first_date

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Online dating service eHarmony would like to help you not be the most awkward conversationalist your date has ever met. And its solution is DateBook, a new app — available to members — that offers questions to ask during a date, though eHarmony suggests memorizing the questions before the date, or when one of you goes to the bathroom.

“A lot of times, when people are on a date, they don’t know what to say to these people. They may need conversation primers, like a wingman,” said Arvind Mishra, vice president of product management and life-cycle marketing at eHarmony. “We frame them as open-ended questions to start conversations, like: ‘Given a choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as your dinner guest?’”

Wouldn’t you have to say the person sitting across from you?

“If you were smooth, yeah, I guess,” Mishra said.

Wouldn’t it be awkward to look at your phone?

“Well, they look at it hopefully right before the date, or when their date has to get up to go to the restroom. It would be an incredibly antisocial date to have both people looking at their phones.”

The app also lets singles add pictures and details (including ratings) of each date to a sort of diary, which Mishra suggested could later be packaged for successfully matched couples. Intriguingly, singles can check in to restaurants or venues on Foursquare, and then rate the space. So other daters can know, statistically, if a particular restaurant makes for romance. “Our customers are really into the whole quantified self thing,” Mishra said.

Is this an attempt to edge into location-based dating apps like Tinder?

“No. These pic-and-click-type sites? They’re matching me on how many friends we have in common, or whether you watch Tosh.0. I don’t know if you can make a judgment on whether or not you want to spend your life with someone based on just that.”

I probably could. So the app isn’t going to be like Tinder?

“Four percent of all the marriages in the U.S. are created on our site.”

So this isn’t going to be, like, an eHarmony Grindr app?

“No, no,” Mishra said. “No.”

eHarmony DateBook questions

eHarmony DateBook questions

Here are some real DateBook questions, and the answers I would give when (if) asked:

  • Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as your dinner guest? (Jane Fonda.)
  • What’s your worst habit? (Next.)
  • What do you value most in a relationship? (Sex?)
  • If you won an all-expense-paid trip for two weeks, where would you go? (Rural Swaziland.)
  • Where do you see yourself living in 15 years? (My aunt’s basement, where I live now.)
  • If you could accomplish only one thing during the rest of your life, what would it be? (Locking in a mate so I can get a little fat.)
  • Looking back on your life, of what are you most proud? (My SAT score.)
  • What aspect of your daily routine do you look forward to most? (Flossing.)
  • If you could domesticate any wild animal, which animal would it be? (A platypus, because it is a mammal that lays eggs and has poisonous spurs.)



1 comments
Virginia (The Heartographer)
Virginia (The Heartographer)

Let's rest on this quote for a sec... "It would be an incredibly antisocial date to have both people looking at their phones." So why design an app that's likely to facilitate this goal? eHarmony has also offered a service in the past that allows users to generate a fake phone call emergency so they can get out of a bad date. Doesn't that seem not only disingenuous and anti-social, but fundamentally against their stated goals of connecting people through their ever so amazing values-based dimensions of blah blah?


I'm an online dating coach; I fundamentally disagree with the approach many online dating giants take. I agree that helping singles figure out how to converse if they're shy or flummoxed is a noble goal, but I disagree that this is the way to achieve it. Looking forward to a rush of xoJane and Jezebel posts decrying dates who were clearly using some sort of wingman app while their gal was in the restroom.


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