Features

Love, internet style

"Love, internet style" Continued...

Issue: "Crossing the Rubiocon," Aug. 14, 2010

Dr. Robert Epstein writes in Scientific American, "I have been a researcher for about 30 years and a test designer for nearly half those years. When I see extravagant ads for online tests that promise to find people a soul mate, I find myself asking, 'How on earth could such a test exist?' The truth is, it doesn't."

Jeffrey Lohr, a professor of psychology at the University of Arkansas who is studying the claims of online dating companies, agrees with Epstein, saying that they are "marketing their product far beyond the available evidence. There is none to very little effectiveness in the matching process." Even relationship psychologist James Houran, who developed algorithms for the dating site PlentyofFish.com, recently told ABC that whatever compatible characteristics two individuals may share, he guesses relationships created online are more likely to fail than those launched the old-fashioned way.

Perhaps that's why the online matchmaking business is showing signs of slowing down, indicating that some daters are returning to old-fashioned methods of meeting. Earlier this year, ComScore showed double-digit, year-over-year declines for Yahoo Personals and Match.com. And Hitwise found that eHarmony's traffic dropped 61 percent in December 2009 compared to the same month in 2008.

Single people like Kim Bloss of Magnolia, Ark., could be the cause. A professor of Counselor Education at Southern Arkansas University, she fits to a T the profile of those who use paid dating sites-educated, white, in a high-income bracket, and a regular internet user. However, her brief trial with the website PerfectMatch.com told her finding web-initiated romance is probably not for her, and she decided against meeting any of her matches in person. "My husband had died three years earlier and I was feeling lonely. I saw a special on Oprah about online dating and took the test at PerfectMatch.com. When I saw my matches, it seemed like they were based more on geography than personality."

But the experience wasn't without some benefit. Sifting through dozens of profiles and continually being drawn to the same type-men who worked with their hands-helped her discover what was really missing in her life. "I finally realized I wasn't looking for a soul mate, I was looking for a handyman."
Email Megan Basham

Megan Basham
Megan Basham

Megan, a regular correspondent for WORLD News Group, is a writer and film critic living in Memphis, Tenn.. She is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide to Having It All.

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