Never settle

Wait for what you wantHigh school and college used to be the ideal time to find a mate, especially for women. The assumption was that women would work until they had their first child and their professional husbands were established in their well-paying careers. It’s an option many educated women have always liked having, always holding open the option of returning to work after their children enter school.

 
In the past 20 years or so, women have begun to outnumber men on campuses as well as in the workplace. During this past recession, women have suddenly replaced men in many families or couples as the main breadwinners. Now that women “have it all,” they often find they no longer have all the options the once counted on.
 
Suddenly, some college women find they may not even be able to find a date, never mind a help-mate. On many college campuses, women now outnumber men, in some cases by 20 percent.  This has changed the rules of dating. According to a recent article in The New York Times many young women can’t find men to date or who will commit to relationships. Many even feel they must turn a blind eye to cheating to hold onto a guy. 
 
 
Popular books such as, “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough by Lori Gottlieb, are even more depressing. In a recent Washington Post article Gottlieb pines for a partner: “Here comes another Valentine’s Day, and oh, how I wish I could spend it with a husband. Not an Adonis with the humor of Jon Stewart and the bank account of Bill Gates; just a good-enough guys.” I see her point and it seems reasonable, but as she goes on about her plight I think she is clueless and even a bit self-aggrandizing. She is a single woman who expresses her regret at not marrying, “but apparently, it makes me a throwback to the ’50s: pathetic, desperate, needy, immature, creepy, weak, Ann Coulter meets the Devil and a few other phrases I can’t print in a family newspaper. I know, because I’ve made this confession before”.
 
Really!? Who does this woman associate with? Obviously not happily-married couples or she would not encounter such outré opinions. Does she, I wondered, exaggerate her plight in a bid for attention and pity? At the start of another article, Gottlieb discusses how she and a friend — another single mother by choice — long for partners. So does this friend consider her a pariah for wanting a partner? It turns out she is referring to email messages from strangers replying to an article she wrote advocating “settling”. Please! You can generate hate mail on any topic, bar none. As I suspected, she exaggerates in a bid to make her point and push her book. How sad and misleading.
 
As I read through Gottlieb’s comments about herself and her other single friends, I found a litany of what these women thought they needed and wanted in a mate to complete and complement their lives. Not once did she paint a picture of women open to love, romance, and fun. Is it a surprise that fabulous men were not lining up to go on fun dates with these self-centered women?
 
My romantic soul was particularly offended by her statement “that husbands and wives actually spent little time together”. Wives and mothers, in Gottlieb’s ideal world, spend most of their time with the children and other mothers and children. The more I read, the more I wondered if she was looking or a husband or “breeder-provider”. It was off-putting. For the first time I understood exactly what men meant when they described how frightening it was to sit down on a first date with a ticking biological time-bomb.
 
I don’t have children. I didn’t want them. I know motherhood is a deep visceral drive for many women, and I respect that. Many men want children too. But does it justify taking love out of the equations of marriage?
 
Children are only part of marriage. Marriage is also about love, passion, companionship and many other things. Children do, after all, grow up. What bothers me about Gottlieb’s book is she talks about passion and chemistry — and then about doing without them. Gottlieb is more comfortable talking about learning to love than falling in love or loving.
 
As she advocates settling for “Mr. Good Enough”, I can’t imagine what would attract any man to a woman who sees love and marriage in such a light.
 
Ms. Gottlieb is the polar opposite of the young ladies who toss themselves too easily at young college boys on campuses where males may be scarce. She advises women to be realistic and use sensible criteria for choosing a mate before it is too late to breed. It sounds sensible, but it is cold and lacking in passion. I assure you there is more to love and marriage.
 
Darlings, if you think that I am telling women to give up on romance, nothing could be further from the truth. Respect and cherish yourself. Wait for what you want. If you are ready to meet someone, don’t necessarily wait in your room. It isn’t the best place to meet anyone. Get out and do interesting things that you genuinely enjoy. Be the intelligent, delightful, and compassionate person you are with everyone, including men. One of my friends met her husband at her own yoga studio; they were both over 35. Another friend met her husband at their engineering association.
 
Contrary to what you hear in the media, eligible men are everywhere. To weed out the bad ones, focus on what do, more than what they say. Players tend to talk a good game, but behavior is telling. Watch how men treat you and if they let you down or treat you badly, drop them.
 
If you or anyone you know got to a school where there are fewer men than women, focus on academics instead of joining the harem. You may excel as something that will give you a boost later. Consider a semester abroad or a transfer to an Ivy League School where the odds are better.  Darlings, most men are hunters — they value what they have to work for, but then again, don’t you?
 
Love really does come to those who wait and work it intelligently. I have seen it many  times. My husband can tell you the phrase “good enough” makes me crazy. Good enough is good enough for no one. So darlings, have a Valentine’s Day and never settle for less then fabulous!
 
 
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