Anyone who's tried online dating knows that sooner or later, they'll probably be rejected—by a potential suitor. Yet over one million would-be daters have been blocked from joining online dating site eHarmony.
Now rival dating site Chemistry.com is capitalizing on the site's rejection policy, with a 10 million dollar ad campaign calling attention to the fact, and positioning itself as a welcoming, come-one-date-all alternative.
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Dave Evans, an online dating industry consultant calls the ads "an eye opener." eHarmony's rejections were "never a secret, but people didn't realize that they were doing this," he says.
One ad directly addresses eHarmony's stated policy of refusing gays. Another suggests that the site rejects non-Christians, and those with other seemingly random personality quirks.
In actuality, about one in five people who answer all 436 of eHarmony's probing questions receive an immediate electronic Dear John letter reading "We are unable to match you at this time."
The company, which has about 14 million registered users and claims "thousands" of happy marriages, says that about a third of the people they reject are married, and almost another third are under 21. They also screen out applicants who have been divorced several times, and people whose multiple choice answers, according to the company's algorithm, indicate that they may be depressed or dishonest.
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The site, founded by evangelical Christian Dr. Neil Clark Warren, has publicly denied that it discriminates based on religion. In an online essay, Warren emphasizes that eHarmony's goal is good marriages and fewer divorces, whether you're Christian, aspiritual or "belong to a small sect of Judaism or Hinduism or Protestantism."
eHarmony maintains that its criteria are consistent and based on research designed to lead to long-term, stable marriages, and have asked media outlets to stop carrying the ads. So far, most have refused. And in this day and age, damage is viral—and done.