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Online Dating Services - eHarmony Review
Review by Joe Tracy, Publisher of Online Dating Magazine

Dating Site: eHarmony.com
Slogan: Fall in love for all the right reasons
Review Date: July 2, 2003 (2006 update added to My Experience)
Online Dating Magazine Rating: 8.5/10
Browse for Free? No

Cost Structure
1 Month = $59.95
3 Months = $119.85
6 Months = $179.70
1 Year = $239.40

Best Feature:
Matching based on detailed relationship algorithms

Most Annoying Feature:
Once you are paid you can only communicate with other people who have paid. So while you may have 70 highly compatible matches, only those matches that are paid members can communicate back to you!

Review
eHarmony.com is, without a doubt, one of the most unique dating sites online. You can tell from the get-go that they are serious about their task.

eHarmony.com is based on the theory that there are hundreds of dimensions that every person has and by cross analyzing dimensions, the service creates highly compatible matches for you.

eHarmony.com isn't a visual pick-em-as-you-see-them buffet like most other dating sites. When you sign up on eHarmony.com, you must complete an in-depth personality survey that literally takes about an hour or so to finish. The survey delves into hundreds of these "dimensions" then uses your responses to cross match you with other eHarmony.com members. You are then presented only with profiles of other members who are highly compatible to you.

The interesting thing about forcing members to do a detailed analysis of themselves up front is that it weeds out a lot of people. For example, men only looking for a quick one-night stand are highly unlikely to sign up on eHarmony.com since the focus is more relationship-oriented versus a visual free-for-all. And some men just don't like analyzing their inner self. Thus, eHarmony.com accomplishes something that virtually no other dating site has: there are twice as many women on eHarmony than there are men.

On most dating sites, the ratio of men to women is 70-30. Yet on eHarmony.com, the ladies outnumber the gentlemen. So men who are serious about finding a meaningful relationship may only need to visit eHarmony.com. And the good thing for women is that they know that the men on eHarmony.com know how to use their right brain since they went through the process of analyzing themselves in detail by taking the same personality profile required of all members.

The way eHarmony.com works is that after you sign up and fill out the in-depth personality profile, you are presented with new matches on a regular basis. These are people that are supposed to be "highly compatible" with you based on scientific relationship research. It cross matches based on dozens of dimensions including 29 "vital" dimensions that deal in the area of emotional health, family values, personality, and character.

As a paying member, you can request communication with any of your matches. If a match agrees then you are taken through a three step process before you can openly email them:

Step 1: Multiple Choice Questions. You select five personality/character/relationship oriented multiple choice questions from a predetermined list that is presented to the other person to answer. They do the same in return.

Step 2: You submit your Must Have and Must Have Nots list that shows your match the things that you "must have" in a partner (i.e. chemistry, loyalty) and things you "can't stand" in a partner (i.e. rude, racist, couch potato).

Step 3: You submit three "open-ended" questions that the other person answers. You can select from a list of predetermined questions or write your own.

Step 4: You are now in open communication and can freely communicate with the other person.

Anytime during this process you or the other person can "close" the match for any reason. Here's a sample of the "status" of matches:

Here are three of my 70 matches on eHarmony. I've whited out the names of the matches in this example. The green explanation point means the person is a new match for me. The yellow"H" means the person has put me on "hold" (meaning they may be interested, but are pursuing another match). The red X means the person has "closed" me, meaning they aren't interested (for whatever reason) and I can't communicate further with them.

eHarmony.com is, without a doubt, one of the best dating sites online for people looking for a serious relationship. But that doesn't mean that eHarmony.com doesn't have a few "quirks". I do have two big qualms with eHarmony.com about their service:

1. eHarmony.com forces you to be a member to communicate with another member trying to contact you. At $49.95 a month, you'd think eHarmony.com would have the decency to allow you to communicate with any of your matches without your match having to worry about dishing out $49.95 also!

2. eHarmony.com sometimes promotes a "7-day Free Trial". This, too, is highly deceptive because you have to give your credit card information so that you can immediately be billed for your first month when your 7-day "free trial" is over.

I would think that eHarmony.com would be beyond these type of deceptive practices, because they present themselves as a very honorable and "different" experience for online daters.

My Experience
To date, I have met two people in person from eHarmony.com and I have communicated with several others. While both of those meetings were extremely pleasant, neither went beyond the first date. Yet out of the three people I've met in person from other services, all three ended up in very good and healthy relationships. Even so, I was extremely impressed with the two people I met on eHarmony.com and if the quality of the others are like them, then that darn high monthly fee I'm paying is looking more like a deal every day.

2006 Update: eHarmony.com has proven to be the most successful service for me personally. Since this original review I met several other people on the service. In fact, the person I've now been steadily dating for the past year I met on eHarmony.com.

Recommendations to eHarmony
If eHarmony.com wants to really set itself apart even more, it should do away with forcing both people to sign up in order to communicate. If I'm a paid member, I should be able to communicate with anyone.

Interestingly enough, when I contacted eHarmony.com via email about forcing both people to pay in order to communicate, they wouldn't answer my emails. Yet when I asked a general question about the service, they responded within 24 hours. It's like they know the issue of forcing both people to pay is a sore spot (and the fewer that know, the better), but yet they don't want to lose the extra money in order to gain a better reputation. I recommend they go for the better reputation!

In regards to their service, I have no recommendations because their execution is nearly flawless. eHarmony's slogan is "fall in love for all the right reasons" and they seem to provide the proper service that allows that to happen.

Conclusion
Deceptions aside, I give eHarmony.com high marks for really setting itself apart from the rest of the online dating services. eHarmony.com has taken online dating to levels that present a much better experience for those involved. The quality of people I've communicated with is exceptional and the experience has been extremely rewarding.

Pros Cons
in-depth matching engine very expensive
proven techniques both must subscribe
quality matches free trial deception
   

eHarmony.com is rewarded with a score of 8.5 out of 10.

--

Click here to submit your review of eHarmony.


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