eHarmony is one of the largest and, thanks to its extensive advertising, one of the best known of the many on-line dating sites. The site was founded in 2000 by Neil Warren, a clinical psychologist whose practice focused on marriage counseling, after three years of research into the factors that contributed to marital success. In collaboration with Galen Buckwalter of the University of Southern California, Warren developed a system that eHarmony uses to evaluate the compatibility of prospective matches.

Does the system work? Today, eHarmony has sites in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom and has enrolled 33 million members from 191 countries since inception. According to a 2009 Harris International survey, an average of 524 members married each day in the United States as the result of eHarmony matches.

The essence of eHarmony’s approach lies in the “29 Dimensions of Compatibility” that it evaluates through an extensive test that members take before the matching begins. According to eHarmony, those dimensions can be analyzed in two groups, the core traits and the vital attributes. Core traits, including emotional temperament, social style and cognitive mode, are aspects of personality that rarely change over a lifetime. Vital attributes, including relationship skills, values and experience, are important to the success of a relationship even though they may change over time.

Unlike many other dating sites, eHarmony does not offer pages of listings and photos. Its members do not get the opportunity to contact other members randomly. Instead, eHarmony evaluates a member’s test results and delivers a list of potentially compatible matches. It then asks members to answer more questions that are designed to further refine the compatibility results. Only then does direct contact occur. The eHarmony method goes to great lengths to weed out the merely casual and encourage serious relationships. If you’re just looking for casual dating, eHarmony may not be the right dating site for you.

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Best Aspects of eHarmony

  • eHarmony is devoted to making long-term matches rather than to casual dating, and its methods consistently promote this focus.
  • The membership, currently advertised as 20 million, is large.
  • Members can narrow the field of matches by age, race, religion or sexual orientation.

Features eHarmony Could Add or Improve

  • The process is long, beginning with an extensive test and interposing several steps between identifying a match and communicating with that person.
  • Many users have complained that the eHarmony system does a bad job of purging inactive users from its system, so that potential matches include people who are no longer interested or available.

eHarmony Membership Costs

eHarmony offers plans that vary in price depending on the length of the subscription. A one-month membership is $59.95, while a full year is priced at $239.40, or $19.95 per month, with a variety of intermediate terms available.