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Is Online Dating Just a Numbers Game?

You’ve almost certainly heard people say this many times: “Well, you know it’s just a numbers game.” They usually mean that the more you play, the greater your chances of winning, but the insinuation is also that the quality isn’t nearly as important as the quantity. For example, people often say that sales is just a numbers game. It’s “dialing for dollars”. This implies that the harder you hit the phones making sales calls, the more you’re going to sell, regardless of how good you are at selling.

I’m often asked if eHarmony is a numbers game. I usually reply, “Of course it is. Isn’t everything?” – which I intend to be clever and a little funny. But when it’s time to really answer the question, it’s not so cut and dried.

The lottery, for example, is not a “numbers game”. Well, I guess it literally is a “game of numbers”, but playing more often doesn’t get you any closer to winning. I used to work with a man who told me each week that he was “due” because he had been playing with the same numbers every week for the last 10 years. When I explained that he was never due, and each lottery draw is a completely fresh set of numbers, I thought he was going to cry.

Lotteries aside, I do believe that most things in life are a product of the energy you put into them. With online dating sites numbering in the thousands, however, it’s hard to generalize. The member pools of some sites are so small that your chances of success are akin to those of my lottery friend. Others have such a limited means of sharing information about yourself that they are indeed just a matter of clicking on more and more people. Since it’s hard to judge a person’s qualities on these sites, you’re just hoping someone likes your cold, hard facts enough to communicate with you.

eHarmony has a very large pool of users and pretty substantial ways to express your interests, values and traits. So, on one hand, it is a numbers game in the sense that it rewards action. There is a slight chance that if you go to bat in a baseball game 1,000 times, you will hit the ball the same number of times as if you went to bat 10 times, but it isn’t likely.

The same thinking applies to your eHarmony experience. If you log on to the site, communicate with your matches, and go on 100 dates, you are more likely to meet a great person than if you do these things 5 times.  In that respect, the more times you “play”, the greater your chances of winning.

On the other hand, eHarmony isn’t “just a numbers game,” because the quality of your actions both on and off the site has a tremendous impact on whether you end up in a great relationship. You can, quite simply, totally sabotage your eHarmony experience and create a situation where the amount of activity you contribute becomes meaningless. What are the most common ways people do this?

1. They post no photos or terribly unflattering ones.

2. They don’t complete the written part of their profile.

3. They create unrealistic self-selects that make it very difficult to find matches for them.

4. They have deficient real-life dating skills.

These first three choices severely degrade the quality of the presentation they are making to their matches. Do you want to get to know a person who has no photos and one-word answers to the questions that were designed to help you learn more about them? Of course not.

Is it pretty darn difficult to find matches for someone who insists on a devout Muslim who lives in Montana within 30 miles of his/her home? You bet.

The fourth reason could be anything from poor manners to trying too hard. We’ve been creating articles on eHarmony Advice for the last four years to help eHarmony users build a better set of dating skills, and there is a wealth of information to help improve your ability to spend an evening with a match.

So, the answer is both yes and no. eHarmony is about quality and quantity. It’s about presenting yourself well, and then doing the day-by-day work of communicating and dating.