Dating is a lot of hard work - it always has been

Posted May 30, 2016

Dating can seem like hard work when it comes to finding a long-term partner.

And it always has been, Moira Weigel, a Ph.D. candidate in comparative literature at Yale University, attests in her book, "Labor of Love," which documents the history of dating in America.

According to a recent interview with The Atlantic's Bouree Lam, Weigel found two main themes while researching dating-advice books from the 1800s and hundreds of articles on dating from women and teens magazines. "First, there is usually an older part of the population that perceives dating to be 'dying,' or, at least, as not being done 'appropriately.' Second, Weigel found that the way people date has almost always been tied to the market forces of their era."

Wiegel explained that dating as we know it today started when women entered the workforce in the late 1890s and early 1900s, when men and women began meeting in work settings, and dating took place after people got off their shifts.

But the traditional dating world Wiegel speaks of is fading.

"Now, in an era of flextime and freelancing we might be more likely to text a lover 'u up?'" she said.

In an era of dating websites and social media, finding a date can be as easy as direct messaging your crush on Twitter or super-liking a potential partner on Tinder.

According to Jessica Messa in an article for CNN, many people yearn for the straightforward clarity of an earlier time where gender roles were obvious and technology didn't play such a large role in the dating scene. While dating sites, social media and texting may be handy and provide speedy results, they can lead to miscommunication and unclear signals.

"The downside is that I think these new technologies can lead us to get too tied up in matching games," Wiegel told the Atlantic. "A relationship is a process, not a product."

But Messa said not everyone she interviewed liked the traditional dating protocol. "Traditional dating, they pointed out, encouraged an overly formal, inauthentic vibe that ultimately hindered instead of helped their efforts to make romantic connections," she wrote.

Traditional or nontraditional, dating takes effort — and there's no way around it.

According to Quartz, a study by Evolution and Human Behavior explained relationship satisfaction is a predictor of mate retention behavior or how hard people work to maintain their relationship. In order to fulfill your needs, you must sacrifice something to ensure the relationship's longevity because no relationship is perfect.

Dating is difficult because you have to put yourself out there and risk rejection. Not only do we fear rejection, but also wasted effort, according to Huffpost Women.

According to Elite Daily, there are multiple reasons as to why this generation is having trouble in finding long-term partners, including fear of commitment, fear of failed relationships and superficiality. Most people are not willing to put in the effort and break it off, knowing they can walk away to other options.

Megan McNulty is an intern for the Deseret News National Edition. Contact her at


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