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2008.03.03

Comments

Polly

I can't decide if I like the article more or less because she can't bring herself to settle. I feel like it's almost a mood piece--I've certainly had moments where I felt my life would be easier if I was a little dimmer, or one of these people who can gladly tolerate anything as long as they make lots of money, but it passes. (Clearly, I should write up my agnst--The Atlantic Monthly is buying!)

I do feel kind of weird now because my sister, who is less than two years older than me, had a lot of trouble getting pregnant this time around, so presumably I can look forward to similar age-related fertility issues if ever I do get married. But it's not enough for me to embrace the loveless marriage (followed no doubt by the psycho divorce). To be honest, nothing's enough for that--I genuinely don't care if I die single, I'd rather do that than be shackled to some bozo because I'm trying to make my mom happy or something equally pathetic.

hannah

I thought the gist of that whole piece was her thinking life would be easier if she had a husband. And, maybe it would--- but I don't think marrying for an extra income or someone else to do the dishes is a good enough reason. Marriage is too hard, even when you are in love, to settle just for another set of hands around the house.

Kerry

Whenever I feel like basing my argument on fiction, I pull myself up short and say, "Hey, Kerry--that's a surefire way to get people to not take you seriously."

But anyway...I understand the fertility pressure. I'm facing it myself. But I also realize that I settled in my 20's. And eventually I exploded from the relationship going, and it was not pretty for anyone involved.


hannah

Also, I question the assumption that the world is full of less-than-perfect bachelors just waiting for one of these picky women to snap them up.

cirocco

Ah, thank you, Lisa. I wanted to write something like this, but I was afraid it would be axe-grinding, since LG and I dated the same man. Not at the same time; she preceded me. My relationship with this man did not end positively, but between reading this and the piece that LG wrote about dating him*, I feel like all his problems are now explicable. Had I dated her, I would've come away highly wary also.

Did you notice all the sociological data Gottleib cited about the relative happiness of married and unmarried women? No? Me neither. Call me crazy, but if I were being published in the Atlantic, I'd do a little more research than talking to my friends and watching television.

* This piece appears in a nonfiction anthology called Scoot Over, Skinny, and details how she made the mistake of lowering herself to dating someone physically imperfect. Rarely have I been as outraged on someone else's behalf as I was on our mutual ex's behalf. The essay is just savage.

Antoinette

I question the assumption that the world is full of less-than-perfect bachelors just waiting for one of these picky women to snap them up.

My thoughts exactly. In fact, she's apparently dumped scads of just slightly less-than-perfect guys, and thus assumes all her single compatriots are in the same boat? That they've all pettishly pushed away guys who take out the garbage, have a good job, will co-parent gladly, as well as respect them intellectually, make them laugh, and appreciate them?

My mid-30s single sister hasn't had anything remotely like this experience.

Gottlieb seems a litle like an egomaniac with an ever-revolving list of reasons why she can't make room for another adult in her life. Cirocco's comments totally confirms my sense that Gottlieb, like so many of these navel-gazing columnists, just projects her personal anxieties and deficiencies onto the population at large.

molly

settling = divorce

Courtney

I spent years listening to friends and family tell me I was too picky, that I was never going to find what I was looking for. Now I'm happily married to a kind, intelligent man who loves me dearly and is excited beyond belief about the baby we're about to have.

I don't think the problem is that women expect too much, or that we reject slightly imperfect men because they don't meet some unattainable standard. Looking back at my own dating history, and watching my friends go through the same things, I think that the real problem is that we hang on to obviously bad relationships, somehow hoping that they will magically turn the corner and become exactly what we need. I've had so many friends perservere in relationships with men who were clearly not ready for the kind of relationship they wanted, or who just didn't even seem to get who they were.

I don't know what the solution is, though. It's hard to meet someone you can be comfortable with, and I understand the feeling that time is running out, especially for women who want to have kids. I just wish that there wasn't so much pressure to find someone, anyone. Maybe then my friends could relax and realize what amazing lives they have, regardless of their marital status.

Polly

Whenever I feel like basing my argument on fiction, I pull myself up short and say, "Hey, Kerry--that's a surefire way to get people to not take you seriously."

Apparently this is catching at The Atlantic--in the letters section in this month's issue, one of their writers defends British imperialism in India by citing Monty Python's The Life of Brian.

Dear God.

marion

See, here's the thing. If by "settling" you mean realizing that, say, it's more important for a guy to have a sense of humor than a great head of hair, I can get behind that. We are all immature at one point. Growing up means admitting that you yourself are imperfect, and that anyone you couple up with will also be imperfect...and then figuring out which qualities are *really* important. But I don't think of that as "settling" - I think of that as "becoming mature."

Gottlieb doesn't seem to get that. From what I can tell, she still thinks that either you marry the absolute perfect guy, or you're "settling." The fact that she thinks that her friends have settled because they complain about their husbands is almost frightening - does she really think that a marriage with any sort of feeling exists in which one person doesn't occasionally drive the other crazy? Has she never had ANY emotionally intimate relationship?

What I think is really going on here is that Gottlieb is a difficult, needy person who pushed away several decent guys in search of Prince Charming, decided that having a baby via sperm bank would be a joyful dream, and can't run away from the implications of her decisions any more. I feel sorry for her child.

And, while I hate it when people use fiction to bolster their arguments, I hate it even worse when they do that and leave out key details. Yes, I know way too much about "Friends," but...Barry, the guy Gottlieb mentions as the safe, stable choice for Rachel, was cheating on her with her maid of honor while they were engaged, and THEN cheats on the maid of honor with RACHEL when THEY get engaged. Bad, bad, bad example if you're looking for a fictional man who should have been a "settling" candidate.

Kerry

In case anyone's still interested in this topic, check out today's advice column in Salon. The writer settled--married the first guy she thought she ever loved, and is now out and the world and attracted to other men. The responses are fascinating.

Richard

Well. The settling thing is interesting. The forever lament of nice guys is that the great looking, spirited girls their own age often go out with assholes, maybe thinking that they can change them. So the decent guys who are looking for a relationship, end up settling for perhaps something other than they had desired. Fast forward ten years, the asshole guys are still running round being assholes, the nice guys are in snoozeville, and the alpha femmes are writing articles like the one we are discussing. Geez, how messed up are we (other than the asshole guys who seem to have it sussed out! LOL).

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