Why (Some) Women Might Consider Settling

Why (Some) Women Might Consider Settling
I got an email from my sister the other day. She was forwarding an article written by Lori Gottlieb for The Atlantic, called “Marry Him – The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough”. Actually, that’s not quite right. In fact, she was forwarding me a link to a gossip site called Jezebel, which was ripping the author for even posing the notion that settling was a reasonable idea. So first I read the criticism, then I read the article, then I read a post-article interview with Gottlieb, and then I watched Gottlieb defend herself on The Today Show.

It was very clear that Gottlieb was onto a hot-button issue. But why was she getting attacked from all angles? Why the seething vitriol at a single mother who suggests that it might be wiser to compromise at age 34 than to continue searching through a thinning talent pool at age 40? It was clear to me that the messenger was being shot for carrying a controversial message. But it wasn’t fully clear why. So I started talking with the very people who were upset about this piece – single women, 35-45. My clients.

They told me that the piece was offensive.

They told me that it speaks more about the author than it does of them.

They told me they were very happy being single and would sooner die alone than settle.

They told me that it’s unfair to single out women for “settling”. What about men?

Now, to be clear, I am very sympathetic to the plight of women looking for love. No, I’m not a woman, which inherently limits my understanding, but I am a dating coach who listens to the fears and complaints of women every single day. You’d be hard pressed to find a man more attuned to the frustrations of single women than I am. Yet from a coldly logical standpoint, I found Gottlieb’s argument virtually unassailable.

She didn’t say settling was ideal. She wasn’t saying that you should “settle” to the point that you’re miserable. She wasn’t saying that you couldn’t possibly be happy alone. She even admits that “talking about settling in a positive light makes people profoundly uncomfortable”. So what was she saying? To paraphrase:

If you DO want that traditional American dream of husband + house + kids who look like you, then your odds of achieving it are greater if you “settle” in your early 30’s.

If you want to have your own biological children with a quality man, your options are considerably greater when you’re 32 than when you’re 42. And if that’s the case, it might behoove you to settle for a “good” guy when you’re younger, rather than hold out for an ideal guy when there are fewer quality options available.

I’m not sure what there is to argue with. I mean, you can make the argument that you’re perfectly happy being single. Great. Stay single. You can make the argument that you’d be suicidal if you were to marry the “wrong” guy. Certainly, you shouldn’t marry under those circumstances. But if you DO want that traditional American dream of husband + house + kids who look like you, then your odds of achieving it are greater if you “settle” in your early 30’s.

Here’s why:…

1) If a tall, dark and handsome 40-year-old man with a six-figure income and great family values is on the hunt for a wife, he is most likely is going to be attracted to someone younger. Wait, don’t shoot! I’ve got an older girlfriend, and have long advocated for the wisdom and experience of thirtysomethings over twentysomethings. But youth and beauty have always been coveted by men, and wishing it away doesn’t change a thing.

2) If a tall, dark and handsome 40-year-old man with a six-figure income and great family values wants to be the biological father to his own children, he is mostly likely going to be searching for someone younger. It makes perfect sense. He doesn’t want to have to rush the relationship, much less get engaged, married, and pregnant in a year. Thus, all things remaining equal, most 40-year-old men with a choice will choose to date a woman younger than 35. It buys them time. Time that 35-40 year-old women don’t have IF they want their own biological children.

If a tall, dark and handsome 40-year-old man with a six-figure income and great family values wants to be the biological father to his own children, he is mostly likely going to be searching for someone younger.

And that’s the caveat that I need to emphasize more than Gottlieb did in her article. If you don’t want children, you’ve got no reason to settle. If you already have children, you’ve got no reason to settle. If you’re fine adopting children, you’ve got no reason to settle. But if you want to have your own kids, you have a far better pool of male applicants at age 30 than you do at age 40. It’s not that it’s impossible. Women in their late 30′s and early 40′s fall in love, get married, and get pregnant all the time. It’s just more difficult, that’s all.

Which is why this should not be taken as a judgment against women over 35. It’s merely an observation about the dating preferences of men. It’s not like women don’t know this. If they weren’t fully aware that men discriminated by age, they wouldn’t be lowering their ages to 29, 34, and 39 on dating sites across America. And what these women have surely realized – what they voice to me on the phone daily – is that the quality of their suitors is abysmal.

Are all the good ones taken? Not quite. But here’s a lot of what you’re going to get as a 40-year-old woman on Match.com: Commitmentphobes. Players. Financially unstable guys. Unattractive guys. Socially awkward guys. Much younger guys. Much older guys. Look in your in-box. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know….

So where are the tall, dark and handsome 40-year-old men with six-figure incomes and great family values? Searching for women 25-35, that’s where. And while some of those 25-35 women are getting married to these guys, many others are holding out for better men –younger, richer, cuter, smarter. Are they wrong for doing so? Hell, no. They’re following their hearts. They know what they’re worth. They WILL. NOT. SETTLE. In the meantime, they focus on their careers, their friends, their travel, and their homes, because that’s more rewarding than the tedious, maddening process that is dating. But occasionally, as these women near 40, things begin to shift. They find themselves lonely at holidays, or fed up with weddings, or feeling a biological pull that can’t be ignored. So, once again, they decide to gamely search for Mr. Right. But who’s left to choose from? Mostly (not exclusively), a parade of the “wrong” men on Match.com.

Given all that, I find it hard to disagree with Gottlieb’s assertion that, for women who want their own kids, it may be a better long-term decision to snap up Mr. Good Enough at 32 than to hope for Mr. Perfect at 42.

It sure ain’t romantic, but it is practical. People hate practical.

It sure ain’t romantic, but it is practical. People hate practical.

You may be reading this and getting upset. Maybe you’re upset at me for my take on this. Maybe you’re upset with Gottlieb for perpetuating the myth that women need men. Maybe you’re upset with men for wanting younger women. But mostly, I think what is most upsetting is that the article challenges our worldview that we can have it all without having to compromise. And the fact that a few people seem to have it all makes it all the more tantalizing. But when the high wears off – and, oh, it does – what do those people have left? Ask any older married couple. They’ll tell you about the virtues that have kept them together for forty years. Friendship. Loyalty. Patience. Values. Compromise.

So why do we single people so arrogantly insist that our elders have got it wrong? And if you’d rather be alone than compromise, why get so upset that other people like Lori Gottlieb have a different point of view?

 

 

 

Click here to read more:

Lori Gottlieb’s Article in the Atlantic: “Marry Him”

Jezebel’s criticism of Gottlieb

Lori Gottlieb defending her article on The Today Show.

 

3
5

Join 5 Million Readers

And the thousands of women I've helped find true love. Sign up for weekly updates for help understanding men.

I hate spam as much as you do, therefore I will never sell, rent, or give away your email address.

Join our conversation (268 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. Pingback: Dating Advice - Anything ‘08 : Blog Archive : Why (Some) Women Might Consider Settling
  2. 2
    Markus

    Bravo Evan. Bravo. A couple of things. First, your last paragraph and a half is gold. I was married for 10 years. My grandparents died together (not literally) and my parents just celebrated 40 years. It’s unfair to expect ANYONE to give you that buzz for the rest of your life. You need to be happy with the comfy kind of love that comes after. More, I think the perpetuation of the myth that you should ALWAYS have that buzz is partly behind the rise in female infidelity.

    Second, I frequent a site called survivinginfidelity.com and it’s my experience that as women get older they feel more independent than men do. I feel that this may partly be due to female rise in testosterone w/ age and corresponding male decline in same w/ age. Sorry to whip out my bachelors in science. Just a theory.

    Lastly, with everything you’ve written Evan I just feel that much more pathetic. I’m 38 and in peak physical condition. 6’1″, 200 lbs and I can even dress myself, cook and choose wine. Yet, I’ve been on match for more than 2 years with nothing more to show for it than some one night stands and month-long relationships that crash and burn. Negatives include, I already have 2 kids and their nights are unavailable, socially. Some emotional baggage and financial instability due to divorce/child support (excellent credit and bills get paid but, hey, month to month) and the inability/lack of desire to produce more children. Very frustrating. I really don’t want to be a 50 year old bachelor. : (

    1. 2.1
      mara

      hey Markus, I understand where you come from, but I must say for me one of the first dealbreakers on dating sites is ‘already has kids/ex wife’. Maybe I am wrong for doing so, maybe I am missing out on a great guy..But as an attractive, smart 33 y.o. I get flooded with options, so I guess part of your bad luck can be explained by this. A girl looking for her ‘prince charming’ does not want it with that much baggage and the no kids policy on top? did you try older women?

  3. 3
    Selena

    Settling is a practical option. Many women and men settle. The problem with settling often comes down the road. Many people who settle find themselves on other message boards complaining about their mates in terms of sex, affectionate, communication, compromise, values, the list goes on and on. And you ask them, “But was s/he like this BEFORE you married?” Answer: “Well yes, to a degree. But I thought it would get better in time after we were married.”

    Well it didn’t and years after the bloom is off the settling relationship, what you have is at least one unhappy person who complains and complains, yet stays because the spouse is a good provider/good parent. And that might be the only reason.

    Settling as practical to get what you want? Sure. But you might want to talk to those people who settled a while AFTER they got the house and the kids and the SUV and see what they have to say then.

  4. 4
    Selena

    Settling at 32 can feel like being trapped at 42. It’s a tradeoff.

  5. 5
    Steve

    I think one of the reasons why women find the idea of “settling” so offensive is that when they were little girls their heads were filled with the “Knight In Shining Armour” BS and their heads were filled with the BS that their weddings would be the end all,be all, romantic adventures of their lives.

    They have been waiting for that ideal all of their lives. For many it keeps them going.

    The idea of giving all of that is not going to be happy one.

  6. 6
    Steve

    To be clear

    “Settling”, I think, in this context” means accepting accepting “Mr. Human” instead of holding out for “Mr. Knight In Shining Armor”.

    “Settling” does not mean marrying “Mr. Wrong” or even “Mr. Poor Fit”

  7. 7
    verbosity

    Evan’s points are great. He’s right about compromising and the challenges of ‘having it all.’ For both sexes, I might add.

    Ah, practicality. Selena makes some good points for & against both sexes. Here is what I’ve found, anectedotally (spelling?) speaking. And no, I’m not critiquing her post, just taking it a step further.

    She wrote, “Well it didn’t and years after the bloom is off the settling relationship, what you have is at least one unhappy person who complains and complains, yet stays because the spouse is a good provider/good parent. And that might be the only reason.

    Settling as practical to get what you want? Sure. But you might want to talk to those people who settled a while AFTER they got the house and the kids and the SUV and see what they have to say then.”

    No kidding. She’s right. However, it’s pretty easy to divorce now, and no one needs to be ‘at fault.’ Since the thrust of the article is about having children, let’s look at that.

    If she ‘settles,’ she’s already dissatisfied on some level, as noted by Selena. However, let’s look a little at what happens if she’s a stay-at-home mom. This isn’t to debate the merits or supposed benefits to the kids. It’s about her dissatisfaction because she settled.

    Husband has risks he shoulders when accepting 100% of the financial burden to allow his wife to stay at home. I agree that staying home with children is backbreaking and difficult work. This changes when the kids go to school from 8-3, or 7 hours. After a few years of hard work at home, many wives may feel entitled to “kick back” and take it easy. What’s husband done this entire time? He’s worked to provide the funds for the household, has done his share of housework, and is still working just as hard to support the family once the kids are in school. His workload has not diminished, and it may have even increased as her expectations rise. He is rarely afforded the same option to scale back his daytime efforts.

    What motivation does wife have to return to work? Very little. Husband’s income has been enough to live on. Otherwise, she would have been working to make ends meet out of need. Unless tight finances dictate that she must return to work, the husband really has little say in this matter. Wife usually has many different ‘reasons’ she cannot work, despite having little to do from 8am-3pm. Here are some of the most popular.

    “I do the housework”
    Hooey. This was valid in the 30′s, before dishwashers, washers, dryers, microwaves, and refrigerators were in every home. In the 30′s women did have too wash the clothes (incl. cloth diapers, not disposables like today) by hand on a washboard. Ouch! Today, throw them in a Maytag. Run a vacuum – 1 hour/week. It is easy to exaggerate the labours of daily housework. Yet how long does it take to throw clothes or dishes into the washer, and remove them later? Grocery shopping used to be done daily, as not everyone had refrigerators to store food. Food was prepared from scratch daily. That doesn’t exist today. A decent meal can be prepared in under an hour, not to mention the proliferation of take-out (Chipotle, anyone?). Does all of this add up to 7 hours a day? The lie that housework is hard, time-consuming drudgery is no longer as persuasive as it may have been in the past, because in an age of later marriage, many men have done their own cooking, cleaning, and general housekeeping and know that it doesn’t take that much effort or time. Humourously, not every stay-at-home-wife even performs all of these duties.

    “I can’t find a job”
    She has been out of work too long, and therefore is unable to find a job. This may be true, but many men do not consider this risk when they agree to support her while she “temporarily” stops working. Hopefully now they will, and can make a more informed decision. Many wives may use this as a convenient scapegoat to stop looking for any job at all.

    “It doesn’t pay for me to work”
    In the short run, the expenses of returning to work such as gas, lunch, clothes and day care may not make it worthwhile for her to return to the workforce. This may be true, but does that justify her playing tennis, drinking lattes and catching up with her friends while her husband toils away? Many couples may be too shortsighted to thoroughly and comprehensively think through this issue. Initially, the cost to benefits ratio may not be ideal, but her returning to work will improve her job skills and network of contacts and over time the return on investment will improve. More so than strolling through the local mall every afternoon and window-shopping for new window treatments. Over time, as her career gets back on track, and she becomes qualified for better jobs, her salary should also improve.

    Ah, Divorce. I don’t like to bring it up, but you have to include it in the discussion since, if she’s ‘settled’ and dissatisfied, she will likely initiate a divorce. The divorce rate exceeds 50%, and of those, women initiate AT LEAST 70% of the divorces (see Discovery Health).

    Upon divorce, all assets accumulated during and prior to a marriage are subject to division. Divorce is a license to steal. It’s wealth redistribution. If the Wife has not worked in years, and has spent the intervening 5-10+ years shopping and lunching from 8am-3pm, she is entitled to half, or more, of everything Husband earned during the course of the marriage. Is this fair? How many people would ever agree to a job contract that stipulated that in the event of separation that one party would have to return 50% of the gross amount of everything in the pay packet? No one in his or her right mind would knowingly sign such an agreement. Yet Husbands agree to this insanity every time they marry.

    Imagine that in the spirit of generosity and kindness that you gave a beggar a hot meal. This is nice, no? Now imagine your reaction if that same beggar sues you in court. He is petitioning the judge to have you keep providing him with the food that you gave him willingly, freely, out of a big heart. The judge orders you to keep feeding the homeless man meals, indefinitely, forever, because he has become accustomed to eating those meals! This is categorically absurd, yet this happens to Husbands in divorce court every day. Instead of thanking you for paying her bills for all those years, what you get is the privilege of being legally forced to pay her bills forever!

    After having children, many women demand to quit working and stay home. Before the kids came along, many of these same women may have been in careers they hated, working long hours, and enduring long commutes. It is the man’s generosity and dedication to his own career that enables her to walk away from her own career. During a marriage, a man with a stay-at-home wife might work long and grueling hours in order to support her. He will pay the mortgage, the property tax, grocery bill, phone bill, cable bill, Internet bill and electric bill. He also pays for her car, gas money, clothes, and vacations.

    As one final slap in the face, the man may be punished for working hard enough to allow his wife to have the luxury of staying at home with the kids. As noted above, after the children are in school, the wife may enjoy a life of leisure and relaxation that is afforded to her by her man’s hard work. In the event of divorce, he will be legally obligated to support her for years or decades to come. Because she stopped working and led a life of leisure, the ex-husband is now responsible for supporting her, forever! History has a tendency of rewriting itself. Originally, a woman may have had a career that she may have hated, and was begging to leave. Women often “play” at work and career for a few years after University, and then when they near 30 or grow tired of the workplace they seek out a man to “take her away from all of this”, whatever “all of this” may be. In fact her desire to leave the world of work may have been her motivation to have kids in the first place. But now, in her eyes, and definitely her lawyers eyes, she “gave up” her career for her man and his kids. She is now “owed” all of her “lost income”. His gift of leisure and support to her has now become twisted and is viewed as her sacrifice! Another way in which the situation is turned against him is that he will be characterised as being threatened by her having her own career, and that he forced her to quit her “lucrative career” and stay home with the children. Her lawyer will now attempt to convince the judge that he wanted to “oppress” his wife and “keep her down”. Truthfully now, how many men do you personally know that are upset at having a wife that earns a good living? Many of these misleading stereotypes still run rampant in our society, and are routinely used to the woman’s advantage during a divorce. As a result of her not working, regardless of whether she was minding the home or not, she remains a financial liability.

    Generous, caring men who spoil their wives should certainly think twice about how this generosity can later be used against them. The phrase used in divorce court is “She has become accustomed to a certain lifestyle”. A husband’s reward for spoiling his wife today is the legal obligation to spoil her indefinitely, forever. Buy her a luxury car today, and you may be obligated to buy her luxury cars after she leaves you for another man! Yet, imagine a husband that became accustomed to eating a home cooked dinner, or regular conjugal visits. Now imagine the courts obligate the ex-wife to continue cooking for him and sharing her bed with him and his new girlfriend each night, despite being divorced! Inconceivable, but it happens the other way around every day!

    Ok. Apologies for being so long winded. But you get the point. She ‘settles’ for him to have kids. She gets dissatisfied. In the end, he ends up with modern indentured servitude. By the way, the same thing happens to him if he ‘settles’ and later wants out. The post sounds negative, but it’s a no-win system for men, generally speaking.

    It would seem best that men avoid women who are ‘settling’ for them. Now how to do so is the trick…

  8. 8
    Steve

    I didn’t start out looking for younger women almost exclusively. I like good conversation. I also like someone that has the same cultural references that I have.

    I gave up on women my own age because

    - They are paranoid. Dates aren’t fun. They come with an
    agenda of questions designed to weed men out on indicators.
    I understand why they do this, but I want to have
    fun on a date, and enjoy someone’s company not be interviewed.
    have fun. These women are not as subtle as they think they are.

    - Low self esteem. Forcing a shy person into a conversation is
    no fun. At various parties I have been at it has been a LOT
    easier to break the ice with younger women. Not so with many
    of the older women I have come across. I have to work a lot
    longer and a lot harder to draw them out. I can get the vibe
    from them that they think of themselves as “expired produce”
    so why would a guy like me want to talk with them or maybe
    I will then get bored with them quickly. Not true, but if it is a lot
    easier to get someone else to warm up in a conversation that is
    the person I am going to talk to at a party.

  9. 9
    Steve

    I read this great quote in a book last year

    “If you will settle for nothing less than perfection then that is exactly what you will get: nothing

  10. 10
    Alan

    Evan, kudos for a great post! I’m generally a fan of being open and cognizant of other points of view and I think you hit this one dead on.

    In response to Selena, I view those as the balance to the equation, or caveats if you will. Settling is a trade off, a gamble in many ways.

    Two (possibly relevant) quotes: The problem with getting what you want is getting what you once wanted. (Don’t remember where that’s from.) “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.” Sheryl Crow (“Soak Up The Sun”)

  11. 11
    E.S.

    Evan, Gottlieb isn’t just saying “settle for a guy who’s less than perfect.” She’s saying “settle for a guy you don’t love and don’t find attractive before your ovaries wither or you have to be a single mom.” I mean, she’s advocating being willing to marry and have babies with a man whose touch repulses you — and she’s saying that being repulsed should be Good Enough. Isn’t that a bit too much of a sacrifice just to get a ring and a Diaper Genie?

  12. 12
    Angela Crisp

    Firs, Evan, my dear, I applaud you for this brave piece, however, it does seem to me to be misguided on several points. As a 42 year old, unmarried woman, I don’t feel I should rip the author, but I must admit I do feel pity for her, and anyone who takes her advice. The idea I should settle for a problematic man for biological purposes is, on its face, rather cold. I can, in fact, give birth through my mid fifties to satisfy my own biological needs. If men prefer vigorous younger women to conceive with, I also seek a vigorous man for a sperm donor. But if in seeking a man, I am also seeking a companion, and if the chemistry is not strong enough, the relationship will end at some point, and the children will likely be my responsibility alone. The large number of single mothers in the US I think attests in the support of this theory. Women don’t seek ideals, we seek real people, and practical situations. Recommending women settle for what they don’t really, truly desire is a recipe for unhappiness. Now, I recognize that sometimes everyone needs to adjust what they desire, but I would hope the passion for the new desire would be just as great as for the old desire. I happen to adore men, no doubt a product of my past affairs, but adore them I do. However, the idea I should “settle” for something less than I desire is disturbing considering my passion for the men in question. I notice that this recommendation is made only to women, not to men, although you make it plain that previous objection won’t be addressed in your column. I find that interesting. Women, for biological satisfaction, should deny themselves emotional satisfaction. Yet, it is the emotion that will keep people together to raise the biological offspring, and it that’s not present, the relationship will end, if for no other reason than the stress of raising the offspring. Would it not be better to let the women have their biological offspring even if an ideal or good man is not present? Then if the man truly wants to stay, he can of his own free will? And if a woman tries with a man to have children she will remain involved with, shouldn’t her biological and emotional choice be hers? It is not like women don’t raise children on their own in the US. And if children are not her goal, should she not have the same set of choices? As for being arrogant questioning our elders — if no questions are allowed, however respectfully they may be made, won’t that cut off all advancement, all progress, even between generations? In what way does wanting and waiting for a compatible man we are passionate about question our elders? You column raises more questions than it provides answers aside for an injunction for women to settle for someone they might not really desire in the long run. Is looking for a good man really that painful and detrimental for women? We are, after all, told we are natural shoppers. I realize my point of view resonates with old feminist ideas that have been lost or refuted by US culture, and I don’t want to imply any threat to you. But your column provides a very old fashion solution to a complex modern problem. I admire your bravery and courage in addressing these issues at all, and would hope you can find in my words a few things to consider in the future. Thank you.

  13. 13
    Angela Crisp

    To Steve: I think it is wonderful you have found a group that seems right for you to focus on. I date mostly younger men for the same reasons you date younger women. Older guys do have more baggage, just as older women do. I am the lucky one, I lost my baggage at the airport and never bothered to track it back down, lol. Do I need that old tooth brush and those worn out sneakers? No. I don’t think you do either. It is about fun, and friendly, open minded people are more fun from the beginning. That’s a lesson for all age groups, from teens to 80s. Thanks for your comment.

  14. 14
    Evan Marc Katz

    Thanks, Angela, for the respectful note.

    I think our main source of departure is the definition of a “problematic” man. As you said – “recommending women settle for what they don’t really, truly desire is a recipe for unhappiness.” But what if what they really, truly desire doesn’t exist? What if what it exists as infrequently as a solar eclipse? What if what women want is unrealistic, unfair, and unreasonable? These are the main issues that I think it’s important to address. Because NOBODY – myself and Lori Gottlieb included – advocate for misery. I’m simply suggesting that we all, to a degree, overestimate ourselves. We dissect others and hope that nobody dissects us. And then when we find ourselves standing alone, because all the people we want don’t want us, and all the people who want us are summarily rejected – we complain. The logical solution, it therefore stands to reason, is to compromise, which others describe as “settling”. And, as evidenced by the tone of the Gottlieb debate, the notion of settling is entirely unsettling – to ALL of us.

    As far as your later points, I’m not a slave to orthodoxy. The whole nature of this blog is to challenge beliefs and ask questions. But the REAL belief structure that’s being challenged, Angela, is NOT our parents’ conventional wisdom. No, what’s got everyone up in arms is the concept that all women can’t always have it all. And that’s not something that anyone is particularly comfortable with.

    Frankly, I find this whole debate to be surprising, since the argument is moot to most single women. If the women who are angry at Lori Gottlieb refuse to settle, refuse to compromise, are happy being single, and perfectly content being alone for as long as it takes to find Mr. Perfect, then WHO CARES WHAT LORI GOTTLIEB SAYS? Just go on and live your life. Lori provided some very practical advice specifically to women who want to have their own kids. “Take it from me – an unwed 40 year old single mom. I might have been happier with a guy who gave me 85% at 30, than to be searching for 100% from a worse dating pool ten years later.” That is a thought worth considering. Case closed. You don’t want to consider it – fine. But why the anger?

    I’d forgotten, but I wrote about this in a chapter in Why You’re Still Single called “Hitting on 20″. It’s a blackjack metaphor – and it seems to me that both men and women are not content with a perfectly winning hand. We’re always going to pull for another card, and a lot of times we’re gonna bust. So as I see it – and you may disagree – Lori’s not talking about sticking on 13 or 14. She’s saying that when you have a good guy – an 18 or a 19, it may be wiser to hold onto him than to cast him out – especially as the pool of quality single and interested men diminishes. This is sound advice to SOME women – even if you’re not one of them.

    Finally, the reason this doesn’t apply to men is because men don’t have a biological clock. Plain and simple. Thus, they feel (rightfully and wrongfully) that they can hold out for perfection, longer. But even they’re wrong. Eventuallythe successful 45 year old guy gets pretty damn desperate for a 29 year old bride – only to discover that he, too, has waited too long – and that 29 year old women usually get creeped out by them. They, too, overestimate their value and are shocked, SHOCKED, that the women they covet have no interest in them.

    The moral of the story is this: until we get very clear on what is a) reasonable, and b) realistic, we’re all gonna be single and bitching for a really long time.

  15. 15
    Steve


    Angela Crisp Feb 14th 2008 at 11:43 am 13
    To Steve: I think it is wonderful you have found a group that seems right for you to focus on. I date mostly younger men for the same reasons you date younger women. Older guys do have more baggage, just as older women do. I am the lucky one, I lost my baggage at the airport and never bothered to track it back down, lol.

    Angela, if that is true, the next time you are near Washington D.C. email me your phone number. I would love to have the night out with someone from my generation.

  16. 16
    RSL

    I’ve been reading the blog for awhile, never posted, but felt inspired today to post. I totally agree with Evan’s points. I would make one change- I don’t call that “settling” I call it maturing and having reasonable expectations. I am a 28 year old woman who has lost both of my parents before the age of 16- so I think I may have come to this conclusion that stability and dependability outranks fireworks every time earlier than most. Although I don’t find it depressing- I find it liberating. For me, it has allowed me to realize that when a guy doesn’t necessarily give me butterflies at first glance, the minute he shows what a solid guy he can be when I might need him, the butterflies come. And they get even stronger when he can let me do that for him as well. It makes it so that my goal when dating is to get to know someone and find something deeper and more genuine than some sparks. And really, the sparks can be totally ignited down the line- although I am single now, it’s happened to me before. When the sparks come a little later than expected, you have a solid base to rely on when the sparks begin to dim. Again, I think I am talking about the same phenomenon as Evan is, I just call it something different.
    One more note- verbosity, I appreciate all the thought you put into your posts, and I’d like to comment on this one. I’ve seen you use this statistic about women intitating divorce several times, and I was curious about it, so I looked it up where you found it. Although the statistic is there, I think the way you are using doesn’t quite support your argument- it appears that you use it as kind of way to implicate women in the rising divorce rates and subsequent rise of single people in their 30s and 40s. Of course women have a part in this phenomenon- I am just not sure that it’s related to this statistic. Here is something is says below the statistic on the site you found it on:
    “Two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by women. One recent study found that many of the reasons for this have to do with the nature of our divorce laws. For example, in most states women have a good chance of receiving custody of their children. Because women more strongly want to keep their children with them, in states where there is a presumption of shared custody with the husband the percentage of women who initiate divorces is much lower. Also, the higher rate of women initiators is probably due to the fact that men are more likely to be “badly behaved.” Husbands, for example, are more likely than wives to have problems with drinking, drug abuse, and infidelity.” (Discovery Health)
    So, basically there are a myriad of reasons women initiate divorce that don’t fit into your argument. I think a women who leaves her husband because she wants to take his money is very different from a woman who leaves her husband because he is an alcoholic who won’t get help- yet both are the “intiators.” It’s really a misleading statistic. I also think the scenario you put forth about the dissatisfied stay-at-home mom is probably pretty confined to the white upper middle and middle class, which is not the majority in our society. And you did say this was just from your anecdotal experience, so I appreciate that.

  17. 17
    RSL

    I meant upper-middle and upper class. Ooops.

  18. 18
    Markus

    Verbosity,

    While I very much sympathize with your content, I think you are rather off topic.

    All,

    Man have I lived this thread. I was dating an incredible girl last year and I broke up with her because I thought something better had come along. I’ve been paying for it ever since.

  19. 19
    Lisa

    If you will settle for nothing less than perfection then that is exactly what you will get: nothing”

    So true Evan. As a 42 yo single mom I can say that I’m looking
    for someone mainly with good character, honesty, loyalty, kindness, ability to hold a job, and I can live with someone with financial difficulties. That can be temporary. Or one who has kids at home…they eventually grow up and leave home.

    The only problem I see with settling for Mr good enough right now, is if you do settle for the sake of having kids, and things don’t work out, its the kids who can suffer. No one should settle just for the sake of having kids. For loneliness, maybe, but not for kids.
    There’s way too many kids growing up in single parent homes now.

    Other than that, I totally agree, no one is perfect, and you have to accept some flaws to find long term happiness.
    The high of finding love wears off and then you have companionate love. It even shifts from one area of the brain to another. And that’s what you need to have a lasting long term relationship.

  20. 20
    Lance

    This is an epic thread. I just got done reading the original article, the rant on Jezebel, the followup interview, and all the comments on EMK’s blog.

    Lori’s perspective is shattering but it also strikes me as totally reasonable…she’s just arguing for it in a way that comes off as controversial. There is often a huge disparity between the romantic ideal and the “solid person” that is marriageable…this is true for both men and women. Lori and Evan both suggest a lowering of expectations IF you’re interested in starting a family. If you’re satisfied with with being single and dating, then there’s no reason to settle, and I agree with that totally. Why not? You’re not in a hurry.

    Here’s the money quote from Lori’s interview:
    “I was so focused on true love that I hadn’t appreciated the purely practical benefits of having a husband. Not only does he contribute financially, help with the dishes, and share in the child care, but as his wife, if you want some companionship or physical intimacy, you don’t have to shave your legs, blow-dry your hair, find a puke-free outfit, apply lipstick, drive to a restaurant and sit through a tedious two-hour meal for the mere possibility of some heavy petting while the babysitter meter is ticking away.”

    Wow! That’s a heavy dose of realism. I think everyone could benefit from having their romantic ideals knocked down a peg or three. It’s not like the movies. Dating is truly a battlefield and I ain’t gonna lie, it makes me glad I don’t have a biological clock.

  21. 21
    Angela Crisp

    verbosity: You make some interesting points, but I actually know women paying alimony to men. I don’t think anyone should get paid out a relationship they wanted unless they are too disabled to work and provide for themselves. This simply complicates a free and open possibility for everyone else because it builds up stereotypes. We need to halt all alimony unless a partner who was fit can no longer provide for themselves.

    Markus: I hear your regret loud and clear. I, too, have let some fantastic men walk out of my life. The question is, how do I manage to find other fantastic men to spend time with now? If I could bottle and sell it, I’m sure I would be rich, lol! I hope you decide to try again, and not blame yourself for a mistake.

    Steve: it is true. I did lose my baggage at the airport. But are we talking about baggage here, something someone should change about themselves to find the person who will be a joy for them to know? Or are you talking about settling for less joy, and toting along our baggage anyway? I would agree people can and do have unreasonable expectations. I am as guilty of that as the rest. I used to call it my “knight-in-shining-armor complex.” (Not really fair to me or to real knights in shining armor, lol) Once I understood that men would never solve a problem for me, but are a problem that once solved (ie., understood, accepted, embraced), the problem would present me with incredible gifts, and so my relationship choices improved. Men have the same problem, we’ll call it the “damsel-in-distress” complex. Wanting real passion has nothing to do with being unrealistic. It is for the individual to decide when this one is the keeper, and when to work on themselves to improve their playing field.

    Now, for Mr. Katz: by problematic, I mean no offense, merely that this individual woman is not satisfied with this individual man. (It may be the man is not satisfied either?) This man might be a joy to someone else, but not to this individual woman. Why ask anyone to “settle” so long as the passion is insufficient? Settling breeds resentment as surely as alimony breeds resentment. Perhaps you can address the unrealistic expectations, and bring them more into line with the flesh-and-blood people one actually has to choose from, but “settling” just to have children is a huge mistake. Becoming realistic is different to me (as a work someone does on themselves) and “settling” for something that does not seem right (a possible deception as far as real passion is concerned, with another person). I think I am mature (at 42, but who really knows, lol), and settling would be a huge mistake for me because I value passion so very much. Again, thank you for your efforts. A.C.

  22. 22
    Angela Crisp

    One final comment on the above. Men do have a biological clock. Low sperm count is a problem that strikes across age groups, and is surely a biological problem for any pair hoping to have children. Male fertility problems has sponsored an entire medical industry. It is not fair to only hang the biological clock on women by the time they pass the age of 32. Thanks again for reading my questionable wisdoms. I hope it means something.

  23. 23
    Steve


    Here’s the money quote from Lori’s interview:
    I was so focused on true love that I hadn’t appreciated the purely practical benefits of having a husband. Not only does he contribute financially, help with the dishes, and share in the child care, but as his wife, if you want some companionship or physical intimacy, you don’t have to shave your legs, blow-dry your hair, find a puke-free outfit, apply lipstick, drive to a restaurant and sit through a tedious two-hour meal for the mere possibility of some heavy petting while the babysitter meter is ticking away.

    The only two I would insist on the shaved legs and the puke-free outfit and I would compromise on the puke-free outfit if it came off quickly enough :)

  24. 24
    trouble

    This article makes me think about several guys I work with who are single, but would really like to find “the one.” One guy, Greg, is a stocky balding man, but when you get to know him, you find he is witty, honorable, hilarious, intelligent, and downright adorable. He had such a difficult time finding the right woman. I personally think that a lot of women in this area did not look past the most superficial aspects of him (the bald head, if you can believe that). Because, other than that, I cannot explain why he was still single at 39 (though, shortly to be married).

    A man doesn’t have to look like a Ken doll to be a “real” ™ man who is definitely someone that is a keeper. My friend Greg sure is, and the girl who has kept him is a lucky woman.

    I have another friend Kurt who is by far one of the nicest men I’ve ever known. He’s shy. But when you get to know him, he’s so much fun to spend time with. He’s 30. He doesn’t have a super trendy hairstyle. He doesn’t have that square jaw. But he’s not a bad looking guy, he’s just an average-looking guy. He has so many redeeming qualities, but it seems to me that women in his age group don’t even look at him.

    It makes me sad. From my perspective, at 42, I know that there are many guys like my friends out there who really want to find love, who want a commitment, who want to be married, who want kids. And they are often overlooked by women ages 25-35 who want to have it all.

    You know, I had the handsome, square-jawed husband. And when he cheated on me for the 3rd time, and we got a divorce, I started to learn that the superficial does not matter, in the longrun. What matters is finding a person of substance.

    unfortunately, some of us don’t realize that until we’re in the been there, done that category.

  25. 25
    verbosity

    rsm,

    Good question and point. Disc. Health does mention the divorce laws as a reason. Here’s the quote,

    Two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by women. One recent study found that many of the reasons for this have to do with the nature of our divorce laws. For example, in most states women have a good chance of receiving custody of their children. Because women more strongly want to keep their children with them, in states where there is a presumption of shared custody with the husband the percentage of women who initiate divorces is much lower. Also, the higher rate of women initiators is probably due to the fact that men are more likely to be badly behaved. Husbands, for example, are more likely than wives to have problems with drinking, drug abuse, and infidelity. (Discovery Health)”

    The dots Disc Health did not connect are that the divorce laws favor women retaining custody, and the most oft-used tactic in doing so is to allege drinking, drug abuse, and infidelity. So the laws reward ladies who allege this. I haven’t found any evidence indicating husbands actually have more of these problems. They are, however, more likely to be accused of it, whether true or not, precisely because ladies stand to receive the children (child support) and usually the house as a result of these allegations. I have no problem with the true allegations of alcoholism, etc. The problem is that there is a major built-in incentive to falsely allege these issues, and the stats do not indicate the breakdown of false vs. true claims. There is no way to. A frequent tactic is to get an order of protection by alleging that she is scared of him to kick him out of the marital residence. Possession is 9/10ths of the law, right? (sarcasm). Everything flows from there.

    Whether my comment applies only to white upper & middle class, I do not know. I did not consider that. However, if the the ‘settling’ woman settles on someone who is in part, a good provider (based upon Selena’s original post and other posts I’ve heard in other threads), so that she does not have to work, the class distinctions you mentioned seems as though they’d apply. I disagree with the race one however.

    Markus, I understand that you think my post is a bit far afield. However, if she’s ‘settling’ (particularly to have kids) she is precisely more likely to divorce you later because she’s ‘missing out’ in some fashion. My point is that men who meet these women generally have the laws, courts, and odds stacked so far against them, it isn’t worth pursuing the marriage/children route. If you (or anyone) feels that knowing the risks, those risks are acceptable, so be it.

  26. 26
    Angela Crisp

    Steve: You have made me laugh, so thank you. I totally agree that effort is required to maintain passion, and the image of the outfit (however puked, lol) coming off, like right now, is priceless. The article that started all this does seem to focus mostly on what a man can do for a woman rather than what two people can do for each other. Financial considerations are pretty minor, because even a millionaire can blow it all in a hurry. Will you love him when he has to stay home, looking for work? Perhaps a good question to ask before it gets very serious. I would like to think real passion can sustain that, as well as the usual stress of child rearing. I would love to get together with you sometime in D.C. I am actively dating now, so a lot of this comes home for me. Great blogging everyone, thank you.

  27. 27
    verbosity

    Angela, I understand your point, but I’m quite certain that the numbers of women paying alimony to men are far, far in the minority. One of the big reasons for this is that most ladies seek men who earn more so they can have children & potentially stay at home.

    I’m not sure I get get the thrust of your point “I don’t think anyone should get paid out a relationship they wanted unless they are too disabled to work and provide for themselves.” Disability doesn’t matter. The fact is that the law operates to pay out and redistribute money absent any disability. It pays people who choose not to work and let their skills atrophy. That is my point.

  28. 28
    Angela Crisp

    verbosity: Here I am arguing against the state of current US laws. I don’t believe in alimony unless circumstances, such as losing the use of one’s legs, arms or eyes, makes for a special circumstance. I would make allowances for those situations, but as a rule, alimony, in any direction, breeds resentment, and reinforces stereotypes. Perhaps I know a few women who make money in excess of their ex husbands, who knows? But I have seen this happen, so I am against alimony because it motivates people to pay attention to the money, rather than the passion, of a particular relationship. Child support, ok, we are talking about kids who can’t work and need to grow up. Most of the women I know with small children don’t get child support or alimony without going back to court. Two I cover through my own health care insurance because they are so panicked about their kids. Money after a relationship is over is simply wrong in my view. Children need and deserve support, so the little ones do change the situation of who ever provides the most care. If a marriage breaks up, and no kids, I say each can support themselves. I have never been married so I have never been divorced. I would never accept a payment after a relationship ends, and have never sought such a situation. I recognize what the law does, and I find the law to be deficient, and not helpful. No fault divorce should mean no fault. Thank you for your response. A.C.

  29. 29
    verbosity

    I hear ya Angela & agree.

  30. 30
    Angela Crisp

    verbosity: And so I argue against the law, whether it benefits women or men. Are you not resentful of these laws? It seems to simply breed up stereotypes of women, the old “gold digger” standard. I believe that this kind of 19th century legal structure should end. No one should have to pay their old lover just because they were in love, and now that has changed. A few mitigating circumstances I can see, but if considering those circumstances means maintaining a structure that causes men to suspect, and resent women, I think women can live without it. I get called an alimony seeker anytime I even bring up marriage, so I prefer to remain unmarried, and keep my men feeling safe with me. Thanks for your insights. A.C.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>