(Online Dating Industry Journal) When relationship service eHarmony published an article on its Website and in its newsletter titled "Navigating the One Night Stand" they weren't prepared for the consequences that followed.
On April 16, eHarmony sent out its newsletter to members and the second article featured was titled "Navigating the One Night Stand". The teaser for the article stated:
"So you’re a swinging single and you’ve had a one-night stand. What’s the etiquette for establishing boundaries, calling the day after and getting out without hurting feelings?"
The first four sentences of the actual article read:
"While most of us are looking for that special someone to spend our lives with, the single life dictates that sometimes the opportunity for companionship present itself in the form of a one-night stand. While a one-time roll in the hay isn’t exactly emotionally fulfilling, sex in any form can be relaxing, enjoyable, and fun. So maybe it’s closing time and you haven’t found Mr. or Ms. Right. If you are up for it, you can enjoy a romp with Mr. or Ms. Right-for-the-night..."
The article infuriated many eHarmony members who saw it as promoting one-night stands. Some members canceled their eHarmony membership and others created blog posts complaining about the article. The reaction of members caused eHarmony to remove the article and to issue an apology this week that was written by Stan Holt, the Vice President of publishing for eHarmony.
The apology, in part, states:
"Last week, the eHarmony Advice site published a column called “Navigating the One-Night Stand” that was also included in the eHarmony email newsletter which reached many regular readers of our Advice site. The advice contained in this column was completely inconsistent with our editorial guidelines and the relationship service that we offer to our members. The day after sending the e-mail newsletter, I was made aware of the column and it was immediately removed from our site. eHarmony is committed to helping its members find highly compatible, long-term relationships and I regret that the inappropriate content and tone of the column could lead our members to believe that we were not interested in their long-term relationship success..."
People and businesses make mistakes. For eHarmony this was a big blunder in that it was a huge contradiction to the message they try to portray to the public. But an even bigger mistake may have come in the form of censorship in eHarmony's discussion forums. There was a thread created to discuss the article and many people shared their feelings about it. Instead of allowing the discussion to continue or simply making the last post an apology and closing the thread, eHarmony instead deleted the entire thread. It's like eHarmony is trying to erase the fact that the article (and comments about it) ever appeared on its Website.
Here's another sentence sampling from the article:
"One-nighters need not call or check up on the whereabouts of the person they shared the evening with. Acting as if your near-anonymous night of passion was a first date will just confuse sex with love."
As Publisher of Online Dating Magazine, I must approve all articles before they are posted, including articles from regular columnists. I read every single one and most are approved and some I ask to be rewritten because they weren't appropriate for Online Dating Magazine's audience. I can't imagine that eHarmony published this article blindly as it would go against good editorial policy. Someone had to have read it in advance and felt that it was a good fit for their readership.
On any general dating site, the article may have been fine for their readers. But in eHarmony's case, they try to promote their service based on long-term relationship success and values. From the first sentence on, the article promoted just the opposite. You can be assured that from now on there will be a lot tougher scrutiny of their articles before they hit the Publish button!