Introducing Dr. Frankie, Lesbian Yenta
Curve's newest advice columnist shares 10 things you always wanted to ask a lesbian yenta. Plus, find out how to send her questions of our own!
Photo: Cheryl Mazak
Lesbian yenta Dr. Frankie Bashan made her first successful match when she was 12 years old. “I introduced my father to my stepmother. She was my eye doctor. Now, they have three children and 21 years of marriage.” For Bashan, a Jewish woman born and raised in Manhattan, the road to becoming a yenta began with a doctorate in clinical psychology, but soon she found she had a deeper desire to help people find true love. Identifying a particular need, she created Little Gay Book—a dating service steeped in the yenta tradition—just for us. “There’s such a need for these services in the LGBT community. I think many gays and lesbians internalize the skepticism that we are incapable of building and sustaining lifelong monogamous relationships. I want to help people create stable, healthy relationships and families that represent all aspects of our queer community.” Now, Bashan is drawing back the curtain to give us a peek at what it takes to be a matchmaker and offering tips to help us find Miss Right.
You’re a professional matchmaker. Can matchmaking actually be taught?
A great matchmaker must have an innate ability to relate to people, to tune in to intuition and have a deep understanding of human behavior and psychology. Clients often present me with a list of qualities they want in a mate, but what they want and what they need are often different. There is a great deal of scientific research about how brain chemistry changes when you first start dating, how it changes when you become physically intimate, and how it affects your perception of the person you just began dating. Matchmaking is a fascinating blend of intuition, emotional intelligence and science.
“Only lesbians and swans mate for life.” goes the saying. Do lesbians mate for life or is that a myth?
Don’t forget about the turtle dove! I am a strong proponent of monogamy and absolutely believe we are capable of mating for life. Unfortunately, our culture is all about instant gratification. The concept of “the grass is greener” interferes with our ability to stay focused and work hard on what we’ve already developed, especially when it feels too difficult to keep working at it. I’ve seen a rash of long-term lesbian couples and families break up recently. It takes a special combination of chemistry, trust, loyalty, honesty, respect and compassion to build and happily maintain a life together.
Just under 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce, as do 66 percent of second marriages and 70 percent of third marriages! These stats should give people motivation to work on the relationship they’ve already established before throwing in the towel so quickly.
What’s the biggest obstacle to finding love?
Ourselves! People have to be willing to step out of their comfort zones. We’re creatures of habit and tend to repeat unsuccessful patterns throughout our lives. That’s why relationship coaching combined with matchmaking tends to be so successful. People’s expectations are often unrealistic. As a culture, we’re fixated on appearance and sometimes set up barriers to getting to know someone who may be an excellent match because they have one feature or trait that you consider unacceptable.
You’ve been married for eight years. If you hadn’t met your wife would you have used a matchmaker?
I was in my early 20s when I met my wife, so I wasn’t really in the stage of life where I was searching for a life partner. But if I still hadn’t met Miss Right when I got to that stage in my life, I most certainly would consult a matchmaker.
Is there a right time and way to meet The One?
I wouldn’t say there is a “right” time, but you can certainly do things to optimize your chances. It’s important to practice self-care and have a certain amount of introspection. Organized sports or activity groups can be great ways to meet people. Friends of friends often end up connecting. Speed dating is a blast and I think the potential is definitely there. I’m reading a book right now that says a person unconsciously makes a decision about someone within the first two seconds of meeting them. Your instincts about people are often right. Online dating is a great resource but can definitely be a time drain, because you have to cast a wide net to get a response.
What are the most common mistakes women make on a first date?
Oversharing. Don’t talk about exes, dysfunctional family members, childhood traumas, etc. Mystery and intrigue are a good thing. I don’t mean in a game-playing way, but let your story unfold naturally. Oh, and that whole U-Haul thing? Leave it in your garage. Don’t rush into things or you’ll smother each other and extinguish the flame prematurely.
I also recommend that clients go on a second date if they are at least 50 percent interested in the person. Anxiety levels are naturally higher on a first date, sometimes so high that it prevents people from showing their true personality. Dating is a skill and takes practice, like anything else.
What’s the most unusual love story you ever heard?
I’m a sucker for tradition and have reverence for old-fashioned love stories. During World War II, my grandfather was stationed overseas for four years. Before leaving the U.S., he married my grandmother and promised to return and start a family together. For four years, they did not see each other. Their only contact was the letters they wrote each other daily. Amazingly, they were able to build their relationship, and when he returned they picked up where they had left off and had two beautiful daughters. They were married happily for 50 years, until my grandmother passed away.
How does your matchmaking service, Little Gay Book, work?
The benefit of my service is that it is personalized, professional and confidential. There are two groups of people I work with: My paying clients, who hire me to screen and handpick introductions for them, and the folks in my database. There is no charge to be a member of my database, and this is where I generally begin the searching for introductions for my clients. I handpick every individual that I match with a client.
If I can’t find a suitable match in my database, I start pounding the pavement. For every face-to-face hour with a client, I do about seven to 10 hours of work behind the scenes. I recruit potential introductions for my clients based on referrals and from contacts I make at various social functions. My selections are based on lifestyle, person-ality, interests, and many other areas of compatibility. It is important for my client to provide honest postdate feedback. From there, I refine and continue my search. I maintain the highest level of privacy for my paying clients, as well as the individuals in my database.
What’s the most common question you are asked?
“How soon is too soon to start dating again after the breakup of a long-term relationship?” I think it depends a large amount on the condition of your last relationship. If your relationship felt stale and loveless for some time prior to the actual end, then most likely you will need less time than if you are fresh out of a relationship that you were happy in. The true test is to be very aware of how you feel when you go on a date. Are you present? Are you able to connect with the person? If you feel emotionally unavailable, that’s a pretty clear indicator that you need more time to heal. I do believe that it’s important to get out of your comfort zone and try to go out. It might feel too early, but it is an important part of the healing process.
What would you say to women who still can’t find Ms. Right?
It’s easy to become jaded and frustrated, but try and keep an open mind. Expand your social network, try something new. Introspection and, occasionally, coaching, if needed, are key. Many people are afraid to look in the mirror and examine their own limitations. Work toward becoming the healthiest, most attractive, confident woman that you can be. Confidence is sexy. And if all else fails, I’m always here to help! (littlegaybook.com)