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All of them had received the couch-spooning treatment.

John was a champion girlfriend accumulator, the ringmaster of a romantic circus that only he could see.

However much you might enjoy going out to dinner or stumbling home with someone new, you date in the hope that the day will come when you’ll never have to date again.

Maybe he wouldn’t choose either of them; he told Weigel that he found the whole premise of long-term romance “ideologically suspect.”She realized that she had no idea what she herself wanted from romance.

Her Irish Catholic mother and the self-help industry told her that the goal should be marriage, and soon. He thought that everyone should want to pursue happiness.

You did your best.” This makes dating sound a lot like a recurring anxiety dream. candidate in comparative literature, film, and media at Yale; “Labor of Love,” a perceptive and wide-ranging investigation into the history of dating in America, is her first book, sprouted from the seed of unpleasant personal experience.

You’d have to be a masochist not to try to wake yourself up. At twenty-six, she was involved with an older man who was torn between her and an ex he hadn’t lost interest in.

The process of testing out potential mates, and of being tested by them in turn, can be gruelling, bewildering, humiliating.

Using another metaphor, Weigel compares the experience to being cast in a bad piece of experimental theatre: “You and a partner showed up every night with different, conflicting scripts.Every so often, one of his paramours would catch on and alert the others.Then he’d block them all on social media and begin the whole thing again.Weigel had a revelation: she was always turning to a man to tell her what she was after, and the institution of dating was to blame.It trained women “in how to be if we wanted to be wanted.”Hence “Labor of Love,” an exploration of that training, in which Weigel reaches two main conclusions.The pursuit of leisure cost more than most single working-class women (paid a fraction of what men were) could readily afford.

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