Who didn’t fall in love with Jonah, the little boy who wanted to find a new wife for his lonely father, after his mother died, in the 1993 hit movie Sleepless in Seattle?
Jonah struck pay dirt. After all, who knew better than he what kind of woman would make his dad happy!
Now, picture a grown-up Jonah. We’ll call him Matt. Like Jonah, Matt wanted to help his “mum” (he’s British) find a companion. Divorced ever since Matt was 8 years old, mum, a teacher, never remarried or had any long-term partners, and Matt thought it was time she did.
Unlike Jonah, Matt isn’t a fictional character. He’s 38-year-old Matt Connolly, who lives in Bristol, England. And while little Jonah turned to a radio station to help him find love for his dad, tech-savvy, grown-up Matt created a website to help him find a mate for mum. It’s called MyLovelyParent.com, and since it launched in 2013, thousands of adult “children” have started the ball rolling to match up their single parents in a safe and delightful way!
If you don’t have a lovely parent you’d love to fix up,
you can start the process to find a mate for a friend,
your sister or brother, a cousin, or even a colleague.
AS SIMPLE AS PIE TO GET STARTED
All you need to do is enter the name of your single friend or relative, and answer a few simple questions, such as five words you’d use to describe him or her, where she likes to go on vacation, and how she’d like to spend a perfect afternoon.
Once you’ve done that, an email goes to your friend or relative showing her what you’ve written, and inviting her to fill out her part of the profile and explore the site.
If you and your pal or relative wish, you can stay involved in the process by browsing through the profiles to help find her or him a wonderful match!
FABOVERFIFTY MATCHES UP WITH MYLOVELYPARENT
I’m delighted to tell you that FabOverFifty is exclusively partnering with MyLovelyParent (friend, sister…) to help it expand its presence in the United States.
You might also like to take a few minutes to read my interview with Matt Connolly, who explains what makes MyLovelyParent really quite a lovely idea!
10 QUESTIONS FOR MATT CONNOLLY, THE FOUNDER OF MY LOVELY PARENT
1. TELL US YOUR BACKGROUND AND WHAT LED YOU TO CREATE MY LOVELY PARENT
I grew up in the north of England, then we moved to the Midlands. My dad always instilled in me that I should do my own thing and not work for someone else. After working as strategist for big brands at a global digital agency, in my 20s, I set up my own ‘digital innovation’ agency, partnering with charities around the world to do wonderful things online. I successfully sold that business, then created an ecommerce company, and worked with brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel. I sold that company, too.
After taking some time off, I was keen to do something in the digital world, where I could also affect some social good. Creating positive social change is really important to me, but I wanted to combine it with a commercial venture, which isn’t easy to do.
Online dating interested me, but I thought it was important to make the experience ‘nice,’ with high morals and integrity, since it can be a pretty nasty process. People are often at their most vulnerable on dating sites and you hear stories about shameless exploitation.
Sitting around the table one Christmas time with my mum, who is now 71, I started teasing her about her love life and told her I was keen for her to meet someone.
She challenged me back and said, ‘Well, Matt,
why don’t you help me find my knight in shining
armor?’ I thought that was a great idea and started
thinking how I could do that online.
2. HOW DID YOUR MUM FEEL ABOUT GETTING INVOLVED WITH A DATING WEBSITE?
It was a lovely journey for me to come together with her, trying to understand what the website would look like for her, and how it would function. Everyone younger than I in the UK looks at online dating as the absolute norm. It was an absolute no-no for my mum, the furthest from comfortable you can possibly be. I wanted this site to eliminate any apprehensions she had about going online to try and date. ‘What would my friends think of me?’ she worried. ‘Will people get my email? Who will see my photo?’
3. AND WHAT DID SHE FEEL ABOUT THE FINISHED SITE?
I watched her read what I wrote about her on the site, and tears started rolling down her cheeks. It was really special being next to her to see her reaction. If it weren’t for the site, I might never had told her her how much she means to me. She was happy she didn’t have to wait until her funeral to find out. That’s an incredible side effect. The site is stimulating more communication and conversation between parents and grown children.
4. WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE PERSON RECEIVES AN INVITE TO EXPLORE THE SITE AND READS THE BRIEF PROFILE THAT HER FRIEND OR RELATIVE WROTE ABOUT HER?
If she likes what she sees, she then fills out her part of the profile, which includes things like who she’s looking for; whether she prefers someone who doesn’t drink or smoke, etc. We ask straightforward questions to get black-and-white answers.
So there are two parts to every profile: What your friend or relative said about you, as well as your answers. That way, everyone browsing through the profiles can see how others perceive them, as well as what kind of person you’d like to meet.
Whoever wrote an original profile can browse through all the profiles and make recommendations to their friend or relative about potential dates for them. I might tell my mum: ‘There’s a lovely guy who lives down the road from you. He has two Golden Retrievers, loves walking in the national parks, and enjoys a pint on Sunday in the local pub.
We’ve moved away from the typical tick-box dating site approach and provide more qualitative information than you see on those sites. Members enjoy it because it gives nice insight
into the character of the person for whom the profile is being built.
5. CAN YOU GIVE US A COUPLE OF EXAMPLES OF THE TYPES OF PEOPLE WHO POSTED PROFILES FOR FRIENDS OR RELATIVES?
Two sisters in the US posted profiles for each other, about 18 months ago. One was 93 and the other was 96, and one was used an iPad to sign the other up. A daughter who lives in Singapore signed up her mother, who lives in the UK.
The more we go on our journey; we more we realize there is a whole world of people who want to look after someone else, and we think we’re going to see that more and more.
6. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO JOIN THE SITE?
A six-month membership is $19.95 a month; a three-month membership is $29.95 a month, and a one-month membership is $45.95.
7. CAN YOU BUY A SUBSCRIPTION FOR YOUR RELATIVE OR FRIEND?
You absolutely can! When they go to join the site, they’ll get an alert that says they’ve been given a subscription, but they’ll have to agree that they want to join the site, even if they’re not paying themselves.
You can look and you can shop on the site, without joining, but you can’t buy until you subscribe. Once you’ve joined, you and other members can send and receive emails.
8. WHAT ARE OTHER WAYS THAT MAKE MYLOVELYPARENT DIFFERENT?
Other niche dating sites in the UK share a common database, so users mistakenly believe all the profiles on each site are exclusive to that site. i didn’t want to use the technology that was out there, so I recruited a team from a big dating website in the UK and we built the technology from scratch.
We also have a cleaner, safer version than any other site and we check every single profile before it goes up.
9. HOW MANY ACTIVE PROFILES ARE CURRENTLY ON THE SITE?
We currently have over 5,000 active profiles and almost 10,000 active visitors on the site each month.
10. IS YOUR MUM SEEING ANYONE AS A RESULT OF HER INVOLVEMENT AND DO YOU HAVE ANY SUCCESS STORIES?
A couple in their 50s, who met through the site, got married in August.
Lots of friendships have developed all over the world, such as from the UK to Australia or from the US to the UK. Although the site was intended for companionship, not for finding a pen pal, if that’s what comes out of it, that’s good.
Mum is chatting with a few gentlemen.
4 QUESTIONS FOR MATT’S MUM, WHO INSPIRED HIM TO CREATE MY LOVELY PARENT
1. WHY WOULD YOU RECOMMEND MLP TO OTHER WOMEN WHO ARE DIVORCED, SINGLE OR WIDOWS?
I had my reservations at first. I’d never used the social media, and the idea of speaking to a total stranger seemed a very unusual thing, indeed.
All credit to Matt, he created a website where all these worries were soon put to rest. There’s something special about having someone else write your profile, or at least start it. Sometimes it’s not easy to talk about yourself. The website feels safe; it’s certainly easy to use (if I can use it, anyone can!), and there doesn’t seem to be any pressure. This is a big step for me, and I don’t want to be rushed into anything.
I spent a lot of time with Matt over the months he was making the website, and by the time he put it on the internet, I had warmed to what he was doing. Now I think what the hell. You only live once and you have to give these things a try. You never know what will happen!
2. CAN YOU TELL US ONE PERSONAL ANECDOTE SINCE YOU STARTED USING MLP?
The most interesting thing for me has been the relationship I’ve built with Matt over the past couple of years. We’ve always been close, but for him to write what he did in my profile brought us closer than ever. It is wonderful to have him alongside me throughout my journey. We’ve laughed lots and lots. We’ve shared excitement and joy, disappointment and nerves. It really has been a great fun experience.
3. WHY DO YOU THINK OUR (GROWN) CHILDREN CAN HELP US FIND COMPANIONSHIP?
Sometimes we all need a little encouragement, whether it’s from our friends or family. It’s easy to settle into a routine and accept the path ahead. We all need a little adventure in our lives. Having a loved one help you open the possibility of a new life, or a new adventure, can be daunting, yet exhilarating.
4. WHAT ARE SOME WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT YOU’D GIVE TO A WOMAN 55+ WHO IS RETICENT ABOUT SIGNING UP FOR MLP?
Make sure you feel ready and comfortable with myLovelyParent. And be brave! It might not be easy doing something like this, but you never know what adventure lies ahead!