Brits value sex and in-laws, Web dating company finds

LONDON Mon Oct 6, 2008 9:41am EDT

A couple cuddle in the sunshine on the final day of the Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, June 29, 2003. REUTERS/Toby Melville

A couple cuddle in the sunshine on the final day of the Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, June 29, 2003.

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

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LONDON (Reuters) - Being too tired for sex is less of a problem for married Britons than for U.S. or Australian couples, and Brits place more importance on agreeing on how to handle their in-laws, online dating company eHarmony has found.

U.S.-based eHarmony, which boasts 118 marriages every day in the United States and launches in Britain this week, says married people in Britain are also more satisfied with how they share household chores and how much time they spend together.

"Brits tend to be more consensual," eHarmony Chief Executive Gregory Waldorf told Reuters in an interview.

He said the company's researchers had found that stereotypes of uptight Britons sleeping in separate beds were outdated. "Research indicates that British people have moved beyond that."

Happy U.S. couples tend to laugh together, exchange ideas and confide in each other more and kiss more frequently. They also have more arguments, get on each others' nerves more and talk about divorce more frequently, eHarmony found.

Australians report most overall happiness with their marriages and tend to work on projects together more frequently than their British or U.S. counterparts. They also report the least concern that their spouse does not show them love often enough.

EHarmony specializes in matching heterosexual singles for long-term relationships and marriage, based on answers members give to more than 200 questions about their personality it asks them to answer when they register.

Unlike other online dating sites, users are not able to browse photos and profiles of other members and contact them at will, but are matched by eHarmony using algorithms the company has developed and refined over years.

Members can specify a few parameters, such as their views on the drinking and smoking habits and the religion and ethnicity of potential matches. They can also elect not to be matched with people who already have children.

"Religion as a self-select is much less important in the UK than the U.S.," said Sean Cornwell, head of the company's international business.

NO MARRIEDS

EHarmony does not accept members who are already married, have been married more than three times, or those it judges to be emotionally unfit to enter a relationship, such as the severely clinically depressed.

Waldorf said the company would consider starting a service for homosexuals looking for long-term relationships -- "We are always looking for new market opportunities" -- but had no current plans to do so.

Users must become paying members before they can see photos or communicate with their matches. In Britain, the service will cost 34.95 pounds ($61.78) for a month, or 14.95 pounds per month for a six-month period after a seven-day free trial.

"EHarmony tends to attract people who stay longer," Waldorf said. He declined to say how long, on average, it took until members found a long-term partner.

Privately held eHarmony was launched in the United States in 2000 by Neil Clark Warren, a clinical psychologist with more than 35 years of experience in marriage counseling.

With a team of researchers, he spent three years finding out which personal characteristics make for compatibility between couples before the launch.

Before going live in Britain, eHarmony spent about a year working with researchers at England's Oxford Internet Institute to gather compatibility characteristics unique to Britain by interviewing married couples.

The company also offers online dating services in Canada, and said it would likely start in other European countries outside Britain next year.

But finding the right research partner is as essential for eHarmony as it enters new markets as it is for singles seeking love, said Waldorf, who is still married to his first wife -- a friend of a cousin whom he met on a blind date.

"We can't move forward until we've found the right partner."

($1=.5657 Pound)

(Editing by Richard Chang)

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