Settle or Die (Alone)

There has been much controversy surrounding the book “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” by Lori Gottlieb, a middle-aged journalist and single mother. The idea behind the book is that women who are too picky end up alone. I have not read the book so I will refrain from criticizing, but it has brought forth some interesting discussions. Some people are up in arms, saying how dare she suggest that women settle for anything less than the best. Others completely agree with the idea that those who cling unflinchingly to their ideals will ultimately end up alone.

I understand that one can’t expect to capture the sickening romance found by America’s sweetheart-of-the-moment on the silver screen. I also realize that a man will have flaws, but it seems to me that I may be much happier alone than I would have been if I had compromised on the big things. I know that this might not necessarily be what Gottlieb was suggesting in her book, but I have been advised that my demands may be impossible to find.

I should probably tell you what these are before I get too much farther, then you can judge for yourself if I’m being idealistic or just looking out for my own happiness (and no I don’t demand that he be Gene Kelly reincarnated). The two biggest points of contention on my male must-have (or must-not-have) list are smoking pot and premarital sex. Now let me clarify; I am not expecting to find a man who has never done either of these things. In fact, I fully expect that my future husband will most likely have experienced both. I’m simply asking that while in a relationship with me, he not have sex before he gets married and that he not smoke pot. (Side note: these are personal preferences that I seek in a mate, not things that affect how I view every individual in the world.)

It has been insinuated that if I don’t compromise on one or both of these fronts, I have ultimately chosen life as an old maid. I refuse to believe this is true. I don’t think I’m being a hopeless romantic by wanting these things out of my life partner. I think a compromise of that magnitude would ultimately mean compromising the very core of who I am (at least with the premarital sex). Again, I haven’t read the book, but I don’t think that these are the kinds of compromises Gottlieb thinks we need to make.

What really confuses me is the women who take no stand on the big issues but then refuse to budge on the minor ones. Why is it that certain things like bad breath and unfortunate names can mean so much to a person while mutual respect means absolutely nothing? Is it a sign of a shallow person whose deal breakers are minor flaws? Or is it simply the mark of an insecure person who tolerates major character weaknesses?

I think what we should take from both sides of this argument is purely common sense. Humans are flawed, you will never find anyone who is perfect so don’t look for Mr. Perfect, but don’t settle for someone who is wholly incapable of making you happy either.