eHarmony Saying No to Atheists?

Rick Gershman of the St. Petersburg Times had a problem when he used the dating site eHarmony. But not for the normal reason.

What’s the normal reason? eHarmony doesn’t let you search for a match if you’re gay or lesbian. That’s due to founder Neil Clark Warren being a conservative Christian. According to a USA Today article:

Some also criticize eHarmony’s decision to refuse to provide matches for gays and lesbians — a policy that differs from Yahoo, Match.com and many other sites.

“From a corporate perspective, eHarmony does discriminate. There’s clearly a deliberate desire to exclude gay people from the site,” says New York psychiatrist Jack Drescher, who is gay and treats gay and lesbian couples.

But Warren says eHarmony promotes heterosexual marriage, about which he has done extensive research. He says he does not know enough about gay and lesbian relationships to do same-sex matching.

It “calls for some very careful thinking. Very careful research.” He adds that same-sex marriage is illegal in most states. “We don’t really want to participate in something that’s illegal.”

I didn’t realize same-sex matching was any different than hetero matching… clearly, I have a lot to learn from Warren.

Anyway, back to the original story. Gershman gave the site a try and after filling out a profile for over an hour, he got this message:

Unable to Match You at This Time

Gershman thought he knew a possible explanation for getting rejected by eHarmony:

I made it clear from my answers that I’m not much of a churchgoer. When eHarmony asked if I’m interested in “religious community” and “religious faith, ” I replied truthfully: Not at all.

Did that answer get me banned from eHarmony’s online church social? I didn’t know. So I decided to take the questionnaire again, answer it honestly again.

He didn’t get a match the next time, either.

So he asked eHarmony about the non-religious thing:

… I ask whether the process is weighted toward applicants who appear to consider Christianity, or at least faith, important.

The response: “Absolutely not. eHarmony . . . is not, nor has it ever been, a religious organization. Since its founding eHarmony has served and employed people of all (and or no) religious beliefs.”

His other responses seem fairly middle-of-the-road, though, so you have to wonder why he had no luck when other men have.

In any case, I do think atheists have a much harder time meeting people through dating websites if they’re open about who they are.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Rick Gershman, St. Petersburg Times, eHarmony, gay, lesbian, Neil Clark Warren, conservative, Christian, USA Today, Yahoo, Match.com, Jack Drescher, Christianity[/tags]

  • http://mollishka.blogspot.com mollishka

    It “calls for some very careful thinking. Very careful research.” He adds that same-sex marriage is illegal in most states. “We don’t really want to participate in something that’s illegal.”

    … because all online matchups lead to marriage?

  • http://tomesnyder.com/ Tom E. Snyder

    It could simply be that no women expressed interest in an atheist. Maybe one should apply and see what happens.

    Or, have a male and a female atheist submit the EXACT same answers and see if they get a match.

  • Mriana

    Well, it seems to have something against homebodies too. :roll: I didn’t try to sign on for them to find me a mate. I knew it was bogus after that and didn’t bother with dumping any money at their feet. I honestly don’t see how that thing is anymore legit than any other dating place. I went to one once here in town and kept getting matched up to jerks and deadbeats. IMHO they are not worth it and they are just trying to get rich off people. My best suggestion is to go it on your own and if you’re lucky you’ll find someone who is right for you.

    Of course, is you want to waste your money…

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    He should try an experiment: go back and enter the exact same info except change his answers to those two questions to make himself appear more religious and see if that changes his results. If it does then he would have good reason to think that it was his atheism that was the factor.

    Of course, as Tom pointed out, it might not be deliberate discrimination on eHarmony’s part. It might actually be that there aren’t any female atheists on eHarmony.

  • Amber

    There are a number of atheists and agnostics registered on okcupid.com

  • Jen

    I wouldn’t be shocked if it turns out to be true that they are disciminating against atheists, based on some other reviews of the site. This guy seemed pretty open to different types of women- if he had rejected women with kids, or said he hated children, or was picky about age or race- but he was asking for any of them.

    Or maybe the atheists all hear about this whole “the gays are so different from the straights, we just don’t get it!” and refuse to use the site. Or we are just too cheap to pay $100 (!) for three months.

  • Ace

    This is my favorite Atheist Blog, You are so entertaining and engaging and I will definately stick around and keep reading and posting.

    E Harmony didnt work for me but I am a double whammy being Gay and an Atheist but I am connected to a faith-Unitarian Universalism so I said Yes I am spiritual.

    :/

    Where was I?

  • http://darwinsdagger.blogspot.com Darwin’s Dagger

    I finished their questionnaire during one of their free communication weekend promotions and was matched without a problem. None of the matches were interesting enough for me to pursue and I didn’t pay for further use of the site, but I’m sure my answers were the same as Gershman’s concerning religion.

  • Mriana

    Or we are just too cheap to pay $100 (!) for three months.

    Yup! That’s me. Feeding my sons is more important then a relationship that costs me $100 every three months to find on the net.

  • Susan

    Well, I’m an atheist woman who signed up for a trial on Eharmony, and they kept sending me matches with “Christian” men. I specifically answered that I am an atheist, don’t attend church services, etc. Maybe they were trying to tell me something.

  • http://blog.heike6.com Heather

    I tried eHarmony way back when and got an error message saying something about me being too unique; that I didn’t fit any of their profiles. I had a hunch it was my atheism, but I figured it was their loss. Hey, there’s always secularity.com. Okay, they don’t have many users, but on any dating website I think that putting atheist on my profile cuts down on messages from people I wouldn’t want to date anyways.

  • Richard Wade

    My marriage license was written in cuneiform on a clay tablet so I’m not up on this stuff, but has anybody tried Science Connection? I’ve seen it advertised in the classified section of Scientific American for years and wondered about it. I know not all secular people are heavily into science but many scientists are very secular. I’ll bet they don’t have any bias against it there.

  • Jonas G

    There is a dating web site now running ads saying “We don’t know why so many people have been regected by eHarmony but .. ” (try us) — possibly cupid.com, but I’m not certain.

    I do remember though, seeing that Neil Clark Warren was interviewed by Pat Robertson on the 700 Club some months back. — I didn’t see the interview but the Fundamentalist Christian thing doesn’t surprise me at all.

    I have one friend from work who’s online date did lead to marriage, he happens to be Christian, and also I’m not sure what site he used.

  • William

    That site is Chemistry.com, and it’s worked for me. Though I must warn you, its very slow going since you can’t search for matches. They send them to you, and then you decide which ones you’re interested in.

    I haven’t found that special someone yet, but it beats Myspace in terms of the quality of people I’ve met.

  • http://mojoey.blogspot.com Mojoey

    I tried eHarmony as a test. I emphasized Atheism while answering the other questions normally. By the time I closed my profile 48 hours later, I ad over a doze quality matches.
    I posted about it here: James Dobson, eharmony and discrimination. With a follow-up here: eharmony follow-up.
    I think it is the other question you answer which limit your feedback. I could not have been more Atheist when answering the questions. Everyone who responded would have known my position.
    I noticed that everyone who matched with me did not think religion was important and was open to dating somebody outside of their own sect. Religion is used to match people or exclude people based on a like-to-like test. Which is a shame because while I might not like dating an evangelical, Catholics are nice.

  • Ken

    I’m an eHarmony.com success story.

    “I didn’t realize same-sex matching was any different than hetero matching… clearly, I have a lot to learn from Warren.”

    Warren’s professional counseling experience was mostly in marital counseling between couples that had both sexes represented. That is how he developed his matching system. Men and women are different, no? There’s a different dynamic between men and women than between two men or two women. If those two statements weren’t true, wouldn’t everyone be bisexual? So, Warren did not develop the same expertise regarding the dynamic between men and the dynamic between women. I wouldn’t go to a kosher chef to get a good recipe for lobster.

    Not all dating leads to marriage, but from what I’ve read from Warren, the goal of the website has been to reduce the divorce rate by matching people compatible for a happy long-term marriage. And to make money doing it. It isn’t a “hook-up” site.

    I have friends who aren’t religious who have been accepted by the site and given matches. Atheism, agnosticism, or another designation clearly doesn’t disqualify anyone from the site, but the site WILL bar people who are married, who have been divorced “too many” times, who (according to its questionnaire) don’t seem to be ready for a long term committment, or who give too many conflicting answers on the questionnaire, indicating they are either being dishonest with themselves, are unstable, or whatever.

    As far as atheists being matched up with “Christians”, each person sets their own parameters on that site as far as that goes. If you are an atheist who has indicated you are open to being matched with a “Christian”, and if the “Christian” has indicated that they were willing to be matched with an “atheist”, then you will be matched if otherwise compatible.

  • Ash

    Men and women are different, no? There’s a different dynamic between men and women than between two men or two women. If those two statements weren’t true, wouldn’t everyone be bisexual? So, Warren did not develop the same expertise regarding the dynamic between men and the dynamic between women.

    men + women have different physical characteristics, certainly, but i have yet to meet anyone who can categorically define a man or woman emotionally, and i suspect i’d have problems finding anyone who fit inside those parameters if someone were arrogant enough to set them. i know both straight and gay couples, and would have a hard time distinguishing their relationships by sexual preference only outside of the bedroom. if you know better, Ken, please correct me.

    I wouldn’t go to a kosher chef to get a good recipe for lobster.

    perhaps so, but if i wanted to eat a well prepared meal (and wasn’t prejudice about the ingredients), i’d see a kosher chef as being just as able to do that job as a non-kosher one.

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  • Tim

    I’m an atheist that found an atheist (several) on eHarmony. I married one.

    The “no matches can be found” is common on eHarmony. There are lots of unfounded conspiracy theories about this.

    I find it a bit annoying that an atheist is using a sample size of one to come to the conclusion that eHarmony is not friendly to atheists. That’s pretty hypocritical of somebody on the skeptic side of the fence. Very disappointing.

    The fact is that atheists are a pretty small minority and eHarmony is extremely discriminating in matching (they like keeping their match:marraige ratio high), not too mention that they are expensive too. It’s very likely no other atheist he was compatible with was in the system. You don’t owe eHarmony a dime for each month you receive less than (I think) two matches, so you aren’t losing anything. It just takes time.

    It was worth it to me!

    The GLBT matching issue was a real problem and real discrimination and my wife and I were pretty upset about that when we found out. I’m glad its resolved now, even though it took a court order.

  • Rob

    I agree with Tim. There’s no huge conspiracy against atheists on EH. I usually get matched with a non-religious girl at least three or four times a week.

    Also this may be unscientific, but if you are willing to date a woman with children at home, they seem (based on my matches) to be more likely to be non-religious. Perhaps a result of religious prejudice against single mothers?


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