2/5/08

Marriage Is Just A Series Of Tubes

There's a number I came across last week that I can't stop thinking about. The online dating behemoth eHarmony -- you've seen their ads featuring very, very regular-looking people in front of a blue screen -- now claims it is responsible for 120 weddings a day. That's 2 percent of annual marriages in America.

Take all the weddings you'll ever go to in your life and multiply that by four. Now imagine all of those weddings every day, created and constructed by a company that does such a good job that it doesn't even allow you to browse for your own dates. It also doesn't let you search for M4M, if you're so inclined, let alone F4F or MF4MF.

As much a social engineering tool as online dating site, eHarmony has banned browsing and taken the whole "finding love" thing into its own hands. Daters answer a 258-question personality test (so far 19 million people have taken it), and their answers are compiled into a secret, trademarked algorithm to determine whom you are most likely to fall in love with. Unlike other sites, which allow daters to set the criteria for matching, eHarmonizers let the computer weed out the losers automatically.

Clearly the eHarmony model has been effective, but when Deborah and I tested a similar system at PerfectMatch.com for a dating column two years ago, it straight up didn't work.
I came out as an RACV -- risk taker, high energy, cautious, seeks variety. Deb was a RAOV -- instead of "cautious," she was "optimistic," which doesn't even make any sense.

Apparently, RACVs and RAOVs don't hook up, because even though I was emailed 14 "matches" of women of varying ages and hometowns, my wife2be was not among them. And instead of matching with me, Deborah got some well-dressed French dude in Manhattan. I'm not sure what that was about. I think they still talk. It's awkward.

I say all that just so I can brag about this: Last week the science writer for The New York Times essentially Jason Blaired my ass and tried an identical experiment using eHarmony with his wife. Just like us, even after dozens of offerings, he and his wife did not match at all.

So much for you and your fancy computers, eHarmony.

CREDIT: The uber-talented Deborah Hurwitz herself.

4 comments:

Sugar said...

Maybe what eHarmony fails to grasp is reality: quiet, generous partners who can't cook marry wordy, self-important shrews who can.

Hey, it works for us!

:)

JZ said...

"I think they still talk. It's awkward."

This is the engagedguy at his best.

As is "Jason Blaired."

And I thought I was funny for saying "Heath Ledgered" the other day.

What. Too soon?

besideserato said...

You have to ditch odiogo. You're so much more hip than that. Check out Utterz, at least!

Katzandkavemanareboyz said...

What does it mean when you take a girl out to dinner, drop a bill on her and she's on her iPhone the whole time checking out her eHarmony matches? I tried to start a conversation about how I just set up a gmail account and she didn't seem too impressed.

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