Settle? Um, ew?

Does passion even have a place?

I’m the first one to say that marriage isn’t always about ZOMG PASSION. First kisses, those are about passion. Romantic weddings? Passion-o-rama. Post break-up youknowwhatsie? Whoa Nelly! But marriage…marriage is occasionally antipassion, a substance that has a lot in common with antimatter. But, hey, there’s gotta be some passion, because that little spark that makes you feel all googlywoogly in your stomach when you look at your mate should never die out completely.

Unless, that is, you are one Lori Gottlieb, a woman who has apparently made a career out of airing her complexities (read: issues) in the public eye. In a recent article entitled Marry Him! she asserts that every single woman everywhere, no matter how satisfied, no matter how independent, wants a man, any man, as in “oh please for the love of God send a man so I can get married because there is no greater fulfillment for a woman!”

My advice is this: Settle! That’s right. Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. 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.

To Gottlieb, marriage and by extension men (there’s no mention of what lesbians want) are nothing more than a means to an end. If you want security and a permanent live-in partner, then you need to start looking past his lack of wit, his lack of culture, and his lack of personality so you can start looking at what he does have, namely a pulse and a job.

I’m actually pro-settling to a certain extent. One line in the article, “I would say even if he’s not the love of your life, make sure he’s someone you respect intellectually, makes you laugh, appreciates you … I bet there are plenty of these men in the older, overweight, and bald category” really resonated with me. I happen to believe that there are tons of great guys who fall into the doesn’t-have-cool-hair-laughs-at-inappropriate-times-a-little-pudgy-can’t-dance-worth-a-damn category.

The point, however, is not that you settle for these rare and wonderful creatures. Rather, it’s that you give them a chance, find out that in addition to playing a mean game of WoW they’re secret sex machines, and then thank the Lord that some other lucky lady didn’t snap them up first. You don’t say, oh, ho hum, I’m just shy of forty so I better snare the first set of XY chromosomes who happens along so I don’t turn into a lonely old hag.

Unless, like I said, you’re Lori Gottlieb, in which case you’re probably going to spend your life sighing over romantic comedies while a husband who bores the crap out of you is off puttering around his workshop. Or not. As a friend of mine put it, “What, exactly, is she bringing to the table? Naked desperation and a ton of to-be-delegated responsibility? I, for one, am SHOCKED she hasn’t found a guy willing to “settle” for that.”


17 Responses to “Settle? Um, ew?”

  1. Emma says:

    Perhaps Ms. Gottlieb should consider marrying her single-mother friend from the park? Because if she really is that desperate for a dependable partner who can bring in the other half of the income, take out the trash, and watch the kiddies, regardless of passion, attraction, sex, or sexuality, then surely she should see no problem with “settling” for a like-minded woman? According to her, they should be in wide supply. And hey, if she settles for one of them and starts a trend through whatever unfortunate publication drunkenly decides to print her pro-patriarchial nonsense, maybe this country will ease up on its draconian marriage laws.

  2. Bridey says:

    Well, there two things I have the biggest problems with here are the presumption that all women want exactly the same things (and if they say they don’t, they’re lying), and the notion of “settling,” which is quite offensive.

    But it does seem hard for a lot of people, men and women both, to wrap their brains around the idea that women are not all exactly alike, so Lori’s not alone there, unfortunately.

    But if “settle” is in your vocabulary with relation to any fellow human being, much less the unsuspecting person you intend to spend your life with, you are too selfish and immature to be anybody’s wife or husband.

    You “settle” for a smaller apartment, shoes that aren’t quite the right color, or the Lodge Hall instead of a hotel ballroom for your wedding. You don’t “settle” for people.

  3. Twistie says:

    What bothered me most (aside from the concept that every single woman wants precisely the same thing and if she says she doesn’t she’s a lying liar that lies, so there) was conflating the perfectly reasonable concept of recognizing that even the most perfect person for you is going to have faults and irritating habits so you have to be willing to look beyond ‘perfect’ to find ‘perfect for me’ with just taking any guy who will have you even if he actually revolts you. She sees no apparent difference between a guy who cheers at the movies and a guy who has a gambling addiction. There is no sense of scale. It’s all about, quick! grab a man, any man because you might not get another chance, and anything with a penis is better than being alone!!! Take the first man who asks regardless of your feelings or his!!!!

    Mr. Twistie has his share of faults…as do I. There are plenty of people out there who would never get what attraction either of us has for anyone. I don’t care. Neither does he. When he touches me, I shiver with delight – not revulsion. When he looks in my eyes, he sees someone who chose him gladly, not someone who decided to put up with any old meal ticket/extra pair of hands. We laugh together, love together, and drive one another up a wall. I roll my eyes when he refers to women as ‘chicks.’ He sighs at my endless nattering about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. These are faults worth looking past, and petty annoyances we can live with because we have something more important than an irritating turn of phrase or an obsession with a TV show.

    The important thing is that we truly love one another, support one another, and encourage the best in one another. If we didn’t have that love, though, nothing on earth would make it worthwhile.

    I’m big on weddings and happily ever after. I wouldn’t write for this blog if I wasn’t. I had a blast planning my wedding. I look back on that day with joy and contentment. But I’ll tell you this for nothing: if Mr. Twistie hadn’t been the perfect guy for me, I’d never have married him. There are worse things in life than being alone. Being married to someone you don’t care about or who doesn’t care about you is well up that list.

    Ms. Gottlieb, please find yourself a good therapist to work on your self-esteem. Nobody deserves to settle for someone they can’t love, and anyone who would settle for someone who’s just going through the motions needs at least as much help as you do. Don’t teach your child that there is nothing to reach for beyond shared child-rearing duties and an extra checkbook in the house. There’s so very much more. He deserves to see that.

  4. Abby says:

    Ugh, you’re all so right about that article. Leaving aside the whole, “All us wimmins must want the same thing,” I don’t think she even understood what she wants–which appears to be a nanny. She barely talks about companionship, friendship, or the many emotional benefits which come from a loving partnership, whether married or not. Instead it’s all about for-gods-sakes-could-someone-take-this-kid-so-I-can-eat-lunch. Honey, don’t settle for someone you’ll only resent…just hire some help.

  5. Toby Wollin says:

    Hasn’t Ms Gottlieb ever read any Jane Austen, Bronte, etc. etc. about the horrific mischief that is caused by people who get married for the wrong reasons (“wealth and connections”, so they won’t be lonely, security, etc.)? This is someone with some very very serious problems and who, if she is really serious about the whole grab the guy as long as he has “a pulse and a job,” obviously has no problems with the whole issue of making another person’s life a living hell by being trapped legally with a spouse who couldn’t care less. Don’t guys deserve to be married to someone who thinks they are special, too? As hard as it is for some people to believe, guys have emotional needs as well as physical needs(and they do go together). I’ve been married to my DH for 30+ years and considering what we went through over that period: people losing jobs, people getting really really sick, people needing serious surgery, people wanting a baby and not being able to get pregnant, having to care for demented elderly parents, children with major problems, etc. etc., if we had not had a true partner in the other, we’d have gone bonkers long ago. Life can be shit at times. Actually, sometimes, life can be shit almost all the time. And when it is, being married to someone who can make you laugh, cares about you as a person, and who you are just as nuts about — can make all the difference between being able to handle it and looking for the razor blades in the bathroom cabinet. No one should “settle” – better to go it alone and develop a set of good friends. But this socalled advice is just .. wrong.

  6. Jennie says:

    As someone who did the “I’m 30 and not married” panic marriage and then spent the next 20 years in apathetic misery (no passion, no partner, just someone to cleanup after and support) I can heartily say NEVER, NEVER, settle. Would I have found a life partner if I had waited? Maybe, maybe not but I would have been happier. I am now single and learning how to have fun again. The arguments given are for what my gay friend calls “breeders”. They are cavewoman mentality. Find good provider, feed babies, take care of helpless female, ugh. Based on this argument, marriage is only for procreation (is this woman Catholic?) I am over 50. I would rather die alone surrounded by cats and newspaper than settle. So I may sleep around a little, I may date a little, I may just go out with friends but unless he or she is my passion and my soul, I will never “settle” Not only that, but pity the poor person being settled for. Won’t they always feel a lack? Like having been cheated of something? I can fake an orgasm at least as well as Meg Ryan but won’t he/she eventually notice? Maybe this is why so many marriages fail or so many people cheat. Ok this ends this diatribe….

  7. daisyj says:

    I misread the headline and was wondering what exactly Seattle had done to disgust you.

  8. Pencils says:

    Exactly, exactly, exactly, NtB, and all you commenters. I was angered when I first heard about this, because I thought, “what if someone believes her?” but now I mostly just feel sorry for Lori Gottlieb. As you all said, there’s a big difference between “settling” and realizing that Prince Charming doesn’t exist, and if he did, you’d probably want someone more edgy anyway. If I had settled for the guy I was dating around 30, I’d be married to someone I was no longer in love with even then, and who now cheats on his wife. (We still talk. I feel bad for his wife.) Yep, that would have been a much better idea instead of waiting until I was 37 and meeting the love of my life, a man I married last year, and with whom I’m going to have a baby later this year. He’s not perfect, he leaves disgusting balls of hair in the shower (just great when you have morning sickness) and he’s very bad about remembering to do his half of the chores, but he’s also the sweetest, most loving, most supportive man ever. He sent me Valentine’s flowers today so I could enjoy them at work two extra days. He remembers which are my favorite flowers, even though a few years ago he couldn’t tell a tulip from a daffodil. There was no settling with him. I just had to wait until I was a little older–and, hell, I had a good time in those years. 😉

  9. Never teh Bride says:

    Darn it, daisyj, now I can’t look at that headline without seeing “Seattle.”

  10. daisyj says:

    Even though I get it now, I can’t shake the feeling that Ms. Gottlieb is writing from somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

  11. Xen says:

    If Lori Gottlieb’s vision of a perfect marriage is “Will and Grace,” maybe she should, um, make some friends? Get a roommate? Hire a nanny? Given both the length of this article and The Atlantic’s per-word rate (and, hell, the fact that she could afford artificial insemination), she most certainly doesn’t need a meal ticket.

  12. Kat says:

    Although this woman is obviously insane, I agree with settling to an extent.
    Actually it should be more like broadening your mind. Don’t write someone off just because they don’t fit every criteria you’ve been dreaming about since you were 6 (though hopefully they’ve changed since then anyway).
    If the guy’s not perfect, it doesn’t mean he’s not “the one” – after all we’re not perfect either!

  13. Margaret says:

    Um, couple of suggestions? 1. Don’t have a baby without a partner (this seems to be a major source of her complaints). 2. Don’t base your life choices on movies, romances, and sitcoms.

  14. Eilish says:

    I like Never teh Bride’s larger point about broadening your vision of what is “perfect for you”. I also would like to see the concept of the “one true love” fly out the window. I think it creates the impression that you will someday find a person that meets all those little criteria that you think are so important before you actually get married. Don’t confuse this with “settling.”

    There are probably any number of people in the world that you could meet, fall in love with, marry and have a wonderful life with! It is so much about choices and priorities. All marriage will entail some adult compromises as we outgrow our girlhood fantasies, but I think we often find that reality is better and more substantial than the fantasies that we thought we wanted. That’s called growing up!

  15. Dianasaur says:

    First of all, I too thought you hated Seattle. Second, what a sad woman. I’m so thankful that I reached a point of deciding I’d rather risk being single forever than settling for the wrong man, and that I also decided not to watch “romantic” movies because I didn’t want my view of romance being determined by Hollywood.

    When I met my husband I was completely content in my singleness (as was he). Neither of us was “looking” and that helped us be so sure we were the right people for each other. He is really romantic sometimes, and not so much other times. But it’s cool that when I bring up the subject of romance to him, I’m able to remind him of things he’s done before, rather than compare him to the unrealistic movie world of romance.

    Too many marriages end in ruins because of settling. I’ve seen it and my heart just breaks for the pain it brings both people.

  16. smartandsexy says:

    All I can say is Lori Gottlieb is not a sane person and it’s a waste of time to listen to what she has to say. Ladies, don’t settle. I was in a passionless marriage for 20 years and all it got me was misery.

  17. natasha says:

    I think Lori got it wrong with the title of her book. Once reading the book , to me it wasnt about settling for the sake of babies or sheer desperation. I found Lori was informing us to be more open minded about people and not delist them so quickly. People dont fall in love always instantatiously and therefore she is giving us an insight as to not dismiss someone for not being a perfect 10. Instead get to know them and give them a chance. Her title is what probably peeved women, and gave the impression she is suggesting you take whatever has a pulse, but this is not what the book is about. Bad title Lori but a bloody good read!