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He might have practiced polyamory, consensual open love.But John, with his flair for saccharine cuteness and his insistence on treating his conquests like romantic-comedy heroines, didn’t like just to play or cheat, and he certainly didn’t like any of his girlfriends to suspect that they didn’t have his full attention. According to Moira Weigel, the author of “Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), most people are not like John in this respect.In our consumer society, love is perpetually for sale; dating is what it takes to close the deal.

He could have chosen to be a player, sleeping around with abandon, or the kind of cheater who supplements monogamy with a series of flings.a young woman in San Francisco, met a man—call him John—on the dating site OKCupid. More notably, he indulged in the kind of profligate displays of affection which signal a definite eagerness to commit.He sneaked Suzanne’s favorite snacks into her purse as a workday surprise and insisted early on that she keep a key to his apartment. V.—an act roughly equivalent, in today’s gallantry currency, to Perseus rescuing Andromeda from the sea monster.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.

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