Since this is the season of Thanksgiving, I thought I would say THANKS to a group that literally changed my life: eHarmony.com.
Somewhere on my old iMac computer is one of the most important emails I have ever written in my lifetime. Put simply, I am married to Rebecca Bonilla Mangual because of an enquiry I sent to the internet dating service in late April 2003.
I had joined eHarmony the previous February, alerted by a radio ad to a 3 month, $99 sign-up special. Unimpressed with Match.com, I thought I’d give eHarmony a try. A few emails and dates later, it was going slowly, nothing truly clicking. eHarmony arranges your matches for you, filtering through your criteria of choices and dynamics to select matches that “fit” what you are looking for and have deemed significant. The process takes time, so patience is a virtue.
During those 90 days, matches come and go. You might continue to correspond with some, or decide some connections aren’t working out. Fair is fair. Matches that don’t click end up in a Closed File off to the side of your profile.
Curious one day, I opened my Closed File and came across the name of someone I’d never corresponded with – Rebecca from Huntington Beach. I clicked on Rebecca’s profile link, and up popped a picture of a beautiful woman standing in front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, a typical tourist snapshot.
My first thought was: I don’t remember ever connecting with Rebecca. The next thought was, hey, I’d like to meet her…even if we don’t hit it off, we can certainly have a cup of coffee and talk about Paris, my favorite city.
So, I did something very bold – I wrote to eHarmony to ask whether I could re-connect with Rebecca somehow. In my email I left open the possibilities that perhaps I had closed the match, she had closed it, or that even corresponding might be taboo. No matter, I would honor their response and decision to my request. But I just felt Rebecca was worth the try.
No risk, no reward.
An hour or two later I received a very nice reponse from an eHarmony customer service rep, who explained that normally “closed” matches remained that way – closed. It was policy. But that she would – as a courtesy – send an email to Rebecca to see what she thought.
A week went by when, out-of-the-blue, I received an encouraging email from the same rep that Rebecca had emailed back to say she would like to reopen the match with me. Amazing…and wonderful. (It turned out Rebecca had closed ALL her matches because she was so busy with her career.)
About a day later, she and I had jumped through the numerous eHarmony hoops to exchange our email addresses and phone numbers. Then we spent the next 3 nights talking on the telephone before even meeting for a date. These were long, great conversations, ending with prayer each time.
The 2-3 hours talking by phone per night – before actually dating – were a bonus, for we used this time to get to know each other better. Likes, dislikes, siblings, school, family, career. It was lots of fun conversation, and made the anticipation of finally meeting even greater.
Long story short, we began dating the following week, engaged 5 months later, married the following April 2004. I took Rebecca to Paris for our honeymoon (plus a week in Italy).
Sometimes, I look back at that courageous email and think, what if? What if I hadn’t sent the email? What if eHarmony said NO. What if Rebecca didn’t want to bother with my request at all?
But all of those “what ifs” don’t really matter.
I did write the email. eHarmony did go the extra step to help (above the call of duty). And Rebecca was intrigued by this gringo guy in West L.A. that really wanted to meet her. Even if it was, initially, just to talk about travel.
The rest is history…and has led to a great, deep, romantic friendship, relationship and marriage to a beautiful, incredible woman.
And thanks, Rebecca, for saying YES.