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June 28, 2003
Column #1,139

To Find the Love of Your Life: eharmony.com

     I received an e-mail today from "Beth," a young woman who is in television and has done some modeling with a problem: "I find many men are stuck on my looks and career and are never really interested in delving into the spiritual/mindful side of things. Translation: they're not too keen on in-depth conversations.

     "And of course many of them express their physical desires as bluntly and pathetically as you can imagine. Also, I find many men try to be something they think I want and obviously end up being false and of course, found out. As cliche as it may sound, I'm praying for my Prince Charming."

     Beth is right to be concerned. More than 70 percent of Americans have experienced divorce first hand either in a failed marriage of their own or of their parents. Of 281 million people, 196 million men, women and children have been scarred by this plague. Further, people are more afraid to commit than ever. Marriage rates have plunged 39 percent.

     Clearly, Americans are doing a terrible job of mate selection. In nations such as India, where parents of eligible young people pre-select potential mates for their son or daughter to consider, the divorce rate is vastly lower. Why? Parents know their adult child's strengths, his/her education, ambition, energy level, interests and will match them with someone of similar background. The more common interests couples have, the better is their chance of success.

     But in America, where high school kids watch 12,000 hours of TV, what do they learn?

     "TV leads you to think that everything should be looked at externally the person's appearance, status not matters of the heart or character," says Dr. Neil Clark Warren, author of "Finding the Love of Your Life," which sold 700,000 copies in the 1990s.

     He has created an answer I recommended to Beth, a website for singles who are looking for someone of the opposite sex with character traits that match their own: eharmony.com. More than a million people have signed up: 651,000 women and 407,000 men. In Birmingham there are 7,971on line. Within driving distance of Allentown, PA, 23,703.

     Every other web site has more males than females. Why? They allow people to send in pictures, and men want to see what the woman looks like before they take another step.

     At eharmony, no photos are posted. Instead each person has to take an inventory with 400-500 questions that take two or three hours to answer. There is no charge for the inventory or the report it will give the individual, but a monthly fee to post one's profile. Each person will be measured on 29 key variables such as ambition, communication, integrity, honesty and anger management.

     Incidentally, 61,611 individuals who submitted profiles were told politely that eharmony was unable to "find a match for them at this time." Why? Either they seemed emotionally unstable, or they went off the charts on a "lie scale," saying for example, "I never tell a white lie." No other web-based matching service eliminates anyone.

     The aim of eharmony is to help individuals think through three key questions:

1. How well do you know yourself? Most people don't know themselves well. Clark suggests that you write a one paragraph answer to questions like these: What is the one dream for your life that you most look forward to achieving? Who makes you angrier than anyone in your life and what does he/she do to make you angry? How do you feel about yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually? What bores you? In order, what are your three strongest interests?

2. What are the most important ten traits you "must have" in a mate? The two top choices are chemistry and kindness. But there are 48 others you can choose from: sense of humor, verbal intimacy, educated, exciting, patient, tolerant, energy level, affectionate, attractive, conflict resolver, intellectual, artistic, shared interests, loyal, no children, sociability, spirituality, ambitious, relaxed, responsible. But you can only pick 10!

3. Build a similar "can't stand" list from such traits as vanity, dependent, depressed, lying, cynical, angry, rude, materialistic, lazy, intolerant, childish, petty, flirts, sloppy, etc. But only 10.

     Clark claims that a person who knows his/her inner character, and firmly has in mind 10 "must haves" and 10 "can't stands" can decide in two dates if a person is worth pursuing.

     And an average person who signs up will get 12-25 potential matches in a year!

     No wonder 150,000 signed up this month!

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