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In our consumer society, love is perpetually for sale; dating is what it takes to close the deal.

a young woman in San Francisco, met a man—call him John—on the dating site OKCupid. More notably, he indulged in the kind of profligate displays of affection which signal a definite eagerness to commit.

He sneaked Suzanne’s favorite snacks into her purse as a workday surprise and insisted early on that she keep a key to his apartment. V.—an act roughly equivalent, in today’s gallantry currency, to Perseus rescuing Andromeda from the sea monster.

Weigel had a revelation: she was always turning to a man to tell her what she was after, and the institution of dating was to blame.

It trained women “in how to be if we wanted to be wanted.”Hence “Labor of Love,” an exploration of that training, in which Weigel reaches two main conclusions.

In “All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation” (Simon & Schuster), the journalist Rebecca Traister describes the attempts of one establishment, the Trowmart Inn, in Greenwich Village, to address this problem.