UCLA Professors Claim eHarmony Is Duping Its Customers

Illustration for article titled UCLA Professors Claim eHarmony Is Duping Its Customers

Online dating might be the future of romance, but it still has its fair share of detractors. Including a pair of UCLA professors, who think that eHarmony—a dating site which prides itself on its scientific approach—is duping its users.

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LA Weekly reports that Benjamin Karney and Thomas Bradbury, a pair of scientists that research relationships, have spoken out against eHarmony. The site, of course, claims that it is "scientifically proven to predict happier, healthier long-term relationships." The pair of scientists have problems with that claim. Karney said to LA Weekly:

"They say, 'We will find your soulmate for you.' That's a pretty drastic claim. As opposed to what they're really doing, which is, 'We've screened out the freaks.' That could be their tagline — eHarmony: No freaks here."

But as it stands, that's not how eHarmony sells itself. In turn, the researchers believe people aren't getting a fair deal. Bradbury explains:

"You do know that the American public has gotten hoodwinked since there was a product to be sold... The risks associated with the badness of these instruments and these devices in these sites have no long-term cost; it's just money out of someone's pocket. People are getting duped..."

The problem boils down to the fact that, however eHarmony attempts to match people up using algorithms, it just doesn't work very well. Predictors of long-term relationship happiness are difficult to quantify, especially using information available to a dating website.

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So, while online dating sites might provide a means of meeting new people—which is great!—don't believe their scientific hype. [LA Weekly]

Image by Don Harkins under Creative Commons license

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DISCUSSION

telecomic
Smoak on the Water

I was an eHarmony member for a year back in 2009 through 2010. About 5 of my guy friends also signed up about the same time, and we were all about the same age, looking for similar qualities in a woman. Originally, we would email each other pictures or screenshots of the profile pages of our matches, to compare notes. One guy would be matched up with "Kristen" in June, and then two others would get matched up with Kristen in July, and then the other two would either never see Kristen, or get her profile in August. Why would Kristen be somehow more compatible with one of us in the beginning of summer, and then compatible with the rest of us by the end of summer?

We began to notice a few things that was odd, such as new female members getting sent to two of us immediately, and the other three getting older profiles. What we began to do was unscientifically track which one of us was being sent which female profile, and when. It seemed like the two of us who made the most money and were one year younger were getting more matches than the three who were a year older and made (still a decent income!) a little less. I mean, really, we're talking like $3k difference between us, not a huge difference. We also received matches of women we already knew, either coworkers or friends or sports teammates. This is where it got weird - two of the matches I received were already married. Now, either they were creeping around on their husbands - so I emailed the women a "What's going on with you and your husband?" message, and received a "WTF!!??" reply. Apparently, because they were rated as highly-attractive women, their profiles were still in the eHarmony database even though they were no longer active, paying members! And, because they were hot, eHarm would save their profiles to mail out to guys with soon-to-expire membership periods. That's some dirty pool right there - I mean, not too many men are going to quit the site when a Anne Hathaway or Amanda Seyfried look-a-like is suddenly available to them. The fact that they were no longer on the eHarm site was never mentioned.

That seems an awful lot like fraud to me, and I cancelled my membership after we figured out their game. Now, the bugger of it all was that, for the most part, eHarm did a decent job fixing me up with potential women. Many of them were quite pretty, really smart, interesting women, but I never really got much of a spark from any of them beyond a date or three. I dated one for a while, until I found out that she was a drug addict and let that one go...so, eHarmony failed in that respect, too. She seemed OK initially, but... well.

Ironically, I joined OKCupid on a lark after the eHarm debacle, and I ended up meeting my wife on OK Cupid in August 2010, and we got married in January 2012.