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Is Dating a Cold, Careless Game?

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This week in the Huffington Post, J.D. Halperin and Daniel Portoraro debated, "Is the modern woman too picky?"

Halperin advocates yes, and Portoraro no. Halperin blames movies, the Internet and the "wide range of other frauds, charlatans, and advertisers" for promoting unattainable standards of perfection. Love and relationships require "putting up with a lot of crap that never seems to get advertised on the first date." Conversely, Portoraro blames men for their unwillingness to recognize that women "don't owe men a thing," insisting that it's a woman's prerogative to "find a mate who is best suited to her needs." Portoraro also cautions that women are not picky enough, as they are routinely "won over by the same cocktail of artificial body language, positioning, compliments and of course, insults." Put simply, women still fall for the clich├ęd bad boy jerk.

A legitimate and true argument is offered by both of these single men.

I know plenty of women who -- thanks to movies like The Notebook and Dear John -- detrimentally idealize men and romance. Just because he didn't write you 365 letters a year, or jump off a 50-foot pier into the ocean after your purse, doesn't mean he's a worthless brute.

Same goes for men. As women continue to outpace you in school and challenge you in the workplace, you have to accept that norms are changing and you're going to be held to some pretty high standards. After coming home from an eight hour work day, she doesn't want to beg some adolescent man to shut off the Xbox. Grow up.

While wrestling with the issue myself, I put the question to some friends: Are women too picky?

"Yes," said a gainfully employed twenty-something girlfriend, bound for graduate school abroad and, by all standards, the pinnacle of success. "So many of my friends turn down a guy because he's wearing the wrong pair of shorts." Admittedly, cargo shorts could be construed as a deal-breaker, but... come on! Don't be so vapid as to cast off a perfectly good guy because he has a questionable -- or completely lacking -- taste in shorts! After all, who's to say he's a fan of that shapeless moomoo dress you're sporting this season?

Another male friend disagreed, insisting that "if you're constantly approached by skeezy guys just looking for a hookup, of course you're going to be standoffish."

In any case, both Halperin and Portoraro are right. But, what is most illuminating about the debate is not which sex is more difficult or wronged by the other, but the extent to which both men and women are disenchanted and downright fed-up with today's dating game.

Men think women are prickly and picky. Women think men are brutish and immature.

There is a very prevalent hostility between the sexes, constantly reinforced by today's no-strings-attached dating game. No one has to commit. No one is responsible. Everyone is out for himself or herself. Everyone is on the defensive. So many options and no need to choose. Immediate gratification coupled with complete lack of empathy.

There are few things more sadistic and viciously self-serving than today's dating game, perpetuated by none other than the game's disenchanted players.