Monday, February 03, 2003

The Economics of Transactional Romance & The Dating "Biz" In NYC

No sooner had I gotten off the phone with my ex girlfriend, did I ask myself “why couldn’t I meet someone with her intelligence, wit and sex appeal?” It’s then that I realized, I already had and that chapter was now closed. How could I forget that our emotional battles which were more like “Gangs of New York” than the “Age of Innocence,” had left me calling my doctor for a prescription for Paxil as well as Viagra. Stripped of the burden of failed expectations and intimacy, we now have a platonic friendship which is far less stressful. Any anger or resentment that I once held for her as a result of my broken heart has since dissipated into a dispassionate, semi-intellectual association. Even her musings about a desire to settle down with the right guy do not slice or wound my ego but instead have got me thinking who I could introduce her to, since she is such a “catch.”

You would have to be Amish (not there is anything wrong with that) or a cavemen not to notice that there seems to be an ever growing list of services to help us access the inventory of singles in society. After a spirited discussion regarding the relative value and credibility of these services, we both agreed, given the options at our disposal these days, why commit? The need to do so becomes eviscerated when services exist which offer the illusive possibility that you can order a mate via an itemized menu of characteristics from height, weight, income, career and social status, ethnic character and other social and tangible skill sets and attributes. Has romantic love truly become something that we can shop for and procure dependent upon our ability to access that person with the perfect list of attributes? The multitude of options has created a pervasive transactional mercenary like mindset on the dating scene. Despite the endless array of options that these services have made available to facilitate access to the inventory of singles in our society, ironically enough the Manhattans Singles class continues to grow. In fact, an all to often complaint overheard is that women still can’t meet the right guy. As a friend Shari recently told me of her experiences on J Date, “Chris last week I must have profiled at least 100 guys, met approximately one dozen but none were for me and then I went to an 8 Minute Dating event and did not match with one person.” Thats when I suggested that she try DRIP CAFE, it apparently being one of the only services thats she has not yet tried which actually has arranged 134 marriages to its credit. Obviously the technological revolution while it has provided more options to access the inventory of singles does not necessarily result in a “hit” if you do not find someone with “ALL” of your enumerated criteria. Perhaps many men and women will continue to harbor unrealistic expectations and thereby resist and forsake the allure of marriage and commitment in perpetual quest of the BBD (The “Bigger Better Deal”).

These services have succeeded and will likely continue to thrive because they feed an insatiable consumerist appetite for "options" and they align themselves with the growing "Cocktail Culture." The freedom to pursue your dreams is core value of our society. After our need for food, water and shelter, the urge to pair bond is a strong biological need but the need to "commit" is not. Do not think that the founders of these services care much about whether you find true love. That is NOT their mission. Their business model is predicated on getting you hooked on bouts of intermittent pair bonding experiences so that you perpetually return for more. Perhaps this is too much of an indictment of our culture or the businesses that have evolved to feed these desires.

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