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Picture 2.pngeHarmony has been called a Christian dating site, it’s been made fun of on late night television for years. It’s also responsible for 2% of all marriages. What it’s not been is gay-friendly, until now. After several years of litigation and pressure from the gay community, eHarmony has launched a same-sex relationship site, Compatible Partners. You can thank the attorney general of state of New Jersey for forcing the creation of the site.  

In a few short months, eHarmony has put together a clone of it’s flagship dating site. Here’s the problem, the Compatible Partners could be even worse for people seeking same-sex relationships than not offering a site at all.

As noted it the Wall Street Journal today:

The Compatible Partners version reads, “I greatly appreciate physical attractiveness when looking at people.” The company changed so little in the surveys that it put a disclosure on the Compatible Partners home page. The notice says the site was developed “on the basis of research involving married heterosexual couples.” It adds: “The company has not conducted similar research on same-sex relationships.”

I hope they put more effort into the new site than change a few questions in the 200+ question survey.

For years we have heard various eHarmony executives say that they didn’t offer same-sex matching because they have no research on the subject. This is from a company that has a relationship laboratory eHarmony Labs, an extremely complicated matching algorithm and performs in-office follow up research on people that get married after meeting on the site.

They have terabytes of data on users, datacenters full of hardware and servers, 200 employees and a research team. Where are the questions specific to gays? Where is the research they based the questions on? Where is the transparency?

For all the uproar about eHarmony not catering to gays, is a neutered clone of the straight site really what the gay community wants? After all the congratulations are served up, the stigma of Compatible Partners as being based on a straight site may be difficult to overcome. Reminds me of how Adult Friend Finder and Big Church are run by the same company.

Maybe I’m way off base and the new site will be a welcome addition to the online gay dating market.

It remains to be seen how eHarmony will deal with the new community. Are the customer service reps trained to talk to gay people differently than straight? Or is that not not even an issue?

I’ll leave it to the experts to address any differences between gay and straight compatibility, customer service and all of the other nuances that differentiate gay and straight communities. I certainly hope someone steps up to the plate and takes on the challenge.

Patrick Perrine, a past client of mine and amazing person all around, runs MyPartner, a dating site for gay men. As stated in the WSJ article, Patrick is skeptical about Compatible Partners. He, as well as the rest of the industry knows that eHarmony launched the new site as the result of a legal requirement. Compatible Partners is not a labor of love, so to speak.

The Terms and Conditions state: Must not be married. This should not be an issue. Did you know the site can conduct background checks on members whenever it wants? I looked at the eHarmony Terms of Service. Which also states they can perform background checks at will. Did you know the minimum age to use the site is 13?

I await the new standup routing from Kathy Griffin.