How Does eHarmony Work?

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This post will be a guide to eHarmony. It is the second post in a three-part series where I’m going to discuss in detail using (see my previous article), eHarmony, and finally I will compare these services to determine which is the “better” of the two. In this article, I’ll be describing eHarmony from the ground up.

For a broader conversation on this dating service, see my eHarmony Review post.

Thoughts on the eHarmony Profile

eHarmony is known for its long sign-up time but that’s part of the service. The long sign-up process is based on determining your personality and then providing all your matches based on the results of this personality test.

How does eharmony work?

Before I discuss the individual areas of the profile creation, let me make a suggestion. With eHarmony, you must be as honest as possible. Painfully honest if necessary. It is very easy to answer a question in a less than accurate way because you want to be more inclusive with the people you will be matched with. You’re worried that if you say you leave your room messy some people won’t be interested in you so you say that you leave your room clean.

This is a bad idea because the test is meant to help you find that person who doesn’t mind that the room is messy! This is an arbitrary example but the point is you must be honest in your profile. Your entire experience on eHarmony will be based on how you answer these questions so you need to take this very seriously.

Creating Your Profile at eHarmony – Part 1

Your personality profile is first up and the majority of this section will be answering multiple choice questions along with a few sections where you will type descriptions of yourself. Below I’ll briefly describe a majority of the sections you will be filling out.

General Information: Sex, birth date, marital status, education
Personal Beliefs: Religious beliefs and importance of the same in your matches
About You: Things about your personality such as how plan oriented you are, how adventurous you are, how well you deal with stress, and so on.
Self Descriptions: Qualities are listed and you rate how well you line up with each of these. Examples include items such as Warmth, Cleverness, Spirituality, and so on. At the end of these self descriptions you will have to select 4 words that best describe you which is a little more difficult than it sounds!
Personal Characteristics: Personal characteristics further describe who you are outside of your personality. Things such as the need to be creative, how comfortable you are leading other people and how easily you get upset are all examples.
Relationship Orientation and Values: This includes items such as how important marriage is to you, how important monogamous relationships are and how important having close friends is to you are all examples.
Important Qualities: Here you rate what qualities are important to you in a partner. This includes things such as values, physical appears and chemistry. At the end of this section you will list three things which are most important to you. You’ll be able to list a short paragraph for each of these items which is recommended.
About Your Personality: Simple true/false statements that further describe who you are. An example of these is “If a store-clerk gave me too much change, I might keep it without telling him”.
Personal Interests: Here you simply rate how important different interests are to you like movies, live music, the outdoors and so on. At the end of this section you’ll have a box where you can further describe which interest you are most passionate about. You will also be provided another box to describe several things you enjoy doing in your leisure time.
Communication Style: This section allows you to rate how well certain statements describe you, such as “I try to resolve conflict quickly”
Matching Information: The matching information section asks a few simple questions like if you smoke and if you are okay with a partner that smokes. The second part of this allows you to specify how far away you would be willing to meet someone. You can set a number of miles, states (in the U.S.) or countries.
Adding your photo: This is the last step and be sure to do this if you’ll be using the service seriously. Without photos, you will be hurting yourself so please be encouraged to add some if you’ll be dating online seriously.

Congratulations! You’re done at this point…sort of. When I went through this process it took about 30 minutes (although I was distracted a few times). You’ll be shown a screen with subscription options. As with, this screen can be confusing the first time it is viewed because it looks like you need to sign up. You don’t. Just click on the View Your Matches link to move on. With any luck, you’ll immediately have matches to review. I received 7 matches when signing up which is a fair number.

Hold on before you start looking at your matches because you’re not done with your profile yet! I’m not sure why eHarmony separates the profile creation into two separate sections but they do. Maybe the point is to help people get through the initial sign-up process which can be tiresome to someone new to online dating. At any rate, on to the next part.

Creating Your Profile at eHarmony – Part 2

If you are on your matches screen, click About Me at the top of the screen. You can change your basic settings (like height, occupation, etc) and can also add more photos in this area. However, to finish the profile the “In My Own Words” and “Values” sections need to be completed

In My Own Words
This is the area where you will build the bulk of the text in your profile The text areas you filled in during your first part of your profile creation will be included in what people can see of you but these sections will fill in the rest. eHarmony is very unique in the questions they have you complete for your profile. Instead of the traditional “About Me” or “About My Date” boxes, they have you answer specific questions that will reveal who you are. The following are the questions that you are asked to complete:

  • Other than your parents, who has been the most influential person in your life and why?

  • What is the most important quality you are looking for in another person?
  • Other than your appearance, what is the first thing that people notice about you?
  • What is the ONE thing that people DON’T notice about you right away that you WISH they WOULD?
  • What are five things that you “can’t live without?”
  • Describe the last book you read and enjoyed.

As you can see, these are not what people have come to expect with online dating profile sections but they get the job done and they may actually encourage better profiles. This is because when presented with a blank page to fill in anything about themselves, many people fill in hardly anything at all. With these specific sections specified, more people may fill in additional information about themselves than they would have normally.

Values are split into two areas: “Must Haves” and “Can’t Stands”. The “Must Haves” is a checklist for you to select attributes that you like for your date to have. This section includes items such as Chemistry, Verbal Intimacy, Strong Character, and Artisticness to name a few. In line with this, “Can’t Stands” are qualities you do not want to have in a person that you date. Examples in the “Can’t Stands” list include Anger, Lying, Vanity and Laziness.

Again, it’s best to be as honest as you can be.

eHarmony Values

Communicating with Other Singles

Obviously the first step is to view profiles and then to contact the people you are most interested in. Once you decide to contact someone, the process below will begin. It is worth noting that whoever starts the communication process gets to go first in each of the steps described below.

Step One: Closed-Ended Questions
The first step is to send each other closed-ended questions. These questions are multiple choice and generally easy to answer. They should help reveal more about your match and you’ll choose five of these questions to send. As a part of this step you’ll also send answers to the five questions they asked of you. As an example, the following is one of the closed-ended questions you can ask:

In addition to the default answers, you can also answer with your own words in a provided text box.

Step Two: You Trade Your 10 “Must Haves” and 10 “Can’t Stands”
The second round of communication consists of reviewing and exchanging your personal list of “Must Haves” and “Can’t Stands” with your match. In my experience, this step goes by very quickly as there isn’t much for either of you to do at this point aside from reading their selections (and making sure you’re still interested).

Step Three: Open-Ended Questions
The next step of eHarmony’s communication process is to write each other three open-ended questions. eHarmony does provide some samples you can choose from but be sure to ask the questions you really want answered. This is a good opportunity to find out exactly what you want to know, not what eHarmony suggests you should want to know.

Step Four: Emailing Each Other
This is the last step and from here on out communication will work the same within the eHarmony: you’ll send each other emails including whatever you would like in them. Normally at this point I had many things I wanted to talk with the woman about because of the eHarmony communication process. The process is great but for every question answered during the process you’ll think of several more that you will have to wait for this stage to find out more about.

As I described in my online dating guide, I think you should schedule the first date sooner rather than later. Three or four emails and then I think you should be talking about meeting. eHarmony’s communication process can cause some people to stop making decisions since each stage is controlled for you. The last stage (actually meeting) will require one of you to move things along without eHarmony’s assistance. This may sound obvious but just keep it in mind.

Unique Features to eHarmony


These are additional features that eHarmony offers. Note that each of these services has additional cost associated with them.

ProfileAdvisor: This feature allows you to get a professional writer from eHarmony to help you better express the real you in your profile. This will run you around $100 (ouch).

SecureCall: This allows you to talk with others on your phone anonymously (in other words, they can’t get your phone number and you don’t have theirs). You can control who can call you and who can’t and which phones the calls will be routed to. $5.95 a month.

RelyID: RelyID is basically a background check. It give an extra degree of comfort to those who are communicating with you as it shows you are who you say you are. $5.95 a year.

Premium Personality Profile: This is an expanded version of the personality profile taken when signing up up at eHarmony. This is for you personally and won’t help directly with those you are looking to meet at the site (although it may help indirectly if it helps you identify areas of growth I guess). $19.99 one-time fee.

Other Random Thoughts on eHarmony

  • You can’t see any photos unless you sign up. I think this is a mistake as I believe that eHarmony should at least show a single photo as this could actually encourage people to sign up…but that’s just me.

  • Icebreakers allow you to send a message for free even if you aren’t paying. Icebreakers are very difficult for me to understand. If you’re not paying, there is little reason to send them unless you want to see if someone replies before you sign up. Once you’re a member though, I don’t know how these would be used. The communication process is so controlled within eHarmony I think these would only slow things down.

Subscribing to eHarmony

Subscribing is straight-forward process although there are a few different options. I think it is again worth mentioning my thoughts on the appropriate amount of time to sign up for. eHarmony bases most of its saving off of signing up for a full year. A year is excessive but if you can stick with it, the plan would save you a substantial amount of money. There are also coupons you can use for further savings:

eHarmony Promotion Codes – Save Up to 20%

Often when you sign up, eHarmony will have a package that will include other promotions if you sign up for a full year. Occasionally these savings add up enough that they do make the 12 month subscription a very good deal. I also believe that you can use the promotions above with the other offers eHarmony presents.

One thing I always mention when discussing signing up at dating service is the fact that most (all?) dating services will automatically renew you for the same plan you are currently subscribed with. This means if you signed up for a year, when the year is up they’ll renew your subscription for another year. My suggestion is this: if you sign up for a long time period immediately cancel your subscription after doing so. This won’t prevent you from using the service (you’re paid up until your time runs out) but it will prevent the service from auto-renewing.

In my next article I’ll discuss I’ll be discussing eHarmony versus and my thoughts on the two services when compared to one another.


About the Author:

Brad initially struggled with online dating but over time became quite successful using it. He met his wife using online dating and has been giving advice and helping people improve their results since 2007. He has written a Free Online Dating Guide to help others find success with online dating. You can learn more about his personal experience using online dating and running this website here.


  1. G  July 18, 2011

    Thank you Brad for your wonderful website and PDF guide. It’s been very helpful.

    Do you think it’s too agressive for a women to start the “Closed-Ended Questions” in eHarmony? I read your other article “ Winks and Women” and winking seems so much simpler. Maybe there’s another way of showing interest. Thanks.

  2. Brad  July 18, 2011

    Hey G – I actually think eHarmony supports women starting the communication much, much better than other dating services. I’m just speaking from my personal use of eHarmony but the way I saw it was that we went through the same process no matter who started it (whether it was the guy or the girl).

    In that regard, I felt like eHarmony was much friendlier to women beginning the communication and I had much more success with women doing so on that service than others. So I’d say if you’re thinking of contacting a guy to step through the communication process, go for it 🙂

  3. Someone  August 21, 2011

    Cheers Brad,

    I’d already filled out my details – got a few matches too – so subscribed. I’d followed all of the steps you mention already, made sense – but once subscribed, looked for the search – there isn’t one, you can’t – which, in itself, is quite innovative.

    Liking it, though, and this is a great guide for anyone unsure – all very sensible advice.

    Thankyou and well done for taking the time out for others not so sure…..

  4. M  October 18, 2011

    Great information! Lots of good information for e-Harmony, which was the one I was leaning towards. I haven’t signed up yet, will do so in a couple of days.

    Thank you again for your time & hard work.

  5. Chris  August 16, 2012

    I’ve been on E-harmony for 8 weeks now. Perhaps it’s too early to make this comment, but I haven’t have any success yet. The 7 matches that I get everyday day doesn’t seem to be enough. Dating is a numbers game… I feel like the women on this site are encouraged to look for that “Mr. Perfect”, and immediately close off anything else that is less perfection.

    Personally, I’m not a bad looking guy. I admit, I’m not George Clooney, but I would consider myself to be fairly good looking, with a very athletic body. I’m a family man, with a great sense of humour, who’s very honest and loyal to my family and friends. I’m not looking for ms. perfect myself, but it really feels like the women on this site are looking for that mr. perfect! I believe a lot of the articles within e-harmony reinforce that desire to attain the perfect mate… It’s quite sad, because nobody is perfect…


  6. robin  October 1, 2012

    i am just courious about finding a friend. is there a website where i could look for someone to talk to . I have tried zoosk, and numours others and am not happy.

    Thank you


    • Brad  October 6, 2012

      Robin – I’ve heard can be a good way to meet people. You can find people with similar interests in your area. If you’re looking for more of an online penpal…I’m honestly not too sure. I guess chat rooms might work!

    • Brian  April 17, 2016

      Brad’s right, meetup is great for expanding your social circke.

  7. Sarah  May 31, 2014

    I’m not signed up for service. If someone is, does that mean they can see my photo? Or is there a certain point in communication where you can see photos? Thanks!

    • Brad  June 16, 2014

      Under your account settings, you should be able to configure when they can see your photo. So you could cause your photo to be hidden until a certain step of the communication process (assuming nothing has changed recently at eHarmony and I don’t think there have been changes to this). I believe you’ll need to look at your account settings to determine if people can see your photo…by default, even if you don’t pay they will probably be able to see photos you add.

  8. barbara  April 8, 2016

    I find the eHarmony website extremely difficult to navigate .. I’m too busy for this bull-s.

  9. Brian  April 17, 2016


    how recent is this article, I can find no $100=£60 profile advisor, only a very very expensive service that gives you hands on service for thousands of dollars.

  10. Jo  April 9, 2017

    Hi Brad,

    I recently joined eHarmony and would like to know if the email matches l receive also are sent to the matched person at the same time?

    • Brad  June 28, 2017

      Hi Jo – I don’t believe that both people receive the other in an email at the same time. From what I understand, it’s random for both (although things could have changed).

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