our clients sometimes; it’s our job to show them what we think is best and give them different options to enrich their world and present opportunities they wouldn’t normally have. If they say no then we’ve learned something about them and we’ll move to the next one; and if they say yes, we always present the woman’s profile to the man first so the man will say yes or no, and only if the man says yes will we present the profile to the woman. After they have met, we call both parties to get their feedback. In some situations, without us, they wouldn’t have met again, but because we are there, we can clarify and help them move forward. Oneby-one, that’s how we continue until we find the right person.

And the results?

We have an approximate success rate of 70%. It varies between 60—85% depending on the age, because it is easier to match younger people. We want our clients to be happy and find the right person, but it is not the only thing you are buying with a membership—you are buying a self-awareness program. You spend time working with us on yourself, on your personal life. There is emotional value in just the process; it enriches people’s social lives. They meet new people, they broaden their social circle, so there are different aspects.

You don’t guarantee that they find love?

I wish I could guarantee love, but I cannot.

By Michel Dupré for Dorchester Collect

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