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The Pill, women in the workforce, widespread deferment of marriage, rising divorce rates, gay rights—these set off a prolonged but erratic improvisation on a replacement.

In a fractured and bewildered landscape of fern bars, ladies’ nights, Plato’s Retreat, “The Bachelor,” sexting, and the concept of the “cougar,” the Internet promised reconnection, profusion, and processing power.

Happiness, self-fulfillment, “me time,” a woman’s needs: these didn’t rate.

As for romantic love, it was an almost mutually exclusive category of human experience.

One section asked subjects to choose from a list of “dislikes”: “1. The batteries died on her tape recorder, so they made a date to finish the interview later that week, which turned into dinner for two.