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It’s the Tuesday morning after Labor Day, and Lisa Semerjian is battling back-to-school traffic near her Berwyn home. Her destination: NBC 10’s 10! Show studios in Bala Cynwyd, where she’ll offer her top five tips for finding love.
Whether this former attorney and realtor is actually qualified to offer such advice will hinge on the success of her latest venture, Main Line Match, an exclusive new dating service Semerjian hopes will strike a chord with discerning, sophisticated men and women looking for the perfect mate. For now, one thing’s for sure: Semerjian has an exceptional presence on camera. And she seems to know her stuff when it comes to relationships—specifically, what you can do to achieve a lasting, happy one. She speaks with authority, like she’s been doing this far longer than a few months. Perhaps that confidence comes from the fact that she honestly believes orchestrated matchmaking can work.
“As a culture, we’ve gotten away from old-fashioned classic romance,” says the 43-year-old wife of luxury homebuilder David Semerjian and mother of two teenage girls. “People say they want to find true love and have a lasting relationship—I want to get them back to what they
With a warm personality that matches her unabashed optimism, Semerjian truly believes the singles game doesn’t have to be as ominous as some make it out to be. “I want to bring dating back to the old times,” she says. “I want to bring back courting.”
Main Line Match shouldn’t be confused with Match.com and other online dating services, which can be inclusive to a fault. By contrast, MLM is totally exclusive. Focusing on the male executive set, Semerjian meets with every member and every female suitor—and criminal background checks are mandatory. “I need to protect my clients and my business,” she says.
That said, it might be tempting to compare Semerjian to Patti Stanger of Bravo’s popular reality TV series, The Millionaire Matchmaker—though Semerjian would prefer you didn’t. “That’s a TV show, so you expect drama and stories that are television worthy,” she says of Millionaire’s wacky, wildly egomaniacal client base and their often-clueless female dates.
Aside from the fact that she doesn’t operate under Stanger’s abrasive, brash-is-best policy, Semerjian would never want to limit herself by income brackets. And there’s nothing about what she’s doing that’s indiscreet, insincere or over-the-top. “Main Line Match is for people committed to finding lasting, true love,” says Semerjian, who likes to call herself a “headhunter for the heart.”
In just the few months she’s been in operation, Semerjian has entertained interest from all sorts of men—those who’ve never married, divorcees, widowers. Many are lost and out of touch, with little or no idea how to get back into the dating arena.
For now, all MLM members are men, with female clients paying $200 a year to be part of the exclusive database. At some point, Semerjian may consider accepting women who meet the criteria for membership—a process that involves a thorough interview and the aforementioned criminal background check. For those who pass muster, various tiered membership packages are available. Due to the competitive nature of the matchmaking business—and the fact that she’s just getting started—Semerjian is hush-hush on her prices. “But they are reasonable for a man with an established career,” she says.
And besides, she adds, “[It’s] an investment in your life.”
Although marriage bonuses for matchmakers are common in the industry, Semerjian has opted to forego that stipulation with MLM. “I want my clients to find true love and get married,” she says. “Since that’s my goal, I don’t think they should have to pay more for that.”
If a member finds someone, he can freeze his membership for six months. “It’s just an added incentive to ensure that we want you to meet the perfect partner,” Semerjian says.
Members also have access to Semerjian’s lifestyle concierge service for an additional fee—a godsend for diamonds-in-the-rough who need some polishing before pursuing a long-term relationship. “Most be business executives and entrepreneurs who may not have paid attention to their personal style because they’ve been so busy with their careers,” says Semerjian. “A man has to think about what message he’s giving to a potential partner. You don’t have to wear an Armani suit, but you should be presenting your best self.”
Four times a year, female clients receive invitations to meet-and-greet parties with members. And while there’s no guarantee a client will be chosen, they have pretty good odds of meeting a successful man.
Lisa Semerjian grew up with her two older brothers in a close Armenian family in Huntingdon Valley. As a girl, she was in awe of her parents’ ironclad marriage, hoping that one day she’d have the same success.
Sadly, her father, Arsen Hanamirian, passed away in 2007, not long before her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. She’ll never forget the advice her mother, Ann, offered her on her wedding day: “Never go to bed angry.”
“I’ve been married 20 years, and my husband and I have never gone to bed angry with each other,” she says. “We talk it out. You have to be willing to speak your mind—and the other person has to be receptive to hearing what you have to say.”
After attending Albright College in Reading, Semerjian enrolled in Widener Law School to follow the career path of her brothers and father, the latter a successful medical malpractice attorney. She was at a party in her first year of law school when she met her husband. “My cousin had been telling me about a person she wanted to set me up with,” she recalls. “Once I saw David, I asked her why she hadn’t introduced us sooner.”
Also Armenian, David had a similar upbringing and strong family ties. “It helped our relationship in the beginning,” his wife admits. “But it wasn’t like I sought out someone who was Armenian.”
After a six-month courtship, the two were engaged. They married less than a year later. “We married young, but we knew who we were when we decided to make that commitment,” she says.
As a family law attorney, Semerjian witnessed the dark side of relationships. “It was emotionally difficult for me to see the effects divorce has on a family—especially the children,” she says. “I’d much rather put together relationships than help pull them apart. I’ve been matchmaking friends for years. I have an intuition about who would be good together.”
Prior to starting Main Line Match, Semerjian estimates that her skills as a part-time Cupid have resulted in up to 20 long-term relationships and/or marriages. “I’m very social, so I’m constantly meeting others,” she says. “People have always asked me to set them up.”
So, after years of hearing people telling her she should matchmake for a living, she finally decided to listen. “I feel like I’ve found something that I was meant to do,” she says. “True happiness is possible. If I can help people attain that, I’ll feel fulfilled. Love changes someone’s entire life.”
Main Line Match’s headquarters in Wayne features a conference room, a plush waiting area and a large computer monitor for viewing database prospects. “I wanted this to be a place where people felt comfortable and at ease,” says Semerjian.
By mid-September, Semerjian had spent most of her time building a database and talking with potential members and clients. “Men keep e-mailing me with questions, while women are eager to be interviewed,” she says. “Men are always more guarded. Women are willing to take risks.”
As with any new business, Semerjian can’t speculate on how things will go, but she’ll know when it’s a success.
“I can’t wait to hear about the first wedding of a couple I’ve matched,” she says. “That’s what I’m most excited about.”
To learn more, visit mainlinematch.com.
1. Be happy (with others and yourself). Happy people exude confidence and attract far more people than those who are shy or withdrawn.
2. Be open-minded. Don’t get into the habit of dating the same kinds of people all the time. Try moving outside your comfort zone. Abandon your preconceived notions of the perfect partner.
3. Be your best. Take care of yourself and your environment. Present yourself as you wish others to perceive you.
4. Always be willing to have fun. When you’re out there dating, relax and have fun. Don’t talk about prior relationships or what’s happened to you emotionally as a result. Keep it light and just enjoy the company.
5. Be a conversationalist. And don’t make the conversation all about you. Show interest in the person you’re with by asking questions. Engage them by being friendly and sociable.
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