thank your bestie

Houston's newest dating service requires best-friend approval

Houston's newest dating service requires best-friend approval

Man and woman on a date
Would your best friend approve of this date? Photo by Morsa Images

Here’s a depressing fact for all the singles out there: the average person spends 10 hours a week on a dating app. In many cases, those 10 hours don’t add up to finding a love match, but they sure do add up.

“When you break it down further,” explains Sami Toussi, co-founder of the matchmaking company Best Friend Approved, who researched the issue, “that’s 30 days a year  — a whole month of your life — on dating apps. That’s crazy!”

Toussi and her co-founder, Julie Lauren, are out to change that with Best Friend Approved. The company takes the personality-test-driven approaches used by some dating websites and blends it with a much more human touch. The result is a company that offers not only a better pool of potential partners, but also services such as personal coaching and wardrobe consulting.

Launched last month in Houston, New York, and Los Angeles, Toussi and Lauren think their service will bridge the gap between the tech-heavy reality we live in today and the slower, more personal dating world of the late last century.

“We’re both helpless romantics,” says Lauren, who is from Bellaire and worked in fashion merchandising and events for companies like J Jill and Oscar de la Renta before launching her own lifestyles blog and consulting company. “Sami and I have been friends for a while, and between us, we’ve lived everywhere and have these wide, personal networks all over the world. So, we’ve been able to introduce friends in those networks to others.”

Planning your match
The natural growth from their personal experiences led to the business plan for Best Friend Approved. There are a few options the site offers. There’s a free database users can join, which allows people to fill out a questionnaire that asks about age, height, weight, religion, how they spend their spare time, and what an ideal partner would be, and then reaches out if someone in they system is a potential match.

Then, there are two paid options. In one, clients can get six coaching sessions about everything from the way they present themselves to what they should wear on a date, as well as a series of matches with people in BFA’s database. There’s also a pricier option that provides more coaching sessions and matches. Both paid options are discussed on a one-on-one basis.

Date, meet best friend
In all the scenarios, if someone is a match for someone else, clients can have their best friend schedule a chat with the prospective match. If the BFF thinks the match is cool, users can schedule a date, then provide feedback on it to BFA.

Toussi and Lauren say their company is the only one out there that incorporates best friend approval into the matchmaking mix.

“Everyone wants approval,” says Toussi, who is from Los Angeles but grew up in Bellaire and works as a business coach. “We do it for everything. We text pictures of what we’re thinking of wearing on a date and ask for opinions. People send photos of the guy or girl they’re going out with to others to see what they think. It’s just such a part of our lives.”

Offering the service they do, Toussi and Lauren think they’re taking some of the guesswork and frustration out of the dating process. They’re upfront about the idea that their clients are people who are tired of swiping left or right, don’t have time for dates that lead nowhere, are looking for someone to share their lives with, have a certain amount of disposable income and range in age from their late 20s to their early 50s.

So far, they’ve had good feedback on the service, and are well on the way to matching a few couples on dates. They feel the personalized component to Best Friend Approved is vital to the matchmaking process.

“We talk with – and do a face to face meeting – with all of our clients who opt for the service,” says Toussi. “We want to know what their love languages are, how do they like to receive love? We’ll coach them through a role-playing exercise before a date. We talk to introverts about how to feel confident in a situation that might not be what they’re used to, give them tips on how to feel comfortable in an interaction. And if someone is extroverted, we offer ideas to make sure they are listening and staying plugged into a conversation.”

A tried-and-true method
Both Toussi and Lauren know that matchmaking is nothing new, but believe that having a team that’s committed to careful curation of potential partners makes all the difference.

“We want to offer a service that is meaningful and deep, and really help men and women who are ready to find their forever person,” says Toussi.

“Matchmaking might be old school,” says Lauren, “But we’re really about so much more. Our holistic approach is about helping people be their best selves and finding their best partners.”

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Meet the founders of Best Friend Approved at an event at River Oaks District with Alice + Olivia on April 3 at 6 pm.