My brother Fred’s alcoholic ex-wife abandoned him and his sons three years ago. Now, he’d like to find The One, but obviously he won’t look in bars, and he lacks time to sort through endless profiles. I’d love to see him and the kids happy and settled with a good woman in their lives, so I suggested letting me screen women’s profiles online, and then babysitting while he meets the best of the best in person.
He likes my nutty idea, but I have doubts. Is screening possible mates something only he can do? What will the “candidates” think about that? And what’s the best dating site to use?
When Minnesotans Dave and Elizabeth Weinlick wed, their marriage was normal, except for one teeny thing: Dave had his *friends* choose the bride —reasoning that they would be better judges of his wants and needs than he himself—and he and Elizabeth spoke for all of five minutes pre-Vows. And although they were roundly decried as crazy, as of their 10th anniversary they remained delighted with one another and their three kids.
Turns out, using the Friends & Family Plan may be mate shopping’s Safe(er)Way, compared to cultural Do It Yourself norms. Not only are people in arranged marriages in Jaipur, India, happier five and 10 years later than those who married for love—but Western-world Friends & Family are often superior judges of our relationship’s prospects, too. For instance, when Canadian college students were asked to predict how long their current relationship would last, they often couldn’t discern between a Flame and a Fling. But their parents and roommates could. And did.
But will the “candidates” agree? Chances are, some won’t—and most will. Yes, people called Dave Weinlick insane, attention-seeking, and worse; still, he was besieged by 300+ eager would-be brides. Women everywhere are keenly attuned to, and desirous of, signs of men’s willingness to Commit. And few acts communicate the sincere if unusual readiness to wed quite like a guy who is having his sister conduct a full-on Search for Mrs. Right.
That said, Dave Weinlick had something you don’t: Publicity. When Erich Goode placed fake singles ads representing attractive men and women, 11x more men than women initiated responses. So—don’t post a profile on your brother’s behalf and then wait for the women to waltz up. You’re going to have to sort through women’s profiles, and then initiate further contact with those you think could be a good match.
Which brings us to your query regarding the best dating site for Fred. To borrow their slogan, “For All The Right Reasons,” I recommend eHarmony.com:
1. For the marriage-minded man, eHarmony may well be the best dating site and also the only site needed. Whereas sites that allow men to prowl amongst endless photos have a tough time getting equivalent numbers of women to join—to wit, Match.com’s formerly published 55% male to 45% female ratio—eHarmony activates women’s sense of safety and thwarts hunters by doling out the pix-n-profiles a few at a time.
So although the eHarmony website used to claim “roughly equal” numbers of men and women members, and a company spokesperson admitted, under regrettable pressure from one Love Scientist, to a “slight female skew” in the membership (while refusing to divulge specifics)—I don’t believe it for one hot minute.
Not only has every eHarmony member I’ve known (or been) concluded that there are many more women than men available at the site—but evolutionary psychology would predict that very thing. It’s a marriage-oriented site whose model actively attempts the elimination of players, right? And we all know to which gender such a site would most appeal. Therefore, it’s a target-rich environment for serious, commitment-minded men.
2. At eHarmony, not only are the odds good—the Goods are usually good, too. Your brother has had enough of the reverse, and so have his kids. Unlike other sites, eHarmony’s lengthy intake questionnaire contains at least one scale intended to eliminate liars, rejecting those who can’t represent themselves as Basically Decent Human Beings. (They also reject Basically Gay/Lesbian Human Beings on-site, an issue eHarmony finally resolved at CompatiblePartners.net, which uses eHarmony’s questionnaire, matching criteria, and emphasis on serious long-term relationships—enabling commitment-and-monogamy-minded LGTBQ men and women to skip hookup sites. It took a lawsuit, but eHarmony now does for everyone what it once only did for straights.)
3. Personality tests: I’ve taken them all—well, all those at the three biggest dating sites. And unlike competitors Match.com and Chemistry.com, which rely on variations of the Myers-Briggs personality test, eHarmony’s personality profiling is based on Costa & McCrae’s Big 5 personality traits: Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness to experience, and Extroversion. Many scientists consider the Big 5 to have more validity, or real-world truth, than the Myers-Briggs.
4. eHarmony matches people based on the single-best predictor of happiness: Similarity. In addition to the Big 5, eHarmony also claims to match based on 29 other compatibility dimensions, including similarity of values, beliefs, and attitudes key to wedded bliss. The other sites just don’t do it, or don’t do it nearly as well. In research from 2012, married couples who’d met online were happier than those who met any other way; and those who met on eHarmony were happiest of all, and less than half as likely to divorce as couples who’d gotten together at other online venues.
Yes, as with many things eHarmony, the algorithm used to create matches is secret. And it’s doubtful whether it’s even mathematically possible to match on 29 criteria in any meaningful way. But at least there is an algorithm, and the Big 5 personality profiling is real.
Other sites typically offer information—not matching. For instance, Match.com and Chemistry.com both have members take a personality test, and then offer the results to each prospective date/mate. But they don’t actually select the would-be partners for one another based on the results.
So, Betsy, I’m not suggesting that you marry your brother off in less time than it takes to order a tall, skinny decaf latte. But matchmaking is a growth industry. And you’re your brother’s ideal matchmaker—knowledgeable, loving and free of charge. You even throw in the child care. So I think your pre-screening plan, followed by a few coffee dates Fred takes with only the most Wonderful Women, is pure brilliance.
Finally, your brother and his children already have a good woman in their lives —You. I applaud the care and attention you’re showing not only for their present, but also their future. I wish you all—you, Fred, his kids, and his future wife—every happiness.
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The author wishes to acknowledge the following scientists and sources:
Usha Gupta and Pushpa Singh of the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India, for their research on the trajectory of romantic love in arranged and non-arranged marriages
Thomas N. Bradbury and Benjamin R. Karney, for theiroutstanding textbook regarding Intimate Relationships, and the statistics regarding the expansion of matchmaking in modern America
Erich Goode, for his empirical research showing that men are far likelier than women to answer online personals ads
Spokespersons for eHarmony.com and Match.com
All material copyrighted by LoveScience Media and Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., 2010; updated and reprinted, 2014.