A Woman Visible

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"This Will Be An Everlasting Love" and Other Societal Fallacies

My best bud and fellow single, Amanda and I have noticed an ugly trend in advertising here in the Atlanta area. It could be that this is a nationwide phenomenon, but I'm not sure. It's those damn EHarmony commercials! They show happy couples mooning over each other, and gushing about how EHarmony saved them from the eternal damnation of being single and lonely. Ok, they're not really saying that, but the message is clear: You have a soulmate, and for the low, low fee of $50 a month, we can find him for you.

Now, honestly I've been tempted by the EHarmony thing. I have. According to the founder, Dr. Neil Clark Warren, all you have to do is fill out a compatibility questionaire, and send it to his firm. They will match you with people that you should be compatible with. It sounds simple enough, but it also sounds too good to be true. In an inteview with Rebecca Traister for Salon, Warren "boasts more marriages per match than any other Web site; 10,000 can be documented. But Warren and Forgatch (co-founder of the site) both suspect the number is closer to between 30,000 and 50,000." Wow. With a rate that extraordinary, how can you lose, right? I even know a couple that ended up marrying after meeting on the site (the cool thing is that they are soul mates), but even they have told me that it was one of those longshots. They both had gone out with several others the site matched to them with limited success.

That's my argument with EHarmony and other sites that boast the ability to make that "perfect match." How can a group of people that have never even met me know how to connect me with my soul mate? Of course, Dr. Warren would say that his 436 question survey is constructed to make my match a scientific one. I have to wonder if this "scientific" approach will take into consideration my ability to draw weirdoes like moths to a flame. What if my compatibility rating only connects me with those same weirdoes? It would be my luck I'd end up being compatible with Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. I've had a hard enough time finding "the one" on my own, and now some guy with a theology degree is going to match me up. uh huh, right...

I've been reading around the net about EHarmony, mostly because I wanted to see what other people were thinking. If there were really 30,000 to 40,000 success stories from this site, you'd think that there would be loud, racous rejoicing coming from the Internet peanut galleries. What I found, however, was quite the opposite. For every "success story" that is displayed on the EHarmony website, it would seem there are stories of incompatability (Rebecca Traister tried it, but after five bad experiences, she stopped trying), and worse, stories of not meeting anyone. This idea of "this will be an everlasting love" seems a bit over-optimistic to me. No one can guarrantee you will get that everlasting love. All they can do is give you the chance to meet men (or women, if you're a guy) that might, possibly, maybe, oh heck, we don't really know be THE ONE. The operative word here is chance. To say that you can guarrantee more is a blantant untruth.

This is not to say that we should just give up, or not try at all. I just think we need to take a pause before we jump off and pay $50 a month for a glorified matchmaker. It is hard to go through the necessary work to find a good relationship, and I know that online services can help. Perhaps my reticence comes from the fear that lies just below my personal surface. Maybe I'm afraid that by trying a site like this I'm admitting my own ineptitude in the relationship department. I'm not sure.

I'm also not sure that I'm not being manipulated by society in general into believing there's something wrong with my being single. There seems to be a push this time of year to get a mate if you don't have one already. I'm sure this is connected with Valentine's Day. It's a vicious cycle that goes like this: companies want to make more money, so they go to the advertisers, who create this series of ads proclaiming the advantages of being goo-goo eyed over someone who is your 'soul mate.' Then the consumer (i.e. you and me, oh single readers), who is lonely and empty here at this most important holiday, will buy into the idea, and find a mate. All in time for the new mate to purchase some of that jewelry I mentioned a couple of entries ago. It's a huge jewelry conspiracy! That's what it is!

All jests aside, there is this underlying message in all of these sorts of ads that singleness is not a desired life possibility. Maybe it's not for some. Maybe it's not the exact desired life path for me. Nevertheless, should I be beat on by the media or society because, at least in this part of my journey, I am single?

It's hard enough being single without being told that there's something wrong with you because you are single.

Perhaps, one day, I'll break down and cough up the $50 a month--but I think I'd rather take my chances, learn how I draw weirdoes, and try to change that before I make a commitment to a faceless matchmaker.

"Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match..." as if.


  • At 10:51 AM, Blogger kt said…

    I have a cousin who has met her true love on e-harmony. She is like a new person and my entire family is so happy for her (she had been single for a long time). She just decided to give it a try--so she joined e-harmony, dropped 25 pounds, highlighter her hair, and started working out. All of it worked for her, the weight loss, the new look, and the guy. And while she swears by e-harmony, I think that she just committed herself to changes and they happened because she was ready. She believed in herself and now she believes in her new relationship. A great story!

    For me, I am very happily single and I could not see myself differently right now. I have a young son and I am in school--these are my commitments. I do not let society in anyway make me feel that my choices are anything but right.

    When looking for a relationship (like my cousin) or not (like me) it should be driven by your own choice and societal expectations should not hinder. Others don’t live our life so they should not pressure it.


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