As a happily married woman of 19 years, maybe it'll sound glib to comment, but I found it interesting and the author has a valid point. There's been a lot of ink spilled and blogs raging back and forth about Lori Gottlieb's book Settling: The Case for Settling for Mr Good Enough. I read her article in the Atlantic, heard her on NPR, and she wrote another article for the Washington Post. She says she gotten "flamed" and "inviscerated" for simply confessing she gets lonely to share companionship with a man and wishes she hadn't been so quick to write off potential partners in her 20s and 30s for not being "perfect"."Look for important qualities in a partner and let go of stuff that won't matter 5/10/20 years down the line, when you're more focused with child care and contented companionship than you are about height and hairlines." Sounds like a no-brainer to me.
According to a scientific survey, a majority of single women responding said if they only got 80 percent of what they wanted in a man, they'd be 'settling.' But the majority of single men interviewed said finding a woman with 80 percent of the qualities they wanted would make them 'a catch.' What's up with the discrepancy?
Women accused her of ageism, sexism, and being anti-feminist simply because she admitted she wanted to be married and regretted her earlier views that she believed one man should be "perfect." Because here's the thing. Every single person reading this post who is in a long-term relationship/partnership or marriage knows no one person is going to possess all the qualities you drum up in your head as the 'perfect' partner. And it's not fair of you to demand they do. Here's the other thing: she was never using the word 'settling' literally. Now that she's older - and wiser - and her choices have diminished, she's realized, I think, she was being unrealistic. And she'd be happier in a relationship where compatibility was emphasized over passions and sexual chemistry - not those qualities aren't important - but that they don't remain on the utmost top of the list.
I didn't find her 'desperate' or 'an affront to womanhood' for changing her perspective as she's matured. I think she was pretty brave to have the guts to suggest woman can't always 'have it all.' Because let's face it - no one can. Everyone, man or woman, is a 'package deal,' as she says, with many wonderful and desirable and also less-than-wonderful and desirable qualities. It's just not fair to anyone to expect them to meet all your standards of perfection. What a heavy and unrealistic burden. Find out what your absolute qualities are and what you can let slide. I've been married and divorced before Excy. When my step daughter married and then divorced within a year, I told her to take it slow in the next relationship; she now knew what her deal-breaker issues were. It's really too bad we had to learn them the hard way, but learn them we did.
I've known too many single friends in their 50s and 60s who have regretted leaving relationships or not giving a relationship a chance because they were unwilling to compromise on some pretty trivial things. One friend tossed men aside like used Kleenex if they made an ill-timed remark or she didn't like they way they dressed. (Did she not see When Harry Met Sally?)
She now concedes there were at least three men she feels she could have had a happy partnership with. Contrast this with a male friend who remarried in his late 50s, saying he realized he was getting more and more set in his ways and if he didn't go ahead and marry Ms. 'Almost Perfect,' he would be too 'fixed' to make concessions. A dear friend in her 80s, once told me that not getting married was like walking in a forest: I'd come across a splendid tree, and would admire it. But then I'd think, I'm sure I could find an even better tree, so I'd keep walking....and looking, and sometimes I would, but I always thought I could do better...and all the sudden I realize I was out of the forest and there weren't any more trees.
She sounded wistful and regretful. It sounded like a sad story to me. She lived a full life with good friends, a good job and adventure, but had her regrets. Who hasn't? Not 'settling' so to speak. Being mature enough to know when one person fits the most of your most basic requirements for love, companionship and happiness -- now that's someone to hang onto. Wow. I am so glad for Excy in my life. I'm going to hug him a little tighter tonight.