With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, romance is in the air. Well, at least for some people. For the rest of us singles, romance is decidedly a little difficult to muster up these days. But, thankfully, we are not left totally to our own devices. Barbara Summers’ new book, Next! A Matchmaker’s Guide to Finding Mr. Right, Ditching Mr. Wrong, and Everything in Between (Select Books; February 2015), can help even the most unlucky-in-love find their perfect match.

Summers is a long-time matchmaker and relationship guru, which makes her a veritable expert in finding love. The guide, co-written with author Carey Blakely, takes people through every stage of a relationship —from opening yourself up to the possibility of love, to picking the right partner, marriage and kids, and even how to know when something just isn’t going to work out. It’s a novel approach for a relationship guide: instead of just focusing on finding love, this book will help you keep it, nurture it, and know when to let it go.

We had a chance to talk with Summers about her past as a matchmaker and how her new book can help you find the one:


Barbara Summers

Barbara Summers: I’ve always had a knack for matching people together, and prior to starting my business, I’d been setting others up unofficially since junior high school. In fact, I set up my brother and his wife of now 38 years. Matching began as an inherent skill, a natural intuition for why two people would be good together, but I’ve developed along the way additional skills and a deeper understanding of what makes relationships work.

BT: What was the motivation behind writing your book? Was there a specific reason you decided to take the leap from matchmaker and relationship coach to author?

BS: I kept hearing sad stories from women in which they felt they were unworthy of love and should just settle for the mediocre relationships they found themselves in. Or, they would be divorced and had this fear that they would never meet someone special again.

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I thought, what is with all the doom and gloom and low self-worth? I felt there was a need to reach out and give women power: the power to improve their romantic lives, make good choices, have hope and self-esteem, and cultivate love. A book has the ability to reach more people than coaching or matchmaking, so I thought it would be the best avenue for getting the message to women that they aren’t stuck, they don’t need to settle, and love awaits.

BT: Dating has changed so much from previous generations and in the book you talk about how people are waiting longer and longer to find their perfect match. Why do you think that is?

BS: I think in 2015, young people have more options than previous generations had—career choices, travel plans, dating opportunities, and so forth—and they want to sample from life’s platter without committing too soon. It’s understandable, but at the same time people can worry too much that by choosing one option they will miss out on other chances for self-fulfillment. I also think young people are more skeptical of marriage after having seen their parents’ generation experience a high rate of divorce. And while it’s good to be cautious, I am a big believer in jumping into life and making a splash.

BT: According to Next! preparation and being ready for love is a huge part of finding your right match. How can you make yourself ready to find love?

BS: It starts by making sure you are in a good place mentally and physically. You have to love yourself before you can fully participate in a romantic relationship. There will always be aspects of ourselves that we want to improve, so no one should wait to date until they feel “perfect,” which doesn’t exist anyway, but it’s important that people feel whole before looking for love. Otherwise, a healthy relationship will be hard to find. Chapter 2 offers additional, more specific advice on how to prepare for love.


BT: Your book covers every part of a relationship, from courtship to marriage to life beyond happily-ever-after.  Is there a reason you included the later steps instead of just a how-to guide on finding a match?

BS: Books on dating end with finding a great catch. Well, what happens after you get engaged? You have to buy a new book for advice about that. Next!, on the other hand, will take you through all of the relationship stages to prepare you for what lies ahead as well as helping you understand what you’ve left behind. And if your situation changes, such as going through a breakup, you can turn to the chapters most applicable to you. Next! acts as a handy guide after the initial read.

BT: People have been turning to the Internet more and more to find their match—what are your thoughts on how technology has taken over dating?

BS: I still believe the old-fashioned way of meeting someone in person is better. No one carefully vets online dating sites. As a result, there is blatant lying, which can put people in frustrating or, worse yet, unsafe situations. I am not a fan of online dating, but I realize it is popular and has worked well for some people. I’d just say don’t make it your only option. Use your networks of friends, family, etc., and your own scouting because Mr. Right will not be stepping through your television or off the pages of your romance novel. You need to find him in the real world, which is great fun!

BT: As Valentine’s Day approaches, what’s the one piece of advice you would give to singles out there who are dreading the romantic holiday?

BS: Celebrate the love you do have in your life. Romance is just one form of love. Take your mom out to lunch, send your best friend a card to show how much you appreciate her, give your pet a special treat, and have your single gal pals over for wine and appetizers. Shower others with love, and you will feel loved in return.