Tuesday, February 20, 2007

eHarmony Update

I haven't mentioned eHarmony in a long time because there hasn't been anything to say. I've been getting new matches on and off. Until a few days ago, none had requested communication (at least in the previous 1-2 months). As it is, I don't have anything to update with though I do have a few thoughts/comments.

eHarmony apparently has a flexible matching system in addition to the normal, non-flexible one. The flexible system matches you with people (slightly) outside your stated preferences for those preferences you indicated were of less importance. For example, I know I specified 22 as the bottom limit for age. (My reasoning is that she must be old enough to drink and... well, no great reason for 22 vs. 21 other than I feel upping it to 22 will help increase maturity by a small but significant notch.) eHarmony matched me with a 20 year old. That's all fine, well and good, but I don't think so. I'm probably a little flexible on upper age but not on lower. Thank you, try again.

One of eHarmony's fill-in-the-blank fields is: "One thing that only [person]'s best friends know is:" Easily 50% of the profiles I've seen respond with something like: "I am not going to tell, its a secret and that is why they are the only ones who know." or "Hahaha, if I tell the world of eharmony, then it would no longer be a thing that only my best friend knows." or "Well if only my best friends know, then it means you have to get to know me, to know what that is..." (Incidentally, those are direct quotes from profiles.)

Let's think about this for a minute. If they ("they" being the omniscient g-ds of eHarmony) put that question in their questionnaire, chances are they didn't want people to respond with a "cute" quip about being secretive. Somewhat like the last field ("Some additional information [person] wanted you to know is:"), they were trying to provide additional opportunities to relate pertinent information.

The goal here is to meet people while also being somewhat selective about it. eHarmony's matching system is the first screen. They only send you profiles of people with whom they think you'd be a good match, based on their patented matching system that was undoubtedly procured from the aliens. The second screen is the person's profile. A profile needs to relate enough information about a person so that someone reading it can make an initial guesstimation as to whether or not they'd like to start the eHarmony 49-step process of communication. (Okay, so the process is really only 4 or 5 steps, but with delays and the fact that each step comprises action by both parties, it takes forever.)

By being "cute" and "witty" (where responding as in the above quotes is actually neither cute nor witty), you only indicate your inability to understand the question and its purpose.

You read that right. It's not that the person has chosen to not answer the question. (I could respect, though not agree, with that choice.) It's the fact that they took time to tap out a brief, meaningless response that illustrates their total and complete lack of comprehension. I have yet to selectively not-select (i.e., eliminate) a match based solely on such a non-response, but do not doubt that any answers like the ones above go in the "minus" column. If I reject based on spelling or grammar, you better believe I'd consider rejecting for idiocy or stupid answers like the ones above.

I'm still being matched with social workers and teachers, though I was also recently matched with a waitress (aspiring marketer) and law student. I'm dubious about dating a law student. Been there, done that, know that it's Hell (law school that is). However, my reason for not initiating with the law student in question was that she's very much into the outdoors and, although I used to be and probably would enjoy it, I'm generally not.

I'm starting to suspect that the majority of eHarmony women in the age bracket (22-32) and location (CT) I've specified are... (how do I phrase this delicately?) not very smart. I'm looking for an intelligent woman. She doesn't have to have attended law school. She doesn't have to be an "A" student (I sure wasn't, at least in law school). She doesn't have to be working, in her spare time, on cold fusion as the solution to the world's energy crisis. However, she does have to be at least moderately well-spoken and bright. Thus far, at least 75% of the matches eHarmony has sent me fail in this one regard. It's positively painful at times.

But I s'pose I'm patient or at least I can pretend to be or at least in this regard I can pretend to be. So it goes and so I keep looking.

ADDENDUM: Two other women I was matched with - a musician and an actress. In fact, the actress is Ellen Muth of the short-lived series Dead Like Me. She closed the match stating she was pursuing another relationship. I wish the reply options weren't so limited - I'd have loved to say "You were great in 'Dead Like Me'!" instead of "Good luck with your search." [12:52 PM]

ADDENDUM II: In reviewing, I realized that I didn't actually opine on what kind of answers the eHarmony g-ds were looking for. Here's my theory:

Most of the questions are directed to revealing general impressions about yourself and what you're looking for. The questions are very open-ended and could be bent to any one of a dozen different directions. They are there as talking points – to incite the writer to reveal something.

So what is this particular question ("One thing that only [person]'s best friends know is:") directed towards? Rather than trying to get the writer to disclose a dark, hidden secret (e.g., in my spare time I kill puppies for fun and profit), I think this question is trying to shift the vantage point (the point-of-view). I don't think the question should read "One thing that only [person]'s best friends know is:" I think the question really asks "One thing that only [person]'s best friends know is:" In other words, What is something your friends have learned about you? How would they describe you?

My answer was very succinct: "I will try (almost) anything once, twice if I like it."

My (best) friends know that I am up for (almost) anything. If they say: "Let's go to Mohegan Sun!" then I say: "Who's driving?!" If they say: "Let's go to a strip club!" then I say: "Where's the nearest one?!" (Incidentally, those are somewhat accurate quotes from law school.) Half the time I'm the one who proposes some relatively-outlandish course. My answer to the question reflects something that is not secretive but instead reflects something that my best friends might say in describing me. My answer also reveals something more about myself (as all of the answers should).

I almost wish the question was phrased better. I suspect that the intent was either (a) to be as vague as possible to enable many answers; or (b) to ask the writer to reveal something from their friend's p.o.v. I don't think the question succeeds on either level, as evidenced by the clear misinterpretation by many writers. The question cannot be asking the writer to reveal a secret as that is plain idiocy. I give the eHarmony g-ds more credit than that. After all, they are omniscient. (Right?)

By the way, I do not kill puppies for fun and profit in my spare time... just kittens.. and bunny rabbits. [5:44 PM]