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Rhody Radio episode transcription has been been made possible by the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries, which is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.


Get Ready to Date with Debra L'Heureux

Lauren Walker: [00:00:00] You're listening to Rhody Radio, Rhode Island Library Radio Online.


I'm your host Lauren Walker from the Rhody Radio crew and Coventry Public Library. And for this special Valentine's Day episode, I'm here with Debra L’Heureux, a matchmaker based out of Barrington, Rhode Island. Hi, Debra. Thanks for joining me today.

Debra L’Heureux: Good morning, Lauren. I'm so excited to be talking to you today.

Lauren: Thank you. I think we should start off with the basics. Why don't you tell us how and why did you become a matchmaker?

Debra: Oh, that's a great question, Lauren. Well, when I was 47 years old, I met the love of my life and so I decided, you know what? I want other people to feel the way I do. I want them to have hope and feel like they can find love late in life. I left a very good position I have in academia and I joined a company in Rhode Island and fell in love with being a matchmaker because I'm a consummate romantic.

Lauren: Oh, that's a great story. What is the matchmaking process exactly?

Debra: There are various parts of the matchmaking process. The first thing that a potential client has to do is make a decision that they definitely want to move forward in their life and find someone serious. They can either call me or they can go on my website. When they do that, I will be reaching out to them and essentially pre-screening them, talking to them, how old they are, what they do for a living, what their goals are with their relationship. I work primarily with clients that are serious about relationships. This is not casual dating. This is for someone that, [00:02:00] for the most part, has been divorced or widowed and really doesn't know what to do or where to go to start over again.

Lauren: Mostly people who have previously been in relationships and are-- or is that just the nature of like working with mature singles that most of them have?

Debra: Yes, in fact, most of my clients have been in long-term serious monogamous relationships. I just enrolled, for example, a gentleman. He's 55. His wife passed away four years ago. He has an 11-year-old child. He does not want to do online dating because of safety concerns.

Lauren: Sure.

Debra: In addition to that, let's be honest, it's very labor-intensive. You have to look for that golden thread among the needles. I vet for him. He came to me because he doesn't have a lot of time and he's looking to move forward in his life. I have other clients, my goodness, I have one woman, she was married 50 years.

Lauren: Wow.

Debra: Her husband passed away. She does not even know where to begin to find love. Primarily, I do work with, as you said, mature singles that really want to move forward and find love in their life again.

Lauren: That's great. That's great that they have you to do that. Is it like you basically match up clients with other clients? Is that how it works, like someone reaches out to you?

Debra: A combination. I do extensive marketing throughout Rhode Island through print media as well as radio. I have a strong referral base now. I've been in Barrington believe it or not. Today is my third anniversary of being in Barrington.

Lauren: Oh, congrats.

Debra: It's interesting that we're talking today.

Lauren: Yes. [laughter]

Debra: I cast a really wide net all over Rhode Island as well as Southeastern Massachusetts. I have people calling me, sending me emails, going to my [00:04:00] website, getting referrals. I have some clients that google me. Every single day, I'm seeing new potential clients.

Lauren: Oh, that's great. What is a typical day in the life of a matchmaker?

Debra: Well, first of all, I don't know where the days go. What I love is that no two days are the same. When I come in, I invariably have telephone calls or emails that I try to respond to as quickly as possible. Then I have consultations set up. Everyone comes in by appointment only. They're already pre-screened. I see clients between 60 and 90 minutes. Part of my day is spent interviewing new clients, because once you're a client, I'm always looking for someone for you to date. Then the rest of my day, I work with my staff in the actual matchmaking process. It's a quick day.


Lauren: Yes. Do you have any favorite success stories?

Debra: Oh, my goodness, Lauren, I have so many. Let me just touch on maybe three. How does that sound?

Lauren: Sure.

Debra: Okay. One couple, Sandy and Liz, and Sandy's a gentleman. Well, Sandy was quite wealthy. He came in and I told him, I want a woman to fall in love with you because of who you are, not because of your background with finances. He said, "Yes, I agree." He had a very expensive sports car. I told him, "Do not bring that sports car to your date." He had a truck and this expensive, well over a $100,000 sports car. I said, "Don't bring the sports car." When he started dating her, they went out in his truck.

He always made sure it was clean. It was wonderful. Then one day, like two months later, they called me. He said, "Deborah, I want to take [00:06:00] my sports car. I want to take her out. I'm really falling in love with her. I want to have this really romantic, amazing evening. Do I have your permission to take my sports car?" I said, "Yes, you do." When he ever pulled up in front of her house with this sports car, she almost fell over. [laughs] She's like, "Whose car is this?" He said, "Mine."

Lauren: It's like Joe Millionaire, that show. [laughter]

Debra: Right, exactly.

Lauren: Yes.

Debra: She had already started to fall in love with him. She cared about him. He cared about her. The car became a moot point. The end of the story is they're happily married.

Lauren: Oh, that's great.

Debra: Yes. Again, I do provide ongoing relationship coaching with all of my clients whatever it may be. Just this morning, I was talking to a client about how he should dress when he goes out Saturday night. I do give relationship tips and dressing tips. Another couple, which is very interesting, she had been out on several dates. She was like, "Oh, I'm really lonely. I really want to find someone." I go, "I understand it only takes one man to change your life." This gentleman came in. As soon as he came in, I interviewed him. "I said, oh my gosh, he is perfect for her." I set them up and this was actually her fifth date.

Lauren: Oh, wow.

Debra: It does require patience. They have been dating for close to a year now. What's exciting with them is the 28th of every month, they celebrate their -- it's like a month anniversary and they do something special. They surprise each other. It's the 28th. One particular month, he actually took her to New York on the train and took a carriage ride in Central Park.

Lauren: Oh, that's so sweet.

Debra: How romantic is that?

Lauren: That's very romantic. [laughs]

Debra: Oh my gosh. She doesn't -- he's a consummate romantic. [00:08:00] With that particular couple, I talked to her about patience. You have to be patient and I'm always looking for the right match for you. Now she's deliriously happy. The third couple, and again, Lauren, I could go on and on. This couple is very interesting. I really try to emphasize to people, attraction is physical, emotional, and intellectual.

You really have to have all three. As you get older, it's more important that you have shared interests and such. This lady had several master's degrees and she was a high-end realtor. She was married to a scientist who had passed away. I think he had a PhD. She was married to someone very intelligent. I talked to her about going out with this gentleman, and guess what? He was blue-collar.

Lauren: Oh, wow.

Debra: They were both in their early 60s. They were both widowed. I just got an email that he sold his house and he is now going to be living with her.

Lauren: Did he use her as a realtor to sell her house? [laughs]

Debra: Most probably.

Lauren: Probably.

Debra: The fact of the matter is, he was a blue-collar and he is very successful. He owned his own home. He had a great job, but he was blue-collar, she was white-collar. She was married to a white-collar guy. I say, you know what, as long as you have enough in common with each other, why not? They are my latest success story, and I'm thrilled for them.

Lauren: Oh, that's so great.

Debra: Yes, it's wonderful.

Lauren: That must be a really rewarding part of the job.

Debra: You know what, it makes my day because I want other people to have love like I do. Let's face it, you can go through life and have a beautiful house, a beautiful car, take vacations, friends, clothes, but it's really who you spend your life with. That person that [00:10:00] sends a text during the day to say, "I'm thinking of you. I love you," someone to go through the good days or maybe the not-so-good days, and just enjoy life. To me, it's the most important thing in the world.

Lauren: Yes, absolutely. Do you have any dating tips for any of our single listeners out there?

Debra: I do have a lot of dating tips. As I said, I meld my relationship coaching with match-making, but I have five specific dating tips I'm just going to review with you. If you're single, you should write these down because they're important. The first one is you deserve to love and be loved. You have to feel as though you deserve love. So many people may not feel that way. You need to know that you deserve to love and be loved. Then, very important, you have to be ready and available for commitment.

If you do meet somebody and they want to move forward with the relationship, you have to be ready. It's a mindset. I recommend that you really make sure of that. Then the third is honor your deepest needs. You know who you are. You know what you want. You know what you don't want. If you know you need something in a relationship, make sure that you honor those needs. That's the most important. Then number four is be true to yourself. I always say to my clients, "To thine own self be true." Be who you are because your date's going to find out who you are anyway, right?

Lauren: Yes.

Debra: Be true to yourself. Certainly, bring out the best side of you, but don't try to be somebody you're not. Then the fifth is true love requires risk. You have to be vulnerable. When you go out on that date, you have to show your emotional side. You have to be vulnerable. [00:12:00] Know that true love does require risk. Sometimes love with the person may work, sometimes it doesn't. The main thing is that you say to yourself, "You know what, I'm going to begin again and move forward." Many of my singles have been hurt if they're divorced. I work with them to know that they need to take the risk again because in the end-- Just like myself. I took the chance for love. Now, it's over 20 years later and I am deliriously in love.

Lauren: Yes. Imagine if you hadn't taken that risk.

Debra: Exactly.

Lauren: Yes.

Debra: So many people are just paralyzed. They can't move forward or backward. I work specifically with people so that they can do that and take the risk to find love again.

Lauren: Very good advice. What about anyone listening who is already in a relationship? Do you have any advice for a successful marriage or long-term relationship?

Debra: Yes, Lauren, I actually do. If you were to say to me, "What is the number one thing that happily married people have to do?" They must have open and honest communication. If you're thinking it, you have to tell your partner. Don't keep it in your mind and go, "Oh, it's not that big. Maybe I just won't say anything. I don't want to make it a big deal." Because if you don't have open and honest communication, it will erode a relationship. That is my first and foremost advice is that you always communicate openly.

Lauren: I think that's very good advice. As a married person myself, I can agree with that.

Debra: Absolutely.

Lauren: That's pretty much all of my questions about matchmaking. Is there anything else that you'd like to add that we haven't touched on?

Debra: What I would say is that if you are looking for love and you haven't [00:14:00] found it, you should definitely reach out to me at Get Ready To Date in Barrington and just take a chance to come out for a complimentary consultation. I'll get to know you, you'll get to know me, and we'll see if matchmaking fits your lifestyle.

Lauren: That's great. My final question, since this is a library podcast, is, what is your favorite romance novel?

Debra: Oh, goodness gracious. I don't really read a lot of romance novels because I live one.

Lauren: Fair enough.

Debra: I really do. I wake up every day happy. I live this amazing life. I was 47 years old when I met him. To me, people that just sit and read a romance novel are living vicariously through that novel. I always encourage people, yes, reading romance novels is great, but why not live it?

Lauren: There you go. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today. I hope that our listeners get some good advice and are put in the Valentine's Day spirit.

Debra: Absolutely. Thank you, Lauren.

Lauren: I hope you enjoyed learning about Debra's work as a modern-day matchmaker. Just in case you're not surrounded by romance like Debra, Rhody Radio gathered some romantic book and movie recommendations for you. Romance novels aren't really my thing, but I do love movies, especially old movies. My recommendation is The Awful Truth, a 1937 film starring Irene Dunne and Cary Grant as a couple who get divorced but can't quite let go. It's a romantic comedy with a great cast. If you're not familiar with actress Irene Dunne, you're missing out. An added bonus is the adorable wire fox terrier, Mr. Smith, who plays a central role in the film. [00:16:00]

Kelly Mester: Hi. I'm Kelly Mester, a romance reader. I'm also a librarian, and I work at the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services. For this Valentine's episode, I have two romance books to recommend. The first title is Partners in Crime by Alisha Rai. At the beginning of the story, Mira and Naveen are brought together when Mira visits Naveen's law firm to settle her deceased aunt's affairs. However, these two aren't strangers. Three years ago, they were matched by Hema Auntie, a matchmaker in the South Asian community.

Their awkward encounter is extended when the two of them are kidnapped. This heist story is full of adventure and suspense, all of which forces Mira and Naveen to acknowledge their chemistry, face their history, and expose themselves to each other in ways they didn't three years ago. I love how the action of the story propels the emotional development of the characters. This is a compelling second-chance adventure romance with tons of mystery, and it's interspersed with humor. Definitely check it out.

My second recommendation is also a second chance romance, this time featuring one of my favorite tropes, fake dating. The title is Beauty and the Baller by Ilsa Madden-Mills. This sports romance features Ronan, a former NFL player, and Nova, a former beauty queen who has returned to her small hometown in Texas following her mother's death to be guardian to her teenage sister. A few years ago, Ronan lost his fiance in a car accident and then his career ended.

Now, he coaches high school football in Nova's hometown. However, the two have met before. They shared a disastrous one-night stand two years ago. What surprised me about this story was how nuanced the characters are. The story has a lot of [00:18:00] heart, and the small town setting brings humor and charm. Why are Nova and Ronan fake dating? Read the book to find out.

Emily Brown: Hi. My name's Emily Brown. I'm the Youth Services Coordinator at Cranston Public Library, and I would like to recommend The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. This book has everything I never knew I wanted in a romance novel and also the thing I did know I wanted which was Southeast Asian protagonists. My husband is Southeast Asian. There will never be enough hot Asian guys in romance novels, even though there are many more now than there used to be.

The guy in this one, Khai, is also interesting because he is on the autism spectrum and believes he cannot love somebody because the way he experiences and expresses feelings is not typical. His mom goes to Vietnam to find him a mail-order bride. In a very Cinderella sort of moment, instead of choosing one of the women who auditions for this role, she asks the woman who's cleaning the bathroom at the hotel where she is to take on this responsibility. Our heroine is traveling to America, intent on seducing Khai.

She's hiding the fact that she has a daughter and lying about how much education she has. Sounds like a villain, but she's honestly the moral center of the story, a complete sweetheart and somebody you're really rooting for the whole time. I don't know how she does that. The author flipped all my expectations, turned things around, and made me just love this main character so much and be rooting for her. This book also has the most hilariously unsatisfying sex scene I've ever read in a romance novel. I can't recommend it enough. It's the middle in a trilogy and I would read any of them, but The Bride Test is my favorite. Thanks.

Alyssa: My name is Alyssa and I'm the teen librarian for Cranston Public Library. I would like to share a recommendation [00:20:00] for Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik. This is a sci-fi romance series called Starlight's Shadow. It follows a group of friends like a found family who are bounty hunters and they take different jobs for money. This first one follows the captain of her crew, Octavia. She takes a job from a man named Torran who is an alien and Octavia is human.

They really are distrustful of each other. They're coming out of a war between the human race and the alien race. They're very just skeptical of one another and very guarded with one another. The story is them figuring out a mystery and some espionage around the job that Torran has for Octavia's crew, and then also falling in love, which is very sweet. The first two in the series are out. The second one is just as good. I love the found family aspect. I just really love the really interesting sci-fi world that the author creates.

Lauren: Thank you for listening. For more information about Deborah's matchmaking services, visit her website at Rhody Radio is proud to be a resident partner of the Rhode Island Center for the Book and brought to you by library staff and community members all around the ocean state. This episode was made possible in part by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities seeds, supports, and strengthens public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders. You can find more from Rhody Radio on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you enjoyed [00:22:00] today's episode, subscribe to Rhody Radio and give us a review on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, or wherever you listen to help us reach more Rhode Islanders.


[00:22:19] [END OF AUDIO]

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