Home / The Case of the Desperate Singles’ Syndrome: Settling for Mr. So-So

The Case of the Desperate Singles’ Syndrome: Settling for Mr. So-So

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In March’s Atlantic, Lori Gottlieb writes, “Every woman I know – no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure – feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits thirty and finds herself unmarried. If you say that you’re not worried, either you’re in denial or you’re lying.”

I like Lori Gottlieb. She’s hot and she writes well and I like what she has to say most of the time, but telling women to settle? No, no, no! This is like telling women to give up their life dreams for a mundane, ordinary life of so-so sex and suburban painkillers. It’s like saying it’s not worth it. It’s asking for a failed marriage and prescription meds.

There’s no such thing as Mr. Perfect or Mr. Right. Lord knows how much I looked for him last summer. What I did find was Mr. Right Now and Mr. Perfect for the Moment. It wasn’t about love or lust or romance, true. It was about sex and desire. In my little summer of romantic endeavors and one-night stands, I did end up finding Mr. Perfect for Me. He’s far from perfect. He makes mistakes and we make mistakes together. He’s not a college graduate. His hair is wild and curly and messy. His hands are always dirty from work and sometimes he can be a prick, but he’s everything I could ask for.

I could never tell a woman to forget going after her Mr. Perfect and just go for the next Joe she meets at the bar who, maybe, she has a few little sparks with, if any, but not fireworks. Maybe it’s more along the lines of a campfire or a firecracker.

I’m a picky person when it comes to just about everything. I could never date a man who wears pastels or who actually has a stylist and visits them regularly. Sure, maybe it’s okay to look for marriage material in a different light, but should you really lower your standards simply because it’s better than being single at the age of thirty?

“Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics,” Lori writes. Marry the guy with bad breath and who is a recovering junkie on the brink of relapse. It’s okay! It’s better than being alone! Is it really? Ask most twenty-something women and the replies you’ll get most is that we’d rather be alone than in a mediocre relationship with a man we only feel mildly ‘eh’ about.

Maybe views change when you hit your thirties. Maybe every woman becomes a desperate, husband-seeking cougar ready to pounce on the first single man that crosses her path, bald with halitosis or not.

Remember that episode of Sex and the City, when Samantha, rather than being alone and feeling bad about herself, starts dating the Turtle, a short balding man with a horrid sense of style and bad breath? Samantha, thinking she can change the man for the better, starts dressing him in nice clothes and taking him to beauty salons, but she soon realizes he hasn’t changed his quirky food habits on the inside. Instead of settling for the Turtle and being unsatisfied in the relationship, she walks away and is better off without.

Gottlieb also compares marriage to running a business: “[It] isn’t a passion-fest,” she writes. “It’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business.” It isn’t the 1950’s anymore. We don’t marry for convenience. She goes on to say that your husband is basically there to take out the garbage and give you a second income and is basically there so you can spend less time working and spend more time with your child, which of course, isn’t a bad thing. I’m twenty-five, never been married, and yet I know damn well there is more to marriage than that.

“Those who marry with great expectations become more disillusioned with each passing year.” Oh Lori, please stop! I’m not sure how such a beautiful and talented woman got to be so cynical about marriage and relationships. Apparently it doesn’t even matter if two people were madly in love with each other when they met, it’s destined that the love will fade and you will both end up miserable and depressed and probably cheating on one another. Isn’t that how all marriages go? It is in the world according to Lori Gottlieb.

It’s almost like going back in time. Maybe I’m off in my analysis here, but it almost seems like what Gottlieb is saying is that women are nothing more than baby factories destined to marry for convenience rather than love, not to mention that, despite portraying a woman-in-charge revolutionary standpoint, our lives are meant to revolve around Man.

When it comes down to it, who wants Mr. Half-Assed as a partner-in-crime and in bed? Certainly not me!

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About Jennifer Best

  • Not I!

  • Jen, you go, girl! Here’s what I think, after some horrific dates, brief encounters, and a wild fling after two very long term relationships:

    Though it may indeed be better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, I’ve finally learned (hopefully) to not wonder what’s wrong with me, but realize that there’s something wrong with the losers in the world, and they are legion.

    I’ve examined my inner motives, and realized I was a “fixer,” a reformer, and picked the most hopeless “projects” I could find for the sake of security. Sexual roles seem to have reversed themselves, and there are many passive agressive “men” out there who are spoiled rotten and have an unearned sense of entitlement.

    After a twenty year relationship and another 9 yeare one, I realized I’d created a monster–a totally dependent, “mothered” guy who fell apart after I left because he had no coping skills.

    Then the horrible guilt ensued…

    Anyway, great piece. Best of luck….

  • Everybody Does Raymond

    Great point Jen. Being in a relationship just to be in one is a recipe for disaster. So much for the musical chairs approach to settling down.