I'm a little annoyed with Lori Gottlieb's new book, "Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough."
Because I had every intention of hating it, and then writing about how much I hated it. I mean, that seems to be the thing to do these days. All the cool kids are hating it.
So I bought it, and read it... and, dash it all, I rather enjoyed it.
In fact, I found it to be an honest, practical look at dating in the twenty-first century. While its do-as-I-say-not-as-I've-done message is aimed at younger women, as a thirty-eight-year-old single woman myself, I must admit I found it rather vindicating.
About a year ago, when I finally gave up on meeting someone the normal way (i.e., at work, through friends, at the grocery store/bank/gas station/wherever) and started internet dating, WP insisted that it was possible to meet someone great online. As proof, she offered up that she had, in fact, just met a terrific couple who found each other online. The woman was 34! And the husband was a doctor!
Yeah. That's nice.
Except, as I explained to WP, there's a BIG difference in the online dating world between 34 and 37. (I was 37 then. Ah, those were the days.)
I'd be willing to bet my opposable thumbs that the pool of men available to WP's 34-year-old and the pool of men available to me were completely different pools. If, in fact, our pools were shoved together to form a Venn diagram, I'm pretty confident there would be absolutely no touching. None. Just two circles, hanging out.
WP didn't believe me. (She nodded like she believed me, but she really didn't. I could tell.)
Well. She should read Lori Gottlieb's book. That'll show her.
This is not to say that there aren't flaws with the book and with Gottlieb's reasoning. Essentially, her argument is that women shouldn't hold out for The One, because The One is a fantasy; that we shouldn't have long, inflexible lists of qualities we're looking for in a perfect partner; and that we should be realistic (especially as we get older) about the kind of partner we're going to attract.
But nowhere does Gottlieb address some of the basic requirements for finding and being successful in a relationship. Things like readiness, and rightness, and timing. And luck.
To be in a successful relationship, you have to be ready for one. Do people sometimes (often?) get married before they're really ready? Oh, yes, they do. And I suppose it's possible that in some cases people really do "grow together," as you so often hear, but I've never seen it myself. More often, when people get married before they're really ready, they end up getting divorced.
Would I rather be single at thirty-eight than divorcing at thirty-eight? It's hard to say, but I think so.
I'd also rather be single than married to someone who's not Right For Me. Right For Me is, of course, hard to define, but it has nothing to do with being finicky about the things that Gottlieb seems to think women are concerned about, like height, full heads of hair, and the ability to banter. (Okay, I have to say it. What IS it about banter? Everyone wants to have great banter. You know what I want? Great conversation. Seriously, people.) Rightness is a feeling, and when that feeling happens, all the lists go out the window. Or so I hear.
Readiness and rightness are related to another factor that Gottlieb barely addresses: timing. Which is why the Sex and the City "light on" thing struck such a chord with me and my friends. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, in one episode of SATC, the women discussed how men are like taxis. A man could be dating the most amazing woman in the world, but if his light's not on, he's not marrying her. And then, as soon as his light goes on, he pretty much marries the next woman who gets in the cab. In short: timing.
While I don't think it's quite that simple, I do think that more often than not the man is The Decider when it comes to marriage. It's true among my friends, and it's true anecdotally throughout Gottilieb's book. When a man decides he's met the woman he wants to marry, he sticks to her like glue until she decides she wants to marry him too.
And let's be honest: there's more than a little luck involved.
Me, I have a lot of lucky professionally. But personally?
Yeah. Well. You can't have everything.
How are you lucky?