Armoire Mag Exclusive: Modern Love from Daniel Cavanaugh and Amy Van Doran
Amy Van Doran is a professional Matchmaker and the Founder of Modern Love Club in NYC. Unlike more traditional matchmaking services, Amy has a modern, feminist approach to love and relationships. With years of experience under her belt and thousands of singles interviewed, we feel extremely lucky to share her insight.
For the Prints and Patterns issue of Armoire Magazine, we teamed up with NYC based Photographer Daniel Cavanaugh and Artist Kirsten Bode. Read the interview linked below:
Interview by Kimberly Marie
PATTERNS IN MODERN LOVE: A CONVERSATION WITH MATCHMAKER AMY VAN DORAN
Hello Amy, thank you for being with us today!
We've noticed a pattern in those who dress with creative expression, people like yourself, they liberate and inspire others to do the same and be their most authentic self. Have you ever felt liberated by someone's style?
I'm specifically inspired by a crew of ladies here in NYC, "geriatric starlet" types that are all over 60. A lot of them have lived through the great depression and they really know how to make something beautiful out of nothing, they are very creative. They aren't interested in sexiness as much as "how does this color make me feel?" and "what are the historical implications of this piece?" It is liberating because they don't care how they're viewed, they're not caught up in the idea of what an older woman is suppose to look like. At one point, I was like "I'm turning thirty and that makes me feel weird" but these women are 90 and starting new hobbies. One woman I know, Ilona Smithkin, is 95 years old and just started singing at cabarets! Whatever it is, these women really have it and it's beautiful to see people come into their full expression of themselves. There's an excellent documentary on these women called Advanced Style, it is definitely worth checking out!
Have you noticed any patterns in your personal style? Is it a medium for self expression?
Since I started running a company, I have had less and less time to do performance art and other creative projects. Honestly, if I didn't have my expression of personal style, I'd probably go insane. I have noticed that I have always viewed dress as a performance, it's a great way to escape and make fun of yourself. Fashion is also a way of willing whatever mood I need to be in. I think of it as my superego, whatever I need in my life, I start with the outfit as a sort of spell.
There have been many cultural patterns relating art and fashion throughout history. Is your style ever influenced by art?
I imagine my own style to be like, if Peggy Gugenheim's art collection were a fashion line.
What led you to matchmaking?
In my house, there's a pink room and all the pink things are there; a blue room and all the blue things are there. I've always dressed that way too, coordinating my socks to my shoes to my purse. It's an aggressive form of matching and is the same compulsion that brought me to matchmaking as a profession. I didn't realize this until I was doing an interview with Style Like U. I said something like, "I just like to match!" The headline was "I Just Like to Match!" and it wasn't until then that I realized the connection, my pattern of needing to put things and people together.
Are there any behavioral patterns you've noticed in romantic relationships?
I go through phases where I am into different psychological theories exploring behavioral patterns like Myers Briggs, for example. Right now, I am really into Attachment Theory which identifies the patterns you develop as a child through your relationship with your parents. This relationship manifests as attachment styles later in adult romantic relationships. What I see most often are insecure personalities attracting avoidant personality types which then spirals into hot and cold relationships. People in these types of unhealthy dynamics tend to think they're in love because it feels similar to love: sweaty palms, fast heart rate, etc. but that's just anxiety, and anxiety ain't love!
You see this time and time again?
People come into my office that have been following the same patterns and making the same mistakes in dating over and over again for years. If you don't pay attention to the patterns you have, you can't break them and it's easy to get stuck in a cycle. As a matchmaker, there is no greater joy than for me to pinpoint what is at the core of a person's destructive dating pattern so I can help a person be released from that cycle.
Have you seen any patterns emerge from internet dating and social media?
People's self awareness is at an all time low despite the abundance of information at our fingertips. I think we have become so engulfed in conversation on our computers, we aren't critically engaging in our own conversations about our own lives.
You have discussed some of your male client's tendencies to want the "hottest" and "best" woman without any real consideration for what they bring to the table. Do you think this is predominantly a New York thing or do you think this is a reflection on major patterns in our culture?
In general, outside of being tall, men are experiencing fewer and fewer aesthetic requirements in dating culture. You can be grotesquely overweight as a male and still get an amazingly cool, hot date. For women, the standards are higher than ever. The female equivalent of some of my male clients would not fly in a second. If I showed them a picture of the female equivalent of themselves, even if she were a billionaire, I still wouldn't be able to get them to agree to a date, which sucks.
I watched a TED talk addressing patterns in long term relationships. The question it asks is the un-answerable: "How do you make love last?" The speaker suggests observing your partner in times that they are inaccessible to you, for example, when they are concentrated on their hobby or when they are engaged in conversation with others at a party. This distance allows space for attraction and mystery. Do you think this is useful advice?
Yes! A big part of love is distance. It's sexy to see your significant other doing something they love, it's sexy to miss them, it's sexy to see them being appreciated by others. When two people are so close they can't see each other, it's because there's no distance between them to observe.
Have there been any recent developments in the science of love?
Helen Fisher, the woman that made the algorithms for E-Harmony did a study on the science of physical love. She observes brain patterns of couples that claim to still be in love after many years of partnership. We always thought that the feeling of love would only last up two years biologically speaking but there's actually a small subset of the population that experiences this long term. At first, we were like, "no, that's not possible!" But there are some people that stay in "chemical love" their entire lives. These chemical traits and patterns in relationships, they are the scientific equivalent of "soul mates." I think that's why it's important to pay attention to how your body feels when you smell someone.
For the rest of us, would you say we are in a modern love crisis?
We are absolutely in a modern love crisis. For the most part, people can do whatever they want now and it's creating a paradox of choice. Gender is more on a spectrum, we have the option to choose alternative paths but there are so many options, we are getting caught up in questions like, "is this the perfect match?" That is not the question we should be asking, we should be asking "how can I love this person more?" Every love is a different collaboration, people should not reduce their experience of love to what they have imagined it to be on a checklist.
With online dating, people type in requirements and then shuffle through a million results. People come into my office and say, "I want this, this, and this" and I'm like, "that's not what this interview is about, this is for me to figure you out and I will match you with someone I think will be great." Although we still have a long way to go for equality, with all the options available to us, it's interesting, I think people are having the hardest time with love than ever before.
© Armoire Magazine 2016