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Though it is probably too soon to say exactly how, Witt and Weigel offer a useful perspective.
They’re not old fogies of the sort who always sound the alarm whenever styles of courtship change.
Yet the round-robin of sex and intermittent attachment doesn’t look like much fun.
If you’re one of the many who have used an online dating service (among those “single and looking,” more than a third have), you know how quickly dating devolves into work.
Witt, an intrepid journalist and mordantly ambivalent memoirist, looks forward rather than back.
With no serious boyfriend in sight—“love is rare,” she writes, “and it is frequently unreciprocated”—she set out to examine alternatives to a “monogamous destiny,” eager for a future in which “the primacy and legitimacy of a single sexual model” is no longer assumed.
Adopting the role of participant-observer, she moves through an assortment of sexual subcultures.
Many of these are artifacts of the internet, from online dating to sadomasochistic feminist pornography sites to webcam peepshows such as one called Chaturbate.
By 2012, the situation had basically reversed: 78 percent of men and 67 percent of women were unmarried at that age.
The potential spouses assessed each other in the privacy of her home, her parents assessed his eligibility, and either they got engaged or he went on his way.
Over the course of the 20th century, such encounters became more casual, but even tire kickers were expected to make a purchase sooner rather than later.
The purpose of dating is not much clearer than its definition.
Before the early 1900s, when people started “dating,” they “called.” That is, men called on women, and everyone more or less agreed on the point of the visit.