Can Art Influence Real-Life Dating?

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You might have heard by now that eHarmony has added a new personal service to their dating website membership options called eHarmony+. For a mere $5,000 per year, you can get the added benefit of personalized counseling with a real-life love counselor (who is also a professional therapist).

What prompted this move by eHarmony is another interesting story. According to a recent interview the website conducted with actor/ producer Ben Stiller, his new movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty may have something to do with it.

Producers worked closely with eHarmony while developing the movie, since the dating service plays a large role in the storyline. One of the characters written into the story is an eHarmony relationship counselor who helps Mitty with his online dating profile. The movie depicts a counselor who seems to be on call around the clock for Mitty (to answer such urgent questions as "should I send her a wink?" in the middle of the night).

Before the movie's release, eHarmony offered only traditional online dating services where people create their own profiles, fill out questionnaires and are matched by computer algorithms as opposed to actual people. But as eHarmony staff worked with producers on the script, they decided to make changes to the actual service, so that it provided customized help like it does in the movie (making it a more accurate depiction).

eHarmony's vice-president of customer experience, Grant Langston, tells The Hollywood Reporter, "As I read the script, I realized it couldn't be accurate because that's not the way we model our service. EHarmony is a self-serve model." So, they decided to make changes in time for the movie's release so that premium members can now receive one-on-one counseling.

Interestingly, this wasn't a paid advertising opportunity for eHarmony. In fact, Langston says on eHarmony's website that they paid no money to be part of the film, that writers included it as part of the script from the beginning. Instead, they were on the receiving end - asked by producers whether the script depicted the service accurately. Because it wasn't a true depiction, instead of changing the script, Langston saw an opportunity to create an eHarmony that was more like the one in the movie, that provided members real human counseling.

"We discussed internally asking them to change the film to suit the real eHarmony user experience - people take the relationship questionnaire, get matches, go through guided communication, etc.," Lagston says on eHarmony's blog. "But where's the drama in that? Would it be interesting to watch Ben Stiller quietly answer questions and communicate with matches? It would not."

Langston says, "I was asked to lead the effort to build this new product and once we started to discuss it, I began to understand Walter's attraction to this version of eHarmony. You're talking to a human being who cares about your success. That's nice. This person is reaching out to you and listening to your feedback. Who wouldn't love that?"

To learn more about this service you can read our eHarmony review.

ChristianMingle Gets The Film Treatment

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I guess this is how you know you've officially "made it." A film is being made about ChristianMingle.com.

Appropriately named "Christian Mingle," the film is written and directed by Corbin Bernsen and will be produced by his production company, Home Theater Films. The new romantic comedy will partner with the ChristianMingle website itself, which holds the distinction of being the world's largest and fastest-growing Christian community.

The movie tells the story of Gweneth Hayden (played by Lacey Chabert best-known for her role as Gretchen Wieners in "Mean Girls"), a 30-something marketing executive who has a top-notch career, a killer wardrobe, her dream apartment and a fantastic circle of friends. In other words, she believes that the only thing missing from her otherwise-perfect life is a man (played by Jonathan Patrick Moore of "L.A. Complex").

In a moment of desperation, she signs up for ChristianMingle.com to find him. But her Christianity is more than a little rusty, and her attempts at impressing her dream guy end in disaster when he calls her out on her "faux faith." As a result, Gweneth comes to the realization that it's not her lack of a relationship that's keeping her from happiness, but rather her lack faith. She commits to leaving her superficial life behind and renewing her relationship with God. In the end, Gweneth gets what she wanted most: a "life-changing" love.

"'Christian Mingle' is about a young, modern, single woman. She's trying to achieve it all - a successful career, amazing friends and finding Mr. Right," Bernsen said. "She stumbles into the world of online dating looking for an instant 'soul mate solution,' but ultimately ends up taking a personal journey transforming her life."

"Our goal at Home Theater Films is to inspire and entertain our audience," Bernsen continued. "We want to make great movies that everyone can enjoy and elevate them with contemporary, relatable characters that naturally demonstrate their faith in real-world situations."

Other members of the case include Erin Bethea, who notably portrayed female lead Catherine Holt in the film "Fireproof," Stephen Tobolowsky ("Groundhog Day"), and John O'Hurley ("Seinfeld"). Behind the scenes, "Christian Mingle" is written and directed by Bernsen and produced by Chris Aronoff. Matt Swanson and Charlie Schafer serve as Executive Producers. The film will include music from Capitol Christian Distribution, who will also handle the home entertainment distribution.

Production began in Turlock, California, at the end of 2013 and will wrap in Los Angeles with the theatrical release planned for Spring 2014. To find out more about this dating site you can read our Christian Mingle review

How Hollywood Inspired eHarmony's Newest Service

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It turns out Oscar Wilde was right when he wrote "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life." At least, he was right about eHarmony, a century before the dating service even existed. Believe it or not, eHarmony's newest matching service, eH+, was inspired by Hollywood.

In 2012, Grant Langston, eHarmony's Vice President of Content and Customer Experience, was given the script to a new film called The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. He'd been given the script because 20th Century Fox had written eHarmony into the story, and wanted the company's cooperation in making its fictionalized service as accurate as possible.

Langston found that the eHarmony portrayed in the movie was nothing like the eHarmony he knew in real life. Once he discovered that Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig would take on the starring roles, he knew something had to be done. He couldn't let such major movie stars, who were bound to draw a large audience, promote an incorrect version of the website. Instead, he saw the film as an opportunity to launch a premium service within eHarmony and make the real-life dating service match up with the one that moviegoers would see on screen.

So eHarmony set out to build the service that was written in the script. In the film, Ben Stiller's Walter Mitty character speaks on the phone with his "eHarmony counselor," who guides him through the process by helping him to build a great profile and coaching him when he hits stumbling blocks. It didn't take long for Langston to see the value in offering a similar service on the real site.

"I began to understand Walter's attraction to this version of eHarmony," he wrote on the company blog. "You're talking to a human being who cares about your success. That's nice. This person is reaching out to you and listening to your feedback. Who wouldn't love that? Your counselor is helping you avoid the pitfalls that are common problems for many people. It's like having a guardian angel!"

The new service was christened eH+ and ideas quickly began flowing. "What if eH+ users were FREE from having to log onto the computer? FREE!" Langston continued. "What if eH+ users could avoid rejection? WHAT?! That's like fat-free bacon. What if eH+ users had a level of privacy virtually unknown in the online dating world?" They may not be things Walter Mitty needed in the film, but they were certainly things that real-life users would love.

And now, when moviegoers leave the theater after seeing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty this winter, they will be able to sign on to eHarmony and receive the same exclusive service as Ben Stiller himself.

Celebrity Dater Antonio Sabato, Jr. Launches Dating Blog

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Guys, are you looking for a virtual wingman? How about someone who always seems to date the hottest women around? Antonio Sabato Jr.'s new blog may be the answer to getting your love life on track and improving your pick-up skills in the dating department.

Sabato has launched a new dating advice blog for men through the matchmaking site AnastasiaDate.com entitled: Under the Sheets: Tips from A Celebrity Wingman. Utilizing his skills from dating celebrities like Pamela Anderson, Madonna, and Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sabato provides tools, techniques, and tips to finding and wooing the woman of your dreams.

His partnership with AnastasiaDate.com is no doubt influencing his opinions. Instead of advising men on how to pick up women at bars, he's advising how to speak to them online. "Guys today are taking the wrong approach to dating - from how to speak to a woman to where to meet her," he says. "They just don't get it, and somehow they still think that the best way to meet women is in a crowded bar or sweaty dance club. They don't understand that dating has evolved way beyond that these days, especially online where the options are endless, and men truly can find their perfect match."

Sabato's first post shows that he's not just relying on his good looks and six-pack abs, but on his conversational and flirting skills, too. "How to flirt" provides tips on how to strike up a conversation that holds her attention, and I must admit he's spot on in his assessment. He claims that men tend to provide facts about themselves to attract women, whereas women are looking for that emotional connection or spark.

"To women, that fact-based conversation is boring. They've had it a hundred times with a hundred other guys. You, though, are going to be different. Always start a conversation with banter - make it fun," he writes.

He then goes on to provide two examples of conversations - one that will likely go nowhere and another that is more engaging and flirtatious. Of course, it seems like a no-brainer when you look at them both, but how many times have you opted for the "safer" route when engaging with someone new? "Where are you from?" is an easy question to ask because it doesn't require work. But when you're online, you have access to a lot of information because you can read the profile of a potential date. He advises that you show that you have been paying attention and ask questions that relate to her interests like, "what made you take that trip to Fiji a few months ago?" You'll get a lot further.

You can read more of Sabato's dating advice on AnastasiaDate.com.

'True Blood' Star Finds Love On Match.com

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On the hit show True Blood, Deborah Ann Woll has sexy vampire mind-control powers to seduce men. In real life, her love story is a little more tame.

Ok, a lot more tame.

In 2007, Woll joined Match.com. Then 23 and fresh out of the University of Southern California's theater school, she wanted to meet someone genuine and grounded that she could build a life with.

"I'm shy, and I'd always had a hard time meeting boys," she told Glamour. "I had a serious boyfriend in high school, but Hollywood, where it's all about being 'cool,' terrifies me! When I opened my Match account, I'd done a few guest spots but wasn't on True Blood yet, and I wanted to find someone grounded."

She found that someone in the form of 32-year-old comic E.J. Scott. Part of what drew her to Scott was the honesty in his Match profile: he mentioned that he had been diagnosed with choroideremia, a rare disease that causes progressive loss of vision and aversion to bright lights.

Scott says he was attracted to her right away. "I kept clicking through her photos, and there was one that had this great big smile," he said to Glamour. "I'm a big smile guy. Her profile said she liked Mystery Science Theater 3000. She was so pretty yet so nerdy! I just had a feeling about her."

Woll says she connected with Scott right away because she felt like she could be herself with him, and he too was taken with her from day one. Now the couple is living proof that relationships that begin on Match.com, or any other dating site, can go the distance. Woll and Scott have stayed strong through a break-up, several years of a long-distance relationship, and the daily challenge of his declining vision.

Now the True Blood star is eager to start a family with her long-term boyfriend. "I didn't grow up imagining my wedding day," Woll says, "so we may not get married, but we're committed for life, and we want kids. I could wait, but his biological clock is ticking!" They estimate that Scott has 10 years left before he loses his vision completely, and they would like to have kids before he is more seriously impaired so he can see them grow up.

Despite the unusual obstacles they've faced, Woll and Scott have been together for six years and they're stronger than ever.

Best of luck to them both!

What Martha Stewart Means For Online Dating

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The world changed forever on the day Martha Stewart came out in favor of online dating.

I know, I know...it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but I'm really not. Just think about it: what did Martha Stewart stand for before she stood for online dating? Healthy recipes. DIY. Ideas for entertaining. Crafts. Gardening. Kmart. Home décor. Doilies. Assorted other 'good things.'

In other words, Stewart built a multi-million dollar empire on being the most boring, average woman on the planet (other than the insider trading thing, but let's not go there). When a woman like that says online dating is the way to go, no one is ever going to look at online dating the same way again.

It all started with an interview with Matt Lauer. Stewart told the "Today" host that she loves dating, but hasn't yet found "Mr. Right." Her first attempt to take her search online didn't end as planned - she made it halfway through setting up a Match.com profile before abandoning the pursuit in a fit of laughter.

Fortunately, Match.com came to the rescue and posted a profile for Stewart. She's looking for someone "active and fit and healthy and good looking," who doesn't hate children or animals, smoke, or drink to excess. She's also on the lookout for "a nice smile, a nice appetite for good things... a nice person who's also funny and witty and smart and hopefully rich enough."

It might sound like a long list of requirements, but the 20,000 pageviews the profile received in the first few days prove that quite a few men are willing to take on the challenge of dating Martha Stewart. She narrowed a pool of 1,000 suitors down to two men who joined her on "Today" for an interview (and you think your first dates are awkward!).

When Martha Stewart is happy to discuss her online dating exploits with the nation, it's clear that the stigma surrounding it is finally gone. Online dating is so much more than socially awkward loners in their parents' basements...it's an opportunity for everyone, regardless of age, to expand their horizons and open their love lives to partners they may never have met otherwise.

If Martha's into it, it must officially be normal, cool, and mainstream (except the doilies...that will never be cool).

In other words, stereotypes are out. Online dating is in. And now everyone knows it.

What do you think...is Martha Stewart's Match.com profile 'a good thing' for online dating?

For more information on the dating site Match.com you can read our review.