Ok, it’s finally time for the long awaited post on e-harmony’s exceptionally laborious communication system. Stick with me here, because this post will pertain to a lot of future posts (and, as you’ve noticed, I’ve already talked about it in my first three posts without even explaining what it is. Bad, Carin.)
So someone catches your eye on e-harmony. You think, “hey, that guy’s pretty cute. Plus he has the exact hair color I’m looking for in a boyfriend, and he loves guacamole!” (or whatever regular people think when they look at someone’s profile), and you decide to message him. Could this be a simple and easy way to meet the person you could spend the rest of your life with?!
Of course not.
Before I totally overwhelm you with this mystical communication system, here’s the break down of how it works:
So come, join me on this magical journey. Let’s dive in…
Step 1: Quick Questions
Quick Questions is the first step to meeting the man of your dreams, and — as most things in life — it all starts with 5 multiple choice questions.
Now, you’re not actually able to make up your own multiple choice questions, but e-harmony kindly offers its own exhaustive list of FIFTY-SEVEN questions, along with four mostly irrelevant possible answers. Here are some of my personal favorites:
I think these are my favorite because I couldn’t answer a single one without being horribly sarcastic. “No, it’s okay. I don’t really want my family or friends to like you.” Thanks for the deep and meaningful questions, e-harmony.
One question I pretty routinely get is, “On Saturday night, would you rather go to:” with the following options: Ballet/theater/symphony, A professional sporting event, A popular new movie, The latest dance club.
Is this a trap? Where is the “stay at home in my sweat pants” option?
Now, based on the questions I get, I feel like men just check whichever questions their mouse hovers over first. Mine, however, I put (probably too much) thought into. Here they are:
Why did I ask these questions specifically? Question 1 tells me whether this guy is clingy. Question 2 tells me whether this guy is clingy, and also if I could take him out in public with me. Question 3 tells me about his family life (I think you can learn a lot about relationships from having happily married parents). Question 4 tells me whether he’s boring. And Question 5 tells me whether I’m going to have to support him when he decides he’d rather become a professional video gamer than go to work.
Step 2: Makes & Breaks
Now I talked a little bit about this in a previous post, so I’ll breeze through this. Basically, makes & breaks is everything you must have in a successful relationship, or the things that would cause a relationship to end mid-cup of coffee. E-harmony again very helpfully doesn’t give you the option of coming up with what’s actually important to you, but instead provides a list of 50 makes and 50 breaks for you to choose from.
Now, after my previous post, I found e-harmony’s list of top 10 makes & breaks for both men and women and apparently “affectionate” makes #3 on the list for both genders. Go figure.
Other top makes include sense of humor, chemistry, communicator, loyal, emotionally healthy, passionate, etc. Top breaks include lying, cheating, rude, poor hygiene, drugs, infidelity, etc.
Two things to note: On the list of top breaks for men, “racist” doesn’t even make the list. Meaning, dating a racist would not automatically be the end of the relationship. The other thing to note: “excessive overweight” does make the list of top breaks for men. So in review… men would rather date a racist than a fattie. Good to know.
Another thing to note: if you log onto e-harmony on your smart phone, the makes & breaks category comes with descriptors! I don’t know why on Earth these aren’t in the online version, because the first time I saw them I was like, “wait… that’s not what I meant by that!” Exhibit A:
Now, I think I originally listed “Responsible” as one of my makes (there’s so many things that are really important — how am I meant to choose here?). Saying I had included “Responsible,” it was because I am looking for someone responsible, which Google kindly just defined for me as, “having an obligation to do something.” But I log onto e-harmony on my iPhone and now the descriptor says I am looking for someone who is financially responsible. Well that wasn’t part of the headline. Why don’t you just make it “Fiscally Responsible” rather than “Responsible.” To me, responsible means I could trust you to pick my future child up from school and not leave them crying on the curb while it’s 10 degrees and raining. Not just that you can balance your checkbook (although, you know… I want that too). So thanks for making me second-guess all of my makes with your crazy sometimes-descriptions, e-harmony!
Step 3: Dig Deeper
Alright, if you’ve made it this far, e-harmony decides to give you a little rope. I like to call this the “short answer” portion of online dating, because (a) you get a text box to type your response to a question and (b) I took too many standardized tests in public school.
So e-harmony once again lets you choose from a series of “short answer” questions, but this time you can (!!!) make up your own questions if you want. I always make up my own questions, usually based on the prospective boyfriend’s makes & breaks (this is where I ask what being affectionate means to them). And of all the gentlemen I have talked with, I have had someone carefully look at my likes and dislikes, my profile, and my multiple choice answers and come up with a carefully crafted question aimed at getting to know me better… once. Yep. Every other guy just checks some boxes and e-harmony does the work. Nice to know you’re really going for it.
The most common question I get? “Tonight you can do anything you want, no penalties, no reprisals, and the cost is unimportant. What are you going to do?” Now, I like the idea of this question, but the point is it only says “tonight.” Tonight means, this evening. Which means, I still have to be at work at 4 a.m. Which means I have to get up at 3 a.m. at the latest. Which means, if I can do absolutely anything I want tonight, I’m going to get some sleep.
Step 4: EH Mail
Up to this point, I would equate the e-harmony communication process to having your very close friend telling you all about their very close guy-friend — all his likes and dislikes, what he does for a living, etc. etc. And then EH Mail is like being actually thrown together with this guy-friend, who you know all about because your friend told you all about him, but now you have nothing to say… because it’s awkward.
We’ve been going through this standardized test of online dating and now we’re at the essay but there’s no prompt for us to follow. So usually the first sentence of EH Mail is something totally stupid like, “well that took a long time! Haha.” Yeah, it did take a long time… of you checking random boxes and responding to my awesome questions with 10 word answers. Thanks for that, by the way.
Now, you can skip right to EH Mail from the beginning, but only if the other person accepts. And the first time you use EH Mail, you get this awesome warning about not meeting someone in person who you don’t know and “stranger danger.” I wish I had saved it at the time. It was amazing.
So this is really the breakdown. E-harmony’s fool proof way of creating lasting love matches. Everything you need to know about someone using nonsensical questions and check boxes. Obviously it’s going really great for me.