Why I hate EHarmony and their "Culture of Sameness"
Jul 13, 2009
Yes. I admit it. I did a short eHarmony “experiment” and the results are in. I am convinced that Dr. Warren has created a ‘culture of sameness’ where individuals are looking for replicas of themselves to date. Repeated exposure to certain ideals creates a "culture" and eHarmony is really great at this.
1. The 29 Levels of Compatibility – they advertise this, they PATENTED this, they emphasize this to the point where you can’t browse potential matches and pick someone interesting. THEY send you matches based on the 29 Levels stuff and all 29 are a secret that no one gets to know, but compatibility (sameness) is what’s pitched.
2. Guided Communication – this starts with the profile and then the decision to enter into communication. Most people pick the canned questions with the multiple choice answers and breeze through the first part, then there are lists of things you like and don’t like, they are called “Must Haves and Can’t Stands”. A little dramatic don’t you think? Then it’s more questions for a couple of rounds before you enter (cue angels singing) OPEN COMMUNICATION. The thing with all of the steps is that the process encourages looking at a human being like data on a spreadsheet. They ask "what makes you more nervous" and you answer "speaking in front of an audience" - she closes you b/c she wants a people-person with confidence. Blah.
Let’s examine three situations where I went through the entire Guided Communication and see how they turned out. The real ironic farce here is that after all of that work online, you finally meet and you STILL know nothing about each other. I digress, I correct myself, I move on…let’s go.
1. Marisa – Despite my bias against eHarmony, I admit that Marisa and I were getting along very well. We went on several dates, she even invited me to a hockey game in a suite hosted by one of her work clients. Then we talked about her upcoming vacation to Amsterdam and it came out that I never have nor will I do any illegal drugs. She then concluded that this was important to her and she wanted to share her pot smoking lifestyle with her partner. I was OK with HER smoking if I didn’t have to be around it, but we were out of “sameness equilibrium” and she couldn’t take it and we stopped seeing each other. I just made up the phrase "sameness equilibrium"…I’ll have to thank her for that one.
2. Stephanie was another great girl that I met in real life. We spent a LOT of time online as our schedules never meshed. We kept at it though and were really excited to meet each other. We met for coffee only to learn that neither of us actually drinks coffee. We both just thought that’s where people meet. Well…after our little date she was headed to REI to pick up some supplies for a camping trip that weekend. She asked if I liked to camp and I explained that after being in the Marines, it initially seems like work, but that I love to share experiences so I would definitely participate…which is so much more than “I’d go”. I also said that after a couple of hours of scouting the area and routing fire escapes and such that I would relax and have a great time. She later said that she really wants someone who enjoys camping like she does because she dated someone who hated it and it didn’t work out so well. Sameness test – FAILED. Camping was not a part of the 29 Levels of Compatibility so she who contacted me first bailed. Oh well…she’d probably divorce me later for ordering wrong at a restaurant!
3. This last one Googled me and found my social networking profiles and specifically asked not to be identified by name, even a misspelled name or initials. (sigh) She is a lawyer so to avoid litigation, I will oblige. We will call her Counselor. Anyway, Counselor and I talked on the phone a couple of times and she asked me about what I do. This is always a tough question as they are not prepared for such an involved answer. I gave her the list of revenue making activities and she focused in on the acting. She asked me if I was in SAG or AFTRA. Usually, this is an annoying question b/c most people are questioning whether you are serious and professional when they ask, but I just said “both”. There was a brief moment of silence before she said, “Too bad. We can’t date then”. Of course, I asked why and I was told that she works in entertainment for a studio and gets into litigation and arbitration with unions all the time and worried about a CONFLICT OF INTEREST. I wrote that in all caps because I wanted to make sure that you didn’t think you read it incorrectly. I won’t go into all of the “venues of exploitation” arguments not to mention the probability of conflict, but they were easy arguments for me to make. I was cool though and said “I understand your hesitation, but I suggest we have a sidebar over dinner to discuss these issues”. The sameness phenomenon here met a match with the logic of JD and lost, but it was evident just the same.
Is eHarmony unique with this culture of sameness? I can’t imagine that people want to be with a partner who is like them in every way. I look for some common ground, but I would hope to live a life of constantly growing and sharing with each other. I would hope we have varied perspective with enough respect for each other to have both flourish in the relationship. Maybe camping isn’t my first choice of activity, but it is likely that if my significant other really loved it, that passion would rub off on me.
When we meet people in real life, chemistry and attraction come first. Then you start meshing your personalities and habits and hobbies and such. I think that once people figure out that they like each other that these differences matter less. With eHarmony, you don’t even know the person, but you have data and text to interpret to rule people out. I went through this so others who are looking for the beauty of difference can avoid the two peas in a pod comfort of eHarmony.
I reject the eHarmony culture of sameness. I am pretty freaking cool, but I imagine that there is only room in a relationship for one person like me! I embrace a culture of teamwork where two people work together and bring DIFFERENT strengths and perspectives. This team will go through life sharing with each other and growing together and affecting each other. Mirrors are for brushing your teeth or putting on makeup or shaving. Hopefully, the mirrors in your life won’t be the people you choose to be with but rather glass reflections used for shaving and makeup and brushing your teeth and for seeing objects "closer than they appear to be" while driving.
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About the reviewer
Jeff Daly (dalydose)
Jul 13, 2009
Mar 4, 2013 03:52 PM UTC
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Pasadena-based eHarmony (www.eharmony.com) launched in the United States in 2000 and is now the #1 Trusted Relationship Services Provider in the USA. eHarmony's patented Compatibility Matching System® allows eHarmony members to be matched with compatible persons with whom they are likely to enjoy a long-term relationship. Millions of people of all ages, ethnicities, national origins and religious and political beliefs have used eHarmony's Compatibility Matching System to find compatible long-term relationships. Today, an average of 236 eHarmony members marry every day in the United States as a result of being matched on the site.* eHarmony is available in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.