The advertising watchdog has found the eHarmony TV advert to be misleading. I always wondered how the dating website can substantiate its claim in the ad that 2% of the 4 million Americans who get married every year – that’s a highly unlikely 80,000 people – met on eHarmony.com. It turns out that they are unable to.
Following complaints from viewers, the Advertising Standards Authority investigated and ruled the advert as misleading because it claimed a “definitive figure” of marriages based on a 2007 online survey of 7,000 people (errrm, so they used the responses of just 7,000 to make a claim that 80,000 people met on their site, highly scientific – not!)
As a result of other complaints from the public the ASA also said that the ad failed to make clear that in 20% of all cases eHarmony is unable to find a match for those who have taken the time to register on the site.
Out of curiosity, and obviously rather bored one evening, I decided to register on eHarmony.co.uk to see how it is different from all the millions of other dating websites out there, and why it claims, rather bizarrely, to be a “relationship site” rather than a dating site – I mean, talk about meaningless marketing rubbish! That American voice-over is high on my list of the most irritating things ever.
I soon regretted it. The process of going through all the personality profiling questions takes well over an hour. At the end I was told I had just one match. ONE, in the whole of London, which apparently has around 4 million singletons. eHarmony.co.uk is clearly struggling to convince people to finish the registration. My match was a rather unattractive lanky kitchen assistant around five years younger than me. If that’s the best they can do, hopefully the irritating advert will disappear from our TV screens forever!
Like the quote from Robert Hintze, founder of that not-shallow-at-all dating website BeautifulPeople.com, where only those deemed good-looking enough by existing members are allowed to join, on the news that the site has launched worldwide. Describing the difference between the subscribers on his site, and those on other dating sites, he says,
“Other sites are jungles of hippos and wart hogs. BeautifulPeople is a wonderful game reserve of leopards and gazelles.”
But maybe what looks like a gazelle is actually a wart hog with a LOT of make-up and the photo was taken in very flattering light, three years ago – before she put on two stone?!
Are women really aware of the dangers lurking online when it comes to meeting complete strangers through dating sites? Alarming reports of sex attackers using these sites seem to be increasing, as perverts realise that the ability to hide behind fake online profiles gives them the perfect way to meet and abuse women who are putting themselves in a very vulnerable position.
GP (that gives confidence in the NHS!) Anil Tangotra was this week jailed for 11 years after it was found that he drugged and raped women he met through the online dating site Shaadi.com.
He had portrayed himself as a successful young bachelor working in the City to attract young women. In reality he was a 53 year old violent sex attacker.
After wining and dining his victims, who were successful Asian women looking for a long-term relationship, the doctor spiked their drinks and subjected them to brutal sex attacks.
It is easy to portray oneself as far more attractive, successful, socially-skilled, interesting and educated online and in most cases, apart from disappointment and wasted time, people lying on dating sites doesn’t cause any harm. But in a few there is real danger and incidents like this will hopefully remind women to take precautions when meeting total strangers on first dates such as telling your friends where you are going and asking them to call you after half an hour or so to provide a quick get-out excuse if you’re feeling uneasy.
Often people who meet someone on a dating site find it difficult to then stop using it. There is so much choice online, how can we be sure that we have met ‘The One’?
This is the case with one Evening Standard reader who wrote to the newspaper this week complaining that the guy she met online, who she now considers to be her boyfriend is still logging on to the site –http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/lifestyle/article-23744237-details/The+boyfriend+I+met+online+still+looks+at+dating+sites/article.do.
Resident ‘sexperts’ at the paper, Esther Walker and Nirpal Dhaliwal, warn her that some people choose to treat online dating sites like portals to an alternate universe in which they can behave like an arse, with no repercussions.
Nirpal, giving an enlightening male view of online dating, says,
“That you met this chap in the sexual bazaar of online dating only muddies the water further. When dating people via the internet always assume that they are juggling several people at once and are continuing their search even if you’ve seen them several times — after all, he might still have several months left on his subscription. Online dating provides a glut of sexual opportunities that most people don’t find elsewhere.”
This, I believe, is only of the biggest problems with online dating – guys see it as an easy way to get lots of no-strings s*x whilst women are using it to try to find a committed relationship. By dating through friends, or by using a matchmaking service, this confusing world where there are no real ‘rules of engagement’ is bypassed and a lot of time-wasting, disappointment and heartbreak is avoided.
My friend today received a classic example of why online dating can be a total waste of time for 30-something women looking for a relationship. She was sent the following message by a guy on the most widely-advertised dating site, which she joined a few weeks ago. Who said romance was dead?!…
You look pretty sexy!
I’ll be honest, I’m going through the divorce from hell at the moment and I’ve decided to come off this site until I get my head around that. However it’s been a while if you know what I mean so I thought I’d ask if you fancied maybe getting together for a bit of you know what?
I was interested to read that in an April 2009 report that great British consumer watchdog Which? found that, despite the popularity of online dating, users of dating websites do not rate any online dating provider highly enough to warrant Which? Best Buy status. The average Which? customer score for online dating sites was just 46%. Even the highest-scoring supplier – Fit Lads (I’ll be checking that one out!) with 59% – was quite low compared to user satisfaction levels for other industries. Despite our love for all things on the internet, it seems that online dating is not satisfying the needs and expectations of the majority of single people in the UK.
London’s Evening Standard newspaper recently claimed that, according to independent research, around 4 million single people in the capital are currently looking for a relationship. In a separate survey, seven out of ten Londoners under the age of fifty said they had dated in the past year – underlining just how few people are in long-term relationships.
There are new online dating sites launching all the time – so how come a growing proportion of Londoners are thirty-something and still single?
A significant development in the past decade has been the explosion of consumer choice which appears at first to be a good thing. However, academics such as Barry Schwartz, Professor of Social Theory at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, believe that unlimited choice is JUST AS BAD as no choice and could be at the root of the rising number of single people.
The internet provides almost endless choice with a phenomenal number of dating sites offering millions of potential partners, which is very appealing on first glance to single people. Surely a huge choice is a good thing?
But Professor Schwartz and others believe that greater choice actually DIMINISHES the chance of our choosing a partner because we think that there is someone ‘better’ just around the corner. How many of us get anxious about choosing the right type of coffee now (skinny, mocha, etc) when faced with a long list in Starbucks, let alone deciding whether a person might be ‘the one’?!