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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.

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.

Then he’d block them all on social media and begin the whole thing again.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.The process of testing out potential mates, and of being tested by them in turn, can be gruelling, bewildering, humiliating.Using another metaphor, Weigel compares the experience to being cast in a bad piece of experimental theatre: “You and a partner showed up every night with different, conflicting scripts.They’re a staple of Jane Austen novels: John Willoughby, who caddishly breaks Marianne’s heart in “Sense and Sensibility”; George Wickham, who reels in both Lizzy and Lydia Bennett in “Pride and Prejudice”; Frank Churchill, in “Emma,” who flirts with Miss Woodhouse while being secretly engaged to her frenemy, Jane Fairfax. As a twenty-first-century guy living in one of the most culturally liberal of American cities, he had options available to him that men in Regency England did not.