Valentine's Day is tomorrow. Although I don't subscribe to the commercialized Hallmark/Godiva-chocolated notion of love and actually feel sorry for the poor sots who will find their efforts deemed subpar by their supposed love ones, I want to weigh in with a thought about finding love.
Tuesday's Science Times reports on the effectiveness of the algorithm behind the matchmaking site eHarmony. This site makes the choice for the client based upon their answers to the extensive 200 questions that they need to answer and forwards the site's computer-generated selections, rather than forwarding an array of available mates for the client to choose from themselves. I find this distinction especially interesting because I do something similar when I attempt to set up singles at the local "matchmaking" group I volunteer at.
Let me explain. Along with Patti Stanger, the Millionaire Matchmaker, but at a much lower pay grade, I set up marriage-minded couples who would not have met on their own and hope they date successfully, resulting in a match. I have noticed that when I present a boy/girl (I deal primarily with young professionals in their late twenties) with ONE selection and sell the hell out of it, I stand a better shot at a successful meeting and if I'm any good at this, many more dates and possibly a marriage proposal. If I offer three or four ideas and leave the choice up to them I find it leads to the shmorgasboard effect. You know how it is at a sumptuous buffet. Everything looks delicious and is enticingly presented. The vast array of selections available is tempting and even if your plate is full and you are chewing away on a gastronomical delight, your eye is still roaming the room looking for more.
The first thing eHarmony has going for it is that anyone willing to spend the time answering 200 questions, 180 of which are pointless, is either very serious about getting married and knows it takes effort to make a relationship successful or is out of work and has nothing better to do with their day than answer questions. Hence a successful weeding out process right there. According to the article in The Times, there are many factors that translate into an easy match: level of agreeableness, level of willingness to experience new things, spirituality, general optimism...the list goes on. These things can be matched easily through a dating website and actually offer a firm foundation for seeking a like-minded mate. And I would tender the theory that these matches have a certain predictable solidity and staying power to them.
But what about the well-known law of "opposites attract?"
My theory on opposites attracting is that the exact thing that you found so cute about your partner at the six-month point is the same thing you have to gnash your teeth at ten years down the road. I believe a more subtle version of the opposites attract tenet leads to greater satisfaction. A couple that complements each other and thereby creates a whole by contributing their half of the equation--he has great ideas but lacks the follow through and along comes a very organized woman who is lacking in creativity but has great organizational skills. These two halves are opposite but not necessarily completely opposing. These two halves equal the whole and hopefully the sum total is greater than the parts. This, I believe, is something less jarring and has staying power.
Ultimately, you have to know yourself and what works for you. Every person is unique and every couple has their own dynamic that might be easily predicted by a computer, or not, but I also like to rely on that elusive element known as "Kismet" or "Bashert"--which is a Yiddish work for it. We are hopeful there is that extra plus of Fate that leads us to the person of our dreams and pray that we look for ways to make it all work out rather than look for ways to complicate it.
And if you find yourself alone on Valentine's Day, really, who cares, it's just a day and the good thing is there are 364 more of them to find someone before next year's February 14th rolls around.