INDIANAPOLIS -- Personal matchmakers' share of singles' hearts has grown considerably over the last few years. INDIANAPOLIS -- Personal matchmakers' share of singles' hearts -- and wallets -- has grown considerably over the last few years.Many looking for love are now paying hundreds for matchmakers to find them Mr. Many people looking for love are now paying hundreds -- sometimes thousands -- The dating industry, which includes online and personal services, is estimated to be worth more than $1 billion in the United States.Personal matchmaking services account for about $500 million of that, according to The Matchmaking Institute in New York City.

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If people are overweight, she asks them to get in better shape and come back."They usually leave hurt or angry, and they come back," she said.

"It may be a year later, and they say, 'You were right, I didn't like hearing it.

It took me a while, but I decided, yeah, I needed to do something about it, so here I am.' "Owens, who brands herself as "The Singles Coach," estimates that about 85% of the couples she sets up want to go out with each other again.

The industry also has garnered a little free publicity with the help of popular TV shows, such as Bravo's "Millionaire Matchmaker.""People are more and more aware of it as a resource," said Clampitt. It's been a very, very healthy industry."The rules Matchmakers, of course, argue that their services are more effective than other dating methods.

They personally screen their clients, so it's impossible for people to lie about their age or physical appearance, an oft-parodied danger of online dating.

And matchmakers can be picky about who they take on as clients.

Amy Owens, owner of Blue Ribbon Singles, an Indianapolis matchmaking and singles coaching service, won't take clients if they don't have some sort of college degree and a white-collar job.

Its worth has doubled since 2006, and The Matchmaking Institute estimates that there are now more than 2,000 professional matchmakers in the U. STORY: Travel can improve couples' sex life, survey says STORY: Love never gets old for these couples Personal matchmakers certainly aren't the only way to find a mate.

Dating websites remain popular, and there are national matchmaking services such as It's Just Lunch.