During my undergraduate years, I attended a small, private conservative non-denominational Christian college in Western Pennsylvania where the amount of enrolled male and female students was split straight down the middle.
I’m sure you’re asking of all the traits I could say about my alma mater, why do I mention this particular tidbit? Because for this specific institution, one of their unofficial goals is to get as many of their students engaged or married before they graduate.
I’m truly not joking when I say this. The phrase, “Look to your left, look to your right, your future mate may be in sight” was coined because of the high (some say 75%) engagement rate amongst students that occurs by the time they graduate. There were even stories circulating of professors moonlighting as matchmakers. Tales from the Education Department were the most prevalent: faculty would sometimes assign students they felt were compatible to the same school for student teaching so these (unsuspecting) education majors would carpool together and have the chance to “get to know each other” (with the ultimate outcome that they would date and eventually get married).
So, you can say the fact I graduated from this institution without an MRS degree was a pretty impressive feat.
But this didn’t really bother me at the time: I graduated, moved to Chicago, got a job, and started living my post-graduate “adult” life. I enjoyed my early 20s and new-found independence with relish. I wasn’t overly concerned about getting married (after all, I scheduled that part of my life plan for about 26 or so – plenty of time to date and find someone, right?).
My parents, on the other hand, were apparently more concerned about my marital prospects than I was at this point. I’d managed to graduate without one serious relationship from a university that had all but guaranteed a “ring by spring” (the scandal!) and was apparently unconcerned about this fact.
So, of course, the perfect Christmas gift for their 23-year old daughter who has never been on a date (let alone had a serious relationship) is a membership to eHarmony.
Thanks, Mom and Dad.
They informed me after researching the available online dating sites, that eHarmony was the one most likely to provide a “long-lasting” relationship. Match.com, they stated, was for “hook-ups” and “casual” dating and not conducive to marriage.
If it hadn’t been inherently apparent that they wanted me married, this particular conversation certainly solidified it.
This membership to eHarmony essentially jumpstarted my dating life and the chaos that has ensued from it. While I have certainly had good dates (so, no, they haven’t all been bad), there are certainly more instances of me sitting across the table thinking to myself, “I should have just stayed home.”