Match Game ’03


matchgame.jpgOne of the hazards of being an “early adopter” is expecting too much from the technology. This could be kitchen appliances, digital cameras, computers, car navigation systems, artificial hearts and on and on.

Three years ago, I tried out an Internet site that was supposed to revolutionize dating.

You know it as eHarmony. I knew it as evisceration.

You take a free personality test to determine who you really are. None of this profile junk to fill out, not at first, no trolling for easy marks.

Still, I was a tad skeptical. With nothing to lose, I took on the free seven-day trial membership.

I can’t say if the personality test is completely accurate. The evaluation is mostly positive, and the site supposedly tosses a small percentage of losers deemed unfit for commitment. (The site also discriminates against gays and lesbians. You know, before it was fashionable.)

I filled out the standard profile and let the magic matching machine go to work.

It was horrifying. So much that I have blocked much of it out.

Fortunately, I have records of the whole affair.

Part of my undoing was my impatience and my insecurity. In that short period, I had three matches in the area. Three. It was unnerving that so few women are supposedly compatible with me.

The service allows back-and-forth communication in non-threatening stages. Users read each others’ generic profiles and send multiple-choice questions from a long list. Either person can pull the plug on the match at any point.

I canceled my membership after seven days. I figured it wasn’t going to get any better.

It got worse.

The system notified me that one of my matches had responded. Great, the service doesn’t actually cancel your membership, an old AOL trick.

Now, I was paying for a service I didn’t want and someone out there was communicating with a ghost.

I overreacted and sent a nasty note or three to customer service. After a few days, it was all straightened out and this dreadful dating scheme was out of my life forever.

Until six weeks ago.

I did my homework this time, swallowed what little was left of my pride, and signed up again.

Yes, I am that (desperate? stupid? foolhardy? masochistic? You decide.).

The service has received mixed reviews, but I found some online tips to help me through it. Tip No. 1 being, of course, have patience.

I freaked out in the first couple of days, as three of the first five matches shut it down immediately. But as new prospects rolled in almost every day, I remembered the whole bit about kissing a lot of frogs.

This time, the women are located throughout North America, but none have come from this town. The net has been cast fairly wide, but you never know. Maybe it took several years before enough women were in the database to call forth a parade of potentials.

Ginny even helped me make my profile stand out from all the generic responses and give it some life. Yes, I have a marketing/image consultant for a matchmaking service.

I still have my doubts about the process, right down to the sometimes fortune cookie psychobabble in the eHarmony personality profile. If she’s out there, she’s also eyeballing it with a mixture of skepticism, dread and pity.

Call me.


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