cover image The Dating Race

The Dating Race

Stacy Kravetz. Jeremy P. Tarcher, $14.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-1-58542-400-9

Though she is married, Kravetz goes ""undercover"" and submerses herself in the dating scene on both coasts and various places in between to unearth what modern dating rituals reveal about our times. She attempts various methods of finding a partner, from trolling the bars in New York City to viewing virtual dating seminars. Along the way, she discovers that the same social gaffes and poor impressions that sour face-to-face meetings are not absent from online dating-""grammatical mistakes are the spinach in the teeth of the Internet generation""-and contrived activities like ""lock and key"" parties, where men are given keys and women are given locks so singles can approach each other to see if they are a ""fit,"" do not dispel the awkwardness of talking with strangers. Kravetz's attitude toward the dating activities in which she participates is one of hesitancy and humiliation. Before embarking on a speed-dating expedition, she writes, ""I wonder if I have the equivalent of a sign on my forehead that labels me the kind of desperate, dateless sap who would go to a singles event."" This outlook, though likely shared by many who are reluctant to resort to artificial scenarios to find a mate, can be off-putting and discouraging to those who would be interested in this book in the first place. In addition, Kravetz's approach of going through the motions of a single person searching for love doesn't reveal helpful techniques. Her conclusions are tired ( ""the new dating goods and services reflect the way we've been trained to think during the business day""), and her parting message-that ""we can only hope""-will provide little encouragement to those for whom hope has already worn thin.