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To my fellow 30- or 40-something single women who are still holding out for “true love,” said Lori Gottlieb in The Atlantic Monthly, I have some heartfelt advice: “Settle.” That’s right. “Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling ‘Bravo!’ in movie theaters. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go.” I say this as a 40-year-old single mom who sent a lot of decent but imperfect men packing, and who now is rearing a child I conceived through a sperm donor without emotional, financial, or logistical support. My married friends complain about their husbands’ flaws and how, over the years, the passion and romance in their marriages have ebbed. But when I offer to trade their supposedly unsatisfying lives with my lonely, harried existence, not one says she’d prefer to be single. So forget about the mythical “Mr. Right.” Set your sights on “Mr. Good Enough.”
Speak for yourself, said Sarah Hepola in Salon.com. It’s true that many women—and men—dump perfectly suitable partners “for stupid, superficial reasons.” But as a 33-year-old single woman, I don’t think I’m being naïvely idealistic to want the sort of “intense connection” and passion that Gottlieb has been unable to find. Apparently, she thinks that every woman past 30 should marry whomever happens to come along to ensure that we’ve got an “infrastructure” in which to procreate. “Sorry. I won’t settle for that.”
You shouldn’t, since this is no longer the 19th century, said Meghan Daum in the Los Angeles Times. Gottlieb’s “case for settling” presumes that motherhood “is as necessary a part of adult female life as breathing.” In reality, “there are infinite ways to define a fulfilling life,” and parenthood is only one of them. Perhaps if Gottlieb had more imagination, she could have come up with other options than the two choices she presents, which are a) exhausted single motherhood or b) marrying a guy you don’t love so he can do the 3 a.m. feeding. Has Gottlieb ever asked men what they think of her “desiccated” view of marriage? asked Lesley M.M. Blume in Huffingtonpost.com. Just consider what her personal ad might say: “SWF will condescend to tolerate a subpar, chores-oriented, largely absentee man to participate in joyless marriage that will resemble a mundane non-profit.” May I suggest that Gottlieb stop looking for such a husband, and hire a nanny instead.
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