As the influence of friends and family has melted away, the burden of finding a partner has been swallowed whole by the individual—at the very moment that expectations of our partners are skyrocketing.Once upon a time, wealthy families considered matrimonies akin to mergers; they were coldhearted business opportunities to expand a family’s financial power.“I think I got about 100 media requests over the weekend,” he told me ruefully on the phone when I called him on Monday.(Read: The 5 years that changed dating I figured my Twitter audience—entirely online, disproportionately young, and intimately familiar with dating sites—would accept the inevitability of online matchmaking.When in the 1840s the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard called anxiety “the dizziness of freedom,” he wasn’t slamming the door on modernity so much as foreseeing its existential contradiction: All the forces of maximal freedom are also forces of anxiety, because anybody who feels obligated to select the ingredients of a perfect life from an infinite menu of options may feel lost in the infinitude. Our friends and moms were underserving us.”Historically, the “underserving” was most severe for single gay people.want partners, and online dating seems to be serving that need adequately. “In the past, even if mom was supportive of her gay kids, she probably didn’t know other gay people to introduce them to,” Rosenfeld said.
In a new paper awaiting publication, Rosenfeld finds that the online-dating phenomenon shows no signs of abating.
Even in the late 19th century, marriage was more practicality than rom-com, whereas today’s daters are looking for nothing less than a human Swiss Army knife of self-actualization.
We seek “spiritual, intellectual, social, as well as sexual soul mates,” the sociologist Jessica Carbino told podcast.
Forty years after that, when I met my girlfriend in the summer of 2015, one sophisticated algorithm and two rightward swipes did all the work.
My family story also serves as a brief history of romance. But they’re supplanting the role of matchmaker once held by friends and family.