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She hopes to find clues about what relationships might look like in a postromantic, postmarital age. If you tested them on their knowledge of Jane Austen and gender theory, they’d almost certainly get A’s.
They understand that mating practices have always reflected economic conditions and been openly transactional for women whose lives and livelihoods depended on their outcome. As knowing as they are, Witt and Weigel start their projects feeling “lonely, isolated, and unable to form the connections we wanted,” in Witt’s words, and they know other women feel the same way.
Nor are they part of the rising generation of gender-fluid individuals for whom the ever-lengthening list of sexual identities and affinities spells liberation from the heteronormative assumptions of parents and peers.
The two authors are (or in Weigel’s case, was, when she wrote her book) single, straight women in their early 30s.
Dating can be used to describe exclusive and nonexclusive relationships, both short-term and long-term.
And now, thanks to mobile apps, dating can involve a succession of rendezvous over drinks to check out a dizzying parade of “matches” made with the swipe of a finger.
That’s about 15 years, or roughly a fifth of their lives.
For an activity undertaken over such a long period of time, dating is remarkably difficult to characterize.
The term has outlasted more than a century’s worth of evolving courtship rituals, and we still don’t know what it means.
In 2000, Jeffrey Arnett, a developmental psychologist at Clark University, coined the term emerging adulthood to describe the long phase of experimentation that precedes settling down.
Dating used to be a time-limited means to an end; today, it’s often an end in itself.