One thing about dating in your 30s: It’s not easy.
While swiping endlessly on dating apps might feel perilous, remember that there are many ways to find that special someone—you have options. You can always ask friends for referrals, or even join a social group. If you’re feeling particularly courageous, then go to your local coffee shop (IRL) and introduce yourself to that barista who you’ve had your eye on for the past few months. As the saying goes, you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.
If you’ve exhausted all of your options and are still down on your dating luck, then you might want to call upon professional help. Enter Shaneeka McCray, a Black matchmaker and the founder of The HelpMeet Club.
McCray founded her matchmaking business in 2018 after dealing with her own dating struggles. “Just like most matchmakers, they have some story,” McCray tells ESSENCE. “Either they have a good love story, or they have a bad love story.” Alas, Shaneeka McCray had a ‘bad’ love story that resulted in a breakup. This prompted her to launch a dating service, which not only helps professional singles find love, but also results in what she refers to as “meaningful transformation” in their lives.
The certified matchmaker is also a “Law of Attraction” Coach, serving clients of all ages, but primarily those 30-years-old, and up. ESSENCE chatted with McCray to discuss how she founded The HelpMeet Club; the law of attraction; and what a successful client means to her.
How were you called to be a matchmaker?
I had a bad love story. I went on more of a spiritual religious journey before landing at becoming a matchmaker. So guess in short, the answer really is a really bad breakup forced me to evaluate what relationships were meant to be.
What did that spiritual and religious journey entail?
It was just my life. Everything became disrupted, my work, my finances. And as I started to unpack things and dig a little bit deeper. The spiritual journey opened my eyes to a lot of things. So I think people, when they focus on getting well in one area of their life, they don’t realize that the imbalance in other areas will cause a full disruption. So it was just a journey of me removing things that were not going to be helpful to my path. And so that meant not working at the place that I worked for 17 years–it was no longer a fit. I was standing at the kitchen sink.
I just had surgery. I was getting sick, all kinds of things, and it allowed me time to be quiet. When we get quiet, we can get more instruction. Then I just heard I should start a matchmaking company, and I did it.
You are a law of attraction coach as well. So what exactly is the law of attraction?
To me, the law of attraction is extreme mindfulness. But before the law of attraction takes effect, there’s the law of vibration, there’s a law of frequency, and then finally the law of deservedness. But just knowing what I know now, the term law of attraction is super broad because you’re, we’re always attracting, right? Like attracts like. We’re magnets. But I didn’t realize how much mindfulness played a role in what we were actually attracted to and what we manifested. This literally comes from our thoughts and feelings.
How does one actually get a dating service and become a matchmaker? In a very pragmatic sense, how did you get your business off the ground?
I was a wedding and event planner before this, and I had a hall in New York. That business didn’t work. And I actually never thought I was going to open another business again after that. It was a bit much for me. So I really just took all the skills that I had learned—marketing and having people find you. And then I think the niche for me at the time was I was more of a Christian and faith-based matchmake. When I started to actually do the work, I was like, “It’s all Black people coming to me now. They’re college educated and they’re earning these salaries and they’re attractive.” So I just went with that.
An “elite client,” can you really define that?
If you’re earning over $99,000 we put you in our elite class. So we have clients all the way up into millionaire status. Generally anyone under that is going to be our standard, but for the most part, they’re going to earn about $75,000 just because we’re a nationwide service. The other criteria would be to have a college degree. So we’ll have a lot of doctors, attorneys. If you don’t have a degree, especially as a man, if you are an entrepreneur and a successful entrepreneur, that will allow you in as well.
How do you typically find your clients? Is it word of mouth, or are you doing referrals? Is this a best kept secret kind of thing? How are people going to find you and get connected?
We do get a lot of referrals now from clients that have gone through the program, but primarily people will come through Google search engines or ads on Instagram.
What have you found is the added value to using a matchmaker versus a dating app?
I teach clients how to use both. There’s value in all of them. So it’s never the apparatus, it’s always the person. So this is a process where we teach clients to be very introspective, learning themselves, getting themselves into a place where they have a great self-concept. We break down some of those inner wounds that we’re carrying, and so we wonder why we keep getting into relationships. And the same thing keeps happening over and over, and it’s like, well, it’s you.
So this process is very customized to the person that’s sitting in front of me. I think people choose me obviously because I’m Black and I’m a young woman and I look like a lot of my clients.
Once women hit their mid-30, they’ve [presumably] had a couple of relationships. And what I do is I actually really do the work with them. And so as I’m doing the work, not only are you released from generational curses, relationship curses, you start to thrive in all areas of your life. So I think that’s what really makes my program so special.
Interview is edited for clarity and brevity.