Real, lasting love can be found online

GRANT Langston's relationship theories are as far removed from Noel Biderman's as you can get.

He believes fidelity flows from love and adultery has no place in relationships.

Philosophies aside, the men are eerily alike.

They are both in their 40s, both are married with two kids, both started their careers in different fields, both are passionate about passion and both play a major role in the success of two of the world's biggest internet dating websites.

Langston joined eHarmony six months before the website launched in 2000.

"When I started with eHarmony the website didn't really exist," the slender, softly spoken, moustachioed American says.

"It was an idea and it sounded kind of preposterous to be honest with you.

"At the time, online dating was around but, to be very frank with you, it was pretty seedy and it was only casual - it was for hooking up with somebody as quick as you can.

"When they said they wanted a site for serious-minded people who were interested in a long-term relationship it sounded kind of crazy."

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Langston says eHarmony's founder - psychologist and relationship author Neil Warren - hit the nail on the head when he came up with the concept of a match-making internet site.

"It doesn't take a genius to look around the world and see that people are not that good at picking a mate," the former musician says.

"The divorce rate is relatively high and a lot of people who stay married aren't very happy and so it seemed like a problem that needed fixing.

"Dr Warren had a track record as a mate selection author and speaker.

"When I started to read through his books, I saw this guy has got a pretty good idea of how to fix this so it was really the idea, the hope that we could have an impact on divorce and improve marriage that got me interested."

Fifteen years down the track the site has more than 60 million "registrants" globally and since launching here in 2007, there have been 11,000 Aussie marriages.

The site uses a "match-making algorithm" to ensure its members make successful long-term hook-ups.

"For the longest time we knew people were getting married through our site but it wasn't until 2012 that we actually got researchers to reach out to couples to see how their relationships were doing," Langston says.

"And once they ran that data and it was verified by some guys from Harvard - it was a very long process - but in the end we found the divorce rate for people that met on eHarmony over a seven-year period was under 4%.

"That was a very emotional moment for me because the goal that we talked about when we launched the business was we wanted to see if we can get the divorce rate to single digits.

"That was what made us get up in the morning."

While eHarmony has been matching people around the globe for 15 years, the company does not underestimate the role it plays in regional Australia.

"The biggest impact that we've had is in places where people have basically run out of possible partners - there's just no one around," Langston says.

"Online dating is pretty good at making the partner pool larger."

Langston says eHarmony is constantly moving with the times, releasing apps and even entering the job-matching market, but it's unlikely the company will start dipping its toes in the affairs market.

"AshleyMadison is encouraging people to cheat on their spouse," he says.

"They're doing something that I don't think is moral and I think there are very few sites that have taken it as far as they have.

"We certainly have no interest in that."


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