To be happy is to be tied.”When it comes to romance, Americans are freer than they’ve ever been. Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin, thinks a lot about the price of human relationships.
Freer to marry, freer to divorce, freer to have sex when and with whom they like with fewer consequences, freer to cohabitate without getting married, freer to remain single, freer to pursue open relationships or polyamory. His new book, is all about how the modern dating scene has been shaped by sexual economics, a theory which sees human mating as a marketplace.
The next day, the famous author wrote a letter to Peter Bide, the priest who had married them, to tell him the news.“I’d like to meet,” Lewis writes, suggesting the two grab lunch sometime soon. One doesn’t realize in early life that the price of freedom is loneliness.
One may be more optimistic than the other, but both show how increasing romantic freedom has changed romance itself.* * *Regnerus’s description of sexual economics relies on a stark division of gender roles: Men provide the demand and women are the supply.
He also writes that because there is no gatekeeper in gay men’s relationships, they are less likely to be sexually monogamous.
When it comes to heterosexual relationships, Regnerus sums up his theory like this: “It’s not that love is dead, but the sexual incentives for men to sacrifice and commit have largely dissolved, spelling a more confusing and circuitous path to commitment and marriage than earlier eras.”This all smacks strongly of gender essentialism.
Regnerus’s underlying premise is sound: Many studies have found that, on average, men want sex more than women, and women value having sex in the context of commitment more than men do (though of course individuals differ).
Still, throughout the book, Regnerus takes this theory pretty far.
Popular dating apps put women in the position of gatekeeping, whether deliberately or not.