Suzanne, a young woman in San Francisco, met a man—call him John—on the dating site OKCupid. John was attractive and charming. More notably, he indulged in the kind of profligate displays of affection which signal a definite eagerness to commit. He sneaked Suzanne’s favorite snacks into her purse as a workday surprise and insisted early on that she keep a key to his apartment. He asked her to help him choose a couch and then spooned with her on all the floor models. He even accompanied her, unprompted, to the D. M. V.
Eight Great Reasons to Date CBN com
—an act roughly equivalent, in today’s gallantry currency, to Perseus rescuing Andromeda from the sea monster. As we learn from the podcast “Reply All, ” which reported the tale, Suzanne was not the only woman on whom John had chosen to bestow his favor. All of them had received the couch-spooning treatment. John was a champion girlfriend accumulator, the ringmaster of a romantic circus that only he could see. Every so often, one of his paramours would catch on and alert the others.
Then he’d block them all on social media and begin the whole thing again. Weigel, who is in her early thirties, is a Ph. D. Candidate in comparative literature, film, and media at Yale “Labor of Love, ” a perceptive and wide-ranging investigation into the history of dating in America, is her first book, sprouted from the seed of unpleasant personal experience. At twenty-six, she was involved with an older man who was torn between her and an ex he hadn’t lost interest in.
Why Dating Is So Hard For Those Of Us Who Want Something
Maybe he wouldn’t choose either of them he told Weigel that he found the whole premise of long-term romance “ideologically suspect. ”She realized that she had no idea what she herself wanted from romance. Her Irish Catholic mother and the self-help industry told her that the goal should be marriage, and soon. She asked her sort-of boyfriend for his opinion. He thought that everyone should want to pursue happiness.
Weigel had a revelation: she was always turning to a man to tell her what she was after, and the institution of dating was to blame. It trained women “in how to be if we wanted to be wanted. ”Hence “Labor of Love, ” an exploration of that training, in which Weigel reaches two main conclusions. The first is that though dating is passed off as a leisure activity, it really is a lot of work, particularly for women.
It requires physical effort—all that primping, exercising, shopping, and grooming—as well as sizable investments of time, money, and emotion. In our consumer society, love is perpetually for sale dating is what it takes to close the deal. Her second conclusion is that the way we consume love changes to reflect the economy of the times. The monogamy of the booming postwar fifties offered “a kind of romantic full employment, ” while the free love of the sixties signified not the death of dating but its deregulation on the free market. The luxury- and self-obsessed yuppies of the “greed is good” eighties demanded that the romantic market deliver partners tailored to their niche specifications, developing early versions of the kinds of matchmaking services that have been perfected in today’s digital gig economy, where the personal is professional, and everyone self-brands accordingly.
Dating is therefore a powerful force of social control—but what do we actually mean by “dating”? Weigel begins her survey at the turn of the twentieth century, when single women were increasingly leaving the towns and farms where they’d been brought up and flocking to industrializing cities to work in factories, laundries, and department stores, their ranks swelled by the arrival of immigrants.