The “Dating Market” Is Getting Worse b A. Fetters and K. Tiffany
For anyone who cannot wait to get to it, here’s the link to the piece on The Atlantic:
Some of my comments about that piece before I put in some excerpts from it:
About the only “numbers approach” I have ever mentioned on my own blog here is that Christian women really do unnecessarily limit themselves if they try to live out the “Be Equally Yoked” philosophy in regards to dating and marriage, because the reality is, yes, the math is that there are not enough single, Christian men to go around for all the Christian single women who’d like to marry.
So, it makes sense to forgo the “equally yoked” rule, if one is a Christian, to date outside the Christian faith.
At the same time, though, I have seen other adults singles make much too much out of the “numbers game” philosophy on dating sites or comments sections on blogs about dating, where they make finding a romantic life partner sound so cold, or as though they’re shopping for a car.
There’s nothing wrong with having standards, but I am afraid there is a category of single adult who is too stringent or unrealistic with their lists of “must haves.”
I am personally turned off by anyone dispensing dating or “how to get married” advice who behave as though there is a sure-fire guarantee way to land a spouse – because (Link): there is no such thing.
So, I’m really turned off by the many (sexist) attitudes and lists out there telling women if only the women do X, Y, and Z, they will absolutely get married to a great guy.
One problem is that most of these lists (which go viral on Twitter) are predicated on the notion that all men want and prefer 1950s, submissive, uber-feminine women.
Well, I lived that way for many decades – I was raised in a very traditional family that was into conservative values – so I had many of those prized traits sexist men online say will grant a woman a husband, but I remain never-married into my late 40s.
I was a very meek, docile, passive, sweet woman with traditional values, and no, it didn’t get me a husband.
(As I’ve aged, I’ve realized that it’s not a healthy or safe dating strategy for a woman to fit the picture of docile, overly feminine, passive, etc, that the “dating advice” gurus suggest on twitter and elsewhere, because many abusive, selfish, or controlling men intentionally seek out women with such qualities so that they can control, abuse, or take advantage of them.)
There are many conservatives – including women authors, unfortunately – who keep writing dating advice books for women, or who go on to FOX cable news morning shows, who keep encouraging women to engage in these dangerous dating strategies (of being a doormat, where being “feminine” is associated with doormat behaviors), which I’ve written about before (Link): here and (Link): here, among other blog posts.
The article below states at one point that men out-number women on dating sites. That may be so on some sites, but certainly not all.
Years ago, I had a paid membership on a dating site, and the site was forever claiming they could find no matches for me, most of the time.
For the four or five month paid subscription I had, I was only linked up to a total of about three men in that time.
My research on that particular online dating company found it’s the same with a lot of women, as it had been for me: that site tends to only “dribble out” a tiny number of matches for women, while they send male members more matches per month, every month.
Here are excerpts from…
The old but newly popular notion that one’s love life can be analyzed like an economy is flawed—and it’s ruining romance.
…It’s understandable that someone like Liz [a 30 year old single who is using dating apps to find dates] might internalize the idea that dating is a game of probabilities or ratios, or a marketplace in which single people just have to keep shopping until they find “the one.”
The idea that a dating pool can be analyzed as a marketplace or an economy is both recently popular and very old:
For generations, people have been describing newly single people as (Link): “back on the market” and (Link): analyzing dating in terms of supply and demand.
In 1960, the Motown act the Miracles (Link): recorded “Shop Around,” a jaunty ode to the idea of checking out and trying on a bunch of new partners before making a “deal.”
The economist Gary Becker, who would later go on to win the Nobel Prize, began applying economic principles to marriage and divorce rates in the early 1970s.
More recently, a plethora of (Link): market-minded dating books are coaching singles on how to seal a romantic deal, and dating apps, which (Link): have rapidly become the mode du jour for single people to meet each other, make sex and romance even more like shopping.
The unfortunate coincidence is that the fine-tuned analysis of dating’s numbers game and the streamlining of its trial-and-error process of shopping around have taken place as dating’s definition has expanded from “the search for a suitable marriage partner” into something decidedly more ambiguous.
Meanwhile, technologies have emerged that make the market more visible than ever to the average person, encouraging a ruthless mind-set of assigning “objective” values to potential partners and to ourselves—with little regard for the ways that framework might be weaponized.
The idea that a population of single people can be analyzed like a market might be useful to some extent to sociologists or economists, but the widespread adoption of it by single people themselves can result in a warped outlook on love.
…Eva Illouz, a professor of sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem who has written about the the application of economic principles to romance, agrees that dating started to be understood as a marketplace as courtship rituals left private spheres, but she thinks the analogy fully crystallized when the sexual revolution of the mid-20th century helped dissolve many lingering traditions and taboos around who could or should date whom.
People began assessing for themselves what the costs or benefits of certain partnerships might be—a decision that used to be a family’s rather than an individual’s. “What you have is people meeting each other directly, which is exactly the situation of a market,” she said. “Everybody’s looking at everybody, in a way.”
In the modern era, it seems probable that the way people now shop online for goods—in virtual marketplaces, where they can easily filter out features they do and don’t want—has influenced the way people “shop” for partners, especially on dating apps, which often allow that same kind of filtering.
The behavioral economics researcher and dating coach Logan Ury said in an interview that many single people she works with engage in what she calls “relationshopping.”
…“They [people who are dating, especially as they get older] shop for a partner the way that they would shop for a camera or Bluetooth headphones,” she said.
But, Ury went on, there’s a fatal flaw in this logic: No one knows what they want so much as they believe they know what they want.
Actual romantic chemistry is volatile and hard to predict; it can crackle between two people with nothing in common and fail to materialize in what looks on paper like a perfect match. Ury often finds herself coaching her clients to broaden their searches and detach themselves from their meticulously crafted “checklists.”
The fact that human-to-human matches are less predictable than consumer-to-good matches is just one problem with the market metaphor; another is that dating is not a one-time transaction. …
…When market logic is applied to the pursuit of a partner and fails, people can start to feel cheated.
This can cause bitterness and disillusionment, or worse.
“They have a phrase here where they say the odds are good but the goods are odd,” Liz said, because in Alaska on the whole there are already more men than women, and on the apps the disparity is even sharper.
She estimates that she gets 10 times as many messages as the average man in her town. “It sort of skews the odds in my favor,” she said. “But, oh my gosh, I’ve also received a lot of abuse.”
Recently, Liz matched with a man on Tinder who invited her over to his house at 11 p.m. When she declined, she said, he called her 83 times later that night, between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. And when she finally answered and asked him to stop, he called her a “bitch” and said he was “teaching her a lesson.”
It was scary, but Liz said she wasn’t shocked, as she has had plenty of interactions with men who have “bubbling, latent anger” about the way things are going for them on the dating market.
Despite having received 83 phone calls in four hours, Liz was sympathetic toward the man. “At a certain point,” she said, “it becomes exhausting to cast your net over and over and receive so little.”
This violent reaction to failure is also present in conversations about (Link): “sexual market value”—a term so popular on Reddit that it is sometimes abbreviated as “SMV”—which usually involve complaints that women are objectively overvaluing themselves in the marketplace and belittling the men they should be trying to date.
The logic is upsetting but clear: The (shaky) foundational idea of capitalism is that the market is unfailingly impartial and correct, and that its mechanisms of supply and demand and value exchange guarantee that everything is fair.
It’s a dangerous metaphor to apply to human relationships, because introducing the idea that dating should be “fair” subsequently introduces the idea that there is someone who is responsible when it is unfair.
When the market’s logic breaks down, it must mean someone is overriding the laws. And in online spaces populated by heterosexual men, heterosexual women have been charged with the bulk of these crimes.
… Economic metaphors provide the language for conversations on Reddit with (Link): titles like“thoughts on what could be done to regulate the dating market,” and for a (Link): subreddit named sarcastically “Where Are All The Good Men?” with the stated purpose of “exposing” all the women who have “unreasonable standards” and offer “little to no value themselves.”
(On the really (Link): extremist end, some suggest that the government should assign girlfriends to any man who wants one.)
Which is not at all to say that heterosexual men are the only ones thinking this way: In the (Link): 54,000-member subreddit r/FemaleDatingStrategy, the first “principle” listed in its official ideology is “be a high value woman.”
The group’s handbook is thousands of words long, and also emphasizes that “as women, we have the responsibility to be ruthless in our evaluation of men.”
…The design and marketing of dating apps further encourage a cold, odds-based approach to love. While they have surely created, at this point, thousands if not millions of successful relationships, they have also aggravated, for some men, their feeling that they are unjustly invisible to women.
Men outnumber women dramatically on dating apps; this is a fact. A (Link): 2016 literature review also found that men are more active users of these apps—both in the amount of time they spend on them and the number of interactions they attempt. Their experience of not getting as many matches or messages, the numbers say, is real.
Daters have—or appear to have—a lot more choices on a dating app in 2020 than they would have at a provincial dance party in rural England in the 1790s, which is good, until it’s bad.
The human brain is not equipped to process and respond individually to thousands of profiles, but it takes only a few hours on a dating app to develop a mental heuristic for sorting people into broad categories….
The idea of the dating market is appealing because a market is something a person can understand and try to manipulate. But fiddling with the inputs—by sending more messages, going on more dates, toggling and re-toggling search parameters, or even moving to a city with a better ratio—isn’t necessarily going to help anybody succeed on that market in a way that’s meaningful to them.
Last year, (Link): researchers at Ohio State University examined the link between loneliness and compulsive use of dating apps—interviewing college students who spent above-average time swiping—and found a terrible feedback loop: The lonelier you are, the more doggedly you will seek out a partner, and the more negative outcomes you’re likely to be faced with, and the more alienated from other people you will feel. This happens to men and women in the same way.
“We found no statistically significant differences for gender at all,” the lead author, Katy Coduto, said in an email. “Like, not even marginally significant.”
There may always have been a dating market, but today people’s belief that they can see it and describe it and control their place in it is much stronger.
(Link): Pastor charged in wife’s murder was headed to Europe to marry boyfriend, prosecutor says – Single Xtian Ladies: Kick that Be Equally Yoked Teaching to the Curb! Also: Marriage and Parenthood do not make people more godly or mature or loving or ethical
(Link): Single and 40: Dealing with Disappointment by L. Bishop
(Link): ‘Why Are You Single’ Lists That Do Not Pathologize Singles by Bella DePaulo
(Link): Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person by A. DeBotton
(Link): Oil Town Where Single Male Population Vastly Outnumbers Females and they practically rape the women – Reflections on the Christian argument that men will treat women better if women in short supply
(Link): What Two Religions Tell Us About the Modern Dating Crisis (from TIME) (ie, Why Are Conservative Religious Women Not Marrying Even Though They Want to Be Married. Hint: It’s a Demographics Issue)