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Wait (Maybe Forever) For Mr. Right or Settle with Mr. Good Enough?

Here's an interesting article by Lori Gottlieb for The Atlantic about waiting for Mr. Right (and run the risk of him never showing up) or settling down with Mr. Good Enough:

Of course, we’d be loath to admit it in this day and age, but ask any soul-baring 40-year-old single heterosexual woman what she most longs for in life, and she probably won’t tell you it’s a better career or a smaller waistline or a bigger apartment. Most likely, she’ll say that what she really wants is a husband (and, by extension, a child). [...]

Oh, I know—I’m guessing there are single 30-year-old women reading this right now who will be writing letters to the editor to say that the women I know aren’t widely representative, that I’ve been co-opted by the cult of the feminist backlash, and basically, that I have no idea what I’m talking about. And all I can say is, if you say you’re not worried, either you’re in denial or you’re lying. In fact, take a good look in the mirror and try to convince yourself that you’re not worried, because you’ll see how silly your face looks when you’re being disingenuous.

Whether you acknowledge it or not, there’s good reason to worry. By the time 35th-birthday-brunch celebrations roll around for still-single women, serious, irreversible life issues masquerading as “jokes” creep into public conversation: Well, I don’t feel old, but my eggs sure do! or Maybe this year I’ll marry Todd. I’m not getting any younger! The birthday girl smiles a bit too widely as she delivers these lines, and everyone laughs a little too hard for a little too long, not because we find these sentiments funny, but because we’re awkwardly acknowledging how unfunny they are. At their core, they pose one of the most complicated, painful, and pervasive dilemmas many single women are forced to grapple with nowadays: Is it better to be alone, or to settle?

Link - via Locusts & Honey


"And all I can say is, if you say you’re not worried, either you’re in denial or you’re lying." So ... in other words: 'If you say you disagree with me, either you're deceiving yourself, or you're trying to deceive the rest of us.'

Curses, how can anyone withstand such compelling argumentation??
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The core assumption of this article, that basically any man will gladly marry any woman, provided she'll "settle" for him, is pretty funny and tragic.
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I agree, Phil. I'm rather insulted by the thought that a woman would 'settle' for me. If she's going to look at it that way, wow, I'm so honored... PULEEZE.
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The true 'core assumption' of this article is _actually_ that every woman wants to have a baby, and will do anything to get one as she matures, is even funnier and more tragic - and a ridiculous stereotype!
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If anyone is single at age 35 (man or woman), there is a reason. Maybe lots of reasons. The sort of analysis in this article always fails because it does not address the core issues within the person asking the question.

Mister or Miss Right will show up shortly after you fix what is broken inside. And, yes, I know this from experience.
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I can honestly say that article made me feel physically ill. As a 37 year old straight woman, who doesn't want a family, I can't imagine being chained to someone I don't love for the rest of my life. I'd rather be single. I think the author's view on life is seriously tinted by the fact that she's a single mother and dealing with the difficulties of raising a child alone. The whole thing is horrifying. I feel sorry for women like her.
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I saw this lady on the today show, or something like that. Her argument is terrible (by the way she is over 40 and single) but in person she backed off way more and was saying basically that women need to stop chasing fairytales of prince charming. I sort of get that, perfect doesn't exsist, but her article still repulses me.
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As a 39-year old single woman who'd like to have kids, I found the article very interesting. I know that not all women want kids and a family, but among my 30-something single girlfriends who do, this article pretty much hits the same topics we address with each other. I go on a lot of dates and my friends (and even strangers) consider me a catch, but the pool of elgible men I meet now is far smaller (and shallower) than the pool I fished in during my 20s and even early 30s. I'm well aware that many men who want children immediately rule me out based on my age (just take a look at the 30-something and even 40-something men's age preferences on any dating site). And I still get carded, so it's not because I look 39, it's because my ovaries are 39.

And like the author, I get so fed up with my married friends complaining about their husbands and how hard it is to be married and how lucky I am to be single. Occasionally I'll call them on it, and ask them why they're still married if it's so terrible, and they will grudgingly admit that it beats the alternative.
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This sort of thing is really annoying. I may be only 19, but the fact I haven't dated anyone "yet" is definitely grounds for some teasing from friends. I don't mind so much, it's entertaining to be "the lady who's going go end up alone with a billion cats". (I really do love cats.)

However, the most annoying part is that they're making it sound like I couldn't be happy if that happened, which is a load of crap. I've had a lot of single older women role models in my life, and for that I'm grateful. They are independent, adventurous women and some of the BEST human beings I know. My gradeschool music teacher, my great-aunt, and my two of my favorite high school English teachers.

And none of them take crap from anybody. ;)
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It also seems as though she's just using men as stepping stones to a successful family life. I think that's both degrading to men, marriage, and family life.

The only truth I see in "settling" is that society in general today holds standards too high for a successful life. Advertisements may teach you that tall/dark/handsome/rich or stylish/skinny/beautiful/rich is the answer, but that sort of thinking often leads to our high divorce rate.

And if you're only doing it for your bilogical clock, and not your heart, what happened to just having friends? I most disagree with her statement that "more important than love is marriage." I think that's a rather wasteful way to look at things; getting everything you "want" just because someone tells you so is wasteful.

The end of the article also reminds me of this comic: http://xkcd.com/314/
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DB, I'm a strong feminist and I felt the same way you did at 19. I said I'd never get married and never have kids. I was determined that I did not need a man to make me happy, that I could be single the rest of my life. I hated the media shoving couplehood down my throat (I still do).

I realized about 10 years ago I did want kids, and moreover, I wanted a partner in raising them. Still, I wasn't going to settle. I decided I'd rather be alone than with the wrong guy. And I decided that not being with the wrong guy meant being with the perfect guy. And that's the problem. As you mentioned, much of the problem is the too-high standards for a perfect life. There is no perfect mate, so in that sense, we all will have to settle. The trick is (and I sure haven't mastered it) is figuring out how much settling to do. I think the author is making a very valid point that IF you want a partner, you will have to do a lot more settling later in life than you will earlier in life.
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She makes a good point. We marry for love, and sometimes our standards are too high. Sometimes, it's easier to pull out of a relationship and start over in situations where our parents and grandparents would have stayed and worked through, or ignored, a problem (not necessarily the best option).

The feminist idea that you can be happy without a man in your life is taken to the extreme: you can't be happy with a man in your life; men are deadweight.

You may then discover that being "successful" isn't what you really wanted in life, and now, there are less available guys to meet your criteria.
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Grrr... I am the marrying, mothering type, but I choose to wait until I've accomplished some of the goals I've set for myself. This was decided after a positively disastrous near-marriage to somebody I believed to be Mr.Right. All of my friends are married, some with children, and we're in our mid-twenties to early thirties. I've seen the effects of marrying just to settle down and have a family - it's not pretty. I don't want a sperm donor, I want a life partner. I want somebody I won't resent for decades to come. That really shouldn't be too much to ask. The article paints a tragic tale designed to warn women of the pitfalls of being too picky but fails to address the full ramifications of marrying somebody you think you've settled for.
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Is the answer then to have two partners? One in your 20s to sire the kid(s), then another once you're ready to settle down permanently?

p.s. I'm gay and can't marry legally. But seriously... don't settle. "Alone" doesn't have to mean lonely.
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i find it interesting that noone has mentioned that "mr. perfect" is a fabrication of societal standards. who says girls have to get married and have babies? who says women have to be with men at all? who says women WANT to get married? we girls have been raised to think that we're supposed to find a man, get married, settle down, have children, and grow old toghether. most little girls have been planning their wedding day since they were 5 years old. why? why this immediacy to "find" love? why this perpetuation of false hope and 'this is how it is'? and when a woman "steps out of line" she is ridiculed as being lonely for the rest of her life. why are you all of a sudden "lonely" when you aren't married? lots of people (men and women alike) are perfectly happy without marriage. i mean, i'd give more credit to those who don't fall into these "standards" because it's hard to go out of the 'norm' for most. good post.
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I'm impressed at how the article implies women are the choosers ("maybe this year I'll marry Todd") yet at the same time the victims of singledom.

I rarely encounter women who know what they really want and of those their idea of a finding suitable partner seems to revolve around anyone they have 'chemistry' with (regardless of whether he's a douche or not). They then spend the next decade trying to change him into the guy she should have gone for in the first place.

Of course not all women are like this - but I've encountered plenty that are. Is it any wonder they wake up one morning to find they're 40 years old and their repeated cycle of Find Mr Chemistry has left them single, unhappy and lacking faith in men?

Poor old Todd...
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