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Online dating sites, whatever their more mercenary motives, draw on the premise that there has got to be a better way.They approach the primeval mystery of human attraction with a systematic and almost Promethean hand.Ross had hoped that The process of selecting and securing a partner, whether for conceiving and rearing children, or for enhancing one’s socioeconomic standing, or for attempting motel-room acrobatics, or merely for finding companionship in a cold and lonely universe, is as consequential as it can be inefficient or irresolute.Lives hang in the balance, and yet we have typically relied for our choices on happenstance—offhand referrals, late nights at the office, or the dream of meeting cute.You fall prey to the tyranny of choice—the idea that people, when faced with too many options, find it harder to make a selection.
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.
Each client paid five dollars and answered more than a hundred multiple-choice questions. (A previous installment had been about a singles bar—Maxwell’s Plum, on the Upper East Side, one of the first that so-called “respectable” single women could patronize on their own.) She had planned to interview Altfest, but he was out of the office, and she ended up talking to Ross.
One section asked subjects to choose from a list of “dislikes”: “1. The batteries died on her tape recorder, so they made a date to finish the interview later that week, which turned into dinner for two.
The criteria for compatibility had little to do with mutual affection or a shared enthusiasm for spicy food and Fleetwood Mac.
Happiness, self-fulfillment, “me time,” a woman’s needs: these didn’t rate.
You can get to thinking that the single ones are single for a reason.