So far: match.com was not fun, then EliteSingles looked at Match.comâ€™s heterosexual bias, said â€œhold my privilege,â€ and set out to make the experience even more coercive, white, and hetero-normative. I did not have a good time. Then I took a couple-month break there because I got an insane flu and then met someone delightful I dated for a couple months, and I didnâ€™t want to revisit this.
Next up I went to Chemistry.com. Chemistry, like OkCupid used to, claims to do matching based on a huge number of questions and science. Itâ€™s got Dr. Helen Fisher, who Iâ€™ve heard on podcasts and seems great!
Chemistry claims their test is â€œfun, engaging, and provides an in-depth look at who you are and what you want in a relationship.”
Iâ€™ll spoil it for you: it is none of those things, and Chemistry offers some clear signs that you shouldnâ€™t trust them.
Anyway, letâ€™s get started? Sure match and EliteSingles were white and heteronormative, but a science-based site like this is going to have a more diverse and â€”
(And I am again using VPNs to test these things from cities with wildly different demographics, thatâ€™s not just them guessing Iâ€™m straight and in Portland)
Iâ€™m sure Chemistry will have a more nuanced set of who can look for what, right?
Nope. Youâ€™re straight or youâ€™re gay.
So letâ€™s get into the meat of this. Letâ€™s kick off this personality test.
I kinda gave up immediately. Was the next question going to ask me to feel the lumps on my head and pick the diagram closest to it? What could this possibly indicate about oneâ€™s personality?
That critical question answered, youâ€™re introduced to the bulk of the test. Itâ€™s 45 minutes of questions, often in succession asking for almost the same thing:
Occasionally with a curve ball like this:
These moments were welcome breaks from the world of bubbles. Eventually youâ€™re granted questions with different numbers of answers:
When youâ€™re through that ordeal, you get to describe yourself.
Again, Iâ€™m really hoping for some better options than weâ€™ve seen in our last two adventures.
Eye colorâ€¦ hairâ€¦ buildâ€¦
â€¦also an interesting set of choices…
Again, hate this question, hate the â€œmarriage is the most important thingâ€ and youâ€™re either not in one, youâ€™re on your way out, out, or you were involuntarily taken out of one. In a loving long-term partnership? Nope! Doesnâ€™t matterâ€¦ ughhhh.
It takes the â€œforced choiceâ€ approach to getting you to pick some interests. You have to have three, and only three count.
Now to upload your photo. You have two choices. Facebook, or upload.
Wait, whatâ€™s that tiny small grey text there? â€œSkip this step.”
Look, itâ€™s voluntary to sign up for a site like this. If itâ€™s that important to their success, and to the success of everyone else, that there be a photo there, make it mandatory. Maybe donâ€™t spring it on them this late in the process â€” which is another thing, Chemistry does not tell you itâ€™s going to take so long to sign up.
Then you get the sell on subscribing —
Okay, well, thanks for telling me. Iâ€™m curious what those features are â€” itâ€™s pretty vague what â€œenhanced searchâ€ means, and having the two communication features makes it seem like you might not be able to contact people. Itâ€™s an odd choice â€” Iâ€™d really think theyâ€™d want to do a better job expressing what the value is here before they make you the pitch.
BUT THIS IS THE PITCH! Continue is actually sign up â€” now youâ€™re asked for payment. Did you want to skip? Hidden grey text again. Note that here itâ€™s not next to the continue button, but all the way over on the left. This isâ€¦ intentionally deceptive.
This page is so jarringly different from the design youâ€™ve seen to that point I thought for a moment that Iâ€™d clicked on an ad or gone awry somehow. Clearly this is some vestigial code owned by a troll under a bridge, or something.
However I want to focus on a huge breach of trust here.
Letâ€™s say you want that “special profile highlight offerâ€ theyâ€™re pushing. $38.94, right?
There is an extra $4 added for no reason. â€œAll new upgrade ordersâ€ â€” is this an upgrade? Itâ€™s a new account. What are they talking about? Why does that say â€œupgrade now?â€ Am I even in the right place?
What are the chances you realize youâ€™re moving forward with a different amount, given this confusing presentation? This like a hidden fee on your hotel bill where if you look up at the person at the desk they immediately remove it out of embarrassment?
Youâ€™re prompted to set up some things that people can ask you, what youâ€™re looking forâ€¦ I was out by this point, though. However, Iâ€™d been sent
The results of my personality test!
What, all those questions about whether Iâ€™m into new experiences told you whether Iâ€™m into new experiences? THAT IS AMAZING.
Truly a marvel of science. Who knows what the future might bring us?
Yeah, this very much rubbed me the wrong way. It felt like a particularly sophisticated â€œWhat Zootopia character are you?â€ Where all the questions are â€œdo you like carrots?â€ â€œAre you good at multiplication?â€ â€œDo you have over 1,000 people at your family reunions?â€ â€œOMG YOUâ€™RE JUDY HOPPS”
Still, this was â€” as personality tests can be â€” an interesting break before I had to face:
The cancellation test!
One of the best ways to learn about a company is by how they act when you cancel. Do they make it difficult? Do you have to call someone? Do they make you go out under a full moon and hold up a solved Rubikâ€™s Cube with both hands and turn three times counter-clockwise, so that you end facing South-by-South-East?
Probably an account status, right?
â€œOther account status changesâ€ is crypticâ€¦
Oh there it is, the last option.
Why is Date capitalized here? Why is the distinction between casual/serious made here? Why would you stop if you made a friend â€” isnâ€™t Chemistry about serious people here to meet their partners?
Why arenâ€™t you allowed to tell them you donâ€™t like their site? Thatâ€™s not a â€œTechnical issue”
Anyway, so pick a reason…
Weâ€™re into bad breakup territory here, where everything you say requires more explanation. So you type something in â€”
You have by my count gone through at least six (and probably a lot more, possibly including looking up a help article on how to remove your profile). Youâ€™ve just told them more about why want to remove your profile. And you get this last â€œwaitâ€ modal. Itâ€™s just..
I will say itâ€™s nice that they clearly tell you what each of those do, but itâ€™s probably deliberately confusing if someoneâ€™s going through this thinking â€œcancel my accountâ€ at each step, gets to the end, and â€” because Chemistryâ€™s been trying to divert them the whole time â€” sees â€œcancelâ€ as the option they want, and â€œRemove Profileâ€ as a different, non-deletion step. This is not helped by how many other sites â€” see Match for one example â€” very much want to keep your zombie self up and boosting their numbers, and try to dance around what profile and account mean.
Iâ€™m disappointed. I thought given the association with Dr. Fisher that Chemistry might actually be moreâ€¦ on the up-and-up? More inclusive? By the time I got through the questions, though, I had no desire to see what the rest of the experience was like, and getting out of it only reinforced my impression that I didnâ€™t want to do business with Chemistry. I continue on.