A little wine, a little beef

It’s Friday night here at OWS – a night of peace and quiet and reflection, since the kids are with The Ex. I’m relaxed. I’ve had (cheap) wine with cheese and crackers (out of the box). And I’m not feeling one iota of guilt about being without my children.

“Wait!” you say. “It’s almost Mother’s Day. You should be welling up with tears of love missing your children!”

white finger pointing R Tip: An evening without the kids whining and arguing and making you get up every 3 seconds to fill their glasses is exactly the kind of gift a mom wants for Mother’s Day.

I think the wine is getting to me……which is why I feel compelled to tell you about something that has been nagging at me the last few days: it’s my beef with eHarmony. People here and people not here have suggested that I try out eHarmony to help me find that special someone. This is a perfectly rational, good suggestion and I thank everyone for thinking of me and wanting to help. I mean that sincerely…even if I grunt in disgust and change the channel whenever I see one of those grinning, enthusiastic, sappy couples on one of their commercials. (I mean, who doesn’t have that reaction?)

No, I have no problem with e-Harmony or their concept, which they are very, very good at marketing. They promote that eH offers a more trustworthy, deeper way to meet and screen people. I know people in normal relationships who met through the site; they’ve had good experiences with it. I hear about the marriages, the success stories. I understand all of that. What I question is the value and methodology of their touted scientific matching process. Based on my experience, I don’t believe it’s any better than going through a site like Match.com that some consider too shallow to try. It may be worse.

Here’s what happened. It’s going back a few years, but the process is essentially the same today.

First, I spent 45 minutes one night answering an exhaustive list of questions to determine my core traits and vital attributes, as well as my “must haves” and “can’t stands” in a relationship. Think Myers-Briggs on steroids with the annoying twist that it only covers things relationship-related. Are you a cat or dog person? How fiscally responsible are you? Control freak or slacker? Do you use spell-check? (If I could screen potential suitors with that last one, I’d weed out most of the dating pool up front.)

Cursing myself for starting down this path, I filled out the 5,000 questions and clicked the Submit button.

Nothing happened.neil clark warren

Nothing happened for days. The system couldn’t find one freakin’ qualifying heterosexual man within 50 miles. That was discouraging, but Dr. Neil Clark Warren, best-selling psychologist, told me this was to be expected. I shouldn’t give up. It was all part of the scientific process.

Finally, I received a few matches – very few. The guys seemed okay, although one or two weren’t particularly attractive to me. I focused on the others and began contacting them through the different levels of communication: multiple choice questions, open-ended questions, and the final frontier of Open Communication.

The process worked the way Neil said it would. There was just one odd thing: each guy eHarmony sent my way had indicated that religion and faith were central to how he lived his daily life. This is fine for someone else, and I would always be respectful of it, but it wasn’t (and still isn’t) me. I know when I originally filled out my profile I checked off that I was Catholic; it was how I was raised, even if I fall below today’s practicing standards. (I’m probably not on the chart anymore, come to think of it.) At any rate, I didn’t care what anyone else’s religion was, and, while I consider myself a spiritual person, religion and commitment to one faith wasn’t an area important to me or in my life. And that’s how I ranked it in my profile.

Yet, being without any other dating prospects, I decided to keep going and went out with my 4 matches. The one I remember the most was a likable enough guy, a divorced father and engineer, who I met for dinner. The date went fine, and we even talked briefly about the faith thing. No big deal. After dinner we decided to go to the Barnes & Noble across the street for a cup of coffee. My date had never been in a B & N before, which I thought was strange, even for an engineer. We walked inside. In awe, he surveyed the towering displays and rows of books. “Do they have a Christian book section?” he asked me.

I hadn’t been on many dates before, but I was pretty sure most didn’t end up in the Religion section. The only religious experiences I had ever heard people talk about in the context of dating were, well, not the kind you want to share on a family-friendly site.

“Yes, they do,” I said with confidence because I knew it was true. I had spent enough time perusing B & N stores walking straight past or through the religious texts in search of other topics. “Near the children’s books.”

I dropped him off there and walked quickly to the relationship self-help section, careful to avoid the side of the aisle housing books about Kama Sutra and other sordid, sinful titles. A short while later, I checked up on him. He had narrowed down his choices to two books by a contemporary author. Even though I hadn’t been to church in months, I did the only thing a good Christian woman would do. I let him use my B & N membership card to get the 10% discount.

If that isn’t good matching I don’t know what is.

If eHarmony isn’t a good marketer, I don’t know who is – even if you can’t always believe the hype.


11 thoughts on “A little wine, a little beef

  1. Mike says:

    Having done a little research on online dating sites in the past I had read that eHarmony was very big into matching religious types, especially Christians. And you can forget getting a match, or even making it past the compatibility testing, if you are gay (which I am not). Interesting to read that it seems to be true.

  2. I seem to recall reading an article a few years ago that pointed out that the smiling guy from eHarmony started out as a relationship expert for Christian singles and that eHarmony was his big attempt to breakout into more secular markets.

    The writer of the article (and agnostic or atheist, I can’t recall exactly) was concerned that her lack of metaphyics would be something the scientific process over at eHarmony was not designed to handle. It turned out, I think, that she was right.


    A little wine, a little beef
    A witty line, though two lines brief.

  3. Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yocal says:

    Interesting. Thanks for the insight. Maybe it is just a front for the religious right. What better way to continue to a movement than to encourage people to meet and procreate? I wouldn’t be surprised if Carl Rove’s evil little brain is behind the whole “scientific process.” And I’m only half joking. My unsolicited advice—steer clear of Evil-Harmony.

  4. Morgan says:

    You know, I think EHarmony stinks! I too have used the site but have NEVER gotten a date from it! But they only send you matches the day before your membership is to expire. What a great marketing tool to get you to hang on since one of these new people could be the one! May will be my last month of this marketing craze and I will be on to another phase! Good Luck!

  5. Just so you know, I used your “tip” up there as part of my mother’s day gifts to my wife. Took the kids to the science center in the morning, and then brought them back home for nap time. All told, Mrs. Subdivided got a six-hour Sunday to herself, and I think I won myself some husbanding points. Thanks! I really did get the idea to do that from your tip. (Sorry to hijack the rest of the thread, which centers on eHarmony — just thought you’d appreciate hearing that your suggestion was useful….)

  6. Annemarie says:

    Sorry to hear about your eHarmony experiences. When I was on eHarmony, I closed out the religious zealots at the very start. I would say of the 100+ matches I received, I talked to quite a number of very nice men.

  7. Mike, David (Dayvoe), Cletus and Morgan – thanks for your comments (and poetry, D). I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my thinking/experience, but my opinion is only one of many – not exactly a scientific sampling. (Of course, this is my blog, so I can say what I want and you’ll humor me.) Q: Wasn’t Carl Rove the one who rapped and danced at a White House event this year? That is scarier than anything I’ve written in this post.

    BTW, Cletus, sweetheart, let’s get you some dental work while we’re at it.

    Annemarie – I’m glad you’ve had a good experience (sounds like a great experience). If there’s one thing I’ve learned these last few years: go with what works for you. I had a much better experience on Match, for example, in terms of the, well, matches, and I liked being able to look for myself as an option. As I also posted in April, I like speed dating, too. Who knows where Prince Charming can show up?

    Bob – thanks for stopping by. I probably needed to be sidetracked from my rant on poor eHarmony! I’m so glad the Tip worked, giving your wife some alone time and you major brownie points! Believe it or not, guys, the simple, thoughtful things work wonders. (Flowers help, too, but volunteer to clean my shower and I’d be happy for days.)

  8. The first time I tried Eharmony. I got maybe 3 matches. I made it VERY clear in my answers to the questions, that I was very liberal in my politics, Spiritual, but not religious, and that I lived in CA and wanted someone within 50 miles. Just to name a few. My first match was a Fundementalist Christian, Bush Republican, living in Texas. Hello????? I was done. I’ve tried just about every site available. Went out a with maybe 5 guys from match. Most once, never more than twice. All either nightmares or just not a match. Then a friend of mine after swearing off men efter her 3rd divorce, moved back home from Idaho to CA. For some reason she signed up for Eharmony. Within 3 weeks she met a man who lived a few minutes from her, was a Born again Christian, like her. (I have nothing against any faith. I just don’t want to get too serious with someone who doesn’t share my values and religion and one’s beliefs are very important.)And within 4 months they were married. They’re even in the commercials. So, she’s all over me to try again. Then not two weeks later another friend signs up. She was matched with a lot of men. She dated a few and met the love of her life 1 or 2 months later. He’s Agnostic. She’s a Buddhist. (I only mention this because some people were saying I wasn’t getting matches because I wasn’t a Christian and it was basically a Christian site.)Anyway, come to find out they live only 4 blocks apart. They probably walked their dogs past each for years. So, I try again. This time not one match for 3 months, so of course I quit. My girlfriend who met the man of her dreams is living the life of her dreams. It’s been over a year. And the other one is going on year number 5 of her marriage. They wanted to see my profile to see if I somehow looked like a psycho or something. Mine was quite similar to my Buddhist friend, so that’s not it. So, after Almost 6 years, I’ve thrown in the towel. They just started Speed Dating here. I may give it a whirl. At least you know immediately, if there’s any physical attraction. Another problem with online dating sites. The guys who just want to write forever. Maybe talk on the phone. I say the sooner you meet in person, the better. Also, always have a real life, timely picture. The worst thing anyone can get on the first date is the “Face drop”, or them not recognizing you at all. I’ve had plenty of guys using 10 year old pictures and saying they were way younger than they were. What do they think is going to happen on that first date…..you’re not going to notice they look like the Grandpa of the guy you’ve been writing to?
    So, you think Speed Dating is at least good for an okay time, if you go at it with the right attitude? I live in a smallish, college/ retirement area….gorgeous, but not prime dating area for women over 40.

  9. Lisa, thanks so much for stopping by. I’m sorry to hear you haven’t had the kind of luck you’d like with online dating. I’ve had some good dates, but like you, nothing lasting. I definitely think you should give Speed Dating a try, if for no other reason than to get out, have a bit of fun (or at least gather some stories to write about!), and who knows? Maybe you’ll meet that person down the street like your friends.

    As for the eHarmony or just online dating stuff, I don’t know. I’m past the “what’s wrong with me” bit, but it still sucks that I see other people having success when I do not. I can completely relate.

    Don’t give up, keep me posted. I’m thinking I also need to do a post dedicated to online dating in general…

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