The other day, I got an email from Susan Mernit (an AOL alumnus, now at Yahoo! Personals), that really got me thinking. I’m a firm believer that the best products are created by people who create them for themselves, to scratch an itch they have. Of course, this isn’t the only way to create great products, but I suspect it helps a great deal.
I’m married and have children. Online match-making sites don’t exactly cater to folks who aren’t looking to, well, find a romantic match. There’s a wellspring of social networking sites (MySpace, etc.) that purport to connect people, but there’s such a large population of singles out there that it seems most people you meet online are looking to find dates and/or hook up. Some online dating sites have gone as far as explicitly excluding married folks from even participating. Others imply that married folks are there to cheat on their spouses, or are looking to swing. What ever happened to, well, friendship? You know, the platonic kind? Are we really that sex-driven as a society and culture?
Of course, you have companies like eHarmony that boast extensive self-service tests that can be used to match you up with someone who is statistically compatible with you. For a long time, I’ve wondered: if my wife and I had both completed our profiles at eHarmony, would their system have matched us up? It seems that someone over there had a similar thought and they now have a service for married couples: eHarmony Marriage. This is great and I’m going to try and convince my wife to try it out with me. I’ve just registered and sent her an invite.
But, this still leaves a gap that I’m still looking to fill: finding friends. eHarmony could fill the gap by using their profiles to connect people who are looking to just make new friends. Not having used their service, I don’t know if they already do this, but all the promotional materials seem to heavily imply that successful use of their products results in marriages. There must be a sizable audience of married couples who are still interested in meeting new people who are likely to be compatible, but aren’t looking for a romantic relationship? Am I really that strange? Is the notion of a platonic match-making service so crazy? Personals for married couples, to meet other married couples and/or singles who want to make new friends?