Technical advancements of the 21st century have made it a bit easier for people to meet, date and get married. However, experts say the secrets of living "happily-ever-after" remain almost the same.
At 39, Jennifer Cox, like many single working women, realized her career was getting in the way of her romantic life.
"I was working far too hard and realizing that if I put all my energy into my work, I was never, ever going to meet the man of my dreams," she says.
Ms. Cox, who lived in England, quit her job and started a 6-month search around the world for her soul mate. "I basically wrote a soul mate job description," she says. "I e-mailed it to all my friends around the world. It was so amazing. Everybody teased me a lot, but everybody wanted to help me a lot."
Ms. Cox told NBC News that after 80 dates in 16 countries, she finally met the man of
her dreams, Garry, an American engineer living in Seattle, Washington. says, although single people don't have to go around the world to find their soul mates, getting married can be a daunting mission. "I think that it's just harder today because there are more choices," she says. "People are busier. Both sexes are working. So it becomes very complicated."
Ms. Daniels became a matchmaker 6 years ago, when she decided to quit her job as a divorce attorney. "For me the best thing about having been a divorce attorney is I saw what didn't work in relationships," she says. "And that is very helpful to me when I'm figuring out what does work in relationships."
In her book,The Matchbook: The Diary of a Modern-day Matchmaker , Ms. Daniels examines the types of attitudes that make it harder for people to find their soul mates, and draws on some of her clients for inspiration. "Like Ms. 39," she says. "somehow you keep working and working and time passes and all of a sudden she finds herself at 39 years old, and she isn't with somebody. She comes to me, the matchmaker, and says, 'I'm 39, how did I get here? Why am I not 29 and looking for a guy?' So, I have to work with her to understand that time has gone by, and how you date as a 39-year-old."
Ms. Daniels says another example of a single woman who has a hard time finding her dream husband is "Ms. Fantasy". "She comes armed with all these unrealistic expectations about the man she is looking for," she says. "She is obsessed with the fantasy in her head about that guy that she never sees the man in front of her. Any woman who is like that with the unrealistic expectations has a very hard time dating and she'll be a difficult client for me because no matter whom I'll put in front of her, that person would never seem good enough for her. "
Many single men, Ms. Daniels says, are more focused on looks. She calls them the Brad Pitt guys. "Brad Pitt Guy is preoccupied with finding women whom he deems Brad Pitt-worthy, meaning that Brad Pitt would actually be attracted to them," she says. "He becomes so preoccupied with what they look like aesthetically, and whether or not Brad Pitt, a celebrity, would be interested in the woman, that he doesn't really focus on whether or not the woman will be great for him."
Other men, Ms. Daniels says, are more open to date any woman, but not ready for a long-term commitment. "Mr. Serial monogamist," she says. "He just goes from one serious relationship to another one. He is in a monogamous relationship with woman after woman, after woman. But he can't commit actually to get married because he's scared to give up his independence."
Marriage and relationship consultant Martin Friedman says when people are more realistic and ready to commit, they can survive the dating game and find the right husband or wife. But to survive the ups and downs of marriage over the years, he says, they first need to understand why they want to get married.
"If you think you're getting married because the other person is going to make you happy, you're probably going to have a rude surprise," he says. "I tell any young person thinking about getting married to try their best to drop this idea. You're getting married for support and companionship, and most of all because that other person is going to help you grow up as a human being."
Matchmaker Samantha Daniels agrees that understanding the meaning of marriage helps people to choose the right partners in life. Understanding her clients' personalities, she says, helps her do her job as a matchmaker. "I think to myself who do I see this person walking down the street with in 15 or 20 years, laughing at the same jokes and finding the same thing to be annoying," she says. "I think that's really important to find the things that they bond on and to really bond well on those things." As for issues where the two differ, she says they should resolve them.
As a former divorce attorney and a current matchmaker, Ms. Daniels says the dream of meeting the right person and living happily ever after is not necessarily a fairy tale. When people learn to compromise and resolve not to quit too early, she says, they can build a strong relationship that will stand the test of time.