Oh Uncle Slash,
I need your help. Badly. I recently decided to give online dating a try. I’ve been off the scene for awhile so I decided to try eHarmony. They are supposed to have a good system in which you answer a bunch of questions and based off your answers, they will connect you with people in your area that would be a good match. I spent over an hour answering questions and guess what came back? 8 matches. Yes 8. That was for the entire metropolitan area I live in (Portland, OR).
What’s up with that? I’m a normal person (not insane), well educated, athletic and healthy, and not bad on the eyes. What could I have possibly done or said wrong to only get 8 matches? Please, oh please, Uncle Slash. Help me out!
Not liking my limited choices.
Dear Limited Choices,
After a bit of date sleuthing I’m pretty confident that you’ll find the eHarmony quandary you experienced in Portland, OR is actually…. well, it’s pretty much the same in communist Cuba except that the time-consuming proprietary questionnaire about beliefs, values, emotional health and skills includes a few dozen questions related to Figurados and a practical exam on beard grooming.
As I see it, your problem may actually be with understanding the way you describe yourself in your query. In the world of eHarmony saying that you’re a “normal, well educated, athletic and healthy, person,” isn’t necessarily going to win you any dates.
What You write vs. What The eHarmony Research Facility Interprets
normal person (not insane) = You’re more fun when you’re on your meds.
well educated = You’re taking night classes at community college.
athletic = You’re a flat chested woman seeking a guy who likes shopping.
healthy = You’re a neat freak with a heart condition.
not bad on the eyes = You’re a gnome with a color coordinated hat collection.
Just so I could better understand your dilemma, I decided to do some fieldwork and signed up for eHarmony myself. I should preface this by saying that the eHarmony questionnaire gave me flashbacks to my college SAT’s and the summer I spent in high school studying with the scholastic test preparation pioneer, Stanley Kaplan. He was supposed to help me improve my score, instead I learned how to answer what seemed like the same question 2,047 different ways. I did however learn how to French kiss a girl who shared a name with a local paddle steamer – Annabelle Lee – during class breaks. In the end, much to my disappointment, I wasn’t Harvard bound (I barely scored 800) but I did learn that the back seat of a Pontiac Grand LeMans Coupé has a heck of a lot of room.
I’m not sure how you signed up for eHarmony in an hour. To answer the 258 questions required to join, it took me over 12 hours, which I spread out over 3 days.
Unfortunately, my field research ends here. I got an email four days later stating that I was deemed un-suitable for the site (which should make you feel a lot better). After all, you got 8 more matches than I did and I live in New York City. Here’s part of their explanation that I pulled from the email:
“eHarmony is based upon a complex matching system developed through extensive testing of married individuals. One of the requirements for it to work successfully is for participants to fall into our rigorously defined profiles. If we aren’t able to match a user well using these profiles, the most considerate approach is to inform them early in the process.
We are so convinced of the importance of creating compatible matches to help people establish and enjoy happy, lasting relationships that we choose not to provide service rather than risk an uncertain match.
Unfortunately, we are not able to make our profiles work for you. Our matching system is not suitable for about 20% of potential users, so 1 in 5 people simply would not benefit from our service. We hope that you understand that we regret our inability to provide service for you at this time.”
I’m not exactly sure how the labs at eHarmony crunch their compatibility vectors but I do know that I’m now looking into parthenogenesis, which is a self fertilization technique used by bees and water fleas, as a personal reproduction and relationship strategy.
If it makes you feel any better, one of my Canadian friends who lives in Saskatchewan only found one match through eHarmony. They fell in love instantly and she ended up marrying him. He’s an Aborigine and they share a great love of the didgeridoo and have an awesome relationship except for the fact that he comes down with influenza, measles and small pox about once a year. Remember, Limited Choices, whether it’s 8 matches or 81 matches it’s not how many choices you have, it’s what you do with those choices that counts.
Best of Luck,