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Playing Cupid: Gay matchmaker Amari Ice aims for the heart

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Photo courtesy of Amari Ice
Photo courtesy of Amari Ice

Recently or still single? No sweat. Game-changing, history-making queer matchmaker Amari Ice (he recently paired the first successful gay couple on Lifetime's "Married at First Sight") answers our burning questions on love, relationships, and whether we really need either one.

MIKEY ROX: How did you become a professional matchmaker?
AMARI ICE: Technically, I'm a love coach first — matchmaker and hypnotherapist are tied for second — since the number one reason anyone is single is because they're trying to have a Level 25 relationship with Level 3 skills. We're 200% to 300% more likely to find love (with or without a matchmaker) if we've gone through some sort of romantic coaching first. I primarily help gay singles develop their dating skills and only consider matching a client once their dating skills are already up to par so they don't sabotage themselves. I think this approach — coaching 100% of my clients — is definitely a key component of what's made me successful.

MR: Explore the matchmaking process with me. What's the criteria? How do you know this person is right for that person?
AI: Matchmaking is part science, part art. The art piece is more intuitive and can't necessarily be taught or described, but anyone can learn the science piece which includes the criteria you asked about. Here's my easy-to-remember model for assessing whether or not someone is a good match for you.

This is the most important component of compatibility. Your values pave the growth path of your life. If your highest priority values aren't aligned with your partner, you'll eventually grow apart.

It doesn't have to be an immediate or intense pull, but sexual interest must exist in order for romance to exist. The important thing to note here is that chemistry doesn't predict relationship longevity, and knowing how to create and sustain passion is a skill all successful relationship partners must develop since passion naturally levels off around the two-year mark in a relationship.

Temperament is your energetic disposition aka your personality. If you and your partner's energetic temperaments aren't synergistic, you'll likely have a rocky relationship. While any mature individuals who share major life values can form a happy relationship, there are certain temperaments that you'll naturally gel without as much effort. You can find out which type is best for you by taking my gay compatibility quiz at�www.lovealchemytest.com.

Your partner must have certain mental, emotional, spiritual and/or material qualities in order for you to be happy. The only way to guarantee that your partner has the capacity to meet your needs in the future is to verify they have the capacity to meet them now; potential might not be developed in this lifetime. Potential is the icing. Capacity is the cake.

This component of compatibility is actually the simplest: To be hazard free means neither of you have any of the other's deal breakers. But the key is to ensure you aren't using preferences as deal breakers. For example, someone's height range is generally a preference, not an indicator of compatibility. But if you're allergic to cigarettes, smoking would be a deal breaker.

MR: You recently made history by pairing Matt and Daniel, the first successful gay couple in the "Married at First Sight" TV franchise. Yours is a risky business, and much of your professional reputation rides on whether or not matches — least of all high-profiles matches — work. How do you deal with that?
AI:�Matt and Daniel are so adorable together, aren't they?! It was a ton of fun putting that pair together. Running a business in general is risky but I don't view mine as any more or less risky than any other business. In terms of navigating the pressure, I look at it like this: My job is not to fix people's love lives or save them from singlehood, my job is to give people the tools and help them develop the skills that make their relationship goals inevitable. Recognizing the difference between what's your responsibility and what isn't is the key to navigating any business, but especially one like mine.

MR: You and I — as gay men — know firsthand that queer romance and love, especially between gay men, can be difficult. First, we're men — inherently sexually charged — but then there's all this eager and available temptation, only amplified by GPS-based social media. And that's not even considering the constant non-monogamy agenda of influential relationship "experts" like Dan Savage. In your honest opinion, can gay men find true love or is it all just a pipe dream?
AI: I take a slightly different perspective one this: All people are sexually charged. Gay men aren't more sexual than anyone else. However, as a result of cultural unacceptance of LGBTQ+ people, gay men tend to only be able to engage with each other in private, or secret spaces that tend to only have enough space for sex to occur. Love needs more room to thrive and one of the primary indicators of relationship success is the level of social support the relationship has access to. Let's remember that most gay men alive today didn't grow up in a world that immediately accepted who they love or have sex with, so a lot of that cultural conditioning around shame is still present in the subconscious minds of many of us. The only reason the closet of sexual orientation exists is because the living room wasn't a safe space. Gay men can absolutely find — and sustain — true love, but only if they are committed to developing the skills to do so.

MR: Do you think love and/or partnership is necessary for a fulfilling queer life?
AI:�The longitudinal data on happiness reveals that love and money are the two most important factors in a person's level of life satisfaction. Love is most important, though, as money's influence levels off after we make around $75,000 to $85,000 per year. This doesn't mean you have to be in a relationship in order to be happy, but it does mean that some form of love is probably necessary for most of us to feel fulfilled at some point in our lives.

MR: Is there virtue in being and/or remaining single?
AI: Singlehood is neutral. It's neither good nor bad. It just�is.�But if we've been made to believe we are somehow inadequate if we aren't in a relationship — which isn't true — it's easy to see why many of us struggle with our self-esteem when we're single. The only thing is, improving your self-esteem is one of the secrets to increasing the likelihood that you'll both find love and be able to create a healthy relationship once you're in it.

MR: We're all out here looking for the "perfect" partner. Do they exist? Should we settle for "less"? What expectations are realistic, and should we compromise?
AI:�Perfect partners don't exist, but excellent partners do.�There are many excellent lovers available for all of us, but if we're looking for perfect, excellence will never be good enough and perfection will never arrive because it isn't real.

We only ever settle when we don't believe what we want is possible. Plus, our true expectations of others almost always reflect our expectations of ourselves. Therefore, the question we must ask ourselves is, What unrealistic expectations am I holding myself to that don't serve me?�The only way to have realistic expectations of others is to shift our expectations of ourselves, as our own identities are what form the template of our expectations. The more we shame ourselves for not being perfect, the more we shame others. The more we deem ourselves unworthy of love and affection, the more we tear down others who seem to be thriving when we aren't. And yet, the more we acknowledge and accept our own excellence and our own humanity, the easier it is to see and accept another excellent human as our equal in partnership.

Recognized by the Matchmaking Institute as�the first Black, gay, certified matchmaker in the entire love industry, Ice and his expertise have�helped�500+ gay men level up their love lives. Ice is also the author of the international best-selling book�Lasting Love at Last: The Gay Guide to Attracting the Relationship of Your Dreams�and is currently working on his second title,�Love Alchemy: The Gay Guide to Transforming Your Love Blocks into Relationship Gold.