The dating market

Partly, they believe that dating is too personal for government agents to get involved. One’s relationship with a significant other reflects unique and private aspects of one’s life, and is no business of the government.But this argument falls flat, because dating is not the only element of one’s life that is personal.To defenders of the state, “anarchy” is a scary concept.

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No doubt there’s potential for abuse in the dating market.

Sleazy men can treat women poorly; dishonest women can cheat on men.

Dating, while it rarely involves the direct exchange of money for services, is nonetheless a market just like the labor market.

Interested parties seek mutually beneficial relationships with others, who have what they need and want what they offer.

For instance, the Roman empire’s adoption of Christianity in the fourth and fifth centuries CE contributed enormously to that religion's spread; and Christianity has obviously shaped our codes around marriage and, by extension, dating. I would only point out in defense that few modern governments are theocracies, and so they no longer bear this role in shaping our dating mores.

Religious institutions, while once sanctioned by government, have seeped so far into the popular culture that they no longer count as governmental.So is a person’s job, where he or she pours time into learning what is necessary to create a product or service of value.Many people spend forty hours a week — almost one-quarter of one’s life — working. So are the illicit substances that some people choose to ingest.Additionally, secular dating habits have sprung up that religions ignore or actively oppose (I find it hard to imagine the Papacy sanctioning a hook-up, for instance), which reinforces the bottom-up nature of our dating “rules.”Now, what if the dating market were regulated like other industries? Government rules around marriage, far from improving on the concept, make it expensive and exclusionary.Regulations create perverse incentives: the high cost of a legal divorce, for instance, pushes unhappy people to stay together.There are no laws around what restaurants are “appropriate” for a first date; no burdensome rules around how many hours a date can last or how many drinks one party can imbibe.

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