Define online dating sites

There are those which basically allow you to browse through profiles as you would boxes of cereal on a shelf in the store.

Others choose for you; they bring five boxes of cereal to your door, ask you to select one, and then return to the warehouse with the four others. It is tempting to think of online dating as a sophisticated way to address the ancient and fundamental problem of sorting humans into pairs, except that the problem isn’t very old.

As for romantic love, it was an almost mutually exclusive category of human experience.

As much as it may have evolved, in the human animal, as a motivation system for mate-finding, it was rarely given great consideration in the final reckoning of conjugal choice.

Some add an extra layer of projection and interpretation; they adhere to a certain theory of compatibility, rooted in psychology or brain chemistry or genetic coding, or they define themselves by other, more readily obvious indicators of similitude, such as race, religion, sexual predilection, sense of humor, or musical taste.

Or you see someone until someone better comes along.

The term for this is “trading up.” It can lead you to think that your opportunities are virtually infinite, and therefore to question what you have. For some, of course, there is no end game; Internet dating can be sport, an end in itself.

The twentieth century reduced it all to smithereens.

The Pill, women in the workforce, widespread deferment of marriage, rising divorce rates, gay rights—these set off a prolonged but erratic improvisation on a replacement.

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