February 5th, 2015 at 10:00 am

Southern California matchmakers

Whether you’re a single looking for a soulmate or a couple seeking to rekindle the flames of romance, the upcoming three-day Valentine’s Day weekend is fraught with possibilities. Dinner for two? Dinner alone? Box of chocolates for your sweetie? Or gobble a box for your private pity party?

We asked two well-known Southern California matchmaking specialists for advice about how to make the best of what can be either a tough or terrific time for those on both sides of Cupid’s arrow.

“If you’re a couple, you’ve got the money and are successful, get out of town, do the weekend deal,” said Patti Stanger, aka “The Millionaire Matchmaker” on Bravo TV. “Take a day trip. Find the cute little country town that’s not too far from your house. Go into nature, go for a hike. If it’s cold and snowy, you can get a cabin in the woods with fires brewing. Think romance. It’s the one time of year it falls on a three-day weekend, so utilize it.

“If you’re single, you can’t be hopeless,” said the third-generation matchmaker, based in Marina del Rey. “It’s on a Saturday this year, so I suggest you go out at happy hour. Go with friends or go alone. Men are looking for love that time of day because they know women are crying in their soup. So you know that guy’s single because it’s a Saturday night and he doesn’t have a girlfriend. Just don’t go past 8 at night because that’s when you’re going to feel like people are getting proposed to and you’re going to feel left out.”

Dr. Edward Hernandez, chief psychologist the past 10 years at Valenti International in Rancho Santa Fe, urges couples to take advantage of the long weekend to strengthen their personal bonds.

“Every day can be a Valentine’s Day,” he said. “Understand that there’s always compromise in a healthy relationship. There’s always a way to find a balance point on any matter with a partner. Keeping a sense of humor is also key to deal with and enjoy life, because every relationship’s going to have its ups and downs. I think if people can smile and laugh and look at things together in a light matter, they can weather it. Focus on cherishing your special person in your life – not just on Valentine’s Day but every day.

“One of the most important things to keep in mind during what can be an emotional time for someone single is maintaining hope and a really positive attitude about life and about relationships. It makes all the difference, especially when meeting someone new in your life, to have confidence and feel you’re worth spending the rest of your life with the right person, someone who really cherishes you. That kind of feeling emanates from you and people can pick up on that. It’s all about one’s attitude and how they approach it. It increases the connection with other people that they meet.”

Stanger said she tells singles who are stuck in neutral, “You have to make the most of it. Instead of embracing it as a negative day where you’re alone eating chocolates in bed and watching ‘Sleepless in Seattle,’ get out of the house.

“It’s Saturday. Everyone will be out. Even if you don’t meet anyone, you might meet somebody who knows someone. Pay it forward. Friends and family, co-workers, even strangers should be fixing up other people because someone’s going to pay it forward to them if they do it. Get out and mingle. If you can’t at happy hour, then do it during the day. Do the brunch thing. But be sure to get out of the house.”

And if you do meet someone who might be a partner possibility, avoid the pitfalls, Hernandez said: “What can harm new relationships is possibly moving too fast, specifically thinking too far ahead about what’s going to happen if you move in together, want to have kids, even political differences. Especially at the very beginning of a relationship, it’s too early to start thinking about those things. You just want to focus more on the here and now, getting to know more about the person in front of you.”

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