This past Tuesday, Jon Birger author of Dateonomics spoke (to a packed auditorium) at the Cato Institute.
In his book, Birger explains America’s curiously lopsided dating and marriage market among single, straight, college-educated women who are looking for a partner.
But dating, Weigel would have you understand, is among the worst.
Its dissatisfactions are similar to those involved in many a job: a vast investment of time, effort, and emotion for inadequate reward; a lot of responsibility and not much power; and a setup that feels rigged against you. New York dating, at least from the sidelines, looks taxing enough, but I hear that in California there’s such a thing as a running date, where, presumably, instead of grabbing a drink or a coffee, you throw on your spandex and sweat until the best man wins.
Dating feels like work, Weigel tells us, because it is and always has been.
She traces its beginnings to the late nineteenth century.
In chapters loosely organized around themes (“Tricks,” “Likes,” “Niches”), she moves through the frantic, competitive dating of Twenties and Thirties co-eds, the more stable pairings of the Forties and Fifties, and on into the fractured present.
The book’s early pages describe women indoors: the girls who sat with their parents, waiting for their suitors to call; the sex workers who received clients one by one, like “artisans” or “small-business owners.” As the century turned, more unmarried women joined those flooding into the cities in search of work.
There, dating meant a free dinner for women who couldn’t afford to buy one, or free entry into night spots that required a male escort.
Dateonomics is available for purchase on Amazon or your local bookstore.
You make money, but you’re not happy, so you go out and splurge on strip clubs and drinking and drugs, then the money depletes and you have to make it again. You make money, but then you’re depressed, so you end up shopping or going on vacation, and the money depletes, so you go back . The strippers and the finance guys they eventually rip off have much in common, not least the exhausting symmetry of their hamster-wheel routines: work is a slog that never ends, until finally it’s time to go out and spend the money — at which point you notice that leisure feels like kind of a slog as well.
a lively new history of dating, would enjoy this story.
It’s not news that all sorts of supposedly fun activities — going to the gym, playing video games, maintaining a social-media presence — have grown harder to distinguish from work.