April 22, 2008
Last week in its e-newsletter, eHarmony published an article promoting high-risk promiscuous behavior and "one night stands." Over the weekend, my wife and I wrote an op-ed published by Worldnetdaily.com responding to "Navigating the One Night Stand." We have received many supportive emails from other eHarmony couples hoping that eHarmony would issue an apology.
Last night, eHarmony released a statement retracting the article and apologizing to its readers. We fully accept the apology and are greatly encouraged that the statement calls the article "completely inconsistent" with the relationship service that they offer to their members.
After posting the Worldnetdaily.com op-ed, I did more research on Dr. Neil Clark Warren, founder of eHarmony. I found that he has made past statements opposing sex outside of marriage. An article from the May 18, 2005 edition of USA Today noted Dr. Warren's opposition to premarital sex because it "clouds decisions" in dating relationships. I believe that eHarmony can continue to expand its market and maintain its brand name reputation by holding firm to the values that have made it so successful.
eHarmony's members would further benefit by a conversation about why this behavior is "inconsistent" with the company's mission statement. For example, Dr. Warren could explain his opposition to sex outside of marriage and engage in a dialogue with his readers about the dangers associated with pre-marital sex and cohabitation. Cohabitation has been a stealth killer of marriage on two levels. Cohabitation is a cancer at the front end by diverting tens of millions of people from getting married at all. There were 21 million never married Americans in 1970 but three times as many in 2006. Those who cohabit are 50% more likely to divorce than those who never live together. The "Navigating the One Night Stand" article encourages this pattern. However, thorough marriage preparation with an inventory test and mentorship by an older couple can provide an amazing 97% track record of success. Mike and Harriet McManus are a couple leading the way to reverse these troubling statistics. Mike and Harriet are founders of Marriage Savers and authors of the new book Living Together: Myths, Risks, and Answers. They would make excellent contributors to the eHarmony advice website.
Some of eHarmony's readers may not agree with Dr. Warren's stance on premarital sex - but I think they would appreciate and respect eHarmony for remaining grounded in its determination to fulfill its mission to "help couples achieve stronger, healthier and happier marriages." Premarital sex does exactly the opposite by undermining - and yes - "clouding decisions." Promoting the healthiest and most beneficial outcome which is abstinence until marriage would help eHarmony make great strides toward achieving the goals of their mission statement.
However, most importantly, I thank eHarmony for recognizing its mistake and making it clear that they wish to remain in the values-matching service business.