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But she tries to have it both ways, by hypothesizing that today's widening economic inequality and the threat of global warming are somehow goads to steadiness, even as marriage rates decline."In an age when so much feels precarious," she writes, "serial monogamists cling to their partners for comfort."In "Freedom," Weigel draws a parallel between sexual revolutionaries and free-market advocates, both apostles of "a laissez-faire approach." She describes the 1960s as the era when the Playboy man met Helen Gurley Brown's Single Girl.By contrast, in the chapter "Steadies," Weigel suggests that a better economy favors serial monogamy."It was the promise of affluence [in the post-World War II era] that had made the spread of going steady possible," she writes.

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Her generation of women, she says, grew up "dispossessed of our own desires," trying to learn how to act "if we wanted to be wanted." She realizes that similar concerns have dogged previous generations of women, pressured both to satisfy and police the desires of men.

But, in tandem, they offer useful perspectives on dating as both an art and a historical construct.

Like Perry, Weigel takes her personal experience as a starting point.

Is the choice, she asks, really between "a foolish, futile quest for Mr. The result is a "mutual mystification" that benefits no one but the self-help industry.

Weigel's view is that love entails work, choice and vulnerability, and that social and cultural change — including greater gender equality — can help.

During the Great Depression, when supporting a household was a challenge, she says, young people behaved like today's Millennials, dating prolifically without settling down.

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