The End of Courtship

As the semi-permanent third or fifth wheel to my friend’s social functions, it comes as no surprise that “dating”  in today’s hookup world….sucks. As in, doesn’t happen at all. My last “date” occurred when I misread a recruiter’s emails as evidence he was interested in my resume. I was wrong. But not before he awkwardly kissed me with soft lips and stroked my face with even softer baby hands. UGH.

CoursthipThe New York Times has an interesting article about the whole phenomena. It has a little bit of that “look at what these crazy young-uns are doing” tone, but it does give some interesting insight into the negative impact of online dating culture and hookup culture. Here’s the science-y bit that caught my eye:

Online dating services, which have gained mainstream acceptance, reinforce the hyper-casual approach by greatly expanding the number of potential dates. Faced with a never-ending stream of singles to choose from, many feel a sense of “FOMO” (fear of missing out), so they opt for a speed-dating approach — cycle through lots of suitors quickly.

That also means that suitors need to keep dates cheap and casual. A fancy dinner? You’re lucky to get a drink.

“It’s like online job applications, you can target many people simultaneously — it’s like darts on a dart board, eventually one will stick,” said Joshua Sky, 26, a branding coordinator in Manhattan, describing the attitudes of many singles in their 20s. The mass-mailer approach necessitates “cost-cutting, going to bars, meeting for coffee the first time,” he added, “because you only want to invest in a mate you’re going to get more out of.”

If online dating sites have accelerated that trend, they are also taking advantage of it. New services like Grouper aren’t so much about matchmaking as they are about group dates, bringing together two sets of friends for informal drinks.

The Gaggle, a dating commentary and advice site, helps young women navigate what its founders call the “post-dating” landscape, by championing “non-dates,” including the “group non-date” and the “networking non-date.” The site’s founders, Jessica Massa and Rebecca Wiegand, say that in  a world where “courtship” is quickly being redefined, women must recognize a flirtatious exchange of tweets, or a lingering glance at a company softball game, as legitimate opportunities for romance, too.

Looks like I’ll continue to ignore my roommate’s encouragement to renew my eHarmony membership just for the dating practice. That’s practice in desensitization and mass meat marketing that I’d rather just skip, thank you. And stay home with my cat. And Chihuahua. And wine. Lots of wine.

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