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In this pitiless, amped-up marketplace, women must affect “steely” indifference in order not to appear overly needy, or too giving, says Weigel.Yet, ultimately, she concludes that the “exhilarating new freedoms” enabled by the invention of dating (and all the innovations and political breakthroughs that came later) have been worth the exertion, and that “there is no better life than a life spent laboring at love.” Her book, her journalism and the film series all grew out of her determination to “take ‘girly’ concerns seriously …Commuting from her “fairly strict” Brooklyn childhood home to the intensely competitive Hunter College High School in Manhattan, she rode the subway not with a sweetheart or female besties, but with her academic “crew,” all of them boys.“I joked at the time that I was never interested in boys romantically because I knew too much — their gross habits, crude senses of humor, and especially how they talked about girls among themselves.Dating, it turns out, is not only potentially romantic or sexy, but also a profoundly political phenomenon firmly grounded in economics.It emerged when women left their homes, or the plantations and domestic positions in which they toiled, moved to cities, and took paying jobs, mingling with men in unsupervised settings..” But the 31-year-old has come to believe that the rituals of modern mating are no laughing matter.She spent two years immersed in the economic theories, psychology and gender politics underpinning the evolution of courtship to finish the book while simultaneously working on her Yale Ph. dissertation (on an entirely different subject at the intersection of philosophy, film and media history).

Conversations that we had, and jokes that she made, are still all over it.” Ahern is also Weigel’s collaborator on a related project, a dating-themed film series that opened on May 4 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.And long-term commitment is now a luxury, given job turnover and the need to travel or relocate in pursuit of career opportunities.Today, not only does dating hug the contours of the insecure freelance economy, Weigel notes: dating is a job, of sorts, demanding “all the things that glossy magazines suggest a straight woman must do to be baseline datable.” “We brand ourselves as mobile, free agents, try to optimize our skills, make ourselves available on demand,” she says.As dating has adapted to technology and the gig economy, she discovered, old courtship norms and time frames have dissolved.The Monday phone message —“Pick you up at seven on Thursday for dinner”— has given way to last-minute hook-ups at awkward, unromantic hours, accommodating our ever-wired extended workdays.

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