Saturday, January 31, 2009

1-31-09: eHarmony and Other Dating Sites

To start, I've never registered for or used an online dating site. I know people who have, and none of them have found anything there that lasted more than a few dates.

Not that I have anything against people who do use them. Whatever makes you happy. But something funny came up a week or so ago when I was watching TV with the lady friend and a commercial came on for eHarmony.

During the commercial, the lady friend made an interesting remark: "I wonder what would happen if we both used eHarmony right now. Do you think they'd match us up?" It was, of course, in jest, so I laughed and said "Well if we did and it didn't match us, I'd be willing to go with whatever the internet says and I guess we'd have to break up or something." She laughed (fortunately) and it was the end of it (because the commercial was over).

I didn't think anything about that remark until a couple days ago, when an interesting social experiment popped in my head. What if you had, say, 50 unmarried couples register for, just for argument's sake, eHarmony. What are the odds that any of those 50 couples would be matched by the site? I'd guess it would be no greater than 5% chance that ANY couple would be matched, but that's just a wild guess. I have no idea what their algorithm is, but if you take into account all the registered users on eHarmony, the odds might be against you that you find one person.

Now, I'm not saying eHarmony is unreliable for finding good matches. I'm just saying there are plenty of other ways that people meet that generally work better. For instance, I went to the same (small) college as the lady friend, graduated on the same day, and we have mutual acquaintances from college. In fact, at one point in time (I believe) we lived about a block away from each other. But we didn't meet until about a year after graduating. We both work for the same company, and met through a softball team she organized. We didn't actually start seeing each other until the season was almost over. It turns out, she's a more avid Red Sox fan than I am. I found that to be very nice.

So what factors actually matter? Is it more important to be matched on 30-something degrees of ... whatever eHarmony calls it... or to have mutual interests? Who knows, but I do want to see that social experiment in action. Maybe something can be worked out by Valentine's Day...

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