Saturday, June 02, 2012

I AM One of the Omitted

I am single.  I don't want to be single, but that's how it is.  I accept it and do what I can about it.
I believe in technology.  I am a longtime technophile. I remember the story Steve Jobs once told about bicycles, how humans were mediocre in terms of efficient traveling when compared to other animals, but shot to the top of the list in terms of efficiency when you put a person on a bike.  It was his example of how humans are tool-users.  It's what makes us special.  Computers, he concluded, were tools to help the brain, just as bikes helped our feet.
My singleness and my belief in technology combined to make me one of the first users of online dating services when they arrived on the scene back in the mid-90's.  It made sense, from my point of view, to use the latest tools man had come up with, the internet and the computer, to solve the problem of finding someone to spend the rest of your life with.  
That was before.  I don't do online dating any more.  
You're probably thinking I'm saying this because it didn't work out for me.  And in a general sense, you'd be right.  I tried a number of different services.  They all worked in the same way: You sign up.  You fill out a profile.  You upload a photo.  You scan other profiles.  You send messages.  Sometimes people would respond, sometimes not.  When they did, you'd make arrangements to meet.  With me the process would continue with: You come home after the meeting.  You delete the profile of the person you'd just met from your favorites list.  You scan other profiles, etc.
I experienced the usual problems people have with online dating.  Someone posting a profile photo that was ten years out of date.  Someone writing in their profile that they "Don't Smoke," only to have them tell me, as they lit up a cigarette, that they didn't smoke "much."  It would have been nice to have that "much" included in the profile.
The most successful match I had through an online dating service was with one woman where I had three dates with.  The first encounter was encouraging.  She was a professional woman.  A bit off-center, but in an appealing way.  She was learning to ride motorcycles and was planning on buying a Harley.  She liked to ballroom dance, which was what attracted her to my profile (I was into ballroom dancing at the time).  We had a great second date where we went dancing together.
It was the third date when things came apart. It started with her almost getting us killed racing another car on Laurel Canyon Boulevard because the other guy won't let her change lanes in front of her.  At the last moment, with the lane we were in about to end and the rear end of a parked car staring us in the face, she yelled, "All Right, Fine!" jammed on the brakes, swerved in behind the guy she'd been racing, missing the end of the parked car by inches.  
"Were you worried?"  She said this after glancing over at me in the passenger seat.  "There's no need.  I was in COMPLETE control of the vehicle the entire time."  She kept emphasizing that through the rest of the trip to the theater we were heading, how COMPLETELY in control she had been.  
In addition to this, I discovered that evening that she had a low tolerance for cross-dressers (our "waitress" was a man, she insisted, and kept insisting until I told her I didn't care one way or the other), and that she thought my taste in music indicated low-brow tastes (the pre-show music included "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.  As I was singing along she kept making a face at me while asking, "Really?  Really?  You like this music, really?"  
Yeah.  I liked that music.  Still do.  Really.  
After that, I shied away from online dating services.  I did not use them until eHarmony came along.  I remember from their first television commercial the thing that made them different.  They didn't just throw a bunch of profile pictures at you.  They culled the millions of people out there to show you the ones most compatible with you.  From the personality test they gave you, their sites algorithms would give you choices of potential partners that was practically guaranteed to succeed in finding you someone.  
It was rational.  It was reasonable.  It was scientific.  Just as the Internet gave the computer it's ultimate usefulness, eHarmony's algorithms would make online dating work.  
After creating my account, and before they would allow me to see any matches, I had to take their famous personality profile.  It would be fifteen to twenty minutes of my time, as I recall the site informing me, but would lead to lasting happiness with someone that would be my life-partner. 
I began to get suspicious that something wasn't working right when I was still taking the personality test 30 minutes later.  I began to wonder if there was something wrong, or whether the site was giving me some longer, more detailed version of the test.  Maybe it was stuck in some loop and I'd have to start over again.  
Finally, after an hour and fifteen minutes of test taking, I got this message on my screen: 

Huh.  Really.  Oh-kaay...  
And to show you how serious eHarmony was, the following screen informed me that there would be no charge to my account for the trouble I'd gone through, and that my credit card information would be deleted.  They didn't even want to take my money after all of that.  
I moved on after that.  In the years since I've had a couple of reasonably long relationships. Both were with people that came out of nowhere, so to speak.  An actress in a play I auditioned for and performed in.  A woman that came from halfway around the world.  
Finding myself single again, I recently decided to give eHarmony another try.  I went back to their site and tried to start the process again.  
The system recognized me.  Before I could get started I got a message that basically said, "Look...  We told you before.  We can't match you.  We're really, really sorry, but please...  Don't waste our time."  I got this image of my profile being posted on some cork-board in the office where the eHarmony programmers worked.  Above it is posted, "Keep at it!  One Day we'll find a match for everyone, EVEN HIM!"
On May 4th, Scientific American Online had an article about these "scientifically based" online dating services.  Here's a link for you to read it yourself: "The Scientific Flaws of Online Dating Sites."  
One conclusion of the article is that the available evidence suggests mathematical algorithms are negligibly better at matching people over random chance.  It points out that a lot of what makes a relationship work isn't covered by the tests they tout.  The stress of being recently unemployed, or having life-changing disease like AIDS or Cancer, having a history of drug abuse, don't get picked up by their tests.  The people answering their questions, who presumably have yet to find a compatible match, are a pool of people who might not know what a compatible match is for them, and are making incorrect assumptions about what they want in a partner as they feed this information into those fields.  
I was encouraged by this article.  Until I got to the last page, that is.  That's when I found this paragraph: 
Indeed, it appears that eHarmony excludes certain people from their dating pool, leaving money on the table in the process, presumably because the algorithm concludes that such individuals are poor relationship material. Given the impressive state of research linking personality to relationship success, it is plausible that sites can develop an algorithm that successfully omits such individuals from the dating pool. As long as you’re not one of the omitted people, that is a worthwhile service.
"As long as you're not one of the omitted people..."  Huh.  Really?  Oh-kaay.

When I tell people about my online dating experiences, one suggestion from them predominates: I should change my answers to these personality questionnaires.  Give more "normal" answers.  I should not set my standards so high, they'll also suggest.  
I'm not going to do that.  For one thing, and this may be my way of showing my relative lack of experience in long-term relationships, I don't see how this sort of compromise helps.  When I look around and see so many people breaking up or getting divorced, or even worse, trapped in bad relationships that they can't or won't get out of, I think to myself that I'd rather be single than go through that.  
But more importantly, I really do like the person I am.  I know I'm an odd-ball.  I've been this way for as long as I can remember.  I remember back in High School making having the choice of trying to act more normal in order to fit in more and "hang" with more people, or be myself and have a much, much smaller circle of friends.  I chose to be who I am as best I can.  I still stand by that decision.  
And really, it's the only fair way to enter a relationship, right?  I mean, if I start dating someone pretending to be normal and then suddenly started being myself, what would that poor woman think?  
Everyone tells you to "just be yourself" when trying to form relationships but how many of us really do that? 
I will.  I will state it right here.  I AM one of the Omitted People.  I don't do online dating, not just because they didn't work for me, but because they've made it clear they don't want me either.  That only tells me that their collection of profiles don't include anyone suitable for me.  Enough of that, then.  Sayonara.  No more online dating sites for me.
Unless they come up with something like "Omitted People-dot-Com."  That one I might check out.  
PS: Some of you may have noticed the link in the eHarmony "We can't match you" dialogue box where they offer me a copy of a personality profile they created about me.  I didn't check it out the first time.  I went back to the site while writing this blog and found that it's still there.  So, if you want to know what the personality of one of the Omitted looks like, you can find it here: My Personality Profile.  free Personality Profile


Blogger 芭樂米 said...


hear, hear! I thought i was the only one who felt this way about all these online dating sites. It's a great feeling knowing that i am not crazy.

June 10, 2012 at 10:25 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home