You’re just not that into himFebruary 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.