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Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, Lori Gottlieb

2011/04/27

I can’t remember exactly what train of citations led me to pick up this particular book, but once I got over the fact that I was reading a dating advice book, I found a number of good arguments which tie into recent readings on narcissism, the impact of feminism on male gender roles, and marriage trends. Gottlieb, a single woman in her early forties, wrote an article for the Atlantic in 2008 which sparked numerous letters, both positive and negative, and which inspired further research and writing on her part.

The book starts out with a good dose of humor as Gottlieb makes a list of what traits her “ideal guy” would have — and it spans three pages. She pokes fun at the specificity of some of the traits — over 5’10” but under 6′, vulnerable but not weak, quirky but not weird, free-spirited but responsible — but poses the questions: “What’s the difference between settling and compromising? When it comes to marriage, what can we live with, and what can we live without? How long does it make sense to hold out for someone better — who we may never find, and who may not exist or be available to us even if he did — when we could be happy with the person right in front of us?” (9). She polls friends both single and married to find out why and how they got to their current relationship status, dredges up regrets and stories about “the one that got away,” and examines the portrayal of dating relationships in media such as movies and television. She also looks at the role of feminism, narcissism, and entitlement in creating a culture where women feel they must hold out for “Mr. Right,” bypassing many potential mates and foreclosing themselves to possible relationships. Gottlieb examines the options available to older single women, setting herself up for speed dating, matchmaking, online dating, as well as consulting dating experts, psychologists, and other researchers; along the way she interviews both women and men who have used these tools.

The author makes a number of points as she writes which many women will not appreciate; namely, that they are at fault for being unmarried, whether being too picky, too fickle, too afraid of committing too early. Still, she addresses them with good humor and an open mind, and this makes for a very readable and entertaining story.

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