Thu, 02 Dec 2021

ATHENS, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Finding love, a life partner is not always easy. It has been particularly challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the lockdowns and social distancing. Singles emerging from isolation boosted their efforts to find the right person and leave loneliness behind. In Greece, more and more people knock on the door of experts like Lefteris Pampoulidis.

As a professional matchmaker since 2009, in recent months Pampoulidis saw a boom in business in his agency in the center of Athens, like nationwide.

"There has been an increasing flow undoubtedly, because we could not have activities, there was no social life," he told Xinhua. BOOMING BUSINESS

As many people decided to seek help in finding a soulmate, registrations of new members in his agency increased by about 40 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels, he noted.

A similar increase by an average 30 percent was reported in the local media by other matchmaking agencies in Athens, as well as in Thessaloniki, northern Greece.

There are no official data on the number of matchmaking agencies currently operating across the country, but they are estimated to be a few dozen with a clientele of thousands from every walk of life, Pampoulidis said. Nearly 10,000 people have sought his advice to find love in the past 12 years.

"Ages vary, from young men and women aged 18-19 up to 87-year-old people. Regarding their profile, they are people who may have gotten a divorce and are alone, but there are also many young people who seek companionship, a serious relationship that will lead to wedding after a reasonable amount of time," he said.

Pampoulidis is using one-on-one tailored dating. His clients have to fill out an application on their interests, hobbies, lifestyle and he arranges appointments with members in his database which he considers a good match. One may need five dates to find his perfect match, others may continue on dozens of dates.

"We see the person, how he/she looks like, what they are asking for, what they need, and we have another individual seeking the same things. We need to make this match. They should have something in common to discuss," he stressed.

For the PR professional who later became a relationship advisor aiming to help people find happiness, Pampoulidis believes that the secret of success in finding what you are seeking in love and life is moving forward with a positive attitude. SUPPORT FROM PROFESSIONALS

Regardless of the pandemic restrictions and the isolation which exacerbated loneliness, people turn to matchmaking services because they are disappointed with online searching, dating apps or do not have much time to look on their own, Pampoulidis explained.

Matchmaking has a long tradition in Greece, and nowadays matchmaking involves people with university studies in human behavior and relationships, with experience in communication who can save the interested parties time and from the pains of the risky research on social media, he noted.

Sofia G., 42, who has never been married, is one of his new clients. Initially, she laughed at a friend who introduced her to the agency. However, her own search for a suitable match had been fruitless and she decided to give it a try.

"I was feeling very lonely, especially during the lockdown, I was feeling poorly alone. I could not see friends. I was going for a walk alone. I felt desperate. I even got into the process of joining dating apps, Facebook, Instagram, and various social media. (The experience) on all these social media was very negative. People would be saying one thing, but in the end something entirely different was revealed," she said.

She joined in August and has dated three gentlemen so far, advising people to go to such agencies for help.

"We should never say no to anything in life. We should try everything and even in case we feel embarrassed or insecure or anything, we should go to experts. I believe that everything can be solved as long as we want to do something about it," she said.

Dimitris D., general manager of an Athens hotel, is divorced. The 57-year-old told Xinhua about the reasons why he turned to Pampoulidis' agency six months ago.

"I do not have much time and secondly the matchmaking agency offers safety. The biggest issue is safety. There are filtering the people applying to register in an agency," he said.

"I believe that this loneliness that we experienced during the pandemic pushed us a little into checking such agencies," he added.

Katerina S., 47, a businesswoman, divorced after 25 years of marriage. She has three adult daughters and is looking for a second chance in love.

"I registered during the pandemic, when we were all locked up in our homes. Instead of struggling with the internet and the various social media where you do not know who you are talking to, I applied to the agency to become a member," she told Xinhua.

"Nowadays, personal relationships have become very difficult. It is tough outside, you are afraid ... and you feel a sense of safety here," she said.

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