Jacqueline Burns is the Owner of Gay Dating Agency The Echelon Scene
We were lucky to be joined by matchmaker Jacqueline Burns who runs her highly popular gay dating agency. The Echelon Scene is for high caliber gay men. Here is our interview with her which we hope you will enjoy!
Why did you decide to become a matchmaker?
The decision to open a gay dating agency happened organically. I have always been an avid watcher of people, behaviours- and especially relationships between people. When I was completing my Masters degree in Psychology, I decided to conduct my dissertation on gay relationship longevity, as there previously was very little research on the subject. I met with gay men of various ages, professions and relationship backgrounds, to interview them for my research. It seems like fate now, as my research in 2011 translated perfectly into my business now. I absolutely loved that period of time and learning about people’s stories, experiences and I still love that part of the job to this day. It never gets old. I was introduced into the world of gay matchmaking through a gentleman I interviewed for my research. We got on like a house on fire, I was invited to his house in the South of France, I started becoming a gay matchmaker in 2012 and the rest is history!
What makes you different to other companies/matchmakers?
Two things. The first differentiator is The Echelon Scene’s 100% focus on gay matchmaking. Matchmaking gay men is not the same thing as matchmaking straight women and men. It’s what I am good at and where I have my success. The second big differentiator is that I personally deliver the service for each of my Clients, from beginning to end. This is unheard of for the Founder/CEO to do. I got into this business because of my passion for working with people and finding them love. I refuse to give that up, just because the business is growing exponentially. I have chosen to get help on the admin side rather than just ‘overseeing’ the matchmakers. That way I can do what my background and expertise is best suited for – meeting every single member myself, getting to know them and working with them, to find them love.
What do you like most (and least) about being a matchmaker?
I love working with people, getting to know them and of course watching the relationships I’ve set up blossom. Finding love can be like a rollercoaster though and it’s not always the first introduction that succeeds. I don’t like to see my Client get defeated if they have a couple of dates with ‘no spark’, because for some it does take a bit longer. I have had instances where it has been at the final hour that a Client has found love. To anyone reading this, don’t give up on love! There are so many amazing men out there, it’s just being crystal clear on who you are and what is and isn’t right for you in terms of values. Don’t worry, if you’re not clear, I can help with that! That is what I am here for and why I run a gay dating agency.
Do you think the way matchmakers are viewed in the UK is changing?
I think it changed a few years ago, as online services like Tinder became the norm. At that point high-end services like ours became exclusive, glamorous and exciting. Rather than when I first started matchmaking, they were seen as the last resort for the undateables. Now they are for those who can date who they want, but want the right one and are not willing to settle for someone who isn’t like minded, equal, attractive or who doesn’t share values, energy and a vision for the future. It takes a lot of filtering! I will say, there are still a lot of people who haven’t heard of matchmaking agencies and do not understand the concept. But interestingly, I think the level of awareness is increasing. With COVID-19, I am finding people are more aware than ever of their single status. They don’t want to risk their safety going on multiple dates and have realised the joys of simple pleasures with a loved one. I have noticed a surge in people wanting a more personal, bespoke and proactive service, which will get them in a relationship.. rather than just a hot date.
Do you have any funny or interesting dating stories from running a gay dating agency?
I had a potential Client ask for a direct testimonial from an existing Client, who was currently dating someone I had set him up with. The existing Client’s relationship reached a natural conclusion shortly after with the gentleman I had set him up with. He then bumped into my new Client, who he had told about my gay dating agency and they are now in a relationship!
What’s the best advice you would give to someone looking for a partner?
Focusing on yourself. Not physically, but mentally. Find ways to deal with your demons and get positive and confident. Having your stuff together opens you up to the right people and sets you on the right path. I can help with this through my gay dating agency, if you are lost as to where to start.
What are the most common mistakes people make when dating?
Communication! I say it every day! So much gets lost in unclear communication. This is why it is also key to work on yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to clear something up you’re confused about. So much of the way we communicate is based off of insecurities or hang ups we have. People hide who they are in order to save face, but it hurts them long term. Be honest with yourself and open and clear with your date. But also, relax. You don’t need to know it all at the start; enjoy dating and getting to know someone, without bringing past situations or reactions into it.
What your greatest success story?
An ex Client, in his late 30s, who lived in New York but was not meeting anyone there who was serious about finding someone. He was/is SO NICE. But he was a little bit lost as to what was right for him. He was quite fussy on looks. We did 6 intros on the 6-month package, no one clicked, and he was getting a bit frustrated. But he renewed and it was the first introduction from his second package where it was love at first sight and they are now living happily together. The match was actually in London (my Client was English), so he moved back so they could be together. They are just very sweet and I’m still in touch. But I love all my Clients genuinely. I am lucky to be able to say that. And really hope that doesn’t change!
What trends and changes do you see happening over the next few years in the dating world?
I think we have to consider climate change and learn lessons from COVID-19. Yes, people will still travel, but maybe less. I foresee the men who come to me wanting as broad a network as possible to choose from, but maybe closer to home. I think straight couples will get married less and gay couples will get married more.
Have you met your own life partner? If so, how did you know they were the one?
I have, he’s lovely. We clicked instantly because we have completely different characters which complement each other but such similar values and vision for the future.
Do you believe in soulmates?
I believe there are many people out there who are a great match. A lot of it is timing. If you had a great relationship which ended, there is hope for the future. Some for a reason, some for a season, some for life.
What qualities do you think make for a great partner?
It completely depends on the person. But clear, open communication is the key. Also, consider your partner. Try to put yourself in their shoes and perhaps be a bit more caring. You also need to know when to work on yourself, for your partner.
What is the best way for a man to approach a woman? Is it OK for a woman to approach a man?
I haven’t done dating advice for straight couples since 2015 so perhaps I am not the one to ask. My focus now is as a gay matchmaker for my gay dating agency. Some men like a woman to take charge, some don’t. If you’re a woman who knows what you want and you approach a man who gets scared, he is not the man for you. Be yourself. Don’t be inebriated or showing off to friends. If you are genuine in everything you do, it will pay off. You can typically tell if there is a vibe before you dive right in.
And men, just BE NORMAL- a simple ‘hi, how are you’ (and listen to the answer) will do. Women still like to be approached; it makes them feel good. Just not in a sleazy manner.
What is the secret of a long and happy relationship?
I think a lot of it is patience and understanding. And knowing life is fluid. Bad times will come, but good ones will also come. Riding the storm often pays off, so be present in the relationship, caring, act out of love and when times are tough picture being 60 and sharing memories with your children.
If you are looking to join a gay dating agency then check out The Echelon Scene Review.