Me: (In a whining sigh.) Hi.
Boy BFF: Hey, what's up. Everything alright?
Me: (Still whining. Still sighing.) I don't want to do this anymore.
BBFF: What are we talking about here.
Me: ONLINE DATING.
BBFF: Ahh, right. Yes. Hasn't it only been, like, three days?
Me: Five. It's been five. And today's eHarmony Day. And it's just so bright and shiny and smug and judgy. Like, I feel like it's just sitting there all ready to f*cking marry me off, like, tomorrow. WHAT IF I'M NOT READY, EHARMONY. WHAT IF I'M NOT READY.
BBFF: Ho-kay. I think we need to calm down here for a second. It's just a website.
Me: Is it ever really just a website?
BBFF suddenly realizes he has to go, citing a call on "the other line". Because apparently it's still 2001.
I take a deep breath, glare into my MacBook, and resign to get this last little sucker all set up.
Out of all the sites, eHarmony takes the most rigidly scientific approach to matchmaking. First there's the profile, which boxes you in with awkwardly earnest fill-in-the-blank action:
Next comes a series of questions, similar to those proffered on OkCupid, only slightly more political and definitely more pigeonhole-y: What do you think about America's insanely high medical costs, do you put more stock in science or faith, in which direction do you cut your PB&J's....
Maybe I will when I'm 30? Maybe I'm not old enough for this site...
When it comes to setting the parameters for your dream man, they stick pretty close to the basics. Smoking: No. Drinking: Few times a week. Ethnicity: White. Age: 27-41. Children: None yet, but want kids. Religion: Any. Income: Important. Education: Important. Match Distance - uhhh. Thirty miles is the shortest distance they'll allow you to select?? Anything over seven in LA might as well be a long distance relationship. (Sidenote: There does appear to be a disproportionately large number of single men in Woodland Hills. Wink wink nudge nudge, ladies.)
Finally, I get to the actual talking-to-people part. Sort of. There is, thankfully, no chat option available on eHarmony - though you can "send a smile", which sort of looks like one of those stickers your first-grade teacher used to give you for meeting your reading goal. There is also no quick message option. eHarmony has devised a very controlled get-to-know-your-potential-stalkers process called Guided Communication:
Stage 1: Quick Questions
You pick five questions from their list of fifteen or so and send 'em over to your Prince(ss) Charming. In answering their selects, you can either choose from the pre-fab A-D or compose your own response. I tend toward the latter as most of their options are a little cut and dry for my taste.
Note: The above-pictured responses do not reflect the views of the author. I am always competitive.
One question I include in my batch is, "What is your opinion on your mate having opposite sex friendships?" First of all, the word mate makes me cringe. Second of all, I expect most men to quell their weirdly jealous side for at least the pre-first date formalities, but the replies I get range from, "It makes me uncomfortable" at worst to, "I'm comfortable with a few well-established opposite sex friendships" at best. How...generous and trusting of you.
Stage 2: Exchange 10 Make & Breaks
These are pretty straightforward. You pick your top 10 from each list and send 'em over to compare and contrast. Kind of interesting, but fairly predictable.
Stage 3: By now, you're probably starting to lose interest in this person you've never met and who means nothing to you yet, and you're probably considering dropping out of this lengthy, lengthy process.
But then you take a deep breath and proceed to Dig Deeper. In this stage, you exchange three open-ended questions with one another. You can create your own or select one of eH's, like, "Tell me about your closest friend. How long have you known them, and what do you like best about them?" (Sorry, Cindy, I caved and told them everything. Really hope our friendship can recover.)
Stage 4: Welcome to eHarmony Mail!
On the off chance you are both in any way, shape, or form still invested in this thing, you are now allowed to send a normal(?) message via their safe, anonymous email system. The funny thing is, as tedious as eHarms' regimented communication feels, I find myself creeped out by the guys who "request to skip straight to eH Mail". I mean, if we're here to play the game, we may as well play by the rules.
A stance solidified by this special little confabulation:
Nothing good ever comes of Googlaging people.
P.S. According to eHarmony, I like pale, Christian teachers who reside in the South Bay. Want to know your type? Find out here!