Ever since I’ve started seeing trailers for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I’ve also seen a plethora of links about eHarmony’s new Plus service. This is a new offering in which you pay an expert $5,000 to be your personal online dating… surrogate. They call it a ‘matchmaking professional,’ but in many ways, it’s also a surrogate. Or an avatar. And I don’t think you should spend that kind of cash on such a misguided approach to finding love. Save your money!
Basically, I think the bulk of what eHarmony offers in this service is actually detrimental to your search for love. First of all, no matter how many questions an expert asks to get to know your “type,” they’ll never truly be able to inhabit your brain and libido to know who you’ll be physically attracted to. They may be able to help you spot good matches based on interests and profile writing, but coaches tend to be more insightful when they’re able to observe who you’re after, see your patterns that may be holding you back, and teach you how to seek out better matches. (Sometimes it’s something like not being so limited about a superficial quality like eye color, and sometimes it’s a much broader thing like generally convincing you to give dating an extrovert a try even if you typically date introverts.) Those made-up examples are only two ideas, but basically, an expert should help teach you how to find your OWN matches more effectively, and they should ideally do so in a way that isn’t locked into a specific platform. So if eHarmony goes bankrupt next year, or you wind up moving to a new city where a different site is the popular one, you can still use that knowledge to self-help after you’ve shelled out for assistance.
Furthermore, when you outsource intimate, formative parts of the process, like messaging back and forth and setting up dates, you’re taking a BIG risk in terms of maintaining potential rapport and chemistry with those dates. Even if you carefully review everything your surrogate wrote on your behalf, you’re not going to perfectly memorize each little joke or the way they capitalize or punctuate a sentence or use certain turns of phrase. Heck, the way they make use of smiley faces/emoji may be wildly different from your vibe. You can try to train them to “be” you, but you’ll only get so far. There’s going to be a mismatch in tone, and it may well make it harder for you to have natural, comfortable conversations with the people you’ve pretended to correspond with. (Plus, I personally find it kind of disingenuous and disrespectful to outsource something as basic as texting to confirm a date; no matter how busy you are, that shows a certain lack of attention and effort that simply doesn’t paint you in a flattering light. It’s OK to do that for work things if you’re a bigwig, but it’s just not appropriate in your personal life! Are you also going to outsource picking out an anniversary gift ten years down the road? Touring potential houses together? I’m being deliberately hyperbolical here, but you get my drift–this is some basic humanity you’re trying to hire out, and that’s kinda shady and lame.)
I got so worked up rolling this feature over in my head that I made this video about it. (It doesn’t hurt that my hair was all awesome for a fancy party.) I hope you enjoy, and I hope that if you choose to hire me or any other coach for online dating help, that you pay WAY less than $5k and get WAY more out of it than what eHarmony’s describing! (My services start at $99, ya know. Yes, their is for a year, but frankly, with a good guide you shouldn’t need help for that long!)
By the way, I may have gotten it wrong in the video; Kristen Wiig’s character is on eHarmony too, so maybe he does use their service (voiced by Patton Oswalt, HA!) to get with her in the end. In the movie. Which is a movie. :) And in case you’re interested, here’s the most interesting take I’ve seen on eHarmony Plus’s origin. And by the other way, the movie was based on a short story by James Thurber.
P.S. Eeek. I say “like” a LOT in this one. Ugh. I’ll do better, like, next time, OK? Promise!