And part of what makes it so bewildering is that the script and the roles we play are constantly changing.
You write that dating protocols change so quickly, and thus inspire a lot of anxiety and bewilderment.
I think that’s a lot of people’s experience of the new digital dating culture, and we could really use a social and historical guide to help us understand where we are. I think there’s still a huge gap for comprehensive, deep thinking about these subjects.
A related point you make is how participating in digital dating culture today is dependent upon having money.
The people who are seemingly just browsing — the people I think of as recreational daters — are the unattached urban elite. We now have virtual dating assistants: experts for people who see dating as a part-time job they’re too busy to do themselves.) So modern people who have significant financial burdens are probably not dating and may also not be able to plan for partnership.
I feel like that era was fun — with the serious proviso that if you were queer, not white, not middle class, it was not fun.
This is your first book, and it got a lot of attention (in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and the New York Times).It's an astounding shift from a century ago, when an unchaperoned "date" was avant-garde, even suspicious to the authorities, writes Moira Weigel in Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating, an extraordinary book published in 2016.Women invited by men to drink in bars were seen as loose and uncouth.You note that we’ve become more "educated consumers" in terms of how taste informs whom we choose to date and what kind of sex we seek. But of course it’s so much more emotionally complex than that. For two, if you’re playing [author] Neil Strauss’s version of , which is mostly about fulfilling the male fantasy of easily getting women into bed, you’re encouraged to "think of tonight as a video game." But with that, there’s a loss of connection with your own emotions, which is sad.Does treating a romantic prospect like a transaction or a game take a psychological toll? Because emotional connection is supposed to be the point of dating.Our conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.