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We seek “spiritual, intellectual, social, as well as sexual soul mates,” the sociologist Jessica Carbino told podcast.

She said she regarded this self-imposed ambition as “absolutely unreasonable.”If the journey toward coupling is more formidable than it used to be, it’s also more lonesome.

Once upon a time, wealthy families considered matrimonies akin to mergers; they were coldhearted business opportunities to expand a family’s financial power.

Even in the late 19th century, marriage was more practicality than rom-com, whereas today’s daters are looking for nothing less than a human Swiss Army knife of self-actualization.

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

My family story also serves as a brief history of romance. But they’re supplanting the role of matchmaker once held by friends and family.

For the past 10 years, the Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld has been compiling data on how couples meet.

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.

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