Last fall I took the plunge and tried eHarmony — the online dating site peddled on TV ads by the upbeat, grandfatherly chap who founded it. He explains in a warm, trusting voice that the site’s scientific algorithm does a superb job of helping you find the perfect match. He even includes his wiseacre granddaughter in one of the ads as she relates to him that her teacher was foolish enough to use another online dating site. She indicates the relationship is doomed.
Before I started, I did a bit of research. I learned there is an exhaustive amount of information to fill in (which is only half true because you simply fill in what you want). The site got mixed reviews from online dating critics who reported people lost track of when their subscription ended and the site automatically renewed it, making it difficult to get their money back.
I didn’t know a soul who tried it (still don’t), but I figured I didn’t have much to lose except for a few bucks and some time.
One quiet day while lounging on my deck I signed on, filled in some of the blanks and posted five photos. They feature me alone, with my adult kids at a ball game and another of us at a wedding. At first, I didn’t pay for the site, which means you only see blank heads of men named Dave, Steve and Joe with a city and an age. Once you pay, you can see the photos (or lack of photos) of these guys. You are greatly encouraged to follow the eHarmony process, which is send someone you are interested in a smile and/or five pointed questions. If you can’t think of questions, eHarmony will do it for you.
The person you send this to will either respond with an answer to your questions and send back their questions or they ignore you. The structured get-to-know-you exercises can carry on for days. If you have stayed with my column this far, you can see the tedious nature of it.
Laughable is there is an option to send the person a straight-up email before you complete all the assigned tasks. But it is clear grandpa thinks this is rushing things. If the stars align, all this might lead to a telephone call.
In the three months, I had this subscription, I went through the process with a few guys. It resulted in one planned phone call from a widower. We talked about widowhood (he was more recent than I) and how our spouses died. He said he wanted to meet me very soon and would call me to set up plans that week. I never heard from him again.
The kicker here is half the men the site sent me had no photo — just these miserable blank heads. More than half of the men hardly filled out anything. Typical: “I’m an engineer in metro Detroit who is looking for a meaningful relationship. Oh, and I want to go to Hawaii.” That was it.
For days at a time, I would get no matches. The site urged me to broaden my scope to get more action. Suggestions: Don’t be so rigid about never accepting smokers. Expand your geographic boundaries beyond 50 miles. I ignored the smoker suggestion, but I set my profile once to say geography is “somewhat” important. The guys started flooding in — from Philly, Pittsburgh, Boston, Columbus, Ohio, Syracuse, New York. Ridiculous.
The whole experience prompted to complain to customer service that the site that was supposed to be the Mercedes or at least the Cadillac of online dating sites couldn’t even offer up prospects with photos or much interesting to say.
I don’t let this stuff get to me. It’s just another experience in this crazy singles world I’m in these days.