“If you want to understand why ‘Netflix and chill’ has replaced dinner and a movie, you need to look at how people work”

If you want to understand why “Netflix and chill” has replaced dinner and a movie, you need to look at how people work. Today, people are constantly told that we must be flexible and adaptable in order to succeed. Is it surprising that these values are reshaping how many of us approach sex and love?

Back when most people punched clocks at fixed hours, a date might have asked “Shall I pick you up at 6?” But part-timers, contractors and other contingent workers — who constitute some 40 percent of the American work force — are more inclined to text one another “u still up?” than to make plans in advance. Smartphones have altered expectations about when we are “on” and “off,” and working from home or from cafes has blurred the lines between labor and leisure.

The average American may not be asking someone out on “a date” today because he works longer hours than he used to. The 2013 and 2014 Work and Education Poll conducted by Gallup found that the average full-time American worker reported working 47 hours per week. Moreover, 21 percent of the people surveyed reported working 50 to 59 hours per week; and another 18 percent said they worked 60 or more hours a week.

And those are just the hours on the clock. They don’t include time spent outside normal hours answering emails or maintaining a social media presence — activities that many jobs require. In other words, single people today tend to work longer hours than they would have in the Norman Rockwell, soda-fountain era that many people seem to have in mind when they get misty-eyed about “traditional” dating. No surprise they have less time and energy left over to go out.

Moira Weigel, “Sexual Freelancing in the Gig Economy”, The New York Times (15 May 2016),