5 min read ⌚
The Invention of Dating
Do you sometimes wonder how today’s dating rules came to be?
Well, Moira Weigel outlines the history of dating for you.
Who Should Read “Labor of Love” and Why?
“Labor of Love” is a book that travels back in time and explores the history of dating.
If you are interested in love, how today’s hook up culture came to be, and the way economic shifts influenced the dating field, we recommend this book to you.
About Moira Weigel
Moira Weigel is a writer, whose work has appeared in the Guardian and The New York Times.
“Labor of Love Summary”
When you talk about the dating world to your parents, do you feel that you are talking about two completely different worlds?
Well, that is because you are.
Things have changed, and new rules are in play.
But why did those changes occur?
Well, one reason is economics.
During the nineteenth century, there was no such thing as “dating.” Instead, parents were matchmakers for their children, marrying them off to what they considered to be a good prospect.
However, with the industrial revolution, many women started to work, as the demand for labor increased.
This influx of female workers brought about changes in the city. Suddenly, men and women were starting to do what was once unimaginable: spending time and sharing caresses in public.
They were not to be judged, though – they had to be affectionate in public since they had no place else to go.
Apartments were crowded, and privacy was unattainable, so they could only “date” on the streets.
Another thing that happened was that men started visiting women’s houses.
They would go to the woman’s home and call the woman by knocking on the door. The woman’s maid would open the door and inform the woman of the one that called her.
If the woman was interested, then the man would get an invitation to get in. Then, both of them could talk and hang out, but only under supervision.
This was a ritual which was popular in the middle classes and reflected their wealth. They were not like workers who had to show their interest in public, but they could meet each other in private.
Then came the time when people would go around bars and look for a mate.
And now we live in a time when we depend on left or right swipes of dating apps.
What is the bridge between the two?
Shopgirls were the ones that played a significant role in this change. They were women who were working in department stores in the luxury goods sections.
Behind their wish to work in department stores, was the idea that it is a good place to meet a rich man – who if luck was on their side they could turn into a wealthy husband.
Shopgirls learned from the customers they observed every day, and soon it was hard to tell the difference between tastes of the customers and the shopgirls themselves.
But what does this have to do with dating?
Well, it is a parallel of how people judge a mate based on his consuming habits: what he wears, what he likes, how he or she looks, instead of judging the person’s character.
The first thing dating apps will ask you for are your preferences and not your deeper characteristics that define you as a person.
But, how did the “hood up” culture begin?
Well, the 50s started this new trend by introducing the “going steady” term.
Going steady, however, was not the same as today’s dating.
Going steady signaled that someone was considering marrying a person. However, they had a greater freedom than before, since they could go steady with a partner after partner until they find “the one.”
However, partners who were going steady were involved in intimate acts, just short of sex.
However, in the 60s, followed the sexual revolution which made things a lot freer. During these years people felt free to involve themselves in sexual relationships and celebrated free love instead of monogamy.
All of this did have its effects: by the 80s a lot of people were dying from uncommon diseases.
That is when they discovered that AIDS is connected to sexual orientation.
With the discovery of AIDS, people started openly talking about sex. They could not be as free as before, since their lives were at stake, and they had to come up with new rules to follow in order to stay safe.
Key Lessons from “Labor of Love”
1. People Started “Dating” After the Industrial Revolution
2. Consumption Is A Central Part of Dating
3. Hook-Ups Started in the 50s
People Started “Dating” After the Industrial Revolution
The industrial revolution created the need for workers, so many women moved to the cities.
That is when dating appeared – men and women finally had the opportunity to meet each other.
The lower class spent time with each other on the streets, while the wealthier, middle class “called” on each other and could spend time together in private.
Consumption Is A Central Part of Dating
The shopgirls during the 19th century inserted consumption into dating.
They were working in luxury shops where they believed they could meet wealthy men, which they could turn into reach husbands.
They learned everything about the world of their customers and judged them by their look.
That is what today’s dating apps do as well: users judge each other by their looks, the way they dress and their preferences, instead of their characters.
Hook-Ups Started in the 50s
In the 50s people started going out with many people. They were calling it going steady.
However, they were not as free as after the sexual revolution, where people started having more partners, and the topics of homosexuality started getting out in the open.
This brought many diseases, as well as AIDS which led to imposing new rules about having safe intercourse.
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“Labor of Love Quotes”I like David Foster Wallace. But if you type David Foster Wallace into OkCupid, it’s a shitshow. Click To Tweet There is no better life than a life spent laboring at love—exerting effort not because we have to, but because we believe that what we are bringing into being is valuable and we want it to exist. Yet because our culture tends to… Click To Tweet Walking through the West Village one night, he had a eureka moment: He would make a gay bar, but for straight people. It was a brilliant idea. Soon after, he opened the first T.G.I. Friday's on the Upper East Side. Click To Tweet Love requires openness. The point is to be changed by, and to witness change in, one another. Click To Tweet Love is less noun than verb: not a thing to get, but a process to set in motion. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
This book will take you back to the time you did not live in and will make you feel warm and nostalgic for “the good old days.”