The sun-kissed sands, bikinis, tanned bodies and glittering luxury cars may lead one to believe Southern California is a mecca for deep-pocketed lotharios looking for love, and countless women who can't wait to date them. But even some of the most savvy and successful men in these parts need their share of help finding "the one."
When they need help navigating the landscape of love, they often call on April Beyer, a Los Angeles matchmaker and headhunter for the heart. Beyer only works for men -- successful men -- and she doesn't come cheap.
"My retainer is $30,000 for an annual contract," Beyer told ABC News.
That's a steep price for something many of us do on our own, but the men Beyer works with are willing to pay, up front, to have her track down and match them with a potential mate.
"I work for about 10 to 15 highly successful, single, professional marriage-minded men per year," she said. "What I do in my function is to be a headhunter. I actually go out in the world and interview and prescreen all of these women and hopefully find that one particular person."
Beyer's matching process is rigorous. After 10 years of experience in the business and 20 marriages to her credit, her instincts on who works with whom are keen. She offers her clients a protective, personal touch lacking in this era of computer dating. Her job is necessary, she says, because the dating landscape has greatly changed over the years, in her opinion for the worse.
"There are more single people today than ever before," Beyer said.
Although a highly successful woman in her own right, Beyer is a staunch traditionalist and she attributes this rise in singles in part to a major shift in the cultural landscape and the dynamics between men and women.
"I just find that with today's current relationship climate, women have become the hunters and men are retreating back," Beyer said.
Beyer is certainly pro women's rights, but she thinks a new revolution is in order -- one that allows a woman to be successful as well as feminine.
"I think, looking back, the women's lib movement was awesome, but that was a long time ago. That was when things needed to change, and now things need to change again," said Beyer. "I don't want to undo it; I just want to continue because people are coming to me very unhappy with the current dating status."
Matchmaker: 'People Aren't Listening Anymore'
Beyer believes new aggression from women has allowed men to become lazy in the courtship process, leaving both sides unsure of their roles or how to find and pursue love.
"Why have women become so aggressive and men have become so laid back and lazy about dating and relationships? It's because women are pursuing, women are picking up the checks on dates," Beyer said.
She also believes that a man needs to be treated "like a man" when he is at home, and these powerful and successful women have a hard time turning that edge off for their husbands.
"Where things are breaking down is the fact that women are taking their success and wearing it like a badge of honor," Beyer said. And when she is inevitably called a sexist, Beyer has an answer for that as well.
"The power of a woman is our femininity, and what we can bring to the table as women. I don't need to duplicate myself and make myself a man to have equal footing."
Extensive Vetting Process
Beyer's process involves extensively interviewing her clients about their pasts, their upbringing and what kind of families they had, all to paint a picture of who they will work best with. She also pays close attention to what they are going through in the present, because who you are now may greatly change who you can date.
"I rely on the past, but I also have to take a snapshot of who they are right now, regardless of where they came from. This is something I have to look at because you can't judge somebody in the ashes of their life," said Beyer. "You have to give them time to get back on their feet. A year from now, someone might be dating completely different, making totally different choices.
"If I find somebody that hasn't really gotten into the groove of their life, they shouldn't be mate shopping," Beyer said.
She also helps her clients navigate a successful date, so they are getting the most of their time with that potential partner.
"I think number one is listening. It's the key to every great date, which obviously leads to every great relationship. People aren't listening anymore," Beyer said.
'Dates Aren't Supposed to Be Just Fun'
Beyer adds that another mistake people make on dates is trying to be too much fun, trying simply to entertain, rather than try to get to know the person across from you and make sure they are comfortable with you.
"It's not your job to entertain them or make it fun. Dates aren't supposed to be just fun," she said. "You're going to want to make sure that they're warm, if they have a drink in their hand, that they're comfortable, that they're being heard. That's your job -- to make someone feel comfortable around you."
Finally, one of Beyer's biggest pieces of advice: you must love and know thy self before you can love another person.
"I think a lot of people think they want love. I don't think a lot of people are ready for love. There is something about falling in love which is also about loving yourself first, and being ready to love someone," Beyer said.
"Ninety-five percent of the people I meet in my interviews are not as ready as they think they are because they haven't done the work," said Beyer. "They haven't looked inside to find out what they need. Most people have a very good handle on what they want, and not a clue what they need."