You’re just not that into him

February 8, 2008 at 9:51 am | Posted in Oprah, read this | 3 Comments

My friend Erin, who has had an almost identical love-relationship-motherhood trajectory as I, sent me this great read from The Atlantic.  In Marry Him, Lori Gottlieb argues that women creeping up on the far side of their 30s should get over holding out for Mr. Right and should instead “settle.”  Ignore all those “deal-breakers” (he doesn’t read, he’s allergic to dogs, whatever), and realize that marriage is more about partnership than passion anyway.  She writes

Unless you meet the man of your dreams (who, by the way, doesn’t exist, precisely because you dreamed him up), there’s going to be a downside to getting married, but a possibly more profound downside to holding out for someone better.

 Of course, this is exactly the opposite advice given in the latest Oprah magazine (which I would guess is not only read by far more women than The Atlantic but by a, um, quite different demographic?)  In the giant cover story “Love List” (which my sister and I happily discussed ad nauseam — see below), the author argues that you can, in fact, find the man of your dreams.  Make a list!  Stash it in your closet!  When you meet Mr. Right, take out the list and see how many of those “requirements” your new soul mate has.  Don’t be surprised if he has 99 out of 100!

Gottlieb’s article is humorous and fun-to-read more than being any sort of post-feminist manifesto.  Nevertheless, I’m glad she put it out there.  I am proud of my ideological and political feminism.  But I have to say:  biology is biology.  My priorities as a woman — and my desires for career and relationship — are entirely different now that I have had a child.  Biology is insanely powerful.  The desire to have a child and then to care for that child above all else isn’t all psychology.  So even as she steels herself for criticism, Gottlieb may have a point: 

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.

While my own path to marriage and motherhood was not the one I had envisioned or expected, nor would I say I even remotely “settled,” knowing what I know now about motherhood and partnership, I’m not sure I entirely disagree with her — if only in that I think it’s perfectly OK for women to admit that they want to be married and be mothers.



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  1. 1. I wouldn’t marry the bitch who listed “dog allergies” as a dealbreaker anyway (Get it? The bitch?).

    2. I heard something sort of related to this discussion on the radio yesterday. Paraphrasing —

    “Writing is like marriage: You should never commit yourself until you’re astounded at your own good fortune.”

    Worked for me (Hi, luscious and saucy Mrs. Pax Arcana!)

  2. Plus, Tim is awesome.

  3. Obviously I can’t speak to the biology/woman part of this, but it is really interesting that Gottlieb’s contention is met by the majority of readers (myself included) as being overly cynical and just kind of depressing in general. But I guess that’s bound to happen when you combine these grand romantic concepts and ideals of love with the pragmatic situations (or problems) of life and marriage and what not.

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