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Finding Your Soul Mate with the Utmost Efficiency

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keysOne useful thing to come out of social psychology is the discovery that spouses who are very similar get along much better, and are far less likely to divorce, and it’s fairly easy to measure these traits (like introversion-extroversion) and make predictions. 

When I first learned about this research around 1970, I envisioned starting something remarkably similar to eHarmony. But I was still an undergraduate, and computers were just being invented, so it was a bit premature. It seemed to me that it would be much better for the whole world if couples were happy and didn’t get divorced, and it was exciting to think that science could really make this happen.

Today, more than half the marriages in America end in divorce, and of those who remain married, about half are unhappy. So that gives us over 75% bad outcomes.

Neil Clark Warren founded and now runs eHarmony, and he is both a theologian and a clinical psychologist. He’s the kindly, white-haired man in the TV commercials. Dr. Warren has determined that most marriages that fail are actually doomed from the outset because the couple is incompatible.

In his book, Falling in Love for All the Right Reasons, Warren tells the story of eHarmony, and the 29 dimensions of compatibility. He counseled couples for several decades, and performed “autopsies” on marriages that failed, and that’s how he became involved in this endeavor. As far as chemistry goes, he believes it’s either there, or it isn’t, and he has no idea why, but that it’s necessary in a marriage.

He says it’s fashionable nowadays to emphasize “friendship first,” and that’s good, but he believes if a man and a woman are good friends and are very compatible, and they have a strong physical attraction, that’s great, but if there’s no attraction, they should stay friends and absolutely not get married.

It was interesting to learn that if couples are strongly attracted to one another but are not fundamentally compatible, very often they will ignore red flags and rationalize their partner’s bad behavior because a great sex life clouds their judgment.

Warren also seems to think a good deal of who we are is genetic, especially IQ, and that ideally, partners shouldn’t be more than 10 points apart. Now they’ve started making homosexual matches, too, with the same purpose of finding enduring love.

Most people sign up for 6 months or 1 year. It begins with a long list of questions which takes over an hour to complete, and this is no doubt off-putting to many people, but remember that prospective mates will answer those questions, too, and the answers are what determines compatibility, so this is important. Each person is actively involved in the process from beginning to end.

It’s a good idea to be as flexible as possible about things that don’t matter – for example, where the person lives – because anybody can take a flight to anywhere, and most long distance phone calls are free, as is Skype. I’ve never actually done eHarmony myself.  (I’m very old and not personally interested in finding a mate.) But hypothetically, as a woman, I would include the entire English-speaking world if possible, and I would definitely not rule out bald guys, short guys, or even “below average in looks” guys, because intelligence and character are crucial, and they are in short supply, as well as warmth and kindness, and sensible political beliefs.

To belabor the point, if you are flexible about all the things that don’t matter, you create a larger pool of potential mates, so this increases your chances of finding someone with the qualities that do matter. There’s no guarantee with eHarmony, but it’s definitely worth a try for at least 6 months, especially in light of the alternatives. The “old fashioned” method is only somewhat better than a crap shoot. Say you meet someone attractive who has similar interests, you fall in love, get married, have 3 kids, and then finally one day, after years of turmoil and conflict, you finally reach the conclusion that it’s just hopeless. Kind of a kick in the stomach.

If you’re in it for the long haul, it might be wise to step back and look at your situation objectively, in a state of total calmness. Sometimes when people are trying to solve a problem, especially one that’s sensitive, personal or embarrassing, they think that somehow this particular problem is “different.” A sense of fatalism sets in, they feel stuck, unable to take any action at all.

But that’s wrong! Applying creative intelligence, imagination, hard work, trial-and-error, patience, persistence, soliciting expert advice, taking reasonable risks – all these apply to finding a mate, just like they do to any other problem. Granted that it seems strange to employ science for this purpose – and it is strange! But so what? What matters is results.

According to eHarmony’s website, altogether they’ve had 600,000 marriages, with an average of 542 new marriages each day. Almost 5% of all new marriages in America today are the result of eHarmony.

People may object, “But what about chemistry?” eHarmony doesn’t attempt to figure out who is physically attracted to whom. That part’s up to the individual. When you find potential mates (who are similar to you and meet your preferences), most likely at least one of them will attract you, and be attracted to you, but if not, the situation requires a bit of patience. After all,10,000 new people sign up each day.

There’s always been a severe woman-shortage for men who hold radical conservative beliefs, because women on average, tend to be more liberal. But this could be a way to find a wife who is at least in the same ballpark politically.

People looking for a mate today are lucky that eHarmony exists. It’s not magic, it’s just a tool – a very useful tool – that substantially increases the probability of success. And if you succeed, the lifetime pay-off is huge. I believe that Warren and eHarmony have made a unique and valuable contribution by applying science to match-making.



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  1. Anon
    Posted March 6, 2015 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    What is this?
    A sales pitch?

  2. rhondda
    Posted March 6, 2015 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that if there are questions that take over an hour to answer, the very least this can do is act as a mirror to one’s true values and desires. That can only help one maneuver in the world of fraudulent advice.

    When I saw the title, my first reaction was to think of the silly games that come on face book. Which god or goddess are you?; What famous warrior were you in a past life? etc. They are a hoot especially if you know the traits of the god or goddess or warrior. It is easy to get the one you want. What I wonder about though is with some of the comments whether these people are being ironic or not by claiming they were Napoleon or Thor etc. Have they been captured by an archtype?

  3. SWPL2
    Posted March 6, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    My wife and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum politically. It causes occasional flare ups, but really, 99% of being a married man is being diplomatic. I have male friends who claim they “don’t take sh*t from anyone” – these men are inevitably single.

    I will say that once she and I began having conversations about schools and neighborhoods, she began to speak to me in code, for the very first time. This is the essence of the liberal.

  4. Bjorn
    Posted March 6, 2015 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Some interesting points here. So how about a couple more?

    I cannot believe that the old days, when divorce rates were low, did not contain it fare share of hopeless marriages. But since divorce was out of the question, you simply had to work things out. Maybe a few of these ended up happier than the ‘happy’ ones as a result of a common struggle? Today divorce is too easy.

    Secondly: We are programmed to the extreme to not accept differences between the sexes. But there are, and fundamentally so. Maybe an acceptance of this difference could have saved a few marriages today as well? And even made them happy? I frequently have to explain to my wife the way I think differently about things. She seems to find my ‘maleness’ i thought threatening at times.

  5. JHRP
    Posted March 6, 2015 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    A comprehensive relationship guide from “the right” does exist and came essentially to a similar conclusion some 80 years ago (here in full:

    Said conclusion being that like and like make better matches. And where will one find potential mates more like oneself? Among those of the same stock from the same area, or somewhere hidden on the other side of the planet? The answer is self-evident, really.

  6. rhondda
    Posted March 6, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Back in the day when the Women’s Temperance Union was a force, it was not just about Christian women against alcohol. The underlying agenda was that men drank their paycheck and then when the wife complained, he beat her and the kids up. She had no place to go for women in those days were blamed for their husband’s behaviour. People joke about it, but it was a living reality for a lot of wives. Then the priests would go about telling the wives about forgiveness and submission. No escape. Women were not put on pedestals, That was the ongoing myth in the sense of a lie. Women were too ashamed to tell. Nowadays though they make stuff up and the real victims do not get what they need and easy divorce means no one has to change their behaviour.

  7. Trent
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    “A second premise behind the attitude that there is nothing to be learned about love is the assumptiom that the problem of love is the problem of an object, not the problem of a faculty. People think that to love is simple, but that to find the right object to love – or to be loved by – is difficult. This attitude has several reasons rooted in the development of modern society…In the United States, while considerations of a conventional nature are not entirely absent, to a vast extent people are in search of “romantic love,” of the personal experience of love which then should lead to marriage. This new concept of freedom in love must have greatly enhanced the importance of the object as against the importance of the function.” – Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

    Practicing the faculty instead of looking for the “right” object is the most important part to a relationship. Both parties must practice the art, however.

    • Titus Didius Tacitus
      Posted March 9, 2015 at 6:49 am | Permalink

      Erich Seligmann Fromm, a Jewish social psychologist associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory, has spread his fame and influence widely, it seems. Even here, when one needs a quote from a respectable source to buttress or illustrate a position, one can’t do better than Erich Fromm.

      [] Always trust content from the Frankfurt School?

      • Greg Johnson
        Posted March 9, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

        Don’t be such an asshole. If you have a problem with the comment’s content, say so.

      • Trent
        Posted March 9, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Why disparage someone who critiques the modern world’s views on love, even if he is a Jewish social psychologist? I only quote him because it’s the only book on love that I’ve read. If you know of other books about the topic written by a man who meets your standards please point them out to me instead of resorting to ad hominem.

        • Hieros
          Posted March 11, 2015 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

          You always have ‘Eros and the Mysteries of Love’ by Julius Evola.

          • Trent
            Posted March 12, 2015 at 1:14 am | Permalink

            Thank you for the suggestion, I’ll have to check that book out

  8. haeretik
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Disagreeable as it is, men on our side in the majority of cases have to draw their women from the other side. Sometimes it’s fun, if one is of exceptional mental energy, prodding and teasing them along the path to crimethink. Most of the time, it’s a sisyphean battle that can only be won in the hypothalamus, through money, display, expert flirtation, and orgasms. But this leaves their neocortical illusions intact – until they reproduce, when the light may finally dawn upon them.

  9. Susan Fowler
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    The personal relationship of the married couple is not as important as the value they place on the impersonal or the archetype of marriage. As Tacitus wrote in Germania:

    They receive one husband as having one body and one life, that they may have no thoughts beyond, no further reaching desires, that they might love, not so much the husband as the married state.

  10. Jaego
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Class struggle is the most vicious when there are no admitted classes as in the United States and everyone is supposedly considered equal. Likewise in marriage. Once women are supposedly equal, they feel they must struggle for dominance. And they are supposed in their battle by all the powers of Church (media) and State.

    If Class is established, then each class has its own rights and the higher is charged with duties towards the lower. Likewise in marriage. If men are on top again, women can at last be free be free again to have their own culture of women, with its own rights and duties. And men will be free to be men again, and charged with the upkeep of their women.

  11. John Smith
    Posted March 13, 2015 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    The paid format actually provides more than worthwhile, if not essential user filtration guaranteed to decrease your odds of a disappointing experience. Even if there wasn’t anything better about the site itself, it would be worth the $20 – $60 just for that.

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