My experience in the dating pool, while unique to me, is like so many other stories you hear: I don’t have enough time, I don’t want to meet someone at a bar, There’s no good looking (and single) guys at the gym, etc. etc. While other people I know had met their boyfriends or husbands online, being old enough to remember life before the internet made me apprehensive about trying online dating. “That’s not how you’re supposed to meet someone” I would say to myself, or “Where’s the fun in going out with someone after you’ve already learned everything about them from their profile?”
Well, after a slew of mediocre to bad dates, you know the ones… The guy who gets hammered on the first date, the guy who tried to get heckled by the stand-up comic by being the most obnoxious person ever, and the guy who didn’t have a job and went Dutch on everything (no offense, but either don’t date or pick a date you can afford for the first date)… It got to the point where I went on a coffee date and didn’t even bother to cover my dark under eye circles… I decided to create a profile. I convinced a girlfriend of mine to sign up too–strength in numbers! And a nice change of pace on a Friday night. You know, wine and eHarmony.
Before diving in, I feel like I should say with full discloser that we signed up for a few online dating sites. Being new to this type of dating, we both thought it was best to get a feel for several different online sites and decide which one worked best for each of us. I know among my friends who have used online dating sites in the past, they all have a favorite for whatever reasons. If you read other eHarmony reviews, you’ll find that some people feel like sites like eHarmony have more serious daters—the people looking for relationships, not just a hook up. Other people choose sites based on costs and other factors. For me, I decided to go with eHarmony, and we’ll touch on that a little more later.
It takes a while to complete the full profile. Even you if need to take breaks, make the time to fill the whole thing out. If you don’t, you’re really short changing yourself and missing out on the full experience/process. Ultimately, it will help you get better matches, which can only be a good thing. The site uses what they call the “29 dimensions of compatibility” that are supposed to be an indicator of relationship success. So while filling out the questionnaire can feel a little tedious (sorry eHarmony!) it’s totally worth it at the end of the day.
The other thing that’s a little different is eHarmony chooses matches for you based on your answers (again, why it is so important to actually fill the whole thing out). When they start matching you, you start communicating with little icebreakers. There is a list of questions you choose from, and then you compare your match’s answer to yours. If you want to continue with the match, you each answer a few open-ended questions that are supposed to help reveal more about your core values. If you again decide this is someone worth pursuing a date with then the two of you can start communicating on your own through the dating site’s email system, which doesn’t share your private details with the other person.
I ended up meeting someone I really liked and although I didn’t want to shut down my profile completely (I’m a realistic optimist), it was nice to be able to suspend my account temporarily while I tested the waters with this guy. A good few dates, but it eventually fizzled. What I will say is my first few dates with that guy were about a million times better than the dates that I had been on before. And while we didn’t ride off into the sunset together, it did make me realize a few things. Primarily, it made me see the value in getting to know a little bit about the person before meeting them. Wait, let’s take it back. Before engaging in any kind of communication.
Aside from physical stuff, it’s nice when people have a complete profile, and you can get a sense of who they are as a person and if their personality will vibe with your own, whether that’s political, religious (Hey, no one wants to get in a fight over dinner about those serious topics when you don’t need to, right?), spiritual, and so on. Learning about musical tastes, interests, and hobbies, also help you gauge just how much you have in common with someone. The way eHarmony is set up, they choose matches for you (and only matches can see your pictures, by the way). While this definitely helps narrow down the pool of qualified daters and ups your chances of finding someone you really like, at the end of the day you still decide on whether or not you want to date that person. On other sites, you do your own searches, and you can set filters (like height, kids or no kids, religion, etc.). After trying other dating sites, I decided that I like having someone else do the hard work for me. Searching through profiles, even with filters, can take forever. With matches, I still get the fun of going through profiles without wondering if I am ever going to find someone I am really compatible with.
Before I joined, I wondered where the fun was going on a date with someone you already knew a lot about. I mean, that’s the point of a date, right, to get to know someone? What I found, however, is that it really helped. There is still some awkward first date stuff, you know like wondering if the person sitting there is the right person since you’ve never met them face-to-face. (By the way, I know a lot of girls prefer the guy to get there first so you can assess them, but getting there first puts the pressure on the guy to approach you, old school style. You can always sneak out or have a “sudden emergency.”) But having a few things in your back pocket, like “Oh, you went to Thailand, right? That’s on my list of places to visit. What’s one thing you would recommend?” Or “I just finished reading XYZ book and saw that it was a favorite of yours. What did you think about the conclusion?”
Knowing a little bit about their interests and how your interests complement their own helps get the date going on the right foot. It also eliminates some of those awkward silences (sorry, not all of them, it wouldn’t be a real first date otherwise). Not to sound all clinical, but it’s kind of like studying for a test. You just feel better prepared, and the outcome is usually better than if you hadn’t.
Oh, I almost forgot. You do have to pay for the site. I know there are plenty of sites and apps out there that are free, but personally I like that someone is serious enough about meeting a long-term partner to put some skin on it. They offer a few different levels though, just in case you aren’t ready to totally commit or want to just take the service for a spin. Obviously, the higher up you go in the levels the more stuff you get, like SecureCall that lets you talk to a potential date before going out. If you go up a level, there’s additional customer support features and a security check feature you can use on a certain number of matches (I’m not exactly sure on the specific deets—the cost for the premium was a little rich for my blood).
You can find the breakdowns of each membership level online and decide which is best for you. Or you can start with the basic and go up if you really like it. They also have an app now, so you can check your matches and send icebreakers while you’re out and about (see, this circles back to the wine night).
So at the end of the day, I’ve had a great experience with eHarmony. If you check out other eHarmony reviews, you’ll find I’m not alone either. I haven’t found Mr. Right yet, but I feel like my odds have at least increased and now I don’t feel so much pressure when I go out to be “on the prowl” you know what I mean? Because it costs a little more than some other sites and the people who sign up are really looking for relationships, I’d recommend trying it if you’re serious about finding a long-term love and even marriage. Knowing that the people on this site are interested in the same thing as you also makes those awkward conversations and questions about the future less awkward. Even if you aren’t in a rush to get married and have kids, it’s nice to feel like you can be open and talk about that from the very beginning rather than wait until you’re already in a relationship, which then might not be the right one.