Dinner table conversation

This followed a conversation about “settling” instigated by this awful article (thoroughly picked apart on Pandagon so I don’t feel like I have to do it, though I might anyway if I can bring myself to read the whole thing). Dan had been musing about whether it was even possible to feel irrevocably physically disgusted by someone you had a genuine emotional and mental connection with, provided they weren’t smelly.

FJ: I certainly can’t understand people who are like “it’s okay to break up with your wife if she gets fat because then she got you to marry her under false pretenses.” I mean, I wouldn’t leave you even if you got horribly disfigured, because I actually like you.

Dan: Oh, I already did.

FJ: You look okay to me.

Dan: No, I was a little skinny guy before the accident. I had a collision with a butter truck and it all went down my throat.

FJ: I’m blogging that.

Dan: It’s tragic.  My hair grew ten inches that day.

88 thoughts on “Dinner table conversation

  1. Wow. I only read the first page of that article, and couldn’t go any further. So, she wishes she’d married one of her ex-boyfriends, and she’s warning the rest of us that we’d better do what she failed to do, or else we’re in for a lifetime of lonliness and misery.
    I’m lucky; I’m happily married, and my husband and I have weathered some pretty severe storms. We love, like, and respect each other, and neither one of us feels as if we have “settled.”
    I have to wonder, if she had married one of her exes, how would he feel knowing she “settled” for him? Because, eventually, he would figure it out. Does she honestly think that’d make him happy, and want to stay with her? And HOW is she such an expert on marriage, when she’s NEVER BEEN MARRIED?!?!
    Finally, comparing real life to sitcoms is just plain dumb. (Um, Ross and Rachel had problems so the show could have PLOTS! And, little hint, THEY’RE NOT REAL PEOPLE!)
    Maybe she should move out of New York, go to a small town, and meet someone. Then the rest of us wouldn’t be subjected to this kind of inanity.

  2. God, not only was that article a piece of shit, I am downright scared for her kid, and what she might drag home for a stepdad one day.

    I did what she said we “should” do — married the first guy who wanted to, at age 33 — and I was never more lonely in my life. I mean, the kind of lonely where I’d hear “Neither One Of Us” on the shopping-mall Muzak and start blubbering uncontrollably. I mean, has she actually asked any of her married friends if they’d rather be single, instead of assuming they’d never want to be in a million years? Their answers might shock the hell out of her.

  3. I…I am so stunned by this I can barely come up with words.

    If nothing else, at least the article allowed you to showcase Dan’s hilariousness.

  4. Um, yeah – “settling.”

    Awesome. At a time when half of us are children of divorce, I think settling should be the last thing on our minds.

    Someone isn’t thinking about the future. That’s what I’m doing.

    I’m 30, I’m single, and if I’d “settled” for a number of the douchebags I’ve dated I probably wouldn’t be as content as I am not.

    Settle, Schmettle.

  5. I made myself read the whole thing, and by the end of it, I’d managed to scrape up one positive idea – I think it’s important for people to feel non-shitty about themselves. If this helps the women out there who actually do feel the same way she does, but can’t admit that they’re willing to settle because it’s anti-feminist, or just too awful, then I believe that it will have done some good.

    I also think that it’s important to take it, like everything else, with a grain of salt. I mean, I’m in a long-term relationship with a (wonderful!) guy who forgets to flush the toilet sometimes, but I don’t think I’m settling.

  6. I’ve followed Lori Gottleib’s career a little — she used to write for a local Jewish newspaper that I worked for about 10 years ago — and sort of knowing a little bit about her background and that she’s a real person, makes it hard for me to tear her apart.
    She wrote about her struggles with anorexia as a teen in her book “Stick Figure.”
    I completely agree that it’s so much easier to say the grass is greener on the other side of the parenting fence. It is really fucking hard to raise kids, with or without a partner. Having a terrific partner makes it easier, but the case can surely be made that having a not so great (or troubled) partner, or one you aren’t in love with, doesn’t only not help much, it can make it much harder.
    I know many of the readers here have decided not to have children, so it may be hard to have sympathy for someone who made that decision, and without a partner, no less.
    One thing that I have noticed in my nearly 40 years (okay, maybe I didn’t do much noticing in the first 4-5 of those years) is that there are some perfectionistic people out there who second guess themselves all the time, and these people also tend to be somewhat less “lucky in love.” These are sometimes people who “look perfect” (i.e. are thin) and by the standards of beauty in our society “should” have the whole deal, but because they are so hard on themselves and very uptight, can’t allow themselves to actually fall in love with anyone. And then they complain about it because they can’t stand that “ordinary” (i.e. fat) people are all in love and happy and shit.
    There does seem to sometimes be an “it’s not fair!” sound to their complaints — they are so smart, thin, beautiful, cultured, etc… but they haven’t found a partner.
    I don’t think it’s so much about settling as it is a matter of luck and enough humility and ease to let go when there is someone who you could have a good life with standing in front of you, in love with you, who truly appears to want you to be happy, and your heart and brain are on board.
    This week, I’ve been out of love with love. But overall, love is a leap of faith, and if you always think there’s someone better out there, who the hell are you? I don’t think it’s a matter of settling, but if your opinion of yourself is so high, maybe no one can be a match.
    The three bloggers of Shapely Prose are all in what appear to be good, normally flawed relationships — all decent, upstanding women with decent, upstanding men, who appear to be in love. I don’t think that they have settled — they have probably been both lucky and sufficiently possessing humility and self-esteem.
    Should Ms. Gottleib have settled? That’s something she’s grappling with. Should anyone else? Of course not.
    Advise is usually primarily for the person giving it.
    I wish her, and her son, much luck and love in the future.

  7. And let me add that if a person happens to be single, I think it’s mostly a matter of the person who is right for you not being in front of you at the right time. I am not an advocate of settling. No one “deserves” to be single or paired up. Luck is a huge part of it.

  8. Sounds to me like she had a kid to fulfill some type of inner personal longing, Then decided that thats not exactly what she was longing for, and is now stuck with a kid. Kind of like when you have a craving but are not sure to choose between the apple or the bag of chips, then after you choose you figure out you were wrong. So now she is in a dark, lonely place because her kid didn’t fill up her life like she had hoped. Too bad she didn’t realize this before she realized that having kids is a hell of a lot of work.

    Maybe a truer to real life and more informative topic would have been how getting married and having children doesn’t always fix all of your inner demons contrary to what our culture would like us to believe.

    And No, not all of us 20 somethings are in denial when we say we don’t want kids, some of us realize that having children isn’t for us, and that having them will not make us magically sprout maternal instincts despite what people tell us.

    Not wanting babies doesn’t make you a bad person, a liar, or mean you are delusional. Maybe we should start a list of myths about Things that will make you a bad person. Number 1 would be eating white foods.

  9. Could. Not. Stand.

    Projection much, Li-li?

    I believe Po Bronson interviewed Lisa for one of his books; if I’m not mistaken, she has a history of BPD, anorexia and self-admitted perfectionism (by extension of which all in life must be perfect including but not limited to partner and children whom, albeit human, should be willing to waive some human characteristics).

    I would want to know that she had received a substantial amount of professional assistance handling her issues prior to taking her advice on a matter like this.

    (I had a feeling something was up before I clicked over, just based on how long the article looked to be. Target audience attention span, anyone? I mean, I know we’re supposed to be intellectuals, but that trait usually accompanies deadlines these days.)

  10. You know who I’m really pissed with, though?

    The Atlantic. For publishing that tripe.

    Don’t they know our current administration — complete with its “values” — is on its way out of office?

  11. You know, if she’s really a former anorexic with a toxically perfectionist personality, it’s probably good for her to seriously consider the merits of settling.

    But it’s a little like the Oprah discussion — it’s one thing for her to go through her personal journey, and another for her to do it in public and in print. Especially when she’s not just talking about it personally or theoretically but recommending it to others. (Plus, hearing about her background makes me lose hope that it’s a complex experiment in reverse psychology.)

    And I agree, it’s disappointing to find something like this in the Atlantic. It’s a little like when Bitch published that anti-FA article by the woman who also turned out to have a troubled past. I realize it’s not peer reviewed or anything, but the Atlantic has some cachet and authority and should use it responsibly.

  12. I read an article EXACTLY like this one ten years ago. I have read several like it since. In an attempt to avoid searching for perfection and the romantic ideal, I settled for men who undermined my confidence daily.

    I’ve been jerk-free for 2+ years because I familiarized myself with the concept of “standards”. One does not need to be chasing perfection and refusing legitmate opportunities if one understands what constitutes a legitimate opportunity.

    As for the notion that women have wanted men from the beginning of time, monogamous relationships, nuclear families, and the modern ideal of romantic love are fairly recent concepts. Also, homosexuality and bisexuality are not new things, though our understanding of how those orientations work is.

    The author might want to take her crystal ball in for a tune-up because some of us dried up 33 year old spinsters definitely are not disingenuous when we look in the mirror and GRIN because we are still single and have a bright future laid out before us. Some of us barren women are happy to have the freedom to do whatever we want whenever we want.

    As for being lonely, it sounds like she needs some better friends because my friends enrich my life to such a degree that finding a healthy romantic relationship would be gravy, a delicious bonus to my life, nice to have but entirely unnecessary for enjoying the meal because the meal is THAT good.

    And yeah, the fat girl totally just compared life to a savory, delicious, nourishing meal. That’s what life is, the nourishment that sustains the soul. It sounds like she’s been on a diet and needs some sustenance.

  13. …the Atlantic has some cachet and authority and should use it responsibly.

    Eeezackly.

    It sounds she’s got this fantasy of being married, analogous to the fantasy of being thin.

    Aaaand TropicalChrome wins at life.

    (Sung to the tune of “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket”
    from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”)

    Marry a man you’re scared to touch
    Marry a man you know is gay
    ‘Cause no longer being a spinsterette
    Will chase all your cares away …

    ‘Cause I got the “Snagged Him” Marriage
    (Abuse! Halitosis!)
    I got the Partnered Sparkle in my Eye
    And I’ll laser my “Singles” blue tattoo —
    It said “Get Hitched and/or Die”

    (spoken) I’z’e married now, Ma!!

    {*curtain*}

  14. I can see the problems with it, but I don’t think it was absolute bollocks. More a grass-is-greener thing. I can say, but only for me, that when I was a young married woman with children, I wouldn’t have traded places with my single friends for anything. That doesn’t mean they should have wanted to trade places with me, it means that that was what I loved. 20 years later, I still wouldn’t trade places. I did marry a man I consider my soul-mate, whatever that really means. But it certainly does settle down from passion and hot sex into a comfortable companionship; nothing wrong with that – it wouldn’t work otherwise. What she seems to be saying is starting out with comfortable companionship isn’t a terrible thing, and I don’t disagree with that. She also seems to be saying that marrying for reasons other than wild passion is not terrible, and that isn’t too far off either. Arranged (er, not forced) marriages have a much higher rate of success world-wide than the more recent historical idea of marrying for passion and an impossible-to-maintain-in-the-long-haul ideal of “love.” Provided that you do want a marriage and family (the hetero married type of family, that is.) I think her choice of the word “settle” might not be what she’s trying to convey, not in the way it’s coming across.

    Well, that’s my opinion anyway. But my husband and I are a little weird; we tend to prefer our own company in the grand scheme of things, and don’t care to socialize too much. I never really did, to be perfectly honest. We both like our alone (really alone) time and the rest is contentedly spent together. YMMV.

    (If I didn’t make it clear, I don’t think people who are single are kidding themselves about being happy or content. That just wasn’t the life that would make me content, and I’m not the only one who feels that way. I don’t deign to say who else feels that way, just that I know others do. She may be one of them. Maybe if she stopped projecting and just wrote about how she feels, or interviewed others who feel that way, it would be better.)

  15. ugh.
    that article…

    I think reading it might have upset me a lot more if I hadn’t just read about this book, which I find very affirming. The ideas around romantic love and coupling have never felt very right to me, not really the way I want to live my life. Sometimes I have a lot of trouble drawing a distinction between “romantic” feelings and my feelings for my close friends, so in some ways the idea of marrying someone I am not passionately in love with resonates with me. There are various reasons for this, number one being that I am asexual.

    But to present it as “settling” for the sake of other goals, and that the relationship will inevitably be a basically unsatisfying one that you just have to endure and remind yourself that the sacrifice is worth it upsets me a great deal, because I feel it devalues the kind of affection I want. Why the hell is the “great love of my life” the one and only person who can truly make me happy, and any other kind of intimate relationship is a compromise and probably not a very happy one?

    I’d be much happier with the article if it were arguing that forming lifelong intimate relationships around something other than current cultural conceptions of “true love” are entirely legitimate and satisfying and worthy of pursuing in their own right. Because dammit, they are!

  16. Annie, that’s actually what most of the conversation was about — and honestly, I would have written more about it if I knew everyone was going to pick it up and run with it! I forgot how intellectual y’all are. Anyway, we were mainly talking about how mutual satisfaction and partnership, without having everything be strewn with rose petals constantly, is not actually “settling.” But, and granted I couldn’t make it through four pages of article, that’s not what I see her saying — she’s not saying “look for someone who is truly good and good with you, even if they don’t sweep you off your feet.” She’s sort of saying “look for someone who is.” And she deliberately chooses to use the term “settling,” not, say, “contentment.” In fact it’s what her article hinges on.

    Now, I could see taking this position in order to play devil’s advocate — basically, discussing the virtues of “settling” in order to point out that sometimes what we think of as “settling” can be a stronger relationship than what we think of as ideal romance. I don’t think that’s what’s going on, though.

  17. ok this is off topic but: AnnieMcPhee – where is your blog? i said i’d come visit there but i don’t know where it is :)

  18. That’s more than reasonable, filly, and of course I can see numerous glaring flaws in her piece, many of which you’re pointing out. Er, I only made it through 3 pages myself :D But it’s a decent springboard for the type of conversation going on here. (Anyone else hearing Jim Carrey in Liar Liar here, screaming, “Settle! SETTLE SETTLE SETTLE!” Hehe.)

  19. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be linking or pimping here, cg; but if you go to vesta’s Big Fat Delicious blog (easy to google) she links to it there, by my name :) I look forward to seeing you.

  20. I heard her interviewed on NPR at some point in the last few days. I didn’t bother to read to the end, but I think this is an excerpt from a book.

    I have mixed feelings on this. I think she’s wrong and full of crap in a lot of ways here, but I think we all know of people who are single because they apply the wrong standards.

    My sister won’t date anyone less than three inches taller than her or who isn’t wealthy. She’s no slouch – at 34 she has a PhD, is a tenured professor at a decent university, and has a consulting business on the side, and she has dated and married such a long string of emotionally abusive assholes I can’t even tell you. She would never consider dating a guy who only makes as much as she does, or who is shorter than her when she wears heels.

    IMHO, she should change her priorities if she really wants to get married and have a kid. She’d call that settling.

  21. Yeah, I think the article could have been done well, I just think that maybe she wasn’t the person to write it. Like, I think I could write a great article on so-called “settling,” having ended up with someone who is nothing like what I thought I wanted but still exactly fucking perfect for me. But I think there’s a strain of real sadness and self-recrimination in this article, one that makes me disinclined to follow her down whatever dark paths her mind is on. And I think it’s couched in a very antifeminist mindset.

  22. This is apropos of nothing, but it’s causing me a fair amount of distress and the Shapelings are the only people I “know” who can help me out.

    I have about a decade of disordered eating behind me, and working on intuitive eating and not denying myself things has really been a lifeline for me. I feel so much better and freer.

    But over the past year I have tried going vegan (for moral reasons) and more recently gluten-free (to see if it helps a health issue I have) and I can never sustain it for more than a few days because it triggers my fast/binge tendencies like nothing else. I don’t plan my day well and end up without access to anything I can eat, I get very hungry and start feeling “virtuous” (no matter what logic I use to convince myself otherwise), the cravings swoop in, I binge on whatever I’m not eating, I feel guilty as hell, sulk for a few days, then try again.

    So I’m just wondering, Shapelings who avoid certain foods due to choice or medical necessity — how do you do it? How do you practice intuitive eating and keep them from turning into forbidden fruit, subject to longing and fantasy?

    Is it just me?

  23. Ellie, you might want to check out Geneen Roth’s book Appetites. In it, she talks about being on a Candida diet (which she later abandoned) and trying to reconcile that with being an intuitive eater.

    P.S. Vegan and gluten-free sounds like kind of a difficult combination. I suppose some people do just fine on it, but I wouldn’t beat yourself up for having a hard time sticking to it.

  24. Also, I think there’s a HUGE difference between “settling” for someone who doesn’t live up to your grandest external fantasy — tall, rich, athletic, older, etc. — and “settling” for someone with whom you have zero chemistry or whose character you find wanting. That’s what Gottlieb really does not get.

  25. “Oh my god, you have a very obese bird!!”

    Groucho Marx impression – “You shoulda seen my Thanksgiving turkey” Heh.

  26. Ellie, this is obviously continuing a little bit of an OT thread, but I can totally feel you on this one. I’ve been vegetarian for years, but going vegan about a year ago definitely fucked with my head. I did it for ethical reasons (I think), but have struggled with it for most of the last nine months. This could maybe make for a great side post, for anyone willing to host a conversation on their blog (and I’d offer, but I haven’t gotten the whole thing nearly sorted out enough to offer up to the whip-smart SP readership).

    I’d just reiterate what the ever-wise Meowser said, though, and tell you not to beat yourself up about sticking to it. Going vegan is challenging. Going gluten-free is challenging. Going both vegan and gluten-free and with a history of disordered eating? Jesus H. You have my best wishes on that effort.

    And fillyjonk, for what’s it worth, that conversation with Dan is priceless. Thanks for posting it!

  27. Meowzer, you’ve nailed that one. I was probably projecting a bit on the actual writing when I mentioned comfortable companionship (which most certainly involves some degree of chemistry – maybe a lot, as personally, I don’t feel all that comfortable with all that many people – that’s why I like him, I can be completely relaxed and comfortable like nowhere else) – she seems to be actually saying even that isn’t necessary. When yeah, it really is.

  28. Hehe, sorry but I can’t help remembering Gordon Ramsey’s new episode last night of Kitchen Nightmares. A woman outside was turning down the samples because she was a vegetarian, and he said “What? How can you DO that?” Heh. (By the way, he didn’t say it nasty, just disappointed and surprised.) Personally I don’t eat a lot of meat but I sure do like it. But more power to the vegetarians :) More for me :D ;)

  29. Ellie, I know that at least one Shapeling has celiac disease and could probably answer you some, but I can’t remember who it is at the moment (Gemma, maybe?). I developed a nasty case of IBS last year and had to cut a lot of foods out of my diet, and that was hard even without a history of disordered eating. There are two very general pieces of advice I can give (at this late hour and with a little tequila in me, so bear with me!): (1) if not eating gluten helps your body feel better, you will eventually not crave things with gluten because you’ll associate them with feeling bad. Some days I crave french fries (or something like that), but all it takes is the memory of my last bad attack to make me just not want them anymore. It’s like the food equivalent of a cold shower. (2) Carry “safe” snacks with you wherever you go. Find something gluten-free that you enjoy so you don’t get stuck somewhere with no options and really low blood sugar. Even if you just nibble on it while you’re trying to figure out what else to eat, it should help. Okay, I lied, there are three pieces of advice, and the third is most important: (3) Don’t think of this as something you either pass or fail. There’s no virtue here, and if you “slip up” or “cheat” and eat something with gluten, hey, it’s not a huge deal — you may feel crappy for a while, but that will go away in time, and you can eat something that doesn’t make you feel crappy for the next meal. If you’re doing this to make yourself feel better, then don’t beat yourself up for “messing up” — just think about what might make you feel better the next time, and eat with joy and care.

    Okay, this is a really long comment and I don’t want to completely derail the thread — but if you feel like talking more about this, feel free to email me at shapelyprose at gmail.

  30. Quick question – I got into milling wheat and making whole-grain things from it a long time ago. At the time I read that people with gluten sensitivities could eat Kamut or Spelt and usually not have trouble. Is that correct? (in general?) If it is, it could provide a great carry-along snack option – you could keep a kamut or spelt muffin or cookie on you to eat when you’re hungry and want to figure out what to eat otherwise. And they’re nice, filling grains. If that isn’t correct, sorry and nevermind.

  31. Pingback: Settling « Doingitwrongblog’s Weblog

  32. I couldn’t even get through the first page because she was talking about Friends and Sex in the City as if these were non-fictional docu-dramas about the way Life Really Is. And the “you’re lying or delusional” lays it on way, way too thick. I think it is true that for the majority of my friends, male as well as female , there comes a point where dating all the time becomes less appealing and they wish to find a partner – but that certainly isn’t everyone, and not all are doing it for breeding purposes. I have a number of coupled but childfree friends. Any time people start slagging other people’s happiness because they think their experience is universal I turn off. I have no doubt it is the experience of some, however – and since I haven’t been single for long, in my life to date, I can’t speak to it specifically.

    But the moment you are base your argument about life choices on fiction, and situation comedies at that – which need some rather fundamental engines of conflict and oddity in order to be humorous – you are going to run into trouble being taken seriously.. The Perfect Guy is not going to be humorously quirky: sometimes he’s going to be utterly frustrating and not come with a laugh track. He may not want to be hacked up and squished into the Joey/Ross/Chandler box, either. He and you are probably people, and not fictional characters thrown into contrived situations.

    If she’s had a false or immature concept of relationships, with surging violins, okay. That won’t work.

    But if she really means “go be with someone you can’t love”, well – divorce, or a lifetime of hating going home because that asshole lives there, is at least as hard as being a single parent.

  33. Oh, and one of my best friends is not only male but very gorgeous, and I love him emotionally and intellectually, and if I weren’t married I’d be happy to share his home, parent with him, share finances, and philosophy. But it kind of squicks me to think of him sexually, even though I’m hetero and he’s good looking. It’s like he’s a brother.
    Since I was with my partner before I met him, maybe it’s cognitive dissonance and if I were ever single I’d be throwing myself at him. However, my working hypothesis is that we have too many genes in common and if we bred we’d have two headed babies. I saw an interesting study where men sniffed t-shirts that had been worn for 24 hours by women: the fewer of six genetic markers the people had in common, the more they liked the smell. 6/6 genetic similarities, and the dudes were grossed out.

  34. Am I the only living woman who has only seen like 5 episodes of “Friends”? And zero of Sex and the City? Heh. On the other hand, I do refer to certain sitcoms and movies of my time (er, decades prior to the 90s ;) ) because they are relevant in some things. If you’re one of those people or were one of those kids like me, who sits and quietly drinks in adult conversation, and tries to figure people out, there are many times when those sitcoms and movies actually *can* help bridge the gap with listeners/readers in regards to attitudes of the time. I’m totally not saying that because I referred to Mary Tyler Moore, Fatso, The Odd Couple, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on my blog. But honestly, they can serve as helpful illustrations of attitudes for new generations, if you keep them in perspective. Which this woman might be lacking of course.

  35. Arwen – FWIW that’s kind of like how you simply refuse to think of your brother sexually, and so on. It just doesn’t register because there’s no reason for it to. If you were single and he were single and you were both looking, etc. etc. etc. who knows? As it stands, you’re right to be squicked out. Were it not standing that way, things might be different, and who knows? Companionship goes a long way to building sexual attraction – if that sexual attraction is remotely a possibility, or if it were at all desirable. In the case of you and your friend, it is not possible or desirable, and rightly squicks you out. Not saying it WOULD ever be possible, but you know, I’ve found that impossible things are often possible given the right circumstances. :)

  36. Annie: No, you’re not. I haven’t seen any Will and Grace, either.

    I think the part that showed the brokenness of the whole shebang came on the last page:

    “By the time she turns 37,” Chris said confidently, “she’ll come back. And I’ll bet she’ll marry me then. I know she wants to have kids.” I asked Chris why he would want to be with a woman who wasn’t in love with him. Wouldn’t he be settling, too, by marrying someone who would be using him to have a family? Chris didn’t see it that way at all. “She’ll be settling,” Chris said cheerfully. “But not me. I get to marry the woman of my dreams. That’s not settling. That’s the fantasy.”

    There it is: the fantasy is for the social pressure to marry to be so strong that the man gets to marry the woman of his dreams, whether she wants it or not.

  37. I can see the problems with it, but I don’t think it was absolute bollocks. More a grass-is-greener thing. I can say, but only for me, that when I was a young married woman with children, I wouldn’t have traded places with my single friends for anything.

    Yeah, but did you complain about your husband nonstop to your single friends, as Gottlieb’s married friends do with her? She isn’t saying happily married women wouldn’t want to trade places with her (which would be a reasonable assumption, although even her happily married friends might well envy other aspects of her life, like her career). She’s saying that she assumes women who show all outward signs of being very unhappily married still think they’re better off than she is just because they have somebody. That’s something very, very different.

  38. “Yeah, but did you complain about your husband nonstop to your single friends, as Gottlieb’s married friends do with her?

    She’s saying that she assumes women who show all outward signs of being very unhappily married still think they’re better off than she is just because they have somebody. That’s something very, very different.”

    Meowzer, it’s a great question but in my case not too simple to answer. And again, let me stress (as a friend of mine used to) that I don’t think I’m typical here.

    NO, I most certainly did not complain about my husband nonstop to anyone. That did not mean that we didn’t have genuine and sometimes serious problems; it meant that I had a fierce loyalty and that no matter what happened, at the end of the day, he was the only person I could truly relax and be myself with, with no pressure to be anything but me. In other words, being with him has often been just as good (or nearly as good) as being alone. Which probably sounds weird to social creatures, but we were both loners. Being loners TOGETHER was absolutely valuable and worth protecting. We could still be our loner selves, yet we had someone who was on our side, who was indeed a teammate and a partner in the often SUCKY business of life, but without social pressure. That? Probably isn’t typical. But hell no, I didn’t complain – if I complained to anyone, it was to him. About them. lol. When I heard other women bashing their husbands, (quite often very unfairly) I would go home, look at my imperfect lifemate, and be so glad I had him, and sorta angry at them for not appreciating them. (I’m not talking about bad husbands here – I have certainly helped women out of abusive marriages; I’m talking about good and supportive men who had women who would just bash them for fun and sport.) I think some people are just determined to be “unhappy” regardless the circumstance.

    At any rate, no, I didn’t complain about him even when I might have had some cause, because I didn’t want to join the meritless bashfest. In the long run, the really really long run that is this life, I’m happy and content. And I’m glad it is long; I might have had my run cut short some years ago – and who was there for me? Two guesses ;)

  39. Another dreary article where some woman is pissed off and regretful about the choices she made with her life, and has decided that everybody else who made the same choices is regretful, too. I especially love the part where every woman really wants a baby. I don’t like children at all, and the last reason I would settle in the world would be the have a child.

  40. Meowser hit it on the head (several times!) There’s a big, big difference between someone who annoys you by leaving the toopthpaste cap of, and, in her words, “[you] get a cold shiver down your spine at the thought of embracing a certain guy,”. Sure, come home every day to someone who causes a physical revulsion in you. That’s a lot of fun.

  41. AnnieMcPhee, you call it a “meritless bashfest”, most of us call it an airing of legitimate grievances to the only sympathetic audience there is. Most women don’t wish they’d married someone perfect, they’re just dismayed when they found out that on top of raising their own children they’re also raising an adult child in the form of their husbands. Most of the complaining has to do with how he’s abdicated all his adult responsibilities onto her already over-loaded plate. Men have so much privilege to act like over-grown children that we don’t even stop to support the women who end up with them by taking their complaints seriously.

    (Take it from a “golf orphan”, it doesn’t help children to grow up in a household where one parent is ridiculously overburdened and the other a complete slacker.)

    That’s really the biggest argument against settling, why take on “wifework” on top of all the housework and child care? There’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely, I bet those women who complain about their husbands and marriages feel just as lonely as Gottlieb does.

  42. I read the first page and decided that there was no need for the article to be four pages at all, so I stopped. I don’t give a shit what stoopid people have stoopid subjects. Her bad choices and waxing poetic about what she has learned has no relevance in my life. Sorry, lady that you made choices you regret. Glad I didn’t have to pay for that magazine…

  43. Yeah, this is why I can’t stand feminism–your comments are so typical! Any woman who doesn’t WANT DEEP DOWN to be completely alone is obviously mentally ill, any woman who wants to have a child is “brainwashed”, etc. There’s nothing wrong with lesbian separatism, but it’s not for everyone; I’m really sick of people telling me that because I’m simultaneously unmarried and unthrilled by it, I’m sick, sad, wrong, and disgusting. Feminists are actually worse than the smug marrieds…

    I’m not sure what any of this has to do with size, other than the original post, which points out that leaving a spouse because they gain weight runs counter to the whole “better and worse, until death” bit. Now, if someone put “as long as you don’t get fat or bald” into the vows, I would respect their honesty. And be damned glad they weren’t interested in me…

  44. You know who I’m really pissed with, though?

    The Atlantic. For publishing that tripe.

    Yeah, well, what else is new? They have very few female writers; when they do have one, it’s somebody like Caitlin Flanagan or Lori Gottlieb — and it’s usually a long-ass article on why being a ’50s housewife is so FULFILLING; and they pay Andrew Sullivan to blog misogynistic shit about Hillary every damn day.

    I have loved a LOT of Atlantic articles in my day, but the sexist bullshit they support at several different levels is appalling. I stopped subscribing a long time ago, and this just reinforces what a good decision that was.

    As for settling into comfortable companionship, Al and I have only been together for a year and a half, but yesterday, we had this convo:

    Me [referring to temperature]: I’m hot.
    Al [looking at my sweats]: No, not really. Not in those pants.
    Me: Thank you kindly.
    Him: Also, your hair kind of … exploded.
    Me [patting hair down]: Better?
    Al: No.
    Me: All right, DID YOU WANT TO COMPLIMENT ME SOME MORE, OR CAN I GO BACK TO WORK NOW?
    Al: Well, I have been meaning to ask … have you thought about diet and exercise?
    Me [cracking up]: Asshole.
    Al: Tee hee.

    Two important things to consider about this conversation:

    1) Even though it’s true that Al has a pathological aversion to sweatpants, and my hair was kinda huge yesterday, there was no implication in his words that I should change to please him. It was just sorta, “Man, it’s a bummer that my hot girlfriend isn’t smoking hot all the time, but I guess that’s what I get for living in the real world.” (And of course it goes without saying that he loves me fat, and he uses the “diet and exercise” line about once a week, because it never stops making me laugh.)
    2) If I’d asked him to get naked right there and then, he would have been happy to oblige.

    There is a BIG difference between that — the bloom being very much off the rose — and getting SHIVERS DOWN YOUR SPINE when you hug someone. WTF?

    Finally, Gretchen, you hit the nail on the head with this:
    There it is: the fantasy is for the social pressure to marry to be so strong that the man gets to marry the woman of his dreams, whether she wants it or not.

    And how UNBELIEVABLY fucked up is it that this dude doesn’t think marrying someone who’s not in love with him is settling? How CAN someone who doesn’t want you be the woman of your dreams? I mean, all that implies about what this asshole thinks the function of a wife is just makes me want to hide under the bed.

  45. Yeah, this is why I can’t stand feminism–your comments are so typical!

    HeatherRadish, who the fuck are you referring to? You’re not going to win any friends here by attacking StrawFeminists.

  46. Yeah, this is why I can’t stand feminism… There’s nothing wrong with lesbian separatism, but it’s not for everyone; I’m really sick of people telling me that because I’m simultaneously unmarried and unthrilled by it, I’m sick, sad, wrong, and disgusting. Feminists are actually worse than the smug marrieds…

    HeatherRadish, I have no idea how you slipped through moderation, but please feel free to fuck right off.

    Considering all of the bloggers here have male partners who make our lives a whole lot better — including, you know, the one MENTIONED IN THE POST — I really have no idea who you think you’re talking to. But just to clear things up, we think relationships are fucking great, and we all know how hard it can be to be single and wish you weren’t.

    But that doesn’t mean heterosexual women should settle for any man who expresses interest. It doesn’t mean women should marry men they’re repulsed by, as Gottlieb suggests.

    And if you can’t get that, seriously, just STFU and do some reading.

  47. OT!

    Ellie, I keep meaning to write about this on my blog but haven’t yet. Really quick though, when I went GF, I did feel a bit deprived at first so what I decided is I’d eat whatever the hell I wanted, as long as it was GF. I had been dieting previously but at that point, I gave it up (cue the hallelujah chorus!). I ate fatty foods, expensive foods, lots and lots of junk food and sweets. Anything and everything I wanted, as long as it was GF. It helped. What helped even more is that my painful digestive symptoms started getting better within days so that was definitely incentive.

    I’d really suggest you try one at a time though. Going GF and vegan at the same time does sound to me like a bad idea. Good luck and I hope you feel better soon :D

  48. Thanks so much for the advice, everyone!

    I had assumed recommitting to veganism along with going gluten-free would be easier — you know, cut a bunch of stuff out at once — but it’s probably true that it’s easier to take it in steps. ShannonCC, your advice sounds great, and made me realize how many caveats I was attaching to this — “go vegan AND gluten-free AND I should get more protein AND eat more vegetables AND … ” Intuitive eating: it’s a process. Heh. Also, I will definitely check out that book, Meowser!

    Now back to your regularly scheduled thread!

  49. One thing has been clearly established by this post: Dan is a keeper.

    Now, to tell my husband I “settled” for him. >:)

  50. I have loved a LOT of Atlantic articles in my day, but the sexist bullshit they support at several different levels is appalling. I stopped subscribing a long time ago, and this just reinforces what a good decision that was.

    THANK YOU for corroborating this. I subscribed a few years ago when people who’s opinions I tended to respect would ask me if I’d “read that great article in the Atlantic”. Then when I actually started receiving it and reading it, I started thinking,”Is there a different Atlantic magazine?” Cause the articles in the magazine I was getting were creeping me out big time.

    Canceling. Subscription. Today.

  51. I think HeatherRadish is seeing a different discussion from the rest of us. o.0

    And the article makes me groan. You know, I could have really got behind an article about how life-long relationships aren’t all sunshine and roses. About how a wonderful partner and a wonderful family don’t always happen just like that, even if you want them to. About how much it sucks to be a woman approaching middle age, wanting a partner and not having one, when this society worships the young, slender female and plain refuses to see any other kind. But that’s not what she’s saying.

    She’s basically saying that anything less than the romantic ideal, Mr. Tall Dark ‘n’ Handsome, is settling – so why not settle for Mr. Repulsive? I mean, I’m not with any of the imaginary partners I dream(ed) up for myself. Not the 6’4″ darkly beautiful bassist, not the handsome butch, not any of them. Does that mean I settled? Or does that mean I found someone who is wonderful in many ways I never thought of, annoying in others, but above all real?

    No, he’s not the dream. Who the hell is? But he’s great for me, and I’m great for him. And I actually want to give him a hug when I get home in the evening. Seriously, why the hell would you marry someone you hated to touch? Why would you do that to them? Make your own life a misery if you want, but don’t involve some poor bastard who thinks you actually like him. Christ.

  52. There is a BIG difference between that — the bloom being very much off the rose — and getting SHIVERS DOWN YOUR SPINE when you hug someone. WTF?

    Good grief, yes. I just spent 3 days ferrying my husband from hospital to hospital and holding his hand while he was basically tortured. He’s going to be fine, but it was just awful. We’re both wrecked. We both look like hell. His treatment is likely to eat a ton of time and money and I”ll have to pick up his work around the house until he’s better.

    You know what? I wouldn’t trade these three horrible days with him for three days on the French Riviera with some poor bastard I’d managed to “settle” for. She’s got a point when she says being married is like running a small non-profit. What she misses is that it’s like running a small non-profit with the other half of your own soul.

  53. I see two distinct things here (I know there are more):
    1. People (male and female, gay and straight and other) may have unrealistic expectations of a mate, and an idealized perception of who/what will make them happy (as if happiness is not something they need to locate within themselves).
    2. We don’t have an even playing field between men and women, still, and the idea that a woman needs to compromise her self, her safety or anything else for the sole purpose of being married is bullshit.

    I think men (and male editors) like to read these articles because it allows them to see the beautiful, smart, accomplished women who aren’t married as “stuck-up bitches” and for them to feel grateful for their wives who put up with them (or to feel glad they aren’t married, if they are single). It allows them to look back on rejections they experienced and blame it all on the “picky” woman. So, in that sense, articles like these are harmful to women. I get that reading it seems like a time warp.

  54. It’s such a sad article on so many levels. It really leaves me with the impression that Gottlieb just doesn’t like men very much. I don’t mean that she’s lesbian, just that she seems to be think of a man primarily as someone who does stuff for her and provides money to the household, rather than another human being she would want to spend time with and who would love her child. She sounds like she wants a live-in housekeeper/nanny (who pays rent), rather than a husband.

  55. Um, Heatherradish, some of us here ARE married with kids. My husband and I have two kids, both with autism, and we have a wonderful life. NO ONE is saying you have to be alone!!!! What we ARE saying, is you don’t have to be with a guy just for the sake of being with someone. That marriage and relationships are partnerships, and are about give and take. About mutual respect and raising the kids together. (If you have them.)
    Being alone can suck, but it’s better than being with someone who doesn’t respect you.

  56. There seems to be this expectation of perfection – perfect marriage, perfect companion, perfect body, perfect job, perfect kids. To an extent, little girls are raised to dream about being Princess Perfection in the Perfect Palace with Prince Perfecto.

    Reality is so. not. that.

    Marriage, kids, everything is messy, hard work, even when you have a great partner. I thought most women got over Princess Perfection by age 18, but maybe not. Maybe women need to give up the Fantasy of Being Perfect, too.

    “Settling” is consciously not giving up the dream, clinging to it despite reality. I would argue it makes reality worse, because you’re always comparing Mr. Right Now to your imagined Mr. Right. How is that fair?

  57. Heather, there’s a difference between: “I’m lonely, and I really hope I find a good guy for me soon” and “I want a husband so badly I’m going to marry the next guy who comes along, even if I feel physically revolted when I touch him, and so should you.” I’m partnered right now, and before I met him, yeah, I was lonely. Yeah, I really wanted to find a romantic partner. I wanted to love someone and be loved by someone. And I don’t think that makes me a bad feminist, nor do I think it would make you a bad feminist, if you were one. But this article is really the opposite of that. She doesn’t want a romantic partner, she just plain wants a partner. She says – repeatedly! – that married people don’t spend much time together or have much sex anyway, so it doesn’t matter if she loves him or finds him attractive or if he makes her feel happy – all that matters is that she has somebody to bring in some money and help her watch the kids. And honestly, if that’s what she wants and she finds someone on board with it, that’s fine for her, but I don’t think it’s good advice for her to be giving the rest of us.

  58. Wellroundedtype2, it also satisfies some male editors because it tells them that the smart, attractive, etc. females who rejected them CAME TO A BAD END, and ENDED UP SAD AND LONELY, AND WON’T THAT TEACH THEIR STUCK UP ASSES HAHAHA! You see this kind of thinking on internet threads every day–the bitches that turned me down will feel sorry they were so picky someday. It’s what they deserve!

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  60. I must admit I didn’t read the article, so this might be unfair, but…every time I see this type of piece I think, “Where are this woman’s girlfriends?” She needs her pals to take her out, get her drunk (if she drinks), let her have a good cry and tell her that her past choices have not ruined her life…and that she should back up off of telling other people that they’ve ruined theirs.

  61. And how UNBELIEVABLY fucked up is it that this dude doesn’t think marrying someone who’s not in love with him is settling? How CAN someone who doesn’t want you be the woman of your dreams? I mean, all that implies about what this asshole thinks the function of a wife is just makes me want to hide under the bed.

    He doesn’t love her. He loves the fantasy of who she is and what she’d be like to live with and show off on his arm, and what their pretty blonde babies would look like. And he loves the fact that he has to chase and long for her. This is the kind of guy those hideous “Rules” books were talking about, the one who has to have “mystery” and “the thrill of the hunt” to stay interested. Once he actually “gets” her, once he actually gets to live the realities of marriage with her, once she actually demonstrates an interest in him as strong as his in her, he’ll get bored and start lusting after someone else he can’t have. And this is the kind of guy we’re supposed to wish we all had in our lives to make piles of babies with? Shudder.

    And ditto about the Atlantic and how it’s taken a swan dive into the retrogressive privy pit. Phyllis Schlafly must be editing that rag nowadays under a pseudonym.

    P.S. Who are these lesbian separatists who don’t want anyone to find a boyfriend? Did I miss something?

  62. Sniper, glad to hear your hubby’s okay. Good thoughts going out to both of you.

    Thanks. We’re getting him the help he needs, and he is doing better, but slowly. By the way, my sick husband? Rail thin.

  63. meowser, have you ever seen In the Woods? The princes in that musical are exactly like that, and I love that Sondheim writes about what the archetype is really about–men who love pursuing women, but don’t actually love women.

    There are many things I love about that show. and Steven Sondheim…

  64. Okay, I don’t know how I found the intestinal fortitude, but I read all five pages.

    As others have said, it’s fine to realize that people come with faults and you won’t find an absolutely perfect person to be with. If that had been the point of the article, I wouldn’t have anything to argue with. Goodness knows my beloved is superficially different than the men I dreamed about before I woke up and smelled the awesome of him.

    But that’s far from what this article is about. It’s about how women are not only invariably unhappy without marriage, but also about how recognizing that you might not marry a handsome, rich, super-successful man with no personal failings is automatically equal to marrying someone with whom you have literally nothing in common and don’t care about. She places the recognition that some men snore or fail to put the toilet seat down when they’re done on pretty much the same level as being a recovering alcoholic who isn’t very serious about his recovery or someone whose touch revolts you. Also? Somehow being a plumber is the same as being uneducated, unsuccessful, and stupid besides.

    I was thirty when I married a man who snores, regularly forgets to put the toilet seat down, mangles basic grammar with gay abandon, and never has more than two nickles to rub together. He suffers from type II diabetes and has had bad enough heart problems that he had a triple bypass before he hit forty.

    But all the real dealbreakers are there: he’s affectionate, supportive, fond of cats, and encourages me to do things that I want to do but am afraid of trying. Without his support and encouragement, I wouldn’t ever have become a writer. What’s more, after more than twenty years together between dating and marriage, his touch still gives me shivers of pleasure. The sound of his voice makes my heart sing. When he looks into my eyes, I know he sees something wonderful and beautiful.

    So no, I didn’t settle for something less than I deserve. I settled down with someone I truly love. I can’t imagine settling for less. I can’t imagine telling anyone else to miss the adventure of true love. I certainly can’t imagine settling for someone I can’t feel even real affection for and telling a child that this is what they can reach for.

    While I wouldn’t change my marriage for anything, there are far worse things than being alone. Settling for a loveless marriage with a partner you cannot respect is one of them.

  65. Yeah, the Atlantic isn’t exactly a feminist, egalitarian magazine. I realized that with an entirely unwarranted degree of shock last year when they were publishing that stupid “150 most influential Americans” stuff for their 150th anniversary, or whatever it was. I counted it up and realized that something like 23% of the people they thought were influential were female, and 17% were non-white (I’m making the exact numbers up, but it was pretty close to that). So, given that some of the people were both (Rosa Parks, etc), it ended up that more than 2/3 of the people they found influential were white men.

    Since then, I’ve noticed a lot more then I used to that the balance in the magazine is *always* skewed that way. They do always have some women and some people of color among their authors, but the sense of tokenism is inescapable (with the articles by women almost invariably being about how great it is to be a 50s housewife).

    Unfortunately, I do still really like the magazine in other ways. It’s enlightened me about a whole range of important issues–eg, it was the first place I heard about the situation in Darfur–so I doubt I’l cancel my subscription. I am not a big believer in that, because when I read a letter to the editor saying “I’m so disgusted with X, I’m cancelling my subscription after 25 years!” I always think “Eh, don’t let the door hit ya.” If I keep reading the magazine and (hopefully get off my butt to) write letters to the editor, I stand much more chance of making them realize that what they’re doing isn’t okay than I do by taking away my paltry few subscription dollars.

    Of course, I realize that realistically, my opinion isn’t going to matter much to them either way.

  66. Hell, even Mr. Bennett got this concept in the early 1800′s – “My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life.”
    Sigh… progress is so slow sometimes.

  67. This article made no sense at all. She describes two single mothers, best friends, who both want a romance-less domestic partnership to share childcare and housework so they could get the odd sleep in and a shoulder to cry on.

    Why the heck didn’t they move in with each other instead of looking for random slackarse goobers to hang like stones around their necks?

  68. I’m not sure I can contribute anything more to the conversation than all the articulate people here have, but that article saddened me so much. She really did sound like she was waiting around for Prince Charming and advising us all to not wait and marry the frog who will stay froglike. Well, jeez, but I never actually was all that interested in Prince Charming types. And I have been in exactly the situation she talks about; I got married six months ago at the age of 34, a mere six months after meeting my now husband, and before him had not had a single long-term relationship. I’d been out with various men a few times, and decided to stop seeing them when after six dates I still felt like I was on a first date because absolutely no connection was being made. I went out with one guy long-distance for a while, meeting him online, and on email we seemed perfect for each other, met a few times, and again because he seemed ‘right’ in so many ways and his touch *didn’t* repulse me (although it didn’t do all that much for me, either) I was pretty devastated when he brokeup with me for no good reason other than “it’s 85% there but it’s not the whole thing). Now, I’m very grateful to him for breaking it up, because I’d say there wasn’t even 85% of a connection there, and the minute I met my now husband I knew that there was something special, and within weeks I was thinking “this is the one” and within months we were engaged and now after thinking I would never find anyone and that I’d end up childless and alone and I personally was *very* lonely that way, I have someone to be with who accepts me totally and wholly as I am, who I laugh with, cry with, tease, play, and hopefully will have children with… and I revel in how ‘normal’ and ‘domestic’ and ‘comfortable’ it is and I remain incredibly grateful for the luck that brought us together.

    I can’t imagine how terrible my life could have been if I’d read an article like that a couple years ago and taken it to heart and carried on dating one of the amiable but personality-less men I met then.

    But then, I always knew that I was the type to stay alone forever rather than marry the wrong person.

    I know it’ can be a terrible place to be in, to think that you’re missing out on your chance to have a child (if you want children), to be living alone instead of in a partnership, if that’s what you want… but to imagine that settling for someone who physically repulses you or you find boring… I know someone who did that. She had an ex-boyfriend who convinced her nobody would want her, for various reasons, so the next guy to show an interest, she married. She was very religious, and so was he, and despite the fact that she was stunningly beautiful and he really was one of the homeliest people I’d ever met, I figured – well, she sees his other qualities, and she’s such a lovely person that doesn’t surprise me. But they hardly knew each other, and after the fact I discovered she’d almost been hoping her friends would stop her, and on her wedding day she knew she was doing the wrong thing and she wasn’t attracted to him… and a year later *he* walked out. There’s a happy ending – at least there were no kids, and they got divorced, and they’re both remarried and she is now with a much more suitable guy and has 3 kids… but honestly, she was the vulnerable person who would have read that article and taken it to heart… and lived to regret it.

    I’m not sure how you can teach people to stop looking for Prince Charming. I also have a friend who is still single and has such specific requirements for who she’ll date that I do think it’s her being ‘too choosy’ even though when that accusation was flung at me I knew it wasn’t true. But heck, I’ve always been attracted to broad, slightly overweight guys. Didn’t matter how tall they were, but they couldn’t be too thin. And my husband is a shade under 6 foot 2, and 154 pounds – stick thin. And I absolutely adore him, even though my one concern when we first started dating was whether I was attracted to him enough or not.

    /ramble

  69. Godless Heathen, when I referred to meritless bashfests, I wasn’t talking about people here (not remotely) – I was talking about women I knew intimately (as well as their husbands) who would honestly, genuinely, just bash for the fun of bashing as soon as the men were out of the room. Making nasty comments about devoted and extremely supportive husbands just because it seemed a rather hip thing to do, for fun and sport. There is a big difference between that and legitimate complaints that required a sympathetic ear. Snarky insults made with wry smirks about things that were either irrelevant or untrue. (One woman who was definitely happily married to a man who was so devoted to supporting her in her ordained ministry and did nothing but stand behind her and applaud her efforts wholeheartedly, and praise her to everyone who would listen, but when he wasn’t around she would say emasculating things, such as when her baby was dressed in a baseball cap and baseball was mentioned, making a snide comment about how “Daddy throws like a *girl.* haha” Where on the other hand one of the older women had a husband for 40 years and he was truly unsupportive and no help at all – had become just a couch potato telling her to get out of the way of the TV – her complaints were totally received with nothing but sympathy. Others who had genuine marriage problems, like I say I’ve helped other women get out of those, or at least tried to. But they are two very different things. The meritless bashfests I wanted nothing to do with; the actual problems were another matter altogether. I hope that makes a bit more sense. In the bashfests, it was for the sole purpose of putting down someone who really didn’t deserve it, it wasn’t about getting a sympathetic audience for any kind of actual problem, just making jokes at his expense. Sorry, I’m a little tired, hope this makes sense.

  70. “Men have so much privilege to act like over-grown children that we don’t even stop to support the women who end up with them by taking their complaints seriously.”

    Well…I’m not sure about that, because a majority of the husbands I know didn’t have that privilege. They were mostly too busy eking out a living in this world where that isn’t exactly easy to do, in order to provide the necessities of life to their wives and children. They had to haul their butts off to those blue-collar jobs even when they were sick or hurt, because losing a day’s pay might mean being short on the electric bill, or having to stretch an already too-tight grocery budget, and skipping some genuinely needed food, or medicine for a sick child, etc. For the women who did end up with overgrown children (and in my personal life I haven’t encountered too many of them – maybe because everyone was struggling just to pay the regular bills and put food on the table) I certainly listened to their complaints and support them. Also to those who have husbands who were flat-out abusive, mean, etc. Then I ended up sick for many years and could do literally nothing around the house, so he not only had to support us all on insufficient pay, but also to do all the housework, etc. He had always shared in the childcare, even after a 12 hour day on the job (of not easy physical labor.) I don’t know where I’m going with this, but while I suppose some men are privileged in that sense, I also meet women who are privileged to be able to go shopping for fun things like jewelry and nice clothes and furniture and redecorating stuff, regularly with the money their (obviously much higher paid than us) husbands while not having to go to work themselves. Of course they were in a different class than we were, though. For us, neither of us are privileged; we have struggled with poverty and sickness and so forth throughout our years. But it’s nice to have someone to share it all with and go through it together. (For me.) I do kind of react when I hear that men (as in all men) are just so privileged in comparison to women, and I don’t see it. Of course I’m one person in a big world. YMMV.

  71. Quick question – did she really say something about marrying a man who literally * repulsed* you? I didn’t see that…of course I stopped after page 3. That is certainly weird, if it’s in there. I don’t see how you can marry someone who repulses you with his touch, if that’s what she says. Because that doesn’t work.

  72. … [the Altantic] was the first place I heard about the situation in Darfur–so I doubt I’ll cancel my subscription. I am not a big believer in that, because when I read a letter to the editor saying “I’m so disgusted with X, I’m canceling my subscription after 25 years!” I always think “Eh, don’t let the door hit ya.”

    I hear ya. My comment up thread (and I realize you weren’t necessarily responding to me) about canceling my subscription wasn’t a “this is the last straw!” cry of outrage, but more of a “to hell with tiny pants” moment with my magazine subscriptions. I’ve not liked what I’ve read in many issues, and I just now realized I stupidly keep spending money and time waiting for something that I personally like to be published, and it’s a bit of a wasted effort on my part.

  73. Annie McPhee, this was on page 2:

    //By 40, if you get a cold shiver down your spine at the thought of embracing a certain guy, but you enjoy his company more than anyone else’s, is that settling or making an adult compromise?//

    That sounds to me like she thinks a marriage to someone you find sexually repulsive is an ‘adult compromise’ to be seriously considered.

  74. Hilarious! Also, thanks for linking to that article and Pandragon. My friend wrote the book Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women, which is cited and quoted in that Atlantic article, and the thing is: the book is not about settling. It’s about how women of all ages who are well-educated are likely to find someone they really truly love. The book was conceived to disprove the idea that women over 35 are SOL–basically Gottleib’s entire argument.

    Also? On a more personal note? I fucking love living/being alone. I know from living with someone you aren’t really into and…yep, I’ll take being alone every single time.

  75. I can’t imagine how terrible my life could have been if I’d read an article like that a couple years ago and taken it to heart and carried on dating one of the amiable but personality-less men I met then.

    Seriously, this is one of the things that made me angriest about this. When I wrote my own ramble on my blog about it, I kept picturing this one girl who I used to be friends with. She can not imagine being alone and has put up with no end of trouble from one man because he, for a few moments, made her happy. She doesn’t seem to understand that happiness isn’t a limited commodity and that no one can really give it to you if you don’t have it already.

  76. I’m a little late to the party but this pissed me the hell off:

    Last year’s Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women makes the most blatant case for settling: if women were more willing to “think outside the box,” as one of the book’s married sources advises, many of them would be married. The author then trots out tales of professional, accomplished women happily dating a plumber, a park ranger, and an Army helicopter nurse.

    I am a university professor. My husband is a computer tech who used to work in a chip shop, barely finished high school and worked his way up from the very bottom to get where he is now. He is the sweetest, kindest, most generous, sexiest, loveliest man I have ever met, and he’s smart to boot. We are madly in love with each other. I cannot even describe the extent to which I am not settling. I got the biggest prize there is.

    Not that it’s a damn competition.

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