Miss Lonelyhearts

by francine Hardaway on January 1, 2006

Rarely do I make New Year’s Resolutions: I know myself too well to expect myself to keep them, and I don’t like to start things and not finish them. If I don’t start, I avoid that sense of nagging failure most people have. It’s a clever strategy to keep my self-esteem at its best.

But this year I made one. I have resolved to share my life with someone (besides my business partner and my dogs) this year. This was not an easy resolution to make, since I’ve been a widow for more than eight years, and I’ve got a pretty complex life that takes place not only in two states (California and Arizona) but on the many continents to which I travel and on which I have friends, concerns, and interests.

However, I’ve read an awful lot of literature about how people who are in intimate relationships live longer, stay younger, avoid Alzheimer’s disease and depression, and live generally happier lives. These studies, of course, exclude those women of my generation who married wealthy boys because their parents told them to, haven’t worked in their whole lives, and are sitting around waiting for the despicable old man to die and leave them control over the money so they can have a life.

I’ve only known a few of those, but I remember clearly the wife of a client of mine who, at 74 when she was newly widowed by her husband of over 50 years, immediately went out and got herself a life-changing face lift.

Okay, enough about that. I’ve already had a life of my own, and I loved my husband dearly. Nevertheless, he has escaped to Heaven, and I am quite healthy. There’s little chance I’ll be joining him soon, so why wait around? Make the time productive, I always say.

Thus, this morning I filled out the questionnaire for eHarmony after watching about two minutes of an infomercial starring its founder.

Now this is not the first time I tried online dating. A few years after Gerry died, I joined Match.com and met a succession of truckdrivers who had never graduated from high school (no offense, but no common interests either), retired insurance salesmen, and people of indeterminate occupation who thought they had correctly surmised that I was wealthy from my profile. I gave up in disgust.

More recently, I tried jDate.com. Now I’m not in touch with my inner Jew, but I reasoned that Jewish men made good husbands and were generally intelligent, so would probably appreciate me.

On jDate I met one man who rejected me because I arrived in my own car to our dinner dates (he thought that meant I wasn�t �serious� about him and the relationship wasn�t �progressing,� ) and two who were terrified of me after simply sitting down to coffee.

But the biggest thing I learned from the jDate experience was that you can never cancel your account. In the time since my jDate disasters, I closed the credit card account to which jDate billed its charges, lost another card, and formally unsubscribed several times. And still I receive an email a month with the subject line �your matches from JDate.� If I looked at these matches, I know I would find men whom I might want to meet, but who probably do not want to meet me.

eHarmony�s biggest differentiator is its endless personality profile � a questionnaire that, even when you answer it quickly, takes an hour to finish. It reminded me of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Test: it has hundreds of questions that repeat themselves in different words, purportedly establish an accurate profile of my personality in order to make the best matches for me. I felt like the person who wrote the questionnaire was trying to trick me into saying something that would give me away.

But I slogged on through, forcing myself to finish so I could meet Prince Charming and get on with my life.

Imagine my surprise when I finally finished and received the following message:

�eHarmony is based upon a complex matching system developed through extensive testing of married individuals. One of the requirements for it to work successfully is for participants to fall into a rigorously defined “profile.”

Unfortunately, you do not fit within this profile. eHarmony’s matching system is not suitable for about 20% of potential participants, so 1 in 5 people simply will not benefit from the matching part of the eHarmony site.

This means that our matching model could not accurately predict with whom you would be best matched. We’d rather provide no matches than bad matches, because bad matches lead to bad marriages.

We hope that you understand our regret in our inability to provide our matching service for you at this time.�

Imagine my feelings of rejection! Even software doesn�t love me�

And then, the greatest indignity of all � my personality profile:
�You tend to be a traditionalist, and will enjoy the social environment best if it is stable and predictable. You dislike sudden decisions about where to go or what to do, preferring to think things out first.�

This about a person who had two children out of wedlock, lived in a geodesic dome, was more than once married, moved three times in two years, and went to Africa and China during the same year, neither on business.

Better outsource the next version of that eHarmony software to India.

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