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Emily Straubel

Emily is a sex and dating crusader. She founded The Red Lipstick Project as a place to talk openly about dating and sex and to connect with other intelligent women who want to find relationships that are as passionate and ambitious as they are. Emily also works with these women as a certified Holistic Health Coach to focus on their health and mindfulness as they go through breakups, job changes and other transitions to feel and look amazing in their own unique bodies. To share your story or experiences with dating in Portland email her at

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The Sex Files with Emily Straubel
Posted: March 10, 2014

It's OK to ask for help: 3 Maine matchmakers

Ah, matchmakers. photo

I spend most of my day as a health coach, digital strategy consultant, and human being giving advice. It can be hard to turn it off sometimes, so if I’ve ever cornered you in a bar and given you random unsolicited advice, I apologize.

This week I found myself giving the same piece of advice over and over to people in different worlds about different things, but it all boiled down to one simple tenant: Do more of what you’re good at, and lean on people who are amazing at what they do. Don’t try to be good at everything, it never works out the way you want it to.

This is particularly true with dating. There are so many people who are amazing at whatever they do. They are great at their job and being a good friend, and probably great in the sack; but they are super awkward when they are dating. Not because they are awkward or strange people, but because dating doesn’t come naturally to everyone. There are some extroverts (like the ones I talked about last week) who love to date, and can talk to anyone, anywhere about almost anything. That is a rare talent.

Luckily there are a handful of people in southern Maine who are natural connectors, and they have decided (after helping all of their best friends find wicked good relationships) that they should create a business to help other people (who perhaps aren’t natural daters) find the relationships that they deserve.

Ummm, that’s awesome.

I had a chance to talk to a few of these amazing business owners this week and I’m not going to lie, even as a self-proclaimed “great dater,” they have helped me understand the art of dating and myself SO much better. I can see how they could change everything for a person who needed a support system and even someone who loves dating, but doesn’t have the time.

Here are three of my favorite relationship services that you should be talking to.

J Hinckley Introductions

When Jill started talking about her experience in recruiting for the boat building industry, it didn’t take long to realize why she is absolutely wonderful at making relationship connections. When her friends with boat building skills were losing their jobs during the recession, they looked to her for connections. They were highly skilled and talented, but had never in 30 years had to look for a job, so they leaned on her for her connections. A lightbulb went off for me. The same thing happens with dating. The people who are amazing in relationships might not be great daters, because they’ve never really had to date. On the flip side, people who are great daters aren’t necessarily good in long-term relationships. They’ve never gotten that far!

She specializes in working one-on-one with people who have been in long-term relationships, are talented, respected, and live life to the fullest. Sometimes living life to the fullest means not having enough time to date. Her clients are frequent travelers, they have kids and jobs that are their priorities (which is amazing) but that can keep them from having the time to hang out in bars or at singles events, hoping to meet someone they click with. Online dating isn’t a good match for her clients (only 75% of her clients are using any online dating service) so these aren’t people you’ll meet while scanning It was so refreshing to hear that there are talented and single people out there that I might not have met yet. (I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief.)

While living in Boston, Jill saw the inner workings of the large dating agencies, and knew she could do better. They often have a high-paying client who sets out his/her specific desires in a mate and the agency scans parties and social scenes in the city for people who would be a good match. She saw how that created imbalance in these relationships, and she set out to do things differently. She connects clients who are both equally invested in the process. For clients, this brings peace of mind and balance that is crucial to the long-term success of a partnership.

Jill is smart and sweet and a great listener. She gave me incredibly useful advice and I definitely trust her professionalism and eye for connections. She’s been doing it as a recruiter for years and it shows in her success with personal introductions. You should definitely check out her services and get to know her. It’s worth a meeting just to get to hang out with her!

Go to her website to get more info and to set up a time to meet her.


Cara Matchmaking

To say that Noreen, the owner of Cara Matchmaking, is passionate about helping people connect would be a massive understatement. She is obviously in this business because if she tried to do any other work, she would still be doing matchmaking. It’s in her blood and it makes all the difference. There is something incredible about talking to a person who immediately sees your best qualities and helps you see and appreciate those qualities like you never had before. My self confidence rose a few notches as soon as our conversation started. And that’s the confidence that is so crucial to finding your true match.

Cara is located in southern Maine, but many of her clients are from Portland and even as far north as Waterville. She works with two major groups of people: Those in their late 20s and 30s who are looking for a good match and also those starting to date after a divorce or long-term relationship. She is the perfect partner-in-dating for people who are shy or have a hard time dating. Her bubbly personality makes it easy to talk, and connecting with her means connecting with dozens of potential partners. She adds a real ease to any communication and acts as a catalyst for getting to know someone. She often goes on group dates with clients to help break the ice and make conversation easier and more fun. And she is definitely fun!

She has a great network of clients who are interesting and have a wide variety of interests and personalities. In a world where opposites attract it is so nice to have someone you can trust to help connect you to someone you wouldn’t normally date, but should!

Noreen talks passionately about how she works with clients, she asks them to trust the process and take their time to find love. Her service, like J Hinckley Introductions, is a full-year membership service. Although we live in a world of instant gratification and movies on demand, things like love take time. Working with a matchmaker allows you to take a deep breath and focus on your own life and passions – while a professional helps you add a great relationship to an already rich life.

Call Noreen at 207-712-8595 or check out her website


Local Flames

Local Flames is a completely different company. It’s hard to even describe them as a matchmaking service. In my opinion, they are like the ultimate wingman and a best friend who will tell you the god’s-honest truth. Erin Oldham, who owns Local Flames, is a fiery and gorgeous woman who wears her relationships (both successful and failed) on her sleeve. She is a certified relationship therapist with years of experience, so I was surprised when she told me she doesn’t take a coaching or expert role unless a client asks. She assumes that an individual is the best expert on themselves and on what they need and love. She and her team then create situations that bring out the best in each person and provide the space to make authentic connections.

Erin said it perfectly: “We put the right people in the right room at the right time.” And isn’t that what most people need?

Imagine walking into a room with great live music and dancing and knowing everyone in the room was single. Imagine if you went on a hike with a group of people, knowing that one or two of the people on the trip have expressed interest in meeting you. That’s what Erin imagined, and she has created a business that does just that. Unlike first dates (where you sit across the table getting to know each other’s interests and hoping they match), Local Flames takes a group of single people with similar interests and facilitates a situation where these people are in their element. She found people were more comfortable making authentic love connections and having great conversation when they were doing something they loved. I totally agree.

They take many different approaches to matchmaking. They create custom events based on the interests of their clients, they invite a group of single people to already existing events, they do more traditional one-on-one matchmaking and relationship coaching. Whatever your dating style is, they will tailor fit an experience for you.

The service is brand new and events start in April (I’ll be hosting some workshops and probably a dance party so get on the mailing list ASAP so you don’t miss anything).

Also – make some recommendations on what you would like to do? What do you love to do? I’m sure they would love to hear what events would tickle your fancy.

For more information about Local Flames, sign up for on the website:

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