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Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, perhaps the one holiday hated by everyone — the one day when all singles long to be coupled and all couples long to be single. With Valentine’s Day come obligations and expectations: Christmas, but without the music, gingerbread cookies, and living-room conifers. (“I bought her a box of chocolates last year — and a bottle of sauvignon the year before that. Hmm. What to get her? I guess a Trumpy Bear will have to do.”)
No doubt, the Internet will soon be awash in articles about the dating scene, which, like the weather, is something everybody complains about … but nobody does something about. It’s frankly a wonder that a problem so universally acknowledged should be in want of a solution. Yet here we are.
Why is it so hard to date in 2020? Why does every single person feel compelled to submit to the ongoing pain and humiliation of online dating? Why does my generation’s romantic pessimism make Greta Thunberg look like a climate optimist? The reasons are simple, really — (a) we’ve failed to develop the requisite social habits, (b) we’ve lost the institutions capable of guiding us toward marriage, and (c) we have standards.