‘I work at eHarmony. And no, I’m not married.’

May 23, 2013

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Since I began working at eHarmony almost three years ago, I have loved seeing the look on people’s faces when I tell them what I do for a living. After telling someone that I am a researcher at eHarmony, it’s usually followed by a number of questions, ranging from how eHarmony works, if I myself am married, if I’m on eHarmony since I’m not married (I’m not, employees can’t use our service), and asking me for advice about their own relationships. But after years of this, I’ve found that most people are usually asking about the same things. So in this blog, I wanted to cover some of the frequently asked questions I get.78000179 200x300 I work at eHarmony. And no, I’m not married.

1. “Can you tell me what the ultimate secret to a happy relationship is?”

I get this question a lot and people are usually expecting that there’s one key component they should look for. In all honesty, there is a lot that goes into making a relationship successful and happy. One key thing we focus on here at eHarmony is similarity between partners. Previous research has shown that assortative mating, or partnering up with people who are similar to you, significantly predicts higher marital quality later on. Finding a partner who has a similar personality to you can be beneficial for a couple reasons:

Better understanding of partner’s motivations. When you are similar to your partner, you’ll better understand why they are acting the way they are and their motivation behind it. Similarity in conflict resolution styles will better equip you and your partner to resolve any fights or face any stressful times that may come up in the future.

A higher sense of validation. When you’re with someone who thinks like you, it is basically a form of validation for your own thoughts and actions. When you have someone that agrees with the way you think or feel, you’re naturally going to be drawn to them more.

However, similarity isn’t the only important thing. The interactions and daily life occurrences throughout the relationship also greatly affect happiness with your partner. Researchers have covered many different aspects that can affect your relationship over time. For example, showing gratitude to your partner can help maintain the bond between the two of you. Other research has shown stress can make couples suffer, but over time can help couples overcome more stressful events in the future, as well as increase trust and confidence in the relationship. However, a better understanding of how and why your partner is reacting in certain ways throughout the relationship can help you to overcome any challenge in the future and build better resistance to stressful times.

2. “So is there any truth to the saying, ‘Opposites Attract’?”

There is some truth in that saying. Opposites do initially attract. When you meet someone who is not like you, you may be intrigued by these differences. It’s something novel, you haven’t seen it before, so you’d like to explore more. But, eventually, those differences are going to hurt your relationship. When you are faced with a fight or a significantly stressful event, you may not fully understand why your partner is reacting a certain way or know the best way to help your partner. Eventually, these differences could end up being too much, and the relationship may end.

So a saying I’ve heard a few times is “Opposites attract, but then they attack.”

3. “I signed up for eHarmony, but why do I get a few matches a day? Why can’t I just browse everybody?”

There are a few reasons for the way we deliver matches. First is the paradox of choice. Obviously having options can usually be a good thing, but there are cases in which it’s not. Research has shown that having too many options may not always be ideal. If a person has too many options, they are actually less likely to make a decision at all. If they do decide on something, they are less likely to be satisfied with that decision.

For example (and there are many like this), a study was done with a free jam tasting booth. When the booth had six options, 40% of customers stopped to try some, and 30% of those who stopped bought some. However, when the booth had 24 types of jam, more customers (60%) stopped to taste the jams, but only 3% actually bought some. So having too many choices can actually keep you from deciding on one. So rather than showing an eHarmony user every single compatible match at once, we show you a reasonable number every day.

Second, we optimize who you are most likely to communicate with as well as who is most likely to respond to you. Our matching team uses machine learning algorithms to take into account a person’s criteria for their match (how far away they live, their religion, their height, etc.), as well as predicting their best chance at communicating with one of their compatible matches. So not only are we finding someone who would be a great long-term partner, we’re also finding someone that you are going to actually want to get to know and wants to get to know you too. Think of this in terms of Netflix, where they are recommending movies to you that they think you’d like based on your actions on their site. But in our case, the movies actually have to like you back.

Are there any questions you have about eHarmony and why we do what we do?  Enter your question in the comments below and I will write a future blog addressing the most common questions.

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