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Rejected from the personals

Match.com mistakes bisexuals for swingers

PLEASURE IN NUMBERS. Dating websites including Match.com and Yahoo Personals won't post polyamorous profiles.

When more than three weeks had passed and his profile had not yet been approved on the popular personals site Match.com, Scott Moresi knew something was wrong. He called up the company’s customer service department to inquire about the holdup; he says he was told Match.com only approved profiles from straight, gay and lesbian people because bisexuals “haven’t made up their minds one way or the other about who they are.”

Moresi, who is writing his thesis on bisexual identity development, was flabbergasted. He shared his experience on-line; soon it was all over the blogosphere.

When San Francisco bisexual activist Pepper Mint saw the story, he too called Match.com’s customer service department to demand an explanation. Mint’s own profile had been rejected from Match.com several months earlier, citing his interest in finding multiple partners as the reason, although he says his submitted profile made no mention of nonmonogamy. Mint says the Match.com rep he spoke with after receiving Moresi’s e-mail confirmed that profiles from bisexuals weren’t permitted on the site.

But Mint’s phone call was just the start; Match.com’s phone lines were soon flooded with calls from angry bisexuals. By the end of the day on Apr 13, callers were being told that no such policy existed — some were even given helpful advice on how bisexuals could use the site’s clunky technology to search for both men and women.

“We’re about people who are looking for loving, committed relationships,” says Kristin Kelly, senior director of public relations at Match.com. That translates into no profiles involving multiple partners, which Match.com doesn’t consider to be loving, committed relationships.

“There’s certain words that are an automatic flag,” says Kelly, confirming that any mention of nonmonogamy would result in a profile being rejected. However, she was unclear as to what their current policy is on mentioning kink or BDSM.

In order to enforce its monogamist policy, each Match.com profile has to be vetted by a human. Although there was no policy restricting bisexuals from the site, if the individual reviewing a particular profile didn’t believe that bisexuals are capable of monogamous relationships, that profile was rejected.

“To make the biphobic assumption that all bisexuals have no interest in monogamous relationships is outrageous,” says Moresi.

It is the subjective nature of that decision, rather than any Match.com policy, to which Kelly attributes Mint and Moresi’s stories. “There was certainly not anything systemic.”

Kelly says Match.com is now considering a site redesign so that it’s easier for bisexuals to search for both men and women from the same profile, but adds that it’s a complicated technical issue.

This isn’t the first time Match.com has raised the ire of bisexuals. Last June, its on-line magazine published an article entitled “Why Bi Guys Aren’t For Me.” The article cited a variety of myths and stereotypes about bisexual men, including the idea that bisexual men simply had not made up their minds and the notion that they are more likely to cheat or be dissatisfied with monogamy; it can still be seen on the Bisexual Resource Center’s website (Biresource.org/109) although Match.com removed it from the website a week after it had come to the attention of bisexual activists. No retraction was printed.

“We actually sent letters to everyone that contacted us or called us by phone about that,” says Kelly.

Match.com isn’t the only on-line personal sites to remove profiles that mention polyamory, open relationships, swinging or BDSM. Other sites catering to people looking for long-term matches, like Yahoo Personals, have similar policies.

In 2004, Rachel Pottol placed an advertisement on Yahoo Personals, stating that she was married and polyamorous. Yahoo removed her ad, telling her that the site was for singles only.

“If I recall, [Yahoo’s terms of service] was specific that they didn’t want the site used for cheating,” she says, “but I wasn’t cheating.” Now Yahoo’s terms of service are more specific in order to exclude cases like Pottol’s.

Pottol signed up for a second profile, but lied about her marital status. When users contacted her she would explain her situation to them. Eventually she got sick of the hassle and switched to a poly-friendly personals site, OK Cupid (Okcupid.com) where she met her two boyfriends.

“I’m very happy there,” says Pottol.

Yahoo Canada declined to comment on its policy to reject polyamorous personal advertisements.