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It's All Relative: Meeting your Match Online

 by Stephanie Berger
 published on Thursday, March 23, 2006



I have a love-life confession to make.

We all do things that we aren't proud of, and at a certain point in our lives, it's time to come clean and admit the lengths that we've gone to in order to find a date.

I once posted a Yahoo Personals profile.

You can laugh, but I'm willing to bet that either you or someone you know has done the same, either out of curiosity or a genuine desire to find a date. Although I stopped short of actually paying for Yahoo's dating service, I did spend a month browsing through people's profiles and sending out free "icebreakers," or silly messages like, "I like your profile! Tell me more" and "Nice guys finish first with me."

I soon abandoned my Internet quest for love when I discovered that the majority of guys who are looking for women online fall into one of two categories: They are either hopelessly creepy or socially inept, or they are just looking for a quick and easy hook-up.

But with the prevalence of Web sites like eHarmony that offer links to legitimate love-interests, I thought it might be fun to see where an online love-search might take me.

I focused on, which promised to find me a match based on 29 different dimensions. The site told me that these dimensions include "core traits," like emotional temperament, social style and cognitive mode, and "vital attributes" such as relationship skills, values and beliefs, and key experiences.

I spent the better part of an hour taking the free personality profile test, answering questions about everything from my religion to whether or not I sometimes think that certain people deserve to fail. After hundreds of questions and a sore wrist from clicking all the little boxes, eHarmony asked me if I was ready to meet my ideal matches. I eagerly clicked the "yes" link, and braced myself for dozens of potential mates to pop up on my screen.

"Unable to match you at this time," eHarmony informed me in large, brown letters.


"Unfortunately, we are not able to make our profiles work for you. Our matching model could not accurately predict with whom you would be best matched. This occurs for about 20 percent of potential users, so one in five people simply will not benefit from our service. We hope that you understand, and we regret our inability to provide service for you at this time," the Web site explained.

I was shocked on multiple levels. At first, I felt a little bit freakish --- am I so strange that even an Internet dating site can't find a man for me? Am I destined to spend the rest of my life alone because I don't fit into the "matching model?"

Then, I responded with a sense of pride. "That's right, eHarmony," I said. I am too unique and individualistic to fit into the mold. I am a member of the elite 20 percent of the population that is too cool to be put into a category.

But finally, I thought about what a message like this might mean to other eHarmony users. If eHarmony is willing to turn away 20 percent of its potential users, it means that the company is more serious about providing tailored love matches. While Yahoo Personals would never turn down another source of revenue, eHarmony is willing to say goodbye to $20.95 per month to $59.95 per month, depending on how many months at a time the user subscribes for.

This marks a new trend in online dating. And for someone who really does believe that his or her one soul-mate is out there somewhere, the service makes sense. How else are you, as a Tempe resident, going to find your one and only if he or she lives in a different city, state or even country?

As for me, I'm content to be too complex to be matched with just anyone. And my boyfriend, who suggested I take the eHarmony test for fun in the first place, would probably agree with that description.

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