Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Settle vs. Compromise

Voice-over narration:

In a world... where single women in their late 30's/early 40's have passed up plenty of good men...

I know this is an unpopular thing to say, but feminism has completely fucked up my love life... It's not that I would give back the gains of feminism for anything... It's just that I wish I hadn't tried to apply what I believe to be 'feminist ideals' to dating. p. 43

"...I want a husband and a boyfriend!" p. 279

What's so hard to accept about loneliness and desire for connection? Is there really something wrong with our self-esteem or our values if we want someone to share the literal and metaphorical driving with? We're so worried about 'settling', but then we find ourselves unhappily "unsettled"-- living in our single-person apartments, eating takeout for dinner in front of the TV, and hoping for a guy to show up so we can 'settle down.' (p. 59)

"Since when is getting 80% considered settling?... We create these fantasy men-- he's going to have this kind of career, this color eyes, be this age. How specific can you get before you rule out almost everyone?" p. 266

"...women generally have higher expectations than men...With women, the word "butterflies" came up again and again, but guys didn't use that word. Guys would say, 'I knew this person was the right person when we'd been dating for six months and she had to go away for a week, and when she was gone, I missed her so much. I thought I felt happier when she was around. I realized how important she was.' Women talked a lot about chemistry and fireworks." p. 279.

"So which is it-- do you want exciting, or do you want comfortable? What do you want long-term?" p. 283.

"He ordered tap water. He took the subway to meet me. He didn't even take a cab at night. He's cheap." In fact he was tall and handsome and wealthy, so I just said, "He may not care about bottled water or cabs, but if they're important to you, maybe he'd understand that...These are things you can discuss if you ended up liking each other. At least go out with him again." But it rubbed her the wrong way. She wasn't into it. p. 98

"The best husbands are the ones who have these unseen qualities, the kind of things you'll see over time, like kindness, patience, generosity, and honesty." p. 195
"That's an idiotic dating strategy...He's known her a week. How does he know he wouldn't like you better?"... I tried to feel reassured by my friends' comments, but instead they made me respect Sheldon more: the thought of 'better' didn't seem to occur to him. He had no so-called dating strategy. He was an ethical guy who didn't sleep with one woman and go on a blind date with another... p. 89.

"There was a lack of correlation between what people said they wanted on the questionnaire, and what they actually picked when they met a real, live person." p. 116

It did seem hypocritical-- I wanted men to accept me for who I was, but I wasn't willing to accept them for who they were. In the past, I'd always focused on what compromises I'd have to make to be with someone else, but I didn't seriously consider the second part-- that being with me wouldn't be winning the lottery either.... Like most women, I had friends constantly telling me what a great "catch" I was, that any guy would be "lucky" to have me, and that I should never compromise when choosing a mate." p. 126

"The culture tells us to approach dating like shopping-- but in shopping , no one points out the shopper's own flaws." p. 27

I'd mention the couch metaphor, and while my younger single friends had trouble understanding why this made me so happy ("He's like an old couch!?" they'd ask), my older married friends were delighted. p. 309

"Was it love at first site? It wasn't then-- but it sure is now." Anne Meara p. 195
Anne Meara has been married to Jerry Stiller for 55 years. Incidentally, they're Ben Stiller's parents.


That is how I would organize the trailer if the latest book to capture my attention were made into a movie. The provocative title is a bit misleading: Marry Him: The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough by Lori Gottlieb.

It's not really about "settling," a word that offends a lot of people. It's just about having more realistic expectations. It's about compromise, something that everyone does, all the time, if you interact (successfully) with other human beings.

Gottlieb, a 41-year-old single mother who had a child on her own, wondered why she and so many of her friends were having so much trouble finding the right man to marry. The endless supply of boyfriends they had in their 20's had disappeared, replaced by short, balding, divorced guys in their 50's. Now they regret having let so many great guys go for shallow or trivial reasons.

As one of those guys who plenty of women passed over when I was younger, a part of me feels some vindication at reading this book. But another part of me takes it to heart. Although I'm not the exact audience for this book, I know that there's a reason I'm 40 and single. I, too, need to have realistic expectations.

This is one of those books I could write hundreds more words about, but I think I'll let the "trailer" speak for itself. There are lots of thought-provoking points, anecdotes, data, and quotes about dating, relationships, and marriage in the book. Read it yourself if that kind of thing appeals to you. Discuss.

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