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This is the age of DIY-everything, in which individuals are charged with the full-service construction of their careers, lives, faiths, and public identities.When in the 1840s the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard called anxiety “the dizziness of freedom,” he wasn’t slamming the door on modernity so much as foreseeing its existential contradiction: All the forces of maximal freedom are also forces of anxiety, because anybody who feels obligated to select the ingredients of a perfect life from an infinite menu of options may feel lost in the infinitude. Our friends and moms were underserving us.”Historically, the “underserving” was most severe for single gay people.They were lamentations about the spiritual bankruptcy of modern love.

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As the co-authors write in their conclusion, “Internet dating has displaced friends and family [as] key intermediaries.” We used to rely on intimates to screen our future partners.

Now that’s work we have to do ourselves, getting by with a little help from our robots.

In a new paper awaiting publication, Rosenfeld finds that the online-dating phenomenon shows no signs of abating.

According to data collected through 2017, the majority of straight couples now meet online or at bars and restaurants.

But to be free of those old crutches can be both exhilarating and exhausting.

As the influence of friends and family has melted away, the burden of finding a partner has been swallowed whole by the individual—at the very moment that expectations of our partners are skyrocketing.

Last week, I tweeted the main graph from Rosenfeld’s latest, a decision we both mildly regret, because it inundated my mentions and ruined his inbox.

“I think I got about 100 media requests over the weekend,” he told me ruefully on the phone when I called him on Monday.

“Anybody looking for something hard to find is advantaged by the bigger choice set.

That’s true whether you’re looking for a Jewish person in a mostly Christian area; or a gay person in a mostly straight area; or a vegan, mountain-climbing former Catholic anywhere,” Rosenfeld said.

In sociology-speak, our relationships were “mediated.” In human-speak, your wingman was your dad.

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