Online dating has changed a lot in the last few years. As technology advances, social norms morph, and personal preferences change, the decisions and mistakes people make evolve as well. Last year, I oversaw the launch of a new version of eHarmony, eH+. It’s a premium service that takes eHarmony’s matching algorithm and combines it with a personal matchmaker. People love this service. It has a real human vetting of matches, an extended match pool, and other helpful features. But most importantly, it gives our eH+ matchmaking team the chance to have heart to heart talks with our members on the telephone. We get deep insights into the tactics they are using and the results they are getting. We see the most common ways people are sabotaging their search for love.
1. They think their inner beauty will outshine their outer beauty.
If you think that dressing in an attractive way and having a photo that shows you in your most alluring light is somehow “selling out,” you need to stop online dating right now. Every day we hear someone say, “I don’t want to have photos that misrepresent who I am.” That is the worst of all possible ways to think about online dating photos. Like it or not, both genders use looks as a gate keeper. That’s not to say that everyone is attracted to the same thing, rather we all need some hint of physical attraction to move forward. When I meet you in person, in three dimensions, your expressions, your voice, your movements, and body language will help define the chemistry I feel for you. But in a photo, without all those things, all I can hope for is that you’re smiling, in a flattering light, wearing something alluring and appearing attractive to some degree. To dismiss this as unimportant is to be tone-deaf to how people attract each other. With some eH+ subscriptions we include professional photos, because they are so important to success. A date is also your opportunity to put your best foot forward, not show them how you look on a lazy Sunday morning. Look good!
2. They think online dating is a ticket to their fantasy lover.
We have a fairly developed “the customer is always right” philosophy in the USA. In general, the more people pay for something, the more picky they are about it being perfect. That’s fine when you’re talking about cars or suits, but not so for human beings. It is fairly common for a person who is 50 years old and has had no success dating to join eH+ and then tell us, “Now, I can really zero in on exactly the kind of person I want! No more settling!” Oh boy. It’s very likely that one of the reasons this person is still alone is because he/she is waiting for some fantasy lover that will never appear. Now, because they have joined a premium service they want to be more picky. “I’m paying for the best,” they tell me. It’s a recipe for disaster.
Another common complaint is, “I’m not asking for too much. Is it wrong to want a man who is 6’2″, owns his home, has a prestigious job, is my age, loves to travel the world, is very handsome, is funny, has no small children, lives within 30 miles of my house, and is a committed Christian of the Southern Baptist persuasion?” It’s not wrong to want this man. It’s pretty silly to refuse to date and get to know men who have some, but not all of these traits.
But this is what we see. If you are single and have been so for a long time, the chances are that you’re demanding traits you cannot find or earn. I know that’s a harsh thing to read. Dating is a marketplace. You are out there trying to earn something with the assets you have. If you’ve been at it a long time, and you have had no luck in earning what you want, you need to think about why that is. It is likely because what you want is scarce, and you don’t have the assets to attract it. That’s not terrible news. Maybe you come to realize that you can be happy with a man that’s your height and not 6’2″. Maybe he won’t be in a prestigious job, or love to travel. You can still find a man who loves you like crazy and be very happy for the rest of your life. Yes, using a premium service like eH+ can help you find more men/women and you’ll be presented to them in an effective way, but if you have some fantasy as your target it’s going to be a rough ride.
3.They don’t have the patience to let love blossom.
The relentless pace of life continuous to increase. I look at my email inbox. I keep each year’s email in a distinct folder. In 2007, I had 4,136 emails. In 2014 — 12,655 emails. That doesn’t even count the spam folder that is 20 times bigger. The methods of communication and the expectations keep picking up speed as well. I recently spoke to a physician in Jacksonville, FL who was thinking about joining eH+. She told me, “I don’t have much time to date. Maybe one night a month, and I don’t want to waste that night on people I might not like.” I told her not to bother with eH+. I said, “You don’t have the space in your life for this,” and I think she was a little puzzled when we hung up.
I understand the pressures of time and modern life, but falling in love doesn’t know anything about modern life. I suspect the human connection that happens when people fall in love isn’t much different than it was when people were riding donkeys and drawing on cave walls. Chemistry can be fast. Chemistry can take time. Getting to deeply know someone in the ways it takes to fall in love isn’t going happen with one eye on the clock. It’s like demanding that a flower grow on your schedule. The flower doesn’t care about your calendar.
When an eH+ client calls and say, “I met her for coffee. I didn’t like her. Who’s next?” I like to say, “What did you like most about her?” Typically, the man can’t report a single fact about her. He took one look, asked her a few questions, and then tossed her into the NO pile. I suspect some very large percentage of lifelong loves took place between two people that didn’t even like each other on first sight. Circumstances forced them to be together, get to know each other, and then discover a deep and serious attraction.
4. They have a terrible sense of their own best traits.
An eH+ client calls me, “I don’t understand why these men aren’t attracted to me. I’m successful. I’m smart. I’m an academic achiever. Why do men like dumb women?” And she’s right. She is smart, and accomplished. She has a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering and teaches at a great university in addition to running a consulting business. Because I’ve talked to her at length, I know that deep down she’s also flirty, fun, loyal, sexy, compassionate, and affectionate. I also know that she carries a masculine energy that hides all these other traits. Her biggest problem is that she misunderstands which of her traits are most valuable to men. Do men like smart women? Of course they do, but for most men “affectionate” and “loyal” rank higher than smart.
If you’re searching for love and haven’t had the success you want, you’ve got to be willing to learn about what potential partners want, and then bring those parts of you to the fore. It can be hard for a successful business woman to leave the work persona behind, and bring a softer, sexier version of herself to a date, but it’s vital if she wants to have a relationship. If can be hard for a man to open up and talk about his heart on a date, but that’s what makes a woman feel a connection to him. It isn’t always what you think about yourself that matters!
Have you been guilty of any of the above? What have been your biggest challenges with online dating?
eHarmony’s new service, eH+, gives you the benefit of a personal matchmaker who picks your matches and guides you to success. We’re taking the best of what eHarmony does and combining that with what personal matchmakers do best – person-to-person conversation, opportunities for feedback, and coaching to put your best foot forward.