Online dating no longer carries the stigma of being the last hope for society’s undesirables to try their luck at love—and for avoiding direct human contact in social settings. In fact, online dating sites have become an accepted—even expected—part of the dating ritual, and few execute it as well as eHarmony.com. This online dating site costs a pretty penny if you want to unlock its full potential, but with the high price tag comes an unparalleled online dating experience—provided you’re heterosexual.
Let’s get this out of the way immediately: eHarmony doesn’t let potential homosexual users create an account. Instead, should you select that you’re a man looking for a man or a woman looking for a woman, eHarmony bounces you to compatiblepartners.com, its gay-friendly companion site. We reached out to eHarmony for a comment about this divide. We’ve yet to get a response. In our opinion, it’s great that the company caters to everyone, but it’s really a shame that they’ve opted for this segregated approach. Surely their algorithms are savvy enough to avoid potential preference mismatches. We’ve deducted half a star from the score for this stance.
If you’re heterosexual, however, you can waltz through eHarmony’s doors with ease. You’re tasked, after creating login credentials, with answering a series of questions designed to assess your personality. If you try to plow through the questions, eHarmony will ask you to slow down and ponder your answer, a nice touch.
eHarmony does its best to convince you to sign up for the multi-month subscription packages. The one-month plan (starting at a pricey $59.95!) is buried on the subscription plan page while the expensive multi-month packages that cost hundreds of dollars are prominently displayed. It’s a bit pushy.
After you select a subscription plan, eHarmony takes you to your profile page. If eHarmony finds potential matches with its Compatibility Matching System, a notification appears in the Matches toolbar section. Other sections include What If (matches that fall outside of your match sweet spot.), Communicating With (your message center), and Hidden Users (a list of potential matches no longer available for contact). The layout’s simple and easy to navigate.
eHarmony has the best profile pages of the online dating sites that PCMag has tested; they look like they were created in this decade, unlike the visual messes that are Match and Plenty of Fish, for example. Profiles are packed with nuggets of useful information and sprinkled with photos. In fact, the pages look very much like interactive infographics. You move horizontally from profile section to profile section, using the arrow keys or clicking the onscreen navigation icons. I preferred eHarmony’s horizontal navigation and layout to the vertical style employed by most dating sites, as it lets you see more information on screen at a time.
If you’re in the What If section, the profiles are presented as super-sexy slides you navigate in a slideshow-like fashion. Although those people are designated as being “outside of your range,” eHarmony displays what you have in common (such as action movies or yoga, for example). On the down side, there are a set number of profiles that you can view on a particular day, so you can’t rifle through all of your potential matches in a one session. That said, the few profiles that are presented each day carry more weight, so I found myself examining each one with extra care.
You can reach out to a potential partner in several unique ways. eHarmony lets you send prefabricated Quick Questions that serve as icebreakers—a more in-depth version of Match’s “Wink” feature. You can also request to connect via eH Mail, the site’s messaging system. There’s also Secure Call, in which you and a potential exchange eHarmony-provided phone numbers (so you don’t have to give out your true phone number), but it comes with a small cost, outlined below.
$5.95 per year nets you Secure Call, which gives you a private number for calling other eHarmony members. The$5.95 per year RelyID verifies your real name, age, and location and places a spiffy attention-grabbing badge in your profile.
A one-time $9.99 payment scores you a Book of You, which highlights your personality traits based on a questionnaire and acts as an extension of your profile. It’s not at all needed, but it’s an interesting option.
The eHarmony blog isn’t a premium feature—it’s free of charge—but it’s worth checking out as it has lots of very solid dating and lifestyles advice for those who are looking for a match.
Kara’s Excellent eHarmony Adventure
PCMag.com Commerce Editor, Kara Kamenec, also explored eHarmony to chronicle the online dating experience. She also actually went on some dates, too. An eHarmony Bachelor (known from here on out as EHB) made first contact with her by skipping the guided communication and going directly to eH Mail. He sent Kara a compliment on her profile—not the picture—and asked that she respond if interested. EHB’s profile was scarcely filled out, but his charisma via eH Mail made up for the lack of on-site personality. They used eH Mail to communicate back and forth for five days discussing their careers, locations, and weekend plans. On the six day, sensing these eH Mails could go on for weeks and feeling impatient, Kara made a move. She eH Mailed EHB and made a joke in an attempt to give him her number:
“Alright so since you broke etiquette and messaged me right away, I will too. I can’t always keep up with this during the work week but I’d love to chat in person. If you want to grab a drink or something sometime this week here’s my number: XXX.XXX.XXXX. Feel free to text/call me if you want to meet up (and yes, you should “
EHB sent Kara a text two days later, made small talk and asked her on a date. Although they both played the flirty texting game of not responding to a text within the first two minutes of receiving it, EHB successfully asked her out in just under 30 minutes. Without exaggeration, that’s a tenth of the time it took men from any of the other dating sites to ask her out for a date. Apparently, this is a common complaint among women using dating sites: guys take forever to actually get around to asking for a date.
They met a few days later at a trendy but understated Italian wine bar. Kara walked in and EHB was already there, at a table—not the bar—and easy to spot. EHB’s eH Mail tone was extremely similar to his in-person attitude and demeanor. The date lasted for over three hours as they enjoyed wine and food. It was an extremely fluid and effortless conversation that was both amusing and informative.
To eHarmony’s credit, this was the second best date to come from the sites we’d tested. Kara looked forward to seeing EHB again.
Love, Exciting and New
Simply put, eHarmony is the best online dating site that PCMag.com’s tested, despite its segregated approach. eHarmony has a beautiful, intuitive layout (you never fight against it as you do with Plenty of Fish), and offers services designed to get you paired up with that special someone. eHarmony is pricey, no doubt, but the online dating experience is top-notch.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc