Eharmony, created in 2000, is very different from all other online dating services.
First of all, there is no search feature. Instead the Eharmony algorithm will provide the users matches every day. Eharmony focuses on facilitating marriages, not just serious relationships, and believes that giving people too many choices makes it much more difficult for them to commit to one person. Once you find a match, your first contact with your match will be through eharmony’s “guided communications”, and it is after several of these, that you are able to communicate on your own.
Eharmony free version
Eharmony, like many other dating services, has both free and paid versions. It is estimated that there are around 10 million users with around 750,000 active paid subscribers.
The free version allows users to submit a profile and see matches, but does not allow the free user to communicate with anyone or to see full profiles with pictures. Many free users eventually become paid users, and, in the past, they have allowed free members to communicate during period “free communication weekends”.
Eharmony is available in 200 countries. Most users are in the 25-34 age group, with the ration of men to women is close to even.
Eharmony Paid Version
Eharmony has 3 month, six month, and 12 months levels of paid subscriptions. User can sign up by email or facebook and can pay using a credit card or Facebook.
The subscription costs are higher than most similar services, however there are often new member promo codes available. There is also a 3 month guarantee, which gives you an extra 3 months if you haven’t found anybody after 3 months on the site.
There is a 3 day cancellation option, but it is available only in certain areas, so it is important to read the fine print.
The paid versions all have ID verification.
How and why eharmony was created
Dr. Neil Clark Warren founded Eharmony in 2000. Warren was a seminary professor, theologian and clinical psychologist.
Dr. Warren believed, based upon the US 50 percent divorce rate, as well as complaints by his married patients, that a large majority of marriages in America either failed or were unhappy.
Dr. Warren concluded that many, if not most, failed marriages were caused by incompatible personality traits. He thought that people should take personality tests before they decided to get married.
Eharmony was conceived as a dating service that could maximize the chance of good marriages by introducing people to others with whom they were fundamentally compatible.
Dr. Warren acknowledged that people were often initially attracted to others with opposite personality traits, but believed that marriages based upon opposite traits were essentially doomed in the long run.
In creating the Eharmony matching algorithm, Warren started with the premise that similarities in both core personality traits, as well as shared values, was the key to successful marriages. He and his team claimed to have conducted extensive and scientifically rigorous tests that confirmed this premise.
Eharmony claims that around 70% of people who sign up for the service get married within 12 months and that those who get married through their service have a very small rate of divorce, less than 4%.
Not everyone is accepted by eharmony
About 20 % of eharmony applicants are rejected. The main reasons for being rejected is being already married, being under 21, providing inconsistent answers on the application, or being under 60 and having married more than four times. (cite to wikkipedia).
Eharmony does not accept lgbtq people
Eharmony has never accepted lgbtq applicants. In 2005 a discrimination suit was brought against them, resulting in them creating an affiliate site, “Compatible Partners” for lgbtq people.
Eharmony’s “matching profiles” questionnaire
Eharmony’s questionnaire, called the “matching profiles system” currently consists of around 150 questions, and even though it was reduced from an original number of 400, it is still the most comprehensive questionnaire of any dating website. It takes anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to complete.
Some questions are very basic and similar to questions on other dating sites. Eharmony is also quite conservative, so there are some questions about Church and God. Assuming that the questions do indeed measure compatibility, the system requires the user to be very honest about about himself or herself as well as what they are looking for, in order to work.
The eharmony algorithm
While the exact algorithm remains secret, it is known that the founder developed it by studying thousands of married couples, and trying to determine what their core personality traits were as well as their key values.
Eharmony claims that the algorithm has been scientifically proven to work in predicting marital success.
This claim has been met with skepticism by the academic community of psychologists, who have questioned the lack of rigorous impartial studies or other scientific evidence.
In Europe, as opposed to America, advertisers are held much more accountable for being truthful in advertising. In England, Eharmony was banned from making any claim that scientific evidence supported their claims that their algorithm was responsible for more successful marriages.
On the other hand, in recent years, Eharmony has started to incorporate machine learning in their algorithm. Their website accumulates data about user behavior and modifies the user’s matches based upon who they actually message, and then constantly modifies the matches it sends based upon user’s behavior and indications as to which past matches have been successful or unsuccessful.
This type of machine learning is used by hugely successful business like Google and Amazon.
Eharmony uses Google’s Cloud vision API to scan profile pictures, and can tell what kinds of people a user clicks on based upon facial features, hair and eye color, and general body type.
What are eharmony users like?
Because everyone knows that eharmony is all about getting married, and because of the relatively high cost of the service, it can be surmised that the great majority of users are very serious about getting married. Users also tend to be higher income and have a higher level of education than the general public.
Eharmony definitely has a conservative “vibe”, and people who consider themselves politically progressive will probably be put off by its refusal to accept lgbtq applicants. Progressives will likely be unimpressed by the fact that eharmony has now started a lgbtq subsidiary, since they did so only after having heir hand forced by a lawsuit.
Consumer reviews and complaints
Consumeraffairs.com gives eharmony an abysmal 1.3 stars (out of 5). Most of the complaints were billing issues, inability to cancel their memberships, lack of matches in their geographical location, poor customer service, or fake profiles.
It should be said that people usually don’t post reviews unless they have had a bad experience, so there may actually be many more satisfied users than unsatisfied. Also, your ability to find matches in your geographical area for any dating service is largely dependent on where you live. Finally, it seems that all dating sites have a lot of negative reviews on sites like consumer affairs.
That being said eharmony, like many of its competitors, matches paid members with free members as well as with other paid members. Since free members don’t have to pay or verify their ID, many of the free profiles could be fake profiles by would be scammers.
Several reviewers said that they had used eharmony in the past but that the service had seriously declined in recent years. Eharmony was recently taken over by a German company, and Dr. Warren, in his 80’s at the time of this article, has retired.
Eharmony has an “A” rating with the Better Business Bureau, despite the fact that the website shows over 500 complaints being filed with them. Most of the complaints are due to inability to cancel the subscriptions or other billing issues. Some complaints are due to the lack of matches. Many of the complaints are shown as resolved, with the company making “one time accommodations”.
Does Eharmony work?
If you mean by “work” getting married, it likely does “work”. However it is questionable whether this is due to the algorithm, or just because the site attracts large numbers of people who have decided that they want to get married as soon as possible.
I don’t have an opinion either way about whether marriages that come from eharmony are better, or last longer. It is likely that eharmony is more likely to”work” for you if you would describe yourself as religious and/or conservative, as the site seems to attract those kind of users.