I have to admit I broke down and took the "free" personal evaluation offered by eHarmony, one of the nation's largest and most successful online dating services. My motivation was purely that of curiosity-I had no intention of actually going on a blind date. The company claims some secret formula for matching people using twenty nine dimensions of compatibility. I wondered, could I find that special someone merely by checking the right combination of boxes on an online form? And what happens if I accidentally answer a question wrong? Was I destined to forever be without my Ms Right?To my great surprise, the company did not find me one or two compatible matches, but 14 of them in just 2 weeks! Am I compatible or what? There was 40 year old Deborah from Santa Monica (for reference I am 48 years old) and 48 year old Susan from Westlake Village. Now I live in Redondo Beach (Los Angeles area) and with traffic the way it is, telling me I am compatible with someone in Westlake Village is like telling me I am compatible with someone in Utah. But the distance between us is not the greatest hurdle to us getting together. The reality is that I dread the blind date and here's why. The problem with the blind date is that you have both admitted to each other that you are looking for someone. And because of this admission all blind dates must come to some sort of resolution: where do we go from here? It cannot just be about having fun. It's about looking.Â It's work.
When you go on a blind date you engage in an activity I call "looking for love." As activities go looking for love is not that much fun.Â I once made a list of my top five favorite things to do which includes Jimmy Buffett concerts, wine tasting, eating sushi and a couple of other things. Conspicuously absent from the list was...you guessed it...looking for love. It is a crappy way to spend an hour.
Now I have a theory. I cannot prove it and I certainly didn't read it anywhere, it's just my observation. I believe the attraction people experience for each other is situation-dependent. That is, under the right circumstances you may find yourself attracted to someone you would otherwise not be attracted to under different circumstances (alcohol not withstanding). And here's the problem: nobody is very attractive when they are looking for love. At the very least there is a modicum of desperation or discontentment. Who's attracted to that? On the other hand, how many would like to meet someone who is just cruising through life, having fun, with the attitude that if they meet someone great and if they don't, that's great too?Â Now that's attractive. It seems to me that people are most attractive when they are just having fun (and not looking for anything).
Too many people, I think, subscribe to the logic that if only they had someone special in their life, then they would be happy. That way of thinking puts a lot of pressure on the other person and the relationship itself, not to mention keeps the online dating services in business. I think the happiest people are the ones who have not tied their happiness to being with someone.
There has always existed the counter intuitive logic that the best way to find someone is to stop looking. What if you stopped looking for love and instead, spent that time doing those things you love to do regardless of who is or isn't in your life at that moment. Imagine a life where you spend all of your free time engaged in those activities you love to do. Your happiness would not depend on another person.Â Even if done alone, you will still be doing those things you love to do. Not much downside there. Now imagine that in the course of doing something you already love to do, you meet someone who loves to do that very same thing. It would be a relationship based on common interests, a very different mindset than a blind date.
If all this is true, why are online dating services like eHarmony so successful? I suspect it has less to do with some secret formula and more to do with the fact that these companies just happen to put people together that really, really want to be in a relationship. Do it enough and something is going to stick.Â But it's not for me.Â I'm going to do it the old fashioned way: listening to Jimmy Buffet with a Merlot in one hand and a spicy tuna roll in the other.
Carl Weisman, Author
So Why Have You Never Been Married?
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