In Perfect eHarmony


An edited version was published by SouthAsianParent.Com on 1st December 2010.

“You are not getting any younger,” my mother reminded me for the—I’ve actually lost count—umpteenth time in my life. “Don’t I know,” I wanted to retort. But well-brought up Indian girls don’t shoot questions back at their parents. Apparently, I had only one choice now. Shaadi.com. I couldn’t imagine the horror of explaining to my feminist friends in the future that I had found my husband on an online wedding bureau.

So what did I do? I turned to eHarmony. A dating site that boasts of matching individuals based on 26 personality factors. Twenty-six! I would be lucky if I found someone who matched me on three or four.

It was last summer. I had plenty of free time on my hands. So I signed up. The process took me three hours. I had to answer ten questionnaires that would pin down my 26 personality factors. Then I had to cut down my matches by other factors: religion, ethnicity, education, height, weight, food/lifestyle habits, and so on. All this narrowing of search didn’t leave me with a lot of choices. I was matched with quite a few individuals but they were all situated miles away.

An interesting part about communicating over eHarmony is that you have a guided communication process. And it is just that. A long process. You generally start off with five close-ended questions: “What would you do on a Saturday night?” types. Then you graduate to 10 must-haves and can’t-stands in a partner. I find this part very helpful. It exposes a person’s inner insecurities.

The third part is about answering three open-ended questions: “What is your greatest fear?” types. This part is great for assessing a potential partner’s writing skills. And if ‘bad grammar’ is one of your pet peeves (like it is mine), you will probably end up eliminating communication at this point. The last part of the process is open communication via emails.

Most of my contact with eligible bachelors lasted up to step three. It’s not only bad grammar that did the trick but also the kind of questions that were posed to me. You would think in the 21st century Indian men would have matured beyond clichéd traditional patriarchal views. Apparently samples such as these, who cannot score in real life, somehow end up at eHarmony too.

However, after a month of being on the website, I found someone in Kansas City. He was an IT professional with a keen interest in photography. Before long, we were chatting on gtalk for hours.

Before you start sighing, and imagining a beautiful ending to a possible Bollywood-style love story, let me warn you it lasted only a week. He realised after hours of exchanging our deepest fears and desires, that Toronto was really far away from Kansas City. He was deeply apologetic for wasting my time. And I was deeply apologetic for putting so much faith into a website. Let me also add, he is still single. But so am I, and what does that say?

Luckily, I had a back up plan. I got into graduate school. Miraculously, my family backed off for a while. I got off the Internet and decided to meet people the natural way: by socialising. I haven’t met him yet, but I am not giving up. If nothing works out by the time I am 30, shaadi.com is still out there. Meanwhile, I have to keep reminding myself that even though I am not getting any younger, I am at least getting a little wiser.

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6 Comments

Filed under anecdote, article

6 responses to “In Perfect eHarmony

  1. I love your blog! I’m in a graduate program in Gender and Women’s Studies and I enjoy reading about other graduate experiences. Also, I find those online dating sites fascinating. This past summer I created a few false accounts just too see which ones would get the most attention (I was also a bit curious to see the “types” of people who were on those sites). It was an interesting experience for sure.

    • Thank you, and I found you blog pretty intriguing myself! Which websites did you try? I had a choice of eharmony/pof/lavalife/match. I went with eharmony because it wasn’t cheap (would keep out the creeps who go on free dating websites) and had a long mandatory personality test (maybe it was the psychology nerd in me, or maybe, I hoped to meet someone with similar core values). Of course, if it was only that simple to meet someone you can actually want to be with!

  2. I loved this post! I get this same mumbo jumbo from my parents about finding a partner. I am so content being in graduate school and figuring out who I am that it’s been easier for me to be alone. Thanks for making me feel like it isn’t just me!

  3. Another comment on Facebook:

    8 hours ago. Simon Cool: This is such a great article! I’m experiencing (almost) exactly the same pressure from my parents (although my “expiration date” is 25). I’ve tried Internet dating, and you’re right. It is rather like a mystery grab bag: you never know what… you’re going to get. And a lot of the same patriarchal attitudes echo even on non-chaperoned sites. But as someone who is still painfully shy (I have trouble answering the phone sometimes) it’s a start. In any case, for someone as brave and social as you, graduate school sounds like a great way to meet like-minded guys and girls. Good luck! :)

    A minute ago · Sanchari Sur: ‎@Simon Cool. Hey Sayema, I am glad you could connect with it. Online dating could work for many, especially if they are shy in real life. However, like dating in real life, it also has its pros and cons. You probably know what I am talking about. Good luck to you too!!

  4. Recent comments on facebook:

    Simon Cool, Nami Kb, Rishi Kumar and Sayon Sur “like” this.

    16 hours ago · Sayon Sur: Loved it…

    12 hours ago · Rishi Kumar: wiser :)

    4 hours ago · Jonis Omush: too bad it didnt turn fruitfull it really does for some people

    3 hours ago · Poonam Patel: great article!

    2 hours ago · Oeishi Bhattacharjee: Have your parents really backed up…..really….or do you hear less about this b/c u don’t live with them all that much anymore. Also….i love how you say that bad grammer is a major pet peeve and then believe that an indian website will …find you “the” guy for when you are 30….are u impying that guys finally learn to speak english when they are 30…becuase then I have news for you…or are u saying that when you are 30 bad grammer will not mean much to you…which is nearly impossible when u have a masters in english.

    17 minutes ago · Sanchari Sur: ‎@ Oeishi. Yes, they have backed off because I am in grad school. Distance has nothing to do with it. Even though I don’t see them often, I talk to them every day on the phone. The pressure is definitely not as intense as before I got into grad school. In fact, the pressure has changed from “get married” to “apply to the phd program”.

    No, bad grammar will still be a pet peeve, regardless of how old I get. My point was, I should try to meet guys socially instead of giving into shaadi.com like many others because its still possible for me to meet guys at grad school. To me, shaadi.com is an easy way out, and I hope I won’t have to give in to it. Ever. However, if by the time I am 30 (which gives me about 5 years to find someone for myself) I am still single, shaadi.com can become an option then. I am not shutting that option out completely. As for “the”guy, I don’t believe in that kind of a bogus sentiment. There are plenty of guys out there I can be compatible with. I just have to find a way to meet them. For now, I am sticking to meeting them through my network of friends.

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