Monday, March 15, 2010

The eHarmony Experiment

If I someday finish the oppressively comprehensive eHarmony questionnaire, I hope it pairs me with someone like you

I'm participating in what I like to call a social experiment, but the rest of the population refers to as eHarmony.

I haven't been going out as much as I usually do, mostly due to the fact that it's winter and cold out and given the option of bundling up in multiple layers and standing outside in freezing temperatures to hail a cab, I'd much rather just stay in my heated apartment and watch reruns of House.

Therefore, as a way to make up for the time I'm not spending in bars, and in an attempt to find some writing material, I signed up for eHarmony.

The questionnaire, which I had attempted before and given up on, took literally two days for me to get to. And unfortunately, that was the high point of the experience thus far.

My matches were beyond awful. I mean terrible. Bald. Old. Fat. Jersey. You name it, I was NOT getting the cream of the crop. And what's even worse is that they were rejecting me. On eHarmony, when you are matched up with someone you and him both have the option to close the match, as in, "Sorry I am not interested in you."

And before I was even getting the opportunity to, these guys were closing the match on me! If I had gone into this with any actual optimism or less confidence in myself, well I would've killed myself. It's actually painful to find out that John, 35, bald and overweight, in Jersey City, has deemed me not worthy of dating.

So the first guy I had any communication with turned out to be Sal, 27, Lawyer, Brooklyn. He wrote me an e-mail and even though he was much shorter than my minimum (5'8", usually my minimum is 5'10"), I wrote him back because he seemed really nice.

After the usual exchange of standard information (what we do, where we live, where we're from), I asked him where he went to college.

And it turns out that he not only went to my alma mater, he also graduated in my year. I did not go to a very large school; there were only about 1,000 in my graduating class, so that narrowed it down quite a bit.

I freaked out and then looked him up on Facebook, checked out our mutual friends, and vaguely remembered him being in the vicinity throughout my college years. There was nothing specifically wrong with him. He was just, well short, and kind of blah, and only so-so looking. And since I thought I was hot shit in college, I never gave him a second glance.

So basically, I am being matched up with people I deemed unworthy of dating five years ago. My friend T, when I told him this, just laughed at me and said I should get used to it because male stock rises as they age, and female stock plummets. "Face it," he said, "You're going down with every year. Better snatch this guy up while you still can before he climbs out of your league!"

Wise words from T...

The next guy that wrote me on eHarmony was Brian, 32, Lawyer, Queens. (Why are there so many lawyers on eHarmony btw?) His e-mail was actually very interesting, full of experiences from his travels and his interests. He plays the guitar, cooks, travels, has a job, all the general good-on-paper qualities that one looks for in a companion.

So after a few e-mails back and forth, I agreed to meet him for drinks. We went to a bar and I was really nervous given that it was my first eHarmony blind date. It turned out that he was a perfectly nice guy and we actually talked for a few hours, but I could tell within the first ten minutes that I just wasn't attracted to him. And as much as I tried (more beer, squinting, tuning him out when he talked), I couldn't really change that.

He insisted on walking me home, which made for a super awkward door moment when he tried to kiss me, and I ducked. Struggling for something to diffuse the situation, I said, "Sorry, I have a policy of not kissing on the first date."

Later, when I recounted this to my friends, my friend R said, "Oh wow, that's cold. I guess he doesn't know that you usually put out on the first date." Even my little sister burst out laughing. I am pretty sure my friends are telling me indirectly that I am a giant ho-bag, but I will gloss over this for now.

So, after accepting my excuse that I don't kiss on the first date (What am I, Mormon?), he e-mailed me first thing the next day saying he had a great time and wanted to go out again. I told him I was going out of town to buy myself a week to figure out how to proceed. And then after a week, I sent him an e-mail that he's a really nice guy, but I just wanted to be friends.

He wrote back saying that he definitely wants to be friends, so we made plans to go out for drinks the following week. Having an inkling that things might be weird, I invited my friend S to come along as backup, and she brought her boy toy, so my plan ended up backfiring because it resembled a double date.

Thus, I resorted to my back-up plan, and to make it utterly clear that I just want to be friends and have no interest in dating him, S and I started discussing the various bartenders that I find to be really hot and the guy that I'm currently seeing.

I made my point so much that when eHarmony got up to go to the bathroom, S's boy toy looked at me and said, "So you're not interested in dating this guy, right? Because you've been talking about other guys non-stop. At first I thought you guys were on a date, and I felt so sorry for him. But I gather that's not the case. Poor guy."

A few beers later, we all left together and I said goodbye to S and boy toy and hailed myself a cab. I turned around to say good night to eHarmony when he jumped into the cab without my permission.

Me: Um, where are you going?

eHarmony: To the subway, but I'll drop you off at home first.

Me: But I live all the way across town and the subway is right here.

eHarmony: It's ok.

Me: But...I'm actually not going home...

eHarmony: Oh, where are you going?

Me: I'm going to go meet someone...


eHarmony: Oh I see. Well I'll just get out there.

Yep, that's right. He basically rode a cab with me to let me go hook up with another guy. Totally humiliating for him and awkward (and slightly whorish) for me.

Needless to say, I haven't heard from eHarmony recently.

In my defense, I did make it clear in every way that I know how that I am not interested in dating him. I sent him an e-mail saying I wanted to be friends. He acknowledged and responded to the e-mail, agreeing to be friends. Then I talked about other guys I AM attracted to in front of him.

And after all this, he thought that if he just climbed into a cab with me and took me to my apartment after two beers, I might change my mind? Just because he was there? Or maybe he thought I'd be easier than before and put out anyway? Either way, it didn't really work out in his favor.

The eHarmony experiment ends at the end of this month, after which I am cancelling my subscription. To anyone truly looking for a relationship, I wouldn't recommend eHarmony just because of the sheer volume of crappy dudes and the lack of anyone that remotely resembles someone worth dating.

But if you are looking to be amused and to meet guys that are nice, good on paper, and generally blah, well then, you are in the right place!

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