More recently, a plethora of market-minded dating books are coaching singles on how to seal a romantic deal, and dating apps, which have rapidly become the mode du jour for single people to meet each other, make sex and romance even more like shopping. The idea that a population of single people can be analyzed like a market might be useful to some extent to sociologists or economists, but the widespread adoption of it by single people themselves can result in a warped outlook on love. M oira Weigel , the author of Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating , argues that dating as we know it—single people going out together to restaurants, bars, movies, and other commercial or semicommercial spaces—came about in the late 19th century. What dating does is it takes that process out of the home, out of supervised and mostly noncommercial spaces, to movie theaters and dance halls. The application of the supply-and-demand concept, Weigel said, may have come into the picture in the late 19th century, when American cities were exploding in population. Read: The rise of dating-app fatigue. Actual romantic chemistry is volatile and hard to predict; it can crackle between two people with nothing in common and fail to materialize in what looks on paper like a perfect match. The fact that human-to-human matches are less predictable than consumer-to-good matches is just one problem with the market metaphor; another is that dating is not a one-time transaction. This makes supply and demand a bit harder to parse.
Continue reading →