Kathryn's Blog: eHarmony

Guys, marriages and eHarmony…

Back in January 2006, I wrote a blog post that said eHarmony claimed 90 singles a day were marrying because of eHarmony.  This article below says the numbers are now 236 people marrying a day who met on eHarmony.  I’m not a big fan of eHarmony, but you can’t argue with success.  What are the stats for Match.com and Yahoo! Personals?

eHarmony says its goal is not just to find users dates—It wants them to get married. In fact, the company claims that 236 people a day in the U.S. are married as a result of meeting through their site.

Part of a comment on OnlinePersonalsWatch by Evan Chase:

...while some men find eHarmony a pain in the butt due to all its hoops in guided communication, I actually like it and find it a must have for men dating online.

It’s actually more efficient due to the fact that you don’t have to be creative about your answers until long in to the communication process. How many different ways can you answer, “Your Idea of adventure is?”


Gays, lesbians and purchasing power

I’ve thought for a long time that it would be the money that gay people have to spend that would be the key to unlock the proverbial closet. Gay folks, particularly gay male couples, have a lot of money to get rid of—just think about it: Usually two wage earners, both men, who tend to get paid more than women, and most often, no financial responsibility for children.  Gay male couples can be economic powerhouses, and just look at ads in the New York Times to see how the tonier businesses are going after their bank accounts.

This article below spotlights businesses that are leaving gay money on the table, eHarmony being number one.  eHarmony may be getting enough straight dollars to pooh pooh potential gay clients, but in this economic downturn, no markets can be ignored.

What I don’t like about this article is the use of the word “cater.” The word implies “giving special treatment to” and that is just what the political right tries to portray gays as trying to get: Special treatment.  It is not special treatment to get the same service—or rights—as anyone else.  The dollars may be gay ones, but they are worth exactly the same whether a gay or straight person spends them, and the money is indistinguishable once it is spent. 

Homosexuals’ Money Is No Good Here
Some Businesses Don’t Cater to Gays, Lesbians at a Cost to the Bottom Line

June 19, 2008 —

Some businesses still don’t cater to homosexuals, ignoring a potentially lucrative source of revenue, says University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee economist Keith A. Bender.

One of the most well-known examples is eHarmony.com, even as California, the country’s most populated state, began performing same-sex marriages this week. The online dating Web site bills itself as a provider of what it calls unique measurements for compatibility that, according to a representative, do not cater to same-sex partnering.

“The research is based on six Ph.D. psychologists and 29 variables for compatibility called the compatibility matching system,” said David D., an eHarmony representative who refused to give his full name.

The Pasadena, Calif.-based site, which began in 2000, says it serves about 20 million members across the United States, Canada and Australia.

On the sexual orientation issue, “It is false to say eHarmony discriminates against gays or lesbians,” the company said in a statement. “Nothing precludes us from providing same-sex matching in the future. It’s just not a service we offer now.”

The Web site’s measurements for matches were developed by Neil Clark Warren, who says that eHarmony is the first online dating service to use relationship science to pair its singles.

Bender, the Wisconsin economist, believes that the Web site eHarmony and other companies could be more profitable if they offered their services to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

“These companies are cutting out a certain segment of the population that they could be getting revenue from,” Bender said. “Statistics I’ve heard say that around 10 percent of the population expresses some homosexual tendencies. One way to think about these businesses is that companies like eHarmony could increase their revenues by about 10 percent, assuming that the same rates of homosexuals as heterosexuals would take advantage of these kinds of dating sites.”

There are 417,044 pairs of unmarried male partners and 362,823 pairs of unmarried female partners living together in this country, according to a 2006 American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. That does not take into account homosexual singles or married couples.

Robert Lee, the owner and editor of aLoveLinksPlus.com—a dating service directory—said that while some dating Web sites explicitly exclude homosexual singles, others do not make their policies as obvious.

“EHarmony.com is a standout,” Lee said. “But there are also some smaller niche sites that are only for straights, which are not as vigilant in saying you have to be straight to join.”

Some fitness centers, resorts and other services continue to exclude homosexuals as well.

Recent examples include:

In New Mexico, Elaine Huguenin, a professional photographer from Albuquerque, told a lesbian couple in April that she would not photograph them because she only works with straight couples.

In July 2007, Rochester, N.Y., couple Amy and Sarah Monson were refused membership at the Rochester Athletic Club. These two women said that they were in a committed relationship and that they should be allowed to buy a membership.

It took until June 2007 for the University of Virginia to allow same-sex couples to join its gym, according to the Washington Post.

In May 2008, Drs. Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton refused to give infertility treatment to a lesbian couple because of their religious views. One of the patients wanted to be artificially inseminated, and the doctors’ refusal led to a case that reached the Supreme Court.

Clinical Coordinator Christopher Johnson of the Gay Men of African Descent advocacy group says these practices are offensive and discriminatory.

“In terms of a social decision, it keeps people who are of the lesbian-gay-transsexual-bisexual community outside of society where they can’t connect to one another through those institutions or those businesses,” he said.

“That is discrimination. Although society has made some progress, there is still a lot of work to do to make people know that gay people have rights as well. The decision to have people keep us out of their businesses is unconstitutional.”

But the legal issues are unresolved, said Emma Dickson, a New York attorney.

“There has been discussion about whether sexual orientation is necessarily included under our civil rights laws,” she said. “As we are moving towards recognizing gay rights as civil rights, we could make a parallel between not serving a black person in a diner because of his or her race and not being able to participate in a dating Web site because of one’s sexual orientation.”

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures


No one stops OBC…On eHarmony

While I don’t like OnlineBootyCall.com and their general premise (On their home page: “You have entered the most unique singles site on the net. Let’s face it; chances are you will never find your soul mate online. So don’t promise marriage just to get a date. Join OBC today for FREE!"), they do have a sense of humor and do not take themselves too seriously.  What they do take seriously is having fun.  See below the humor they get out of eHarmony’s latest booboo:

OnlineBootyCall.com: eHarmony Ends ‘One Night Stand’ With Walk of Shame
Thursday May 15, 8:00 am ET

SAN DIEGO, May 15 /PRNewswire/—Contradicting its marriage-oriented brand, eHarmony ventured into unfamiliar waters last week by releasing a newsletter titled “Navigating the One Night Stand.” The newsletter instructed singles how to engage in appropriate booty call etiquette, reminiscent of OnlineBootyCall.com’s playful advice in the Booty Call Commandments. The ensuing backlash from members forced eHarmony to take the proverbial “walk of shame” back to their community and issue an apology.

eHarmony’s misstep into the casual dating scene was a tacit recognition of the increasing influence of Americans who are opting to remain single and subscribe to non-traditional dating services. Despite eHarmony’s unwillingness to admit, people joining match making sites are not always looking for marriage. OnlineBootyCall.com, recognizing the special needs of this segment of the population, caters to proud singles who “enjoy being single.” “Let’s be honest, there’s a time in people’s life when they actively choose to be single. They want to enjoy that adventurous stage in their lives. Finding the right person isn’t a one shot, one kill process. You have to explore a bit,” added Moses (Mo) Brown, CEO and founder of OnlineBootyCall.com.

The New York Times(1) piece, “To Be Married Means to Be Outnumbered,” captured the crux of this issue, noting that “a growing number of adults are spending more of their lives single or living unmarried with partners.” US Census statistics also corroborate Brown’s statement, as major studies(2) show that the majority of households in the US are comprised of single, unmarried individuals.

With its usual tongue-in-cheek humor, OnlineBootyCall pokes more fun at eHarmony’s embarrassment by releasing its spoof of eHarmony’s marriage compatibility advertisements. The video parodies eHarmony’s compatibility speech, exposing the undertones of sexuality implicit in eHarmony’s coverage of the ‘one night stand.’


eHarmony’s Big BooBoo

eHarmony has an advice section, pretty standard for the most part, but recently the boss was snoozing and a doozy of an article got sent out.  eHarmony actually ended up retracting the story pronto and issued an apology.  Here it is:

A Note from the Publisher

Last week, the eHarmony Advice site published a column called “Navigating the One-Night Stand” that was also included in the eHarmony email newsletter which reached many regular readers of our Advice site. The advice contained in this column was completely inconsistent with our editorial guidelines and the relationship service that we offer to our members. The day after sending the e-mail newsletter, I was made aware of the column and it was immediately removed from our site.

eHarmony is committed to helping its members find highly compatible, long-term relationships and I regret that the inappropriate content and tone of the column could lead our members to believe that we were not interested in their long-term relationship success. For nearly a decade, eHarmony has served its members very effectively by delivering matches that have resulted in tens of thousands of marriages. We apologize to anyone who read the column and found it inappropriate.

You deserve and expect the best from eHarmony and we are dedicated to providing information that resonates with our diverse, vibrant, and thriving community. Please be assured that we are immediately upgrading our editorial review process and are also reviewing our existing content to make sure that it is consistent with the interests of our members.

Stan Holt (bio) ( )
Vice President, Publishing

And here’s the offending piece, which took some sleuthing to uncover (pun intended):

“Navigating the One Night Stand”

So you’re a swinging single and you’ve had a one-night stand.  What’s the etiquette for establishing boundaries, calling the day after and getting out without hurting feelings?

While most of us are looking for that special someone to spend our lives with, the single life dictates that sometimes the opportunity for companionship presents itself in the form of a one-night stand.  While a one-time roll in the hay isn’t exactly emotionally fulfilling, sex in any form can be relaxing, enjoyable, and fun.

So maybe it’s closing time and you haven’t found Mr. or Ms. Right.  If you are up for it, you can enjoy a romp with Mr. or Ms. Right-for-the-night. But when you find yourself in a position to get lucky, you should heed a few rendezvous rules to ensure a seamless one-night-only performance.

Be Up Front
As consenting adults, it’s absolutely fine for both of you to do what makes you happy.  The key is to make your intentions clear with your date and call it what it is: sex with no strings attached.  Once both of you have appropriate expectations, you can appreciate the spontaneous lovin’ for what it’s worth.

Do the Safety Dance
Keep a cell phone with you, and if you can, tell your friends where you will be and your date’s name.  Further, always use protection. Without the risk of sounding like a high school health teacher, protect yourself from STDs and pregnancy every single time to avoid lingering consequences.

Don’t Spend the Night
Unless invited, don’t sleep over.  Snoozing together is too official, and it should be reserved for an established relationship.  Gather up your belongings and make a respectful exit.  Don’t try to leave a trail of personal “bread crumbs,” such as a wallet, a purse—or, worse, your unmentionables—as a gateway for a second meeting.  Hanging around implies desperation, pegging you as the sad Clingy Clarissa or Hopeless Harry.

Don’t Call
One-nighters need not call or check up on the whereabouts of the person they shared the evening with. Acting as if your near-anonymous night of passion was a first date will just confuse sex with love.

Keep Your Mouth Shut
Don’t crow about your conquest or the amazing time you had with this lover to your friends like an adolescent.
One-night stands might solicit spontaneity and liberation, but you ought to know enough not to participate in short affairs unless you are capable of the detachment they require.

If you have the ability to live in the moment and not demand a long-term relationship afterward, then you are golden.


eHarmony Woes

Here’s an article about eHarmony that appeared in a recent “Newsweek”—nothing really new, I’ve written about it all before, but here it is in the mainstream press:

An Algorithm for Mr. Right

The site ‘has never been limited to a Christian audience or to any subset,’ says a company lawyer.
Lisa Miller
Updated: 2:57 PM ET Apr 26, 2008

Let’s say you want to get married and you’re thinking of joining an Internet dating site. Wouldn’t you want that site to be just a little bit picky? Wouldn’t you want it to eliminate the creepy already-marrieds—and the pathological liars? Wouldn’t you be grateful to meet someone who shared your values on children, money, education and God? Isn’t that what your mother wants?

eHarmony, which has had 20 million users since its founding in 2000, promotes itself as the dating service your mother would approve of. Its implied promise: that in this world of hookups, eHarmony can get you hitched. Lately, though, the company has faced a public relations crisis, triggered both by a competitor’s clever advertisements and by a lawsuit charging that eHarmony discriminates against gays and lesbians. Founded by a 72-year-old Christian self-help author named Neil Clark Warren, the dating site requires users to answer 256 questions about personality traits and values. Then, with the help of a complex algorithm, it matches people with much in common. Warren’s philosophy is as comforting as mashed potatoes: “It is so much better to love someone who is a lot like you,” he told National Review in 2005. A company spokeswoman boasts that 236 eHarmony users marry every day.

Among the young and the single—especially those with Blue State values—wariness about eHarmony runs high. For one thing, there’s the association with Dr. James Dobson. Warren published several of his books under the imprint of Dobson’s Focus on the Family and then, when he was first flogging eHarmony, he did it largely via Dobson’s radio show. “James Dobson … did more to help us get started than any other person,” Warren told NPR’s Terry Gross in 2005. Because of Warren’s strong evangelical bona fides, the impression persists that eHarmony is a dating service for Christians—even though the company has severed its ties with Dobson’s group, and eHarmony “has never been limited to a Christian audience or any particular subset of the population,” says a company lawyer.

Trickier (from a PR point of view), eHarmony rejects about 20 percent of its applicants and doesn’t fully explain why. The Internet is abuzz with possible explanations, and last year a savvy competitor called Chemistry.com capitalized on these suspicions. In television ads, seemingly eligible young people face the camera and complain that they returned their library books on time or were only occasionally depressed—and still were rejected by eHarmony. These ads drew a bright line: Chemistry.com is for people who believe in love and romance; eHarmony is for squares who follow an indecipherable set of rules. An eHarmony spokeswoman explains that the site rejects people who are underage, already married or dishonest—as well as those whose answers raise flags about their mental health.

In June, a California judge will hear a plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in a case that accuses eHarmony of discrimination against gays and lesbians. eHarmony does not reject gays—it simply doesn’t accept them: the only choices on the site are “man seeking woman” or “woman seeking man.” A company lawyer explains that eHarmony makes matches based on unique scientific research into what makes heterosexual unions work; it hasn’t done the same kind of work on gay unions, though it doesn’t rule out such research in the future. While this explanation may be true, it also sidesteps the real problem. eHarmony was founded eight years ago by a conservative Christian who had a passionate interest in the benefits of shared values in heterosexual marriage—and he sold this formula within the Christian world. (Warren was not available for comment.) Today, the company desires to reap the economies of scale offered by a mainstream clientele, and in the wider world, shared values are not as easy to compute.


More from the NYT about eHarmony

John Tierney from the NYT is doing a series of articles about Internet dating.  I wrote about it here in late January.  Tierney focused on the sites like Chemistry.com and eHarmony that do the matchmaking for you.  Here he describes going onto eHarmony with his wife to see if they get paired by the matchmaking.  They had to fudge a little (eHarmony rejects those who tell the truth that they are married), but who cares about lying online, right?  (That’s sarcasm from me.  Lying in your online dating profile and communications is short-sited and perhaps disastrous.  You can read more of what I have to say about it here).

As with the other Tierney articles, the comments that follow are at least as interesting as the article.  If you can still see them on the NYT’s site, scan down and take a look.

And what do you think about the point that several commenters made, that Tierney was unethical in lying on the eHarmony sites, particularly since the site immediately started providing him with matches that he was clearly not going to pursue?

My eHarmony Experiment: Can This Marriage Be Matched?

By John Tierney

Now that a couple of hundred Lab readers have told their online matchmaking stories, let me tell you mine. After visiting the eHarmony Labs for my Findings column on matchmaking, I wondered if its algorithm would match me and my wife of 12 years, Dana. So we each registered separately with eHarmony and answered the 258 questions. We falsely said we were each divorced (because eHarmony doesn’t offer its service to people already married) and each childless, but otherwise we told the truth.

After we filled out the questions, we each were given a personality profile. It was pretty general — and tactfully written so that it emphasized the good aspects of each trait — but it seemed reasonably accurate to each of us. There were five general categories. We got identical ratings for extraversion and emotional stability. We got pretty similar ratings for conscientiousness (I was “flexible”; Dana was “very flexible”) and openness (I was “curious”; she was “very curious”). Our biggest difference was in the category of agreeableness: Dana was rated as consistently taking care of others, while I was consistently taking care of myself. EHarmony tried to put the best spin on my selfishness by explaining: “You believe that compassion has a role to play in your life, in a structure of values that encourages people to take care of themselves. Uncritical tenderheartedness does as much harm as good. . . . Fostering such independence is the best way you find there is to love and care for others.”

Then, presto, eHarmony started providing matches. Dana got more — understandably! — but even selfish me got several dozen over the course of the next week. Unlike some of the Lab readers who complained about the abundance of devout Christians on eHarmony, we weren’t overwhelmed with evangelical partners. There were, though, many people passionately devoted to walks on the beach.

We got a lot of matches in the New York area, and some farflung ones, too, but not the match that we wanted. Even though we’d said we wanted nearby matches and had entered the same ZIP code, eHarmony didn’t match us. Does this mean that there’s something wrong with eHarmony, or with our marriage?

I sought counsel from the wizard behind the eHarmony curtain, Galen Buckwalter, the psychologist who serves as the company’s vice president for research and development. (You might have seen him in a documentary that’s been airing on public television stations recently, “Rolling,” which profiles him and two other people who use wheelchairs. He became a paraplegic after breaking his neck when he was a teenager.) Dr. Buckwalter created the algorithm a decade ago by testing questions on 5,000 married couples and focusing on the answers of the happiest couples (the ones who scored in the upper quartile of a measure called the dyadic adjustment scale).

Dr. Buckwalter reassured me, after I summarized our general personality profiles, that there was hope for the marriage. “Your personality profiles do suggest a good overall degree of compatibility,” he said. “However, I cannot from this information know if you and your wife meet our models’ criteria for matching.” He explained that the “matching models include more specific constructs than are used in the personality profile.” He wondered if some of the preferences we’d indicated — like our tolerance for drinkers and smokers — might have ruled out a match. I checked and told him that we’d marked mostly the same preferences except for the smoking category. Although neither of us smokes, my wife had said that she was open to a match with a smoker, whereas I’d said I wasn’t open.

“Voila,” Dr. Buckwalter said. ” The smoking likely did it. We find much higher user satisfaction when we keep those who don’t want smokers with similar persons.”

That was encouraging — briefly. Dana went back and changed her preferences to rule out smokers, and we both asked for new matches. We each got a few more matches over the next couple of days, but not each other.

Dr. Buckwalter encouraged me to look at the bright side. “You both have gotten a good number of matches within a relatively short period of time,” he wrote in an e-mail. “This does suggest there are additional matches in both of your pools of compatible matches. Do these additional matches include each other? Given the widespread use of the Tierneys as the definition of marital bliss in relationship science, I can only assume so!”

Well, we appreciate his good humor, and we’re trying to hold the marriage together. Maybe eHarmony will match us yet. Maybe we’ll find another matchmaking site to see if we find each other — although I do feel a little guilty doing this kind of experiment, because it wastes the time of all the partners who were matched with us during the past week.

I hereby apologize to all the women I rejected, usually by checking off the same lame excuse: “I don’t feel that the chemistry is there.” Really, it’s not you. It’s my wife.

UPDATE [Monday, Feb. 4, 5 p.m.]: Some readers criticized me for doing this experiment, so I should explain it a little more. I didn’t actually contact any of the women with whom I was matched; nor did I know their identities. I merely saw the profiles that they provided to eHarmony, which listed some some basic facts (like their first name and home town, their age and occupation) and some answers they gave to standard questions (like their favorite activities). I couldn’t see their pictures because eHarmony won’t show you a photo of your match unless you’ve provided your own photo, and I hadn’t done so.

I could have contacted any of the women by going through eHarmony, but instead I chose to close the matches. I told eHarmony I wasn’t interested and checked the “no chemistry” box in explaining why. I realize I wasted a little of the women’s time, since they looked at my profile when we were matched, but I hope it didn’t take long.


eHarmony tricks of the trade

If you are an eHarmony fan and regular (and readers know that I have definite opinions about eHarmony -- just read my postings to find out), you’ll love the resource I just found: A blog dedicated to the tricks, twists, and turns of eHarmony. I certainly don’t have the time or dedication to figure out how to make eHarmony work better for you, but you may find what you need here.


The NYT does Matchmaking sites

Yesterday’s New York Times had a great article about Internet dating, specifically sites that do the matching for you, like eHarmony and Chemistry.com What was REALLY juicy was the companion article and the comments attached.  Wanted: Single or Married Adult with Online Matchmaking Story asks for stories from couples who met online, and WOW! Did folks write in or what?  You know how I love love stories, so I’ll copy off a bunch here.  And I’ll put up “Wanted: Single or Married Adult with Online Matchmaking Story” in another post as well. 

Here’s the first article below:

January 29, 2008

PASADENA, Calif. — The two students in Southern California had just been introduced during an experiment to test their “interpersonal chemistry.” The man, a graduate student, dutifully asked the undergraduate woman what her major was.

“Spanish and sociology,” she said.

“Interesting,” he said. ‘‘I was a sociology major. What are you going to do with that?”

“You are just full of questions.”

“It’s true.”

“My passion has always been Spanish, the language, the culture. I love traveling and knowing new cultures and places.”

Bogart and Bacall it was not. But Gian Gonzaga, a social psychologist, could see possibilities for this couple as he watched their recorded chat on a television screen.

They were nodding and smiling in unison, and the woman stroked her hair and briefly licked her lips — positive signs of chemistry that would be duly recorded in this experiment at the new eHarmony Labs here. By comparing these results with the couple’s answers to hundreds of other questions, the researchers hoped to draw closer to a new and extremely lucrative grail — making the right match.

Once upon a time, finding a mate was considered too important to be entrusted to people under the influence of raging hormones. Their parents, sometimes assisted by astrologers and matchmakers, supervised courtship until customs changed in the West because of what was called the Romeo and Juliet revolution. Grown-ups, leave the kids alone.

But now some social scientists have rediscovered the appeal of adult supervision — provided the adults have doctorates and vast caches of psychometric data. Online matchmaking has become a boom industry as rival scientists test their algorithms for finding love.

The leading yenta is eHarmony, which pioneered the don’t-try-this-yourself approach eight years ago by refusing to let its online customers browse for their own dates. It requires them to answer a 258-question personality test and then picks potential partners. The company estimates, based on a national Harris survey it commissioned, that its matchmaking was responsible for about 2 percent of the marriages in America last year, nearly 120 weddings a day.

Another company, Perfectmatch.com, is using an algorithm designed by Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist at the University of Washington at Seattle. Match.com, which became the largest online dating service by letting people find their own partners, set up a new matchmaking service, Chemistry.com, using an algorithm created by Helen E. Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers who has studied the neural chemistry of people in love.

As the matchmakers compete for customers — and denigrate each other’s methodology — the battle has intrigued academic researchers who study the mating game. On the one hand, they are skeptical, because the algorithms and the results have not been published for peer review. But they also realize that these online companies give scientists a remarkable opportunity to gather enormous amounts of data and test their theories in the field. EHarmony says more than 19 million people have filled out its questionnaire.

Its algorithm was developed a decade ago by Galen Buckwalter, a psychologist who had previously been a research professor at the University of Southern California. Drawing on previous evidence that personality similarities predict happiness in a relationship, he administered hundreds of personality questions to 5,000 married couples and correlated the answers with the couples’ marital happiness, as measured by an existing instrument called the dyadic adjustment scale.

The result was an algorithm that is supposed to match people on 29 “core traits,” like social style or emotional temperament, and “vital attributes” like relationship skills. (For details: nytimes.com/tierneylab.)

“We’re not looking for clones, but our models emphasize similarities in personality and in values,” Dr. Buckwalter said. “It’s fairly common that differences can initially be appealing, but they’re not so cute after two years. If you have someone who’s Type A and real hard charging, put them with someone else like that. It’s just much easier for people to relate if they don’t have to negotiate all these differences.”

Does this method actually work? In theory, thanks to its millions of customers and their fees (up to $60 a month), eHarmony has the data and resources to conduct cutting-edge research. It has an advisory board of prominent social scientists and a new laboratory with researchers lured from academia like Dr. Gonzaga, who previously worked at a marriage-research lab at U.C.L.A.

So far, except for a presentation at a psychologists’ conference, the company has not produced much scientific evidence that its system works. It has started a longitudinal study comparing eHarmony couples with a control group, and Dr. Buckwalter says it is committed to publishing peer-reviewed research, but not the details of its algorithm. That secrecy may be a smart business move, but it makes eHarmony a target for scientific critics, not to mention its rivals.

In the battle of the matchmakers, Chemistry.com has been running commercials faulting eHarmony for refusing to match gay couples (eHarmony says it can’t because its algorithm is based on data from heterosexuals), and eHarmony asked the Better Business Bureau to stop Chemistry.com from claiming its algorithm had been scientifically validated. The bureau concurred that there was not enough evidence, and Chemistry.com agreed to stop advertising that Dr. Fisher’s method was based on “the latest science of attraction.”

Dr. Fisher now says the ruling against her last year made sense because her algorithm at that time was still a work in progress as she correlated sociological and psychological measures, as well as indicators linked to chemical systems in the brain. But now, she said, she has the evidence from Chemistry.com users to validate the method, and she plans to publish it along with the details of the algorithm.

“I believe in transparency,” she said, taking a dig at eHarmony. “I want to share my data so that I will get peer review.”

Until outside scientists have a good look at the numbers, no one can know how effective any of these algorithms are, but one thing is already clear. People aren’t so good at picking their own mates online. Researchers who studied online dating found that the customers typically ended up going out with fewer than 1 percent of the people whose profiles they studied, and that those dates often ended up being huge letdowns. The people make up impossible shopping lists for what they want in a partner, says Eli Finkel, a psychologist who studies dating at Northwestern University’s Relationships Lab.

“They think they know what they want,” Dr. Finkel said. “But meeting somebody who possesses the characteristics they claim are so important is much less inspiring than they would have predicted.”

The new matchmakers may or may not have the right formula. But their computers at least know better than to give you what you want.


Chemistry.com takes on eHarmony

Chemistry.com (Match.com’s answer to the matching system of eHarmony) is taking on eHarmony again in a new ad campaign, highlighting what I think are eHarmony’s all too obvious limitations: Its refusal to work with gays and lesbians ("Don’t know how” is not a good enough reason-- Learn!) and its conservative Christian roots.  See the article below for more.  Another factor I never see mentioned is that it is highly likely that women far outnumber men on eHarmony.  The site does not publish gender ratios, though I suspect that women outnumber men by at least 2:1, especially in the older age ranges.  I’ve written extensively about eHarmony here on this blog.  Scan these entries to read more.

Little Love Among Matchmakers

THE world of Internet dating can be a cold, unforgiving place, particularly when it comes to the fight for customers.

The online dating service Chemistry.com plans to unleash a new campaign that seeks to depict its older and larger competitor, eHarmony.com, as out of touch with mainstream American values. The ads, which will appear in weekly newspapers and magazines starting Monday, attack eHarmony for refusing to match people of the same gender and for the evangelical Christian beliefs of its founder, Dr. Neil Clark Warren.

It is not the first time that Chemistry.com has hit on this theme. In April, the service ran a set of ads called “Rejected by eHarmony” featuring people who were turned away from eHarmony for being gay, not happy enough or simply unmatchable by its system. Chemistry.com spent $20 million on that campaign, and the company plans to increase the budget for this new effort.

Although Chemistry.com has 3.7 million registered users, in contrast to eHarmony’s 17 million, the “Rejected by eHarmony” campaign may be working. Since it was introduced, Chemistry.com has experienced an 80 percent growth rate, said Mandy Ginsburg, general manager of Chemistry.com. She said that enrollments by gays and lesbians have risen 200 percent since the “Rejected” campaign started, and that 10 percent of Chemistry.com’s members are seeking a same-sex match.

Chemistry.com, an offshoot of Match.com, both of which are owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp, follows eHarmony’s practice of putting users through an in-depth personality test to generate potential matches. Other online dating sites, like Match.com and Yahoo Personals, allow users to post pictures and profiles of themselves to make connections.

Still, eHarmony says that its approach has little in common with its competitors. “Chemistry.com and eHarmony are fundamentally different companies,” said Jodi Petrie, an eHarmony spokeswoman. “We use our research-driven approach to help people find successful long-term relationships. We don’t consider ourselves a casual dating site.”

EHarmony, which is based in Pasadena, Calif., and was founded in 2000 by Dr. Warren, a clinical psychologist, has long been criticized for its practice of turning away applicants who are gay or lesbian, married or serially divorced. Dr. Warren, a former seminary student who has had several books published by Focus on the Family, an evangelical Christian group, has publicly voiced his belief that premarital sex can increase the likelihood of one’s marrying the wrong person.

Ms. Petrie said that eHarmony took no position on premarital sex and had no affiliation with any religion. As for its reason for not offering services to gays or lesbians, she said: “EHarmony’s matching system is based on psychological data collected from heterosexual married couples, and we have not offered a service for those seeking same-sex matches. Nothing precludes us from offering a same-sex service in the future, but it’s not a service we offer now.”

Nonetheless, Chemistry.com is betting that consumers will prefer to associate with a brand that they feel more closely reflects their own values. The campaign imagines a world in which eHarmony’s values — as interpreted by Chemistry.com — were enforced in various ways. For example, one ad shows a sign on a beach that reads “No gays on beach, May-September,” while another features a motel sign declaring, “No premarital sex.” The copy in both ads goes on to assure readers that Chemistry.com does not judge or enforce any moral code on its members.

The ads “demonstrate that eHarmony is out of sync with what is happening in America,” said Ms. Ginsburg of Chemistry.com. The company plans to expand the campaign to include television and more print ads in January.

The ads were developed by Hanft, Raboy & Partners, an independent agency based in New York. “The idea behind the campaign is to globalize eHarmony’s practices, and ask, ‘What would it mean if America had to live by those rules?’” said Adam Hanft, the agency’s founder and chief executive. “What would happen if gays couldn’t go on the beach, or if some paternalistic source says, ‘If you have premarital sex, you can’t get into this hotel’? By amplifying it to that level, it points out the absurdity and discriminatory nature of their practices.”

EHarmony counters that “consumers want to see advertising that is both accurate and positive.” In a statement, the company said: “Chemistry.com’s insinuation that eHarmony is discriminatory is 100 percent false, and we believe that Match.com would be better served improving their own service rather than attacking its competitors.”

Chemistry.com’s increasingly aggressive tactics reflect the heightened competition for customers in the online matchmaking business, which generates nearly $650 million a year in sales. After booming growth in the early part of this decade, with industry revenue increasing by more than 70 percent a year-over-year, the category has slowed down. The market grew 10 percent in 2006, to $649 million, and is projected to grow 8 percent annually until 2011, according to Jupiter Research, an Internet consultancy.

“We’re not projecting any significant growth in the number of new subscribers over the next few years,” said Nate Elliot, a Jupiter Research analyst. “That number is going up relatively slowly.”

As consumers who are new to the category grow harder to come by, competition for those who are already using these sites is heating up, said Mr. Elliot. Hence the negative advertising that seeks to siphon members from other sites. He noted, however, that “double dippers” — people who maintain memberships on more than one site — are becoming more common.


Match.com, eHarmony, and Older Singles

If you are over 50 and wondering about Match.com or eHarmony, here are reviews of both sites, aimed at older singles…

Online Dating Site Review: Match.com
From Sharon OBrien,
Your Guide to Senior Living.

With more than 15 million members, Match.com is one of the largest general interest dating sites on the Internet and one of the most successful at bringing people together. The staff at Match.com calculates that every year more than 200,000 people find the person they were seeking by using Match.com. And Match.com reports that people 50 and older represent its fastest growing user segment.  For the whole review, click here.

Online Dating Site Review: eHarmony
From Sharon OBrien,
Your Guide to Senior Living.

Marriage is the goal at eHarmony

eHarmony claims to take the guesswork out of matchmaking by using a scientific approach to help people find not only good matches and potential mates, but soul mates—and it seems to be working.  To read the complete review, click here.


Patrick Perrine

Dr Houran’s Interview With Patrick Perrine Of myPartnerPerfect

ONLINE DATING MAGAZINE—Aug 8—Patrick Perrine is the President of the newly-launched gay site myPartnerPerfect.

Dr. Jim: Congratulations on your launch, Patrick. Tell us, why did it take so long for someone to establish a site that catered to gays?

Patrick: Thank you. I don’t know why it has taken so long for the industry to identify this tremendous opportunity. It was partially because of the eHarmony policy and other relationship sites’ lack of service to the gay segment that I founded myPartnerPerfect. For far too long the industry has neglected the gay community and their pursuit of life-partners. Instead, the dating service industry has been flooded with gay sites that only promote hook-ups and short-term encounters. I don’t object to sites with that goal, but a very large segment of the gay community is looking for something deeper, that can last a lifetime. That’s exactly what the myPartnerPerfect system was designed to do.

Dr. Jim: Do you think all of the recent, negative press around eHarmony is fair, or are these just cheap shots from competitors and a few dissatisfied customers?

Patrick: I think the larger issue being drawn out in the press isn’t with the focus of eHarmony’s services, but the underlying premise of that focus. Sites like eHarmony will always have a place in the world of online dating and relationships, but it is my hope that myPartnerPerfect can help fill the void in the market and foster many happy and healthy relationships for gay men.

Dr. Jim: What’s the difference between a niche site that caters to a specific audience versus a site that is accused of being discriminatory?

Patrick: Wikipedia describes a niche market as “a focused, targetable portion (subset) of a market sector. By definition, then, a business that focuses on a niche market is addressing a need for a product or service that is not being addressed by mainstream providers.” eHarmony, in my opinion, essentially started out as a niche site for marriage-oriented heterosexual Christians. Dr. Warren himself attributes much of eHarmony’s success to its ties to Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian community. It was only recently that Dr. Warren and eHarmony began distancing themselves from that “niche” market as the site began growing rapidly and they began positioning themselves for the masses. myPartnerPerfect is completely forthwith about the segmented “niche” market we cater to due to the demand in the market that is not being met.

Dr. Jim: In what ways does the culture of your service and site differ significantly from large sites, like Match or Yahoo! Personals, which try to address the dating needs of everyone?

Patrick: myPartnerPerfect is an exclusively gay site that has been designed to cater to gay men. Much like any other niche site, myPartnerPerfect addresses the areas of partner selection that are not only important to our community, but unique to our community. Although there are many similarities between heterosexual and homosexual relationships, there are also many differences in partner selection. Our Partner Perfect Compatibility™ matching system was designed because of the many differences of gay partner selection in the areas of relationship styling, characteristics of partner selection, partner qualities and personalities, and above all else, cultural and sexual lifestyle considerations.

Dr. Jim: From your experience and research, are gays more interested in compatibility testing (and perhaps long-term relationships) than other groups? If so, why might this be?

Patrick: I wouldn’t say that gay men are more interested or less interested in compatibility testing than the general population. I think that gay men are a very discerning population of consumers and demand the very “best of breed” of anything they patron and that’s why myPartnerPerfect has developed the Partner Perfect Compatibility™ matching system.

Dr. Jim: What does a customer really get for his money at your site—what are the compelling features that can’t be found elsewhere?

Patrick: In addition to the unique Partner Perfect matches presented to the user by our matching system, members can search the database with 5 different customized browsing tools (including our Deal Breaker Search, our Partner Perfect Search, and our Custom Search). We also have unique profile customization tools, a monthly gay-relationship eNewsletter, private matchmaking services, anonymous phone calling, our myProfilePartner™ personal profile advice and review services, monthly socials and singles mixers, weDate!™ group dinners, and our a la carte menu to select the features that are most important to the user who is not yet ready to commit to a full Premium Membership.


Avoid eHarmony, Says Time Magazine

Imagine my surprise to see a major magazine like “Time” come out with a strong anti-eHarmony piece.  I agree with what the article says, all the way.  While I have had a few clients who have liked what they got at eHarmony, most reports are not-so-good to just plain bad.  One client got involved with a scammer, another matched with a married man.  The most frequent complaint are total mismatches or none at all.  And I just don’t like eHarmony on principal.  You can read more than you want about my opinions on eHarmony right here on my blog

Sites to Avoid - From Time Magazine


Our main beef with this online dating site is its power to cause utter despair. eHarmony claims its more “scientific” approach to matchmaking differentiates it from competitors — its users complete extensive personality questionnaires, in order to connect them to others based on compatibility. In early 2006, eHarmony announced that more than 16,000 couples had married during the previous year as a result of meeting on the site, citing a 2005 Harris Interactive poll. That’s about 90 people finding love every day, a track record bound to inflate expectations. On a more typical dating site, where users are prone to making snap judgments based on photos and sketchy profiles, if you don’t find that special someone you’re less likely to take it personally. It’s easier to shake off because, after all, that’s hardly the real you up there on that site. But if you’ve taken the time to answer eHarmony’s 436 compatibility survey questions and paid its premium charges ($21 to $60 a month, depending on how many months you prepay), and the site then delivers terrible recommendations — or worse, rejects you as unmatchable — what do you tell yourself then? The company’s advice, to stick with it for several months to improve your odds of finding a soul mate, sounds all too self-serving (the longer you use the site the more you pay). The site also discriminates against gays.


eHarmony Love Story

Online dating skepticism turns into enchantment

GOT MAIL: Couple find harmony with an Internet matchmaking service.

Anchorage Daily News

Published: May 28, 2007

If Tanis Cogdell’s dial-up Internet didn’t take so long to connect, she would have been able to cancel her subscription to eharmony.com. She and David Jamar would never have met, and they wouldn’t be getting married June 9.

But it did, and she didn’t, and they did and they are. Welcome to relationships in the 21st century.

Cogdell, 23, grew up in Eagle River. She is pursuing a nursing degree at University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. When she and a friend saw a TV ad for the online dating site Thanksgiving weekend, the friend dared her to sign up.

“They give you the first week free, so I said, ‘whatever.’ “

She filled out a “million questions,” and prospects began appearing in her e-mail inbox. Cogdell found little to recommend the first candidates, even though eHarmony professed them to be perfect matches for her profile.

“I thought, ‘This is stupid.’ I tried to cancel it, but my dial-up connection kept timing out.”

Then Jamar’s profile showed up in the inbox about the end of December.

“The same day I got the match, I responded with “Hey, I’d like to know more about you,” said Jamar, 27.

He lives in Marble Hills, Texas, about 80 miles from Cogdell’s home in Pipe Creek.

His friends had urged him to sign up with eHarmony a couple months earlier, but he never progressed to meeting any of the candidates.

“I never was one to date a whole lot,” he said in a Southern drawl. “I’ve had a couple previous relationships that lasted a couple months at a time. But I never knew that there was any future with them like I did with Tanis right off the bat.”

eHarmony’s guided matching service requires all initial contact to be online. Hopefuls first exchange a list of five questions, followed by lists of must-haves and can’t-stands, Cogdell said. You can choose at what step in the communication process you want to show someone your picture. Subscribers decide if and when e-mail addresses and phone numbers are shared.

Jamar’s and Cogdell’s first e-mails tackled the topics of gender roles, politics and activities they hoped their partner would share.

“David’s been with the volunteer fire department for five years, so he said he really hoped his partner would share a spirit of volunteering in the community,” said Cogdell, who volunteered as a camp counselor and wrangler at Victory Bible Camp, at her church and with a pregnancy crisis center when she lived in Alaska.

Mostly Cogdell was impressed by his honesty.

“He was never afraid to say he believed in one thing or another before knowing that I was on the same page. He wasn’t ashamed to tell me that he really wanted in the future when he got married, for his wife to stay at home with the kids. It’s not a very mainstream idea. I’ve had people look at me like I’ve got a third eye when I tell them I want to marry and be a mother.”

When e-mailing became cumbersome ("She writes novels,” Jamar said), they moved to six hourlong phone calls.

Jan. 11, two weeks after their first e-mail, they agreed to meet at a diner near Cogdell’s home.

“People I work with said, ‘Do you have a bailout plan if it’s really horrible?’ “ Cogdell said.

They talked for four hours, then moved to a coffee shop around the corner for three more hours.

“She was more what I was looking for than I realized,” Jamar said. “The first time we met, I had a clue she was the one. She was a Christian woman who was really seeking God, and that was a big determining factor.”

Their meeting was 21st-century techy, but their courtship was old-fashioned.

Jamar brought pink (her favorite color) daises to the diner. He held the door for her and paid for lunch. He asked her father’s permission before he proposed.

It was Valentine’s Day, and they were moving rocks in Cogdell’s yard when Jamar made his move.

“He’s got this big rock in his hand, making hand gestures, and I’m asking for her hand. He told me that he thought I was right for his daughter, and he’d definitely bless our marriage.”

Feb. 17, Jamar told Cogdell he’d be late for the delayed Valentine’s Day dinner she planned to prepare at his house that night. He said he’d be practicing storm maneuvers at Enchanted Rock State Park, but he and a friend were actually in Austin, picking out an engagement ring.

It wasn’t the first time Cogdell had arrived earlier than expected to clean up the house where a lot of his firefighter friends hang out ("I always say, ‘This is where the lost boys live,’ “ Cogdell said) before making dinner.

“I didn’t plan to propose for another week,” Jamar said. “But I saw she’d been there and slaved over all this just to make me happy.”

Knowing he couldn’t keep a secret, he told her after dinner that he wasn’t at Enchanted Rock that day, he was out buying an enchanted rock.

“He was kind of shaking,” Cogdell said, “and drinking Dr Pepper like it was his job.” Her nursing experience caused her to wonder if he was ill.

“It was the most emotional thing I ever went through,” Jamar said. “We spent the rest of the evening hugging each other and calling friends and family.”

They canceled their subscriptions to eHarmony.

“I got lucky and found someone I’m crazy about, but I could have been on there two years,” Cogdell said. “It’s kind of a crapshoot.”


More on eHarmony and exclusion of gays…

Remember the book “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller?  From Wikipedia: “Catch-22" is common idiomatic usage meaning “a no-win situation” or “a double bind” of any type. eHarmony’s Neil Clark Warrens’ quote in the article is a “Catch 22” if I’ve ever heard one: “When I asked Warren about his refusal to serve same-sex couples, he listed several reasons for his policy. ‘First, we’re into marriage,’ he said, pointing out that gay unions remain illegal in almost every state. He also doesn’t feel there is adequate research on how men can be matched up with other men, or women with women,” Traister wrote. See the story below and make up your own mind…

Matchmaker’s marriage goal disqualifies ‘gays’
eHarmony berated in lawsuit for refusing to facilitate homosexuality
Posted: June 6, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

The popular matchmaking service eHarmony.com rejects homosexuals from its profiling and matching services because its goal is marriage, and that isn’t legal for “gays” in most states, the founder has said.

The site, one of the most popular matchmaking operations in the nation, is facing new accusations in a lawsuit brought by a lesbian who alleges the company discriminated against her because of her sexual choices.

While eHarmony did not respond to WND requests for a comment about the situation, founder Neil Clark Warren has said several times that his company’s evaluation and analysis procedures are intended to result in long-term relationships, ideally marriage, and that’s why they do not apply to those choosing a homosexual lifestyle.

A Salon.com report by writer Rebecca Traister addressed that specific issue in a recent article—before the lawsuit was filed.

“When I asked Warren about his refusal to serve same-sex couples, he listed several reasons for his policy. ‘First, we’re into marriage,’ he said, pointing out that gay unions remain illegal in almost every state. He also doesn’t feel there is adequate research on how men can be matched up with other men, or women with women,” Traister wrote.

She said that Warren reported various business interests have approached him about building a service designed specifically for homosexuals, but he’s turned them down for those reasons.

“We’ve got thousands of years of history of the human race in which this [homosexuality] was never treated as a marriage and there are a lot of people who think it’s just not going to have the same kind of stability over time,” Traister said Warren told her.

The accusations of discrimination arose when a northern California woman, Linda Carlson, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging she was denied services by the company. She had tried to use the site in February to meet a woman but could not, because of her sexual lifestyle choice.

She reported she complained to the company, which refused to change its policy.

A prepared statement was released in which Carlson said, “Such outright discrimination is hurtful and disappointing for a business open to the public in this day and age.”

Her complaint names Warren, his wife Marylyn, and the Pasadena-based company as defendants.

The company’s formal response was immediate, and aligned with Warren’s earlier concerns.

“The research that eHarmony has developed, through years of research, to match couples has been based on traits and personality patterns of successful heterosexual marriages,” the company said. “Nothing precludes us from providing same-sex matching in the future, it’s just not a service we offer now based upon the research we have conducted.”

Carlson’s lawyer, Todd Schneider, said the company’s signup procedures include only options for being a man seeking a woman or a woman seeking a man—nothing else.

“If you fail to put anything in that box and hit resubmit you get an error message,” he said.

Carlson said she brought the lawsuit against eHarmony instead of choosing among the dozens, if not hundreds, of other matchmaking sites that do refer homosexuals, because of its reputation for positive results.

Warren is a clinical psychologist who has written several books about dating and relationships. He also has a ministry degree and worked closely with the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, which published his first three books.

His Internet company grew out of his work, including his 1992 book, “Finding the Love of Your Life,” which is a primer on what people should look for in a marriage partner.

He ended up with 29 “dimensions of compatibility” he believes must exist for a couple to enjoy marriage, including “mood management,” “spirituality,” and “sexual passion.”

He believes at least 25 should match in ideal couples, and eHarmony.com has been granted U.S. Patent No. 6,735,568 for the process.

But unlike many matchmaking services, eHarmony also has focused on long-term relationships, especially marriage, which aligns with Warren’s early work with Focus on the Family’s Christian base and perspective.

It was one appearance on James Dobson’s radio program, in 2001, that triggered a response of 90,000 new referrals to the website, he noted, starting a climb of registered participants on the site from 4,000 to 350,000.

It now claims a membership in the millions, as well as thousands of successful—so far—marriages.

But while some of the early promotions for eHarmony boasted that it was “based on the Christian principles of Focus on the Family author Dr. Neil Clark Warren,” it now is advertised without a religious reference.

“We’re trying to reach the whole world—people of all spiritual orientations, all political philosophies, all racial backgrounds,” Warren told a news magazine.

Most other sites let users pick their own dates, but eHarmony requires answers to 436 questions, and then the company sends potential matches.

And homosexuals are not alone in being rejected from eHarmony. The company reports turning away about one in six who take the personality test because they would offer poor marriage prospects.

Warren has said he continues to be passionate about his Christian faith. But at the same time, he told USA Today, the public he wants to serve is the world.

The dispute already has started drawing support for eHarmony from other ministries and groups working to fight the homosexual agenda of normalization of such lifestyle choices.

“Doesn’t eHarmony.com and its Christian founder have a fundamental right to promote traditional marriages between a man and a woman—and not cater to unnatural ‘unions?’” asked Peter LaBarbera, of Americans For Truth.

“Will this and all private American companies be forced to promote the homosexual agenda?” he asked.

“There are plenty of places offering ‘match’ services for homosexual couples—just try any (liberal) ‘City Paper,’ where all sorts of disordered unions can be arranged,” said LaBarbera. “But no, eHarmony must bend to the tiny minority of homosexual militants who have no regard for others’ liberties—including your freedom to live out your religious beliefs as you see fit.”

“If they capitulate, it will only lead to innumerable other lawsuits. Who’s next? Christian-owned day care centers? Summer camps run by orthodox Jews? The message coming from liberal, pro-homosexual activists here is simple: you can have your beliefs in your church or synagogue or home (for now...) but don’t you dare try to live them out in the public square,” LaBarbera said.

eHarmony even announced not long ago that because of its “enormous success” matching compatible singles, it was beginning a service to help couples achieve “stronger, healthier and happier marriages.”

eHarmony Marriage is a “marriage wellness” program to deepen understanding, appreciation and connectedness, the company said.

The categories for compatibility include emotional temperament, social style, cognitive mode, physicality, relationship skills, values and beliefs and key experiences, along with many sub-categories.


eHarmony gets sued by gays—finally!

My chum Mark Brooks (he runs OnlinePersonalsWatch.com) ran this article recently:

Popular online dating site accused of excluding gays
Published: Friday, 1 June, 2007, 08:29 AM Doha Time
LOS ANGELES: The popular online dating service eHarmony was sued yesterday for refusing to offer its services to gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
A lawsuit alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Linda Carlson, who was denied access to eHarmony because she is gay.
Lawyers bringing the action said they believed it was the first lawsuit of its kind against eHarmony, which has long rankled the gay community with its failure to offer a “men seeking men” or “women seeking women” option.
They were seeking to make it a class action lawsuit on behalf of gays and lesbians denied access to the dating service.
eHarmony was founded in 2000 and has has more than 12mn registered users.  Reuters

Mark’s comment: Match.com’s ad program for Chemistry.com sure sparked a fire.  I wonder how far it will burn.  Dr Patrick is welcoming eHarmony gay member-denials with open arms at myPartnerPerfect.com. (I wrote about Chemistry.com’s ad campaign too—see it here.

Here’s what I wrote as a comment to Mark’s posting:

Well, good. It’s about time. eHarmony’s refusal to serve gays and lesbians has been an undernoticed yet glaring flaw in their otherwise spic and span facade.

Something I have always liked about online dating from very early on was the leveling: women could contact men rather than waiting for guys to make the first move, and men could look for men and women for women, all on the same platform. eHarmony’s refusal to open up their service to gays can only, in this day and age, be a peek behind the curtain at eHarmony’s conservative—and homophobic—Christian roots. As I wrote in a blog posting on 5/10/2005 “From [eHarmony’s Neil Clark} Warren: ‘I don’t know how to do those matches, the research has not been done.’ What a weak excuse for blatant discrimination.” https://find-a-sweetheart.com/blog/item/eharmony_again_and_focus_on_the_family_connections/
For heaven’s sake, educate yourself. Go read a book.

From the same posting:

“What I do know is that eHarmony attracts many more women than men, so the odds are very bad for women, especially older women. Warren also believes that the more similar people are, the more likely for success of the relationship.

“So if you are male, heterosexual, with fairly traditional, conservative values, looking for the same in a woman, and you don’t mind someone else doing the picking for you or not seeing what the lady looks like until you have communicated for awhile, eHarmony would be a good place to sign up. If that doesn’t describe you, go somewhere else.”

If you’d like to read more of what I have written about eHarmony, there’s plenty. https://find-a-sweetheart.com/blog/C38/

Kathryn Lord
Romance Coach


Chemistry.com Uses an eHarmony Weakness and eHarmony Gets Pissed…

Ha Ha!  I love it when other folks start writing about what I have been writing about for some time—though when am I going to get the credit?  See my blog postings “Has Janet Kornblum of USA Today Been Reading My Blog?”, “Focus on the Family,” eHarmony, and Same Sex Couples”, “EHarmony Again and “Focus on the Family” Connections”, “I wish I could recommend eHarmony, True.com or PerfectMatch, but I can’t!”.

See the article below from the Washington Post.

I think it is FANTASTIC that Chemistry.com has noticed the edge it has over eHarmony (Chemistry accepts all comers, eHarmony routinely rejects about 15% of applicants) and is using it in an ad campaign.  I’ve always thought and written that bad as it is to get rejected by a potential partner, to get rejected by a dating site?  Oooeee!  Now THAT’S nasty.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord

They Met Online, but Definitely Didn’t Click

By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 13, 2007; D01

You think the dating scene can be cold and unforgiving? It may not be half as frosty as the tempestuous relationship between two of the biggest players in the online dating business.

A name-calling catfight, complete with accusations and counter-accusations, has broken out between eHarmony.com and an offshoot of Match.com over a subject familiar to any luckless dater:


In its latest ad campaign, online matchmaker Chemistry.com shows no love for eHarmony.com, its older and larger competitor. Chemistry’s TV commercials and magazine ads feature young men and women wondering why their applications to join eHarmony were turned down.

“I mean, I am a good person. Right?” asks an actress in one of the TV spots, as a giant red “Rejected by eHarmony” graphic slams onto the screen. The ads note that eHarmony has rejected more than one million people who are “looking for love.”

No fair, says eHarmony, concerned that its rival’s ads suggest that eHarmony is being arbitrary—or worse, racially and religiously discriminatory—in turning people away. It wants Chemistry.com’s ads changed or dropped.

To that end, the company’s outside legal counsel, Lanny J. Davis (who spun the media for President Bill Clinton during his “relationship problems” with Monica Lewinsky), last week asked NBC and People magazine to stop running Chemistry.com’s current ads, or at least insist on some fine-print qualifiers about what “1 million rejected” really means. (As of Friday, NBC hadn’t responded to Davis; People magazine said that it wasn’t taking sides in the feud and that it would continue running the ads.)

The complaint offers a glimpse into the online dating world, which has grown in just a few years into a big-money business, with tens of millions of participants and only a few major players.

EHarmony, which is privately owned and is based in Pasadena, Calif., says that more than 13 million people have signed up for memberships since its inception in 2000. Dallas-based Chemistry.com, founded last year, is a fast-growing upstart that says 2 million people have used its service. It is part of IAC/Interactive Corp., Barry Diller’s conglomerate, which had $6 billion in sales last year and which also owns dating industry leader Match.com, as well as Ticketmaster, HSN (formerly Home Shopping Network) and the search engine Ask.com.

Although some specialized services, such as the Jewish-oriented J Date, seek people from particular backgrounds, general services such as Match, Yahoo! Personals and Chemistry are open to almost all adults who apply and pay a monthly fee.

EHarmony—founded by a clinical psychologist named Neil Clark Warren, who appears in many of the company’s ads—is more selective. The company acknowledges that it routinely rejects certain types of people.

EHarmony, in fact, says that it has rejected about a million people since its inception. But the company insists that the reasons aren’t arbitrary, that it has never collected any fees from those it rejected, and that Chemistry is trying to suggest otherwise.

The biggest reason for rejection, it says, is that the applicant is married. Stunningly, nearly one-third of the company’s rejects (30 percent) fell into this category. Others are blocked because they’re younger than the minimum application age of 21 (27 percent) or because the applicant gives inconsistent answers (9 percent), based on responses to eHarmony’s 258-question application.

“We were founded with the mission to find happy, lasting relationships for people,” Greg Waldorf, eHarmony’s chief executive, said in an interview last week. “It pains me that we’re being put down or criticized for ensuring that we’re doing the best job possible for our members.”

But eHarmony also turns people away for more controversial reasons. One is being gay. Chemistry.com notes as much in an ad that shows a young man leafing through a magazine that appears to be Playboy; he’s more amused than aroused by what he sees. “Nope,” he says with a sigh, “still gay.” Then comes the “Rejected by eHarmony” stamp.

Waldorf says eHarmony’s matching system is based on psychological research about heterosexual relationships. Because it doesn’t have similar data on gay people, he says, the company isn’t confident that it can offer successful matches to same-sex couples. “I’m not saying anything precludes us from going into the same-sex market in the future,” he says, “but it’s not a service we offer now.”

Chemistry.com, on the other hand, matches people looking for same-sex relationships.

EHarmony also rejects anyone younger than 60 who’s been married more than four times, as well as those who fail its “dysthymia scale,” another proprietary metric designed to screen people who, the company says, might have “severe depression.” (Dysthymia actually refers to a chronic but less severe form of depression.)

EHarmony’s gay and psychological screening methods have generated criticism for years among online daters, says David Evans, who writes the Online Dating Insider blog (and has consulted for several dating companies, including Chemistry.com). “You hear it all the time: People say, ‘I filled out this long questionnaire, and I got rejected for not being happy enough,’ “ Evans says. “You do this deep-think about your personality, and then it feels like you got smacked across the face.”

Chemistry says its ads are designed simply to highlight differences between it and eHarmony. “We’re saying, ‘We’re a very accepting, non-judgmental’ “ service, said Mandy Ginsberg, Chemistry’s general manager. “Philosophically, we believe that anyone who’s looking for a relationship is entitled to a relationship.”

But eHarmony sees more than that in Chemistry’s campaign. One TV spot features a young black man who says that he, too, was rejected—which Waldorf says falsely implies that eHarmony rejects applicants based on race.

A Chemistry print ad shows another black model, with text that asks, “Was it my love for Buddha?” This is a particularly sensitive issue for eHarmony, which began by focusing on Christian singles. Waldorf says the “Buddha” reference could raise questions about whether eHarmony uses a religious test, which he denies.

Firing back, eHarmony accuses Chemistry’s parent company of hypocrisy. It notes that IAC made formal overtures to buy eHarmony in 2004, but a deal never came off. Now, eHarmony says, IAC is running ads criticizing eHarmony’s business practices. Says Waldorf, “When we got to know IAC, they were very admiring of our business model. I don’t know what’s changed.”


Compatibility Testing Comments

I found this comment below on Mark Brooks’ Online Personals Watch.  It’s from James Houran, Ph. D. who used to be associated with True.com and now is not.  I don’t know the “why’s” of either.  Regular readers of my blog know that I don’t think much of True.com.  But Dr. Houran does sound like he knows what he is talking about, and if you are interesting in compatibility testing or have taken them (a la eHarmony, True.com, PerrfectMatch, etc) you should read his comments here and the article he sites at the end “The Truth About Compatibility Testing.”

Despite their potential power and value, all assessments have limitations. Both online dating sites and their customers need to have realistic expectations about what types of information assessments can and cannot deliver. The strengths and limitations of a given assessment are based on its technical and theoretical underpinnings.

Below are some important points to remember in this respect:

1). Assessment feedback is derived from mathematical extrapolations of behavioral data. As such, feedback reports describe statistical predictions of what attitudes and behaviors a given test taker will likely exhibit. Mathematical models are consistently more valid than subjective observations, but even the finest assessments are never 100% percent accurate 100% of the time.

2). The validity of a report is limited by the reliability of the test taker’s responses. Test-takers may answer assessments unreliably for a myriad of reasons: lack of motivation or interest due to less than ideal testing conditions or test taker’s mood, fatigue from answering a long set of questions, an attempt to answer questions in a socially-desirable way or difficulty understanding particular questions for linguistic reasons (e.g., when English is not the test taker’s first language).

3). All test scores are statistical estimates. Thus, each score is accompanied by its margin of error [also called a confidence interval or standard of error (SE)]. However, properly constructed employee assessments provide information on the statistical reliability of a particular test taker’s test scores, as well as measure the degree to which a test taker seems to be answering the assessment truthfully.

4). Finally, the quality of an assessment (and hence its feedback) is associated with its methodological and statistical principles:

Self-referential vs. normative instruments: Some assessments provide feedback based simply on how a test taker perceives him or herself. In other words, these instruments describe individuals only in a self-referential way, i.e., against themselves. Examples of self-referential instruments are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (the inspiration for PerfectMatch.com’s test) and the DISC assessment (offered by Thomas Technologies). By contrast, normative instruments are inter-individual because they describe test takers against a reference group. This approach is significantly more valid than the self-referential approach.

Classical test theory vs. modern test theory: Most assessments on the market today are constructed and validated using classical test theory, which essentially treats all assessment questions as equally weighted “points.” A great example is the assessment offered by eHarmony.com. Such assessments consequently provide a total score that is the sum of those points. This approach has been outdated since 1960. Today, test and measurements experts rely on modern test theory (Item Response Theory and Rasch scaling), which yields unbiased, scaled scores for test takers. Modern test theory is the same gold standard statistics used in such well-known assessments like the GRE, MCAT and LSAT. This approach can identify and remove response biases related to age, gender, cultural background and employment level of the test taker. Besides greater technical precision and the protection of meeting legal requirements, modern test theory also yields richer information that traditional approaches miss.

For detailed scientific information on the realities behind compatibility testing, see:

Houran, J., Lange, R., Rentfrow, P. J., & Bruckner, K. H. (2004). Do online matchmaking tests work? An assessment of preliminary evidence for a publicized ‘predictive model of marital success.’ North American Journal of Psychology, 6, 507-526.

For a lay-person’s guide to the subject, see:


James Houran, Ph.D.
Online Dating Magazine


More on Wealthy Men and the Women Who Want Them…

Rich men will pay big money to get (pretty, young) women.  And women look for men who don’t mind a definite financial element in the deal.  So what’s new about that?

Well, nothing much, but there’s been a lot of attention to it lately on the wires.  Must be a slow news season, huh?  Not actually.  Most of the stuff came out right around the election, and that was plenty newsy.  But maybe the print media wanted to write about plain old heterosexual sex and money, rather that politics, pederasts, and male ministers willing to pay for sex with men.

Dr. Phil chimed in early (before the election on November 3) with a show on Sugar Daddies and Cougars (the female version of Sugar Daddies—older women with younger men, though money did not seem to be so much a part of that equation).  Sanjay (40) and Jacqueline (18) met on SugarDaddie.com Creepy site, creepy couple.  You can read some of the online postings that the show generated here.

The Seattle Times’ Meghan Barr wrote “Online dating sites where Mr. Right is Mr. Rich” which appeared on 11/15/2006.  The article mentions SugarDaddie.com of the Sanjay and Jacqueline fame, and WealthyMen.com.  A seeming big advantage for men is the gender ratio: Meghan Barr writes that the male/female ratio on sites like Match.com and AmericanSingles.com is 70/30.  (I wonder about those stats—what I had heard was more like 55/45.) But even so, WealthyMen.com claims a male/female ratio of 1/5.  Pretty good for the guys, wouldn’t you say?  But not so good for the ladies.  Maybe women think they have at least a 20% chance at the big $$$.  Better odds than the lottery, for sure.

BTW, sites that women like (eHarmony, PerfectMatch) have ratios that favor men.  EHarmony avoids stating the ratios, but PerfectMatch blatantly advertises to men their good numbers: female to male: 2 to 1.  I suspect eHarmony is similar.  And PerfectMatch seems to have really dropped in the ratings.  Mark Brooks’ blog listings (top 15) don’t even include PerfectMatch.
Mark Brooks blogged about Meghan Barr’s article, and I commented.  Here’s what I wrote:

There are a number of sites aiming to hook up (appropriate term?) women with wealthy men. As long as the guys recognize the bargain, I suppose there’s no problem. But I have run acros