I spent a little more than two months in a dating ban. This was partially self-imposed, partially imposed by my good friend Susan. Before the ban, I had spent the previous six months or so dating person after person. This began to wear on me and I had become pessimistic, so it was time to stop for a while.
During this break, I turned 30. I went on a cruise with my parents. I kicked ass at work. I spent a lot of time with my friends and a lot of time sitting on my fabulous couch. Then, one day I decided I was ready to try again. Like the Weezer song “Glorious Day,” that I like so much, I was ‘gonna hit the ground with a brand new sound lookin’ for romance.’
Previously I had been finding my dates through Match.com. This generally worked fine for me, but I realized that many of the men available on the site were single for a reason. The last one I dated for a while had had a complete meltdown. The one before that was so wholesome he made me want to throw up. The one before that had a commitment freak out. Maybe the Match men were not the ones for me. They all seemed to wear crazy pants in different and very special ways.
At this point, my friends suggested I try eHarmony.com. My friends and I are a socially conscious, liberal bunch, so previously we had been completely against eHarmony. Its founder, Dr. Warren, is strongly tied to the conservative Christian community. According to Wikipedia, “Dr. Warren claims eHarmony lacks enough data to successfully match gay and lesbian couples and he lists same-sex marriage as being illegal in most states and eHarmony doesn’t really want to participate in something that’s illegal.” This is not a man I wanted to give any further funding out of my pocket. This is a man I would want to kick if I met him in person. Also according to Wikepedia, around 72% of eHarmony members associate themselves with a religion. I am not remotely religious.
This was definitely something I had to think about. I already hated Dr. Warren, could I sell out and support his web site in hopes of meeting a non-crazy man? I decided I could.
One morning I decided to go ahead and start the eHarmony process. This involved answering around 400 questions. Most of them were based on a strongly disagree/strongly agree ranking system. Many of these questions were about how I handle my emotions and how I feel about family, my parents, faith, values, and beliefs. I was fine with the questions about my emotional state, but bothered by the other types of questions. They were obviously written to get a handle on my devotion to or lack of interest in religion. I felt like the questions on drinking were also faulty. I had to choose if I drink once a week, every few months, once a year, or never -– ridiculous options. How about a few times a month like a normal person?
At the end of the series of questions, I was delivered a personality evaluation. I was given explanations of myself in the areas of agreeableness, openness, emotional stability, conscientiousness, and extraversion. Each section was broken down into:
- You are best described as
- Words that describe you
- A General Description of How You Interact with Others
- Negative Reactions Others May Have Toward You
- Positive Responses Others May Have Toward You
The assessments of my personality and the way I handle things was good. I didn’t have any strong disagreements about what the profile said about me. The personality profile did, however, reek of standardization. It gave me the idea that everyone who took this personality assessment magically fit into half a dozen buckets. I like to think I am a unique person, not a Dr. Warren bucket.
The eHarmony Profile System: Where’s the Personality?
The eHarmony profile system was completely different than the Match.com world I was accustomed to. There is very little opportunity to insert a personality into an eHarmony profile, which is your first chance to make an impression. Your profile consists of answers to these questions:
- What are you most passionate about?
- What are the three things for which you are most thankful?
- Other than your parents, who has been the most influential person in your life and why?
- What is the most important quality that you are looking for in another person?
- Other than your appearance, what is the first thing that people notice about you?
- What is the one thing that people don’t notice about you right away that you wish they would?
- How do you typically spend your leisure time?
- What are five things that you “can’t live without?”
Other information in your profile is provided via your personality assessment:
- The four things your friends say about you are what?
- What are three of your best life-skills?
Once my profile was set, it was time to receive my matches. In the eHarmony FAQ, it states that it may be a while before you receive any matches and most people receive 10-25 per year. I apparently was not ‘most people’ in this scenario. In 19 days, I received 120 matches. This could be either because I live in a city or because I am the most compatible person on the planet. Or both. It amazes me that some people get 10 matches a year and I averaged 6.3 per day.
The communication/matching process begins with an eHarmony-generated email. It says:
“There’s someone we’d like you to meet…
Dear Stacey and Blah,
eHarmony’s Compatibility Matching SystemTM has found that you two are a highly compatible match, based on our rigorous 29 Dimensions scale. With this level of compatibility, we believe you two will have a lot to talk about and may even find true love together.”
At that point, you can log into the eHarmony site and see the meager profile information posted on Blah, who just may be your true love. From there, there are requests for communication, sending first questions (these are chosen from a checklist), second questions (these are essays), then open communication where you are able to anonymously email back and forth.
I found this process unappealing. I ended up ignoring almost every request for communication I received because the person lived too far away or had no photo posted. As much as we all like to say that appearance doesn’t matter, let’s get real, attraction is important.
eHarmony gets a thumbs down. The communication process is clumsy. Many of the true love matches you receive are people who have not paid the subscription fee, so they have no way to communicate with you through the clumsy process anyway. The site runs slowly and poorly if you are not a mainstream Internet Explorer/PC user.
My advice is to stick with Match.com or meeting people in real life. May the force be with you, not Dr. Warren.