Matchmakers Not Showing Much Love

John Tierney has writen an interesting column about competing online dating sites and the squabbles between them over whose matchmaking algorithm is more scientific.

A recently divorced friend of mine just dipped her toes into the online dating world for the first time. She entered her information: lives in a large city, late thirties, divorced, well-educated, loves to dance, etc. Then she let the algorithm find her soul mate.

I’d love to say that it was like the old “Pina Colada” song by Rupert Holmes and the perfect match the system spit out was her ex-husband.

Nope, it was her boss.


Ken

Quick question:

Can someone screen the Florida State football comments on here? It's like we're turning a good blog into a bad college football forum... :)

yoshi

If you are looking for someone at a bar or through church and it doesn't work out do you give up going to the bar or church (or whatever?). I find it interesting that if eharmony fails once - many of you are just willing to write off dating sites.

I've been online my entire life - meeting people online is just as natural than hitting a bar or meeting people through friends. I've met my bf of 6 years through an online dating site. Like everything else - finding a mate takes effort and there is no single bullet. When looking for love - friends, the bar, social network sites, church groups - they are just all tools.

Bart

I thought that was Jimmy Buffett

Fred

I was matched to my soon-to-be wife on eHarmony a little over three years ago. After initially getting matched up, I was telling a single friend how much I had in common with my new girlfriend and how much fun we were having together and I recommended that he give it a try.

He put his information in and waited for the matches to return and then bingo, bango, one of his first matches was my ex.

That made for a pretty good chuckle.

ChrisH

My friend, who is a phd candidate at a top school, tried eharmony. they hooked her up with a guy who had violent tendencies. he cheated on her, screwed up her credit and gave her herpes. every time i see that old geezer smiling on their commercial i laugh out loud.

David

I wonder what the assembled think about eHarmony's propensity to be VERY careful always to match whites with whites, Asians with Asians, blacks with blacks, etc.

This has spawned quite a few competitors for people who expressly don't care about that issue and resent being told that they should.

AaronS

The first question I ask a date is, "Are you now, or have you ever been, a man?"

This ensures so many things....

1) If she can handle this question with aplomb, then she shows the sort of attractive personality that is to be fervently desired.

2) If "she" says, yes, it allows me to forego the expensive dinner I had planned, and instead just take the attractive gentleman to a Burger King drive-thru, which will hopefully cast a pall on the relationship before it has a chance of turning into full-blown romance and marriage.

3) The way I figure it, the woman ought to be pleased that I actually care! If I didn't care enough to ask, she might wonder if I care.

Then, there is the second step--almost of equal importance:

"Are you a Florida State Seminoles football fan?"

If the answer is yes, we are obviously compatible and destined for years of marital bliss.

If the answer is no, I realize that this beautiful, young thing is sorely lacking the mental capabilities that I would require and desire in any woman of mine.

And there you go. My two-step algorithm for marital happiness.

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Lauren D

@Justin James:

I recently joined OkCupid.com and it has the feature you mentioned. I love that you get to rate the importance of a potential mate's answer from "Irrelevant" to "Very Important" and "Mandatory".

Bob

David - I met my wife on eHarmony and we are not of the same racial background. Aside from that, eHarmony actually lets you specify what races you do want to be set up with (including all if you want). Your comment seems pretty uninformed. -Bob

Stan B

I tried eHarmony a while ago. Paid my money, filled out the questionnaire and waited....and waited....and waited. I got exactly one "match" in the 6 months I was on there and she was neither compatible with me nor anywhere near where I live. When I called eHarmony on their (at the time) promise to refund your money if they don't find you at least 6 matches in 6 months, I was told that I was not eligible for a refund. And why was that, I asked? No explanation, I just wasn't. eHarmony is such a scam.

Tom M

OKCupid is the way to go. Being able to rate the importance of certain questions was great.

I met my wife on there three and a half years ago.

Using the site years ago was also great because of the limited population. It was relatively obscure, so most of the folks were early adopters. People who knew how to find stuff.

And you get a writing sample. How great is that?!

rapidadverbssuck

It might be better to try to make it work with someone you already know than to chance finding love with some stranger. There are sites that let you do this, like the Love-o-Graph (http://lovegraph.thefootnotes.net), where you just enter two names, and it does the compatibility testing post-hoc (even using the Google Charts API to present the results). At least you don't have to pay for it, like so many of the dating sites.

Luba L

You know, I was actually matched up on e-harmony with my ex-husband! We were a very bad match in real life. This kind of matching speaks for itself.

Mike

I signed up for eharmony a couple of years ago and at the same time two good friends did as well. After a couple months we saw a pattern - we noticed we were getting the same matches, (which makes sense since we're similar) however, we were getting those matches a week or two apart.

So what was happening? Were people updating their profile so they now seemed compatible? Seems unlikely considering how cumbersome it was to go through the questionnaire. Or was eharmony just dishing them out every now and then? Controlling the distribution so it seemed more steady and I would stay interested? I thought it was frustrating that the control was up to eharmony.

Anyhow, I went on two dates. One was good but not great, the other was bad. I quit the site since most of the matches weren't appealing and that it seemed more random than anything.

I ended up meeting my fiancee on match.com a little over a year ago. She contacted me because my profile made her laugh - I was impressed with her because not only was she clever and well spoken, she had good grammar and punctuation (you'd be surprised how much this stands out - particularly in LA) - I thought that represented a level of pride and care that you couldn't infer from a multiple choice question. I mean, who wouldn't select "I take pride and care in the things I do"? With match.com, I got to actually see it.

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Paul

I don't think eHarmony takes care to match people racially. I was matched with many (and went on dates with a few) women of different racial backgrounds (Chinese, Indian, black, native american, hispanic. That's pretty broad).

Also, my experience was very different from the person who got one match in 6 months. I would get about 6-8 per day and had to keep turning matching off because even only initiating an email with about 1 in 20 I was still overwhelmed.

Princess Leia

like finds like!

Andrew

Given how much easier it is to find a job than a mate, the person who was matched up with her boss should quit her job and date him!

Jessica

@6--

"I found my mate on the Internet too. Well, she found me. She pulled random guys in her age range and area on MySpace. I came up, we had our first date less than a week later. It's been over a year, we have a great child together, and we're looking to buy a house."

Its been "over a year" and you already have a "great" child? Granted, maybe by "over a year" you mean 10 years or by "a great child" you mean a newborn who just lies there, but the connotation of those statements is that it hasn't been that much over a year, and your child is old enough to have a personality. Did you get her pregnant on the first date?

Lee

Sign #4783 that I'm getting old: I winced when Levitt described "Escape" as an old song. Then I looked it up on Wikipedia. Yep, 29 years is old for a song.

Thanks, Levitt.

Peter Brady

E-Harmony told me that I was unmatchable.