Popular dating apps put women in the position of gatekeeping, whether deliberately or not.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a smartphone will swipe right on basically everyone.
Still, there is a lot in Regnerus’s analysis that is uncomfortably astute.
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.
But men have more power in the mating market in this model, which leads to women also embracing, or at least going along with, cheap sex and some of the rude behavior that comes with it.
Regnerus doesn’t talk much about LGBT relationships, except to say that these market dynamics might make women more likely to “experiment with same-sex relationships,” to circumvent the problem of noncommittal men.
This forces women to be choosier about who they say yes to.
Even if they also swipe with abandon, they end up with more matches to sort through—yet more gatekeeping.
In previous eras, this exchange was effective at producing marriages (though it also went hand-in-hand with strict sexual mores and women’s subjugation).
But now that sex before marriage and sex outside of relationships is common, safe, and less stigmatized, men don’t have to work as hard for it, according to Regnerus.
If that doesn’t work out, there’s always porn, which requires next to no effort to find.
These factors, Regnerus argues, “have created a massive slowdown in the development of committed relationships, especially marriage.”Marriage rates have indeed plummeted among young adults, to the point that a demographer cited by Regnerus estimates that one-third of people currently in their early 20s will never get married.
Regnerus asserts that modern mating dynamics make it hard for people to find a relationship that seems worth committing to; Finkel argues that when marriages manage to live up to today’s lofty expectations, they can be extremely fulfilling.