Finding a partner can feel like a job search: It requires a lot of interviews, a lot of rejection, and zero benefits until you succeed. If writing your dating app bio feels as tedious as updating your resume, then it may be time to recruit some assistance. Liv's Love Pool is a new matchmaking service that pairs up singles for Love Is Blind-style phone calls, and IMO, it's ideal for anyone who's so over the swipe life. I spoke to Liv's Love Pool founder Olivia Atwood, and she gave me the scoop on how her dating service started.
After graduating from Bowdoin in 2017, Atwood moved to New York City, where she took on a series of odd jobs. She performed a one-woman show at an improv theater, waited tables, nannied, played extras on TV shows, worked at a fitness studio, and even did a stint as a birthday party clown. Then the coronavirus pandemic broke out in the United States, leaving Atwood jobless and directionless.
"I was joking on the phone with a friend of mine who was saying the thing that she missed the most from pre-pandemic was going out and flirting with people," she says. "And as a joke, I was like, 'Oh man, what if I set people up for blind phone call dates?'" Atwood posted on her Instagram Story in March 2020, inviting her 700+ followers to DM her in order to be set up on a date. "I walked away from my phone and I walked back and I had, like, 90 DMs from people," Atwood explains. Liv's Love Pool was born, and soon enough, Atwood set up a second IG account and a website dedicated to her new service.
When it started, Atwood knew all the people who DM'd her personally. Then she started getting DMs from friends of friends. Eventually, she started receiving DMs from total strangers. "Now I know, personally, like, maybe five people, and my waitlist has 305 people," she explains. Even as her submissions grow, Atwood still makes every match herself. "I read every single submission in its entirety, and I make lists and lists and lists, and I have spreadsheets on spreadsheets where I'm tracking people," she adds. "I haven't really reached a breaking point of submissions yet. If it ever blew up to the degree that I had thousands of people flooding in at once, I would hire some readers to help me. But ultimately, I would always have the last say in setting up matches because I feel like I have my intuition, you know?"
Atwood may not have started her service with matchmaking experience, but since she started Liv's Love Pool, she's gained plenty of it. "I would say I have a success rate of about 85%," she says. "In my mind, I define success as you're continuing to talk to somebody I set you up with. But that being said, I've helped connect several successful couples who did not know each other prior until using my service. And now are full on boyfriend-girlfriend, girlfriend-girlfriend, boyfriend-boyfriend, what have you."
Though she typically matches people who live in close proximity, Atwood once connected a couple who has an ocean between them. "One of them is in the Midwest, in the States, and one of them is in Europe, and they are full on dating and in love with each other," she adds. "And they've never met and they met through me in March. He's planning on moving to France. It's nuts, bananas, and I love it."
Signing up is easy and totally free. Atwood simply asks interested singles to fill out a form providing their gender identity, sexual orientation, age, location, three fun facts, and — most notably — no photos. Once you fill out the form, Atwood adds you to the waitlist, where you'll remain until she finds you a compatible match. "You always want to join the waitlist because you never know," Atwood says. "Somebody else could join the waitlist in a month who's perfect for you."
Just like on Love Is Blind, Liv's Love Pool encourages participants to get to know each other before ever actually seeing each other (but without the whole proposing-through-a-wall thing). "I think it's a good exercise to see if you can connect and bond with someone without necessarily getting all caught up in a physical thing," Atwood says. "You need to be attracted to the person, but I just want to challenge people to try to talk to people without bringing the physical into place first. And if you want to do the physical thing, by all means. But you know, why don't you also try just talking on the phone without seeing their face and see if you connect?"
Once she finds you a compatible match, Atwood will send you that match's info in exchange for a one-time $10 fee. After that, it's up to you to dial those digits. As Atwood explains, "I give you the other person's first name, phone number, their three facts, and then I have a rule: Please try not to text. Obviously, text to set up phone call, but then really try to hop on the phone and actually talk to the person." Her reason: She finds texting too impersonal. "That's grown into something that's kind of important to me," she says. "It wasn't really initially and now I kind of want to challenge people to actually talk to another human being on the phone, not just text."
For Atwood, getting feedback on her matches is also essential. "It really helps me guide your next match and that person's next match," she says. "You tell me they're super into physics and that wasn't one of their facts. I'm like, 'OK, cool. They're a physics person. That's great.'" Once that feedback is given, Atwood will provide up to two more matches, though she likes to provide only one match at a time. As she explains, "I guess I'm trying to challenge you to be like, 'Hey, talk to this person first. Have a good conversation or a bad conversation, who knows. And then tell me how it went and I'll give you the next one.'"
On the sign-up form, you won't see a question asking what you're looking for in a partner, and there's a reason for that. "I think that people, to some extent, don't really know what they're looking for," Atwood says. "I'm really interested in hearing about the people themselves, the submissions themselves, and then from there, trying to think of who I might match them with."
Is she always successful? No, and that's OK. As she explains, "Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes people are like, 'Hey, this person is great, I had a really great conversation with them, but actually I'm looking for somebody who is in a different industry than me,' or, 'I'm looking for somebody who is a little bit older.' And I'm like, 'OK, great, thank you for having that first call. Really appreciate it and love the feedback.' And then I definitely will take it into consideration to some extent, but if I think you're really going to hit it off with someone who doesn't happen to be 6'5", even though you want somebody who's 6'5", I'm going to give you the match, anyway."
Even if you think you know exactly what you're looking for in a potential partner, the right person could just change your mind. And while it's fine to have a few deal breakers (with emphasis on a few), you shouldn't let them hold you back from giving someone unexpected a chance — or, at least, giving that person a call.