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How does eHarmony actually work?
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I don't have experience with eHarmony specifically - but my wife and I can attest to the fact that getting to know each other through a service like eHarmony was a wonderful experience for us!
We met on the internet at a site called Christian Connection (very similar in format to eHarmony) in 1998. We had to fill out very detailed profiles which asked us about everything from family backgrounds to careers to favorite foods, religion and politics. They took all of that information and used it to determine our compatibility with others that had filled out a profile with their service. It was then up to us to determine which of these men or women we were intersted in contacting.
One of the features we appreciated the most is that you could choose who you would allow to contact you. You were able to block anyone at any time, it was totally left to your discretion. In addition, you were given an email function on their site so no one ever had acess to your personal email unless you chose to give it to them.
Once you decided to contact another member the fun began! There were several features that made getting to know someone over the internet very attractive for us.
1. We were able to meet many quality people (try that at a bar!).
2. We were able to meet them in a safe environment.
3. We could determine by their interests and answers who it would probably be a waste of time pursuing a serious relationship with.
4. In this mode of communication it was easy and enjoyable getting to know "the person" without being concerned about all of the more surface things that we usually get hung up on early in a relationship. Like what kind of car they drive, are those designer shoes etc.
5. If you become attracted to someone over the internet, you can be certain that it is primarily because of their character and not just sexual attraction or "chemistry". Don't get me wrong, those things are important but too many marriages end in divorce that have nothing more than chemistry to see them through!
We corresponded with each other for 3 months prior to our first date. We had both been married previously, and were in no hurry to rush into a relationship where we might get burned again. We chatted almost daily about life, the books we were reading, family and our personal values. After 3 months of writing to her, I knew that when I met Barb for the first time, I was meeting one of my best friends. I had no idea if our relationship would ever develop beyond that but I knew that she was an awesome person that I needed to meet and get to know better. We married in 1999 and it continues to be the best years of my life...
The movie You've Got Mail summarizes for us what "internet dating" is really all about. It is getting to know someone with your guard down and just chatting about life. Here is one of our favorite quotes from the movie: "the odd thing about this form of communication is that you're more likely to talk about nothing than something. I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings." (By the way I took Barb to see this movie on our second date).
Years ago when men would go to war local churches, civic organizations and the USO would ask people to correspond with servicemen that were abroad fighting for their country. Many women responded to that plea and as a result ended up corresponding with servicemen that they would later marry because of the lasting bond they had formed from writing to each other.
In my opinion, it's always wise to get to know as much as you can about someone before you put your emotions on line and start dating them. I'm convinced we do it backwards - we date to find out about each other and get invested emotionally into the life of that person before we know them. We should be getting to know each other first (as much as circumstances permit) and then date people that we are attracted to and feel safe with before we begin a dating relationship with them.
For us, corresponding on the internet and developing a deep friendship first, was one of the keys to the incredible relationship we have today. (By the way we personally know 2 other couples that met on the internet and are happily married today.)
We would recommend this type of service to anyone.