Stop looking for Mr Right
Author claims that women over 30 would be happier if they settled for Mr Not Bad.india Updated: Jan 29, 2010 21:01 IST
Women looking for a Mr Right should give up after 30 and settle for a Mr ­Second Best or a Mr Right Now. Lori Gottlieb, author of
Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr Good Enough
, believes women who refuse to commit unless they find a man with whom they feel a deep, romantic love are consigning themselves to a lonely future.
“The theme of holding out for true love (whatever that is — look at the divorce rate) permeates our collective mentality,” writes Gottlieb, a 40-year-old single mother who now admits she wishes she had settled for any of the perfectly acceptable but uninspiring men she rejected during her search for the perfect man.
“My dream, like that of my mother and her mother, was to fall in love, get married and live happily ever after. Of course, women are loth to admit it, but ask any soul-baring 40-year-old single heterosexual woman what she most longs for, and she probably won’t tell you it’s a better career or a smaller waistline or a bigger apartment. Most likely, what she really wants is a husband (and, by extension, a child),” she writes.
Gottlieb’s book is based on an article she wrote in 2008 for a magazine. The piece created such a sensation that it was picked up by Oprah Winfrey’s
and polarised readers. The debate caught the attention of Warner Independent and Tobey Maguire’s Maguire Entertainment, which bought the book and film rights. Maguire intends to produce the film himself.
Gottlieb blames feminism for the number of women who find themselves alone after spending years holding out for their white knight. To the outside world, says Gottlieb, these women still insist they are self-sufficient. “But in reality, we aren’t fish who can do without a bicycle; we’re women who want a traditional family,” she writes.
She continues, “Every woman I know, no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure, feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried.”
It is not just feminism that has betrayed women by telling them they could have it all, said Gottlieb: every book, film and television show that perpetuates the myth of combining romantic love with a happy-ever-after ending — from Jane Austen to Friends — has done women a great and dangerous disservice.
“We’re conditioned to crave that Big Love. It’s painful how pervasive the fantasy is that The One is out there,” she said. “We grew up idealising marriage, but if we’d had a more realistic understanding of its cold, hard benefits, we might have done things differently. So we walked away from uninspiring relationships that might have made us happy.”
She even claims that settling for Mr Second Best could make women happier in the long run. “When we're holding out for romantic love, we have the fantasy that this level of passionate intensity will make us happier,” she writes. “But marry­ing Mr Good Enough might be equally viable, especially if you’re looking for a reliable life companion.
“What makes for a good marriage isn’t necessarily what makes for a good romantic relationship. Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane and often boring non-profit business. And I mean this in a good way.”
But author Elizabeth Gilbert believes that women are wrong to believe marriage will make them happy. In her book,
Committed: A Sceptic Makes Peace with Marriage
, she writes: “We marry most often because we’re in love and we think it will make us happy. Yet married women are more likely to suffer from depression than are single women. “Married women are not as successful in their careers as single women.”