Six million people. That's how many use the eHarmony.com Web site. During the not-quite-five years since it began, at least 10,000 couples who have met through the online dating service have married.
Its founder, Dr. Neal Clark Warren, has written a new book, "Falling in Love for All the Right Reasons: How to Find Your Soul Mate" (Center Street, $22.95). In it, he talks about the 29 dimensions, including chemistry, conflict resolution, curiosity and spirituality, that his researchers deem necessary to help people find their soul mate.
Warren, who has been married to his wife, Marylyn, for 46 years, talked to us from his office in Pasadena, Calif.
What made you start eHarmony?
"More than anything else, it had to with my grieving over the incredible amount of marriages that kept ending in divorce right in front of me (while working as a psychotherapist). I did 512 divorce autopsies and found that 75 percent of the marriages that failed were in trouble from the day they started. The reason was that the two people were not very well matched for each other.
"I knew long before that, that this culture had almost no idea of what was required to have two people together for a lifetime."
Why this culture?
"We were too romantic. We thought you'd just catch the look of a person across the room and knew you were just meant for each other.
"I remember saying to my mother when I was just a little boy, 'How do I know when I meet the right girl to marry?' She'd say, 'You'll know,' like it was intuition.
"This culture bought into that for so many years. We're just barely coming out of it.
"There are pretty complex rules you have to follow, which have to do with broad-based compatibility."
What are some misconceptions people have about marriage?
"They have terrible delusions, illusions that everything will get OK as soon as they get married. It's harder to be married than it is to be single. Most people who think marriage will make them start feeling great . . . yeah, it feels good, but it puts a lot of strain and demand on you to meet the other person's needs."
How does eHarmony work?
"The reason people have been interested in us is that it makes sense to them that there are some rules for being matched well . . .
"We have 436 questions we ask. We had people tell us that nobody will finish it, nobody.
"I kept saying that people are pretty interested in talking about themselves, especially if they think they have something to offer.
"Seventy-one percent of all people who start the questionnaire finish it. Isn't that amazing?
"Over 30 percent of all the people who start the thing end up being a subscriber to our site."
How many of the 29 dimensions have to match between two people?
"Some you have to have: Emotional health. Chemistry. Don't ever marry anybody with whom you don't want to touch their skin, have your arm around them.
"The general rule is whatever is important to you is really important. We know a lot of people for whom spirituality is the most important thing and if they don't have that matched, they won't be happy. . . . I've never known of a great marriage which had five or more of these dimensions unmatched.
"All I'm saying is that if you get up to five or more, it bogs down the marriage too much, even though in themselves they're not backbreaking."
You talk a lot about soul mates. What IS a soul mate?
"It's someone with whom you have broad-based compatibility. The two of you have a nice match across all these 29 dimensions. In order to have a soul mate, you have to have chemistry. We say we'll try to put you with several persons who are a good basic match; you have to figure out the chemistry.
"A soul mate is somebody who tends to see the world in a similar way in which you see it, and when you're around them you feel really good about yourself."
Does everybody have one?
"Anybody who is emotionally and characteristically healthy has a soul mate. If you're in some way or another pathological, you probably don't have one.
"You have to feel good enough about yourself that you can let another person feel good about themselves, and together you find strong parts. I think there are several for me and for almost anybody. I do think when you find a soul mate you just have such a deep inner reverberation. When I met Marylyn, I knew we were so much on the same wavelength.
"You want to find, as it were, your salvation. You want to find harmony with God. But on this earth, nothing is as important as finding somebody you totally trust, whom you totally love. I want to have dinner every night with Marylyn."