Domestic Diversions

Dating fatigue

NYT’s KATE ZERNIKE writes on people who “just say no” to the dating industry (excerpt):
“I realized I could be starting my own business in the time I was spending looking at these ads and crafting these responses,” she said. So instead of going back online, she began taking a Small Business Administration class and designing funky planters.

Ms. Cambridge’s tale is one small act of resistance against what might be called the Dating-Industrial Complex, a mighty fortress increasingly hard to ignore. To Match.com and Nerve.com, add DreamMates, The Right Stuff, eHarmony and eCrush (neither to be confused with Etrade, though the general concept is the same). TurboDate, HurryDate, 8minuteDating or It’s Just Lunch.

Reality television shows “The Bachelorette,” “Average Joe” have fed the impression that finding the right mate is as simple as being presented with a room of 10 people and picking one. Bookstores bulge: “Surrendered Single,” “Find a Husband After 35 Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School,” “Make Every Girl Want You.” That is just a sampling from the last year; the next two months will bring one manual promising to lure the love of your life in seven weeks, another in a sleeker six.

“There’s a fetishization of coupling,” said Bella DePaulo, a visiting professor of psychology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, who studies perceptions of singles. “It’s made the pressure that’s always been there more intense.”

Yet like Ms. Cambridge, longtime combatants in the dating wars, psychologists and those who study the lives of singles talk about increasing dating fatigue. They say more and more people are taking dating sabbaticals or declaring they will let romance happen by chance, not commerce. Once-obsessive online daters are logging off, clients of speed dating services which offer dozens of encounters in a roomful of strangers are slowing down. A book due out in January, “Quirkyalone,” offers “a manifesto for uncompromising romantics” those not opposed to romance but against the compulsory dating encouraged by the barrage of books, Web sites and matchmaking services.

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