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Neil Clark Warren, PhD'67

Owner and CEO of online matchmaker, Neil Clark Warren, PhD’67, is also the author of several marriage and relationship advice books. In 1961, after three years at Princeton Theological Seminary, Warren transferred to Chicago to study psychology. For 15 years he served on the faculty of California’s Fuller Theological Seminary—as director of research and later dean of its Graduate School of Psychology—before starting a private practice. Four years ago Warren, happily married for 45 years, retired to found, which now has some 3 million members and boasts ten marriage announcements a day.

IMAGE:  Neil Clark Warren, PhD'67

How does your research play a role in eHarmony?
Research has always been a fundamental part of my superego. We’ve done so much research—with more than 5,000 married people—trying to understand what makes for great pairings and what makes for inadequate pairings, and the research we’ve done validates my own clinical experience—at this age I’ve seen more than 7,000 people in therapy.

Let me give you the two most important findings: First, you cannot make any relationship work if one person is suffering some significant emotional deficit. For instance, if you have one person who’s addicted to anything, the relationship is going to be terribly hobbled. Emotional health of both people is critical to a marriage.
Second, you need a lot of similarities—for instance, intelligence, energy, curiosity, industriousness, ambition. Similarities are like money in the bank. Differences are like debts you owe. It’s OK to have a few debts, but you better have plenty of equity in your account.

Why is it hard for people to find good matches on their own?
This culture has done a pitiful job of teaching people what is necessary if they’re going to be happy with each other long term.

Here’s the thing that makes it hard: You’re so individuated. You have so many sides to you. You’ve been pummeled by media, you’ve been pushed by your very stimulating education to take so many different attitudes, to assume so many value positions. So finding a person who agrees with you across all those dimensions—and you like his appearance and he likes yours, you have mutual chemistry, you like each others’ sense of humor, you have about the same amount of industriousness, the same amount of ambition, energy, all that—is a very complex challenge.

For singles in America—there are about 98 million of them—the time has never been so good for the introduction of something like the Internet because it allows for two things: one, for you to get into a large pool. And two, it allows you to take advantage of everything we’ve learned about what makes a relationship really good over time.

Does everyone have a soul mate?
I honestly believe that it depends on how adaptable you are. Soul mate for me is defined as someone for whom you have a broad base of compatibility on various categories: intelligence, energy, values, spirituality, etc. If you are a person who’s pretty angular, that is starched in position, then there might not be that many soul mates for you out there. This is an idealistic, humanistic assumption on my part, but my thought is that for every emotionally healthy, single person on earth there is someone out there, at least one person, who could be a good mate for them. But it’s so hard for some people to find that person.


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