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Emily Morrison Emily Morrison
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Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match

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In Joel Stein's recent 'Time' article 'Match Point,' he poked fun at a new claim made by the dating site eHarmony that it has, in fact, discovered the science of love. At a psychology convention in February, the site claimed that couples who share similar traits (interests, beliefs, intelligence, romantic prowess, wealth and overall attractiveness) make the happiest marriages. In his tongue-in-cheek response, Stein wrote, 'If two people aren't enough alike in 29 categories, eHarmony won't match them and their marriage is going to suck.'

While the concept of finding the formula for lasting love in a 110-question personality test seems ludicrous, the idea is quite alluring. Lonely people 'looking for love in all the wrong places' pop on the internet, answer some questions about how they perceive themselves, and lo and behold, they meet their match: an equally lonely, semi-attractive, semi-intelligent person who also likes long walks on the beach and their martinis shaken, not stirred.

Historically speaking, though, the institution of marriage has survived not because of the similarities between the sexes, but because of the differences. In the cavemen era, men and women sort of needed to recognize each other's basic differences to keep the species going. 'Me, man. You, woman. We, mate.' Plus, those caves got pretty cold at night. Women needed to keep the fire going while men were out clubbing mastodons. Similarly, from medieval times all the way up to the Renaissance, lords and ladies had separate roles. Men told 'the virgins to make much of time' or 'get thee to a nunnery.' Apparently, women either turned into wives at a young age or joined the convent while their counterparts went off in search of grails, long lost plunder or kings to kill. What options.

In the time of the Victorians, marriage became a social merger, a way of preserving wealth and privilege. Here again, men and women differed. Men were given dowries in exchange for taking women off their father's hands, and women were given a home and hearth of their own. Women were contractually obligated to keep the home clean, the food on the table and the children alive, while men took possession of their wives' legal rights, physical property and virginity. A raw deal by anyone's standards. 

The 19th century was largely uneventful in terms of marital status, but the 20th century brought much social reform and with it a new definition of marriage. After the suffrage movement in '20s and the bra burning of the '60s, women became more determined than ever to take on men's roles outside the home. In fact, because of this newfound desire to be more alike, 'America's divorce rate began climbing in the late 1960s and has increased tenfold since then,' according to 

Though equality between the sexes clearly isn't the reason why marriages fail, this trend does illustrate the point that similarities don't necessarily create happy marriages. In our time, marriage is still about the give and take, the yin and yang, the push and the pull of everyday life. It's about one person being slightly more attractive and the other being slightly more grateful. Yes, there's a science behind it. Here's what it's called: love. Whether one is giving it, getting it or making it, this is the magical formula that keeps marriage from sucking. 

As an interesting side note, the founder of made the news recently. What for? His girlfriend found her match on Maybe they should have taken an eHarmony test first.


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