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!”
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 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.