Matters of the Heart: Being Flexible Versus Settling


In 2009, Internet entrepreneur Kevin Systrom created a mobile app called Burbn, (get it?) which let users check in at a location, make plans for future check-ins, earn points by checking in friends, and post photos of the get together. It was complicated, but it was what Kevin wanted to build, and so he did it. Things did not go well. Usage was slim and it appeared that few people had any interest in Burbn. He brought in a friend, programmer Mike Krieger, and they analyzed what was and wasn’t working with Burbn. It turned out that people weren’t using Burbn’s complex check-in features at all, but they were furiously using the photo posting and sharing features. Aha! Kevin and Mike thought, “Let’s scrap the parts of this product that people don’t care about and focus on the photo sharing process that people love.” In 2010, they released the new app and changed the name to a new word, a mashup of instamatic and telegram, Instagram.

It’s easy to see that if Kevin and Mike had insisted on forging ahead with their original idea, they would’ve failed. It was their willingness to be flexible and internalize the feedback coming their way that allowed them to find an innovative and successful solution.

I’ve been running a new service for eHarmony called eH+. It’s a personal matchmaking version of eHarmony that combines our compatibility matching system with a personal matchmaker, hand-selected matches, vetting and date coaching. The beauty of this service is that we get to spend lots of time on the phone talking with clients. All day long our team of matchmakers chat with our members about how to have better success in their search for love.

What we often find with eHarmony and eH+ members are directly analogous to Kevin Systrom’s Burbn. They are out promoting something that isn’t working, and they can’t figure out exactly how to adjust their search so they find the love they want and deserve. This brings me to the topic of SETTLING. eH+Still

Settling – A Made Up Word to Make People Feel Bad

“I just don’t want to settle.” Have you ever said that? It’s okay. Lots of people say it and if you mean, “I refuse to start dating people who treat me poorly and don’t share my values,” then you’re coming to the right conclusion. Unfortunately, many people seem to mean, “I’m not giving up on the things I thought my ideal partner would be when I was 15.”

We all have fantasies and wish lists. That’s what it means to be human, but it’s important to come to grips with the fact that you’re going to have to be flexible on more than a few of those fantasy items. If you’re out in the dating market and you’re not getting the response you want, consider the way Systrom and Krieger worked to understand their failure and change their approach. You may need to do the same.

I know a wonderful woman who wanted to get serious about a relationship. As many people do, she made a list of what she wanted in a man. She also looked around at the other women who were dating and the single men in her town, and had to admit something that was painful, but true. She was not able to attract the kind of man she wanted. She took a long look at her list and started to think about where she might be willing to compromise. She eventually met a great guy, and they ended up getting married, but this woman, who has a bachelors degree from Stanford and a masters from Oxford, agreed to marry a man without a college education. She picked the manner in which she was willing to be flexible and it turned out to be the best decision she could’ve made.

Understanding what isn’t working and what has to be changed or given up to make it work is the surest sign of emotional health and maturity.

Remember the Definition of Insanity

You know that old saw horse, “Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.” In my opinion, there are three non-negotiables that are untouchable when it comes to your search for love.

1. A person who doesn’t treat you or others well. (Emotional or physical abuse)

2. A person who has vastly different life goals than you.

3. A person who is in the grips of an addiction to something.

NEVER accept a person who falls into one of these categories. Everything else is subject to the laws of flexibility! I know, you want a man who is your height or taller. Look at your success dating. If you’re having troubles, that should be the first thing to go. You want a woman who is very slim and athletic. Great! Are you meeting and dating those women now? If not, stop making yourself miserable and start dating beautiful women who have different body types.

I understand. You want to hold onto these preferences until the last minute — until you can be absolutely sure that there isn’t one person with your fantasy attributes who will date you. It is a free country and you’re welcome to stay single as long as you like in search of those attributes, but think about Burbn. Do the hard work of considering why you’re not attracting the person you want, and be willing to make the changes you need to succeed.


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.

If this article gave you the confidence to find your match, try eharmony today!

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